Saturday, February 27, 2016

Childhood Cancer Research Measure Passes First of Many Votes

Childhood Cancer Research Measure Passes First of Many Votes: A proposed amendment to the State Constitution setting aside funds for childhood cancer research passed the House Rules Committee February 1...

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Bipartisan Autism Insurance Reform Bill Heads to Full House

OKLAHOMA CITY – A bipartisan measure authored by more than 30 House Republicans and Democrats that would require health insurers to cover autism treatment for children cleared a House committee today.

House Bill 2962, by state Rep. Jason Nelson, would require a health benefit plan offered in Oklahoma to provide coverage for the screening, diagnosis and treatment of an autism spectrum disorder in children. The bill would limit the yearly maximum benefit to $25,000, but would place no limits on number of visits.

“I am pleased that many families are one step closer to receiving the same benefits from their health insurance policies that parents of children who suffer from very similar disorders currently receive,” said Rep. Nelson, R-Oklahoma City “I’m grateful that we were granted a hearing in committee and that the many supporters of this important bill have the opportunity to continue working for its passage this year. We certainly recognize the sincere concern held by many members of the Insurance Committee regarding the potential cost. We have pledged to work with insurance companies, families, physicians and therapists to find ways to address the concerns about cost and still provide a meaningful benefit to children.”

The Legislature last considered an autism insurance reform bill in 2008. Nelson said since then 43 states have implemented some form of reform to health plans to provide treatment for autism disorders.

“Seven or eight years ago, we were one of only a handful of states that were considering this issue, and there simply wasn’t enough claims data available for the Legislature to accurately gauge how much the reform would cost,” said Nelson. “Now there are only a handful of states that have not enacted some form of autism insurance reform, and there is plenty of information available to help us determine what the cost impact would be if we were to move forward.”   

House Bill 2962 passed out of the House Insurance Committee by a vote of 6-4 and now heads to the full House for consideration.

Authors of HB2962:

Rep. Jason Nelson - R
Sen. A.J. Griffin - R
Rep. Lee Denney - R
Rep. Chris Kannady - R
Rep. Jason Dunnington - D
Rep. Katie Henke - R
Rep. John Montgomery - R
Rep. Mike Brown - D
Rep. Jeannie McDaniel - D
Rep. Steve Kouplen - D
Rep. Ben Sherrer - D
Rep. Ed Cannaday - D
Rep. Dennis Casey - R
Rep. Bobby Cleveland - R
Rep. Donnie Condit - D
Rep. Marian Cooksey - R
Rep. Claudia Griffith - D
Rep. Elise Hall - R
Rep. Scott Inman - D
Rep. Dan Kirby - R
Rep. James Lockhart - D
Rep. Mark McBride - R
Rep. Casey Murdock - R
Rep. Pat Ownbey - R
Rep. David Perryman - D
Rep. Dustin Roberts - R
Rep. Wade Rousselot - D
Rep. Mike Shelton - D
Rep. Shane Stone - D
Rep. Steve Vaughn - R
Rep. Emily Virgin - D
Rep. Kevin Wallace - R
Sen. Randy Bass - D
Sen. Larry Boggs - R
Sen. Roger Thompson - R

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Rep. Nelson Praises Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Ruling

OKLAHOMA CITY –State Rep. Jason Nelson issued the following statement after the Oklahoma Supreme Court today ruled unanimously that the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Act in 2010 does not violate Section 5 of Article 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution, also referred to as Blaine Amendment. Rep. Nelson was the House author of House Bill 3393 that created the scholarships in 2010.

“I’m relieved and excited for the students and families who now have certainty about the program. I know that they have worried that they would wake up to learn that the law had been struck down but they don’t need to worry any longer. The nearly six year old question has been answered.

“We have always known that we are on the right side of the law, and this ruling today confirms what we have always believed. It is a wonderful program that hurts no one but one that has changed lives for the better. Some parents have told me that it saved their child’s life. They’ve told me that their children were bullied without mercy at school and nothing was being done to stop it. Some of them even feared their children would take their life as a result.

“I am very grateful for the many people who have supported this policy and also those who fought for it in court. In particular, I am grateful to former Governor Brad Henry, Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Solicitor General Patrick Wyrick, Assistant Solicitor General Sara Greenwald and my colleague Senator Patrick Anderson, along with a host of associations and organizations who helped along the way. Finally, I am certainly thankful for the justices of our Supreme Court for their faithfulness to the Constitution in their decision today.”

Pruitt Successfully Defends Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Case

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the Lindsey Nicole Henry scholarship program, overturning a district court ruling that held that the program violated Oklahoma's Constitution.

The Lindsey Nicole Henry Act established a scholarship fund for parents of disabled children to receive scholarship money to send their children to a private K-12 school. The scholarships must be used at one of more than 50 participating schools, some of which, but not all, are religious. 

“I have always contended that the Lindsey Nicole Henry scholarship program is constitutional, and with the decision of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, parents of students with disabilities will once again be empowered to seek educational opportunities to help their students learn and succeed,” Attorney General Pruitt said. “The Court’s decision was appropriate to ensure that parents in Oklahoma are given the opportunity to choose a school for their children based on the educational needs of their child, a decision that I firmly believe should be made by parents, and not bureaucrats. I hope that today's ruling, the second time that the Oklahoma Supreme Court has rejected these attacks on the program, will finally put an end to these shameful attacks on a wonderful program.”

Click here for a copy of the Court's opinion. Click here for a copy of the concurring opinion.

Fallin Issues Statement in Response to Oklahoma Supreme Court RulingUpholding Scholarship Program

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today issued this statement after the Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Act, which is a scholarship program intended to provide educational options for children with disabilities who live within the state:

“This program saves money for the public school system, while benefiting children with special needs by allowing them to select the educational options that best suits them. This is a victory for students with disabilities across our state and for their families. This also is a victory for education in Oklahoma. All students learn differently, so each of them should have the opportunity to attend a school that offers the best environment for success. This can be accomplished through Education Savings Accounts, which I encourage legislators to approve this session, while still protecting school finances.”

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