For Immediate Release: January 28, 2008
Pres. Pro Tem Mike Morgan, with senators (L-R) John Sparks, Kenneth
Corn, Debbe Leftwich
and Charles Laster, presents the Senate Democrats' agenda for the
Senate Democratic Caucus Unveils “Vision for Oklahoma”
2008 Legislative Agenda
Focuses on Opportunity and Responsibility
With one week to go until the first legislative session
of Oklahoma’s second 100 years of statehood begins, Senate
Democratic leaders unveiled their “Vision for Oklahoma”
focusing on policies that will increase opportunities and foster
responsibility for all Oklahomans.
“Oklahomans want a government that works for them—a
government that works across party lines to bring greater opportunities
and promotes responsibility,” President Pro Tempore Mike
Morgan said. “This legislative session, the Senate Democratic
caucus will fight everyday to bring about effective policies that
make a real difference in the lives of our people.”
Democratic Floor Leader and President Pro Tempore Designate Charlie
Laster (D-Shawnee) pointed to policies that will help grow Oklahoma
as top priority for the Senate Democratic Caucus including the following
• Corporate Responsibility
• Greater Opportunities for Higher Education
• Greater Healthcare Opportunities and Insurance Reform
• Responsible Tax Cuts, and
• Responsible Investments for Oklahoma’s Future.
“Focusing on these important priorities in the upcoming session,
Senate Democrats hope to give all Oklahomans the tools they need
to achieve a brighter future,” Laster said. “We have
a responsibility to those who elected us to be their voice in the
Senate to fight for policies that matter to them, rather than focus
on policies that help the powerful special interests that roam these
Laster said in a year when budgeting will be tight it will be more
important than ever to prioritize investments that will help grow
“Facing a sluggish national economy, Oklahoma needs to be
pro-active in creating policies that will continue the growth we
have seen in recent years,” Laster said. “That includes
ensuring we are investing wisely in education to grow our workforce,
creating policies that increase access to affordable healthcare
to lower the number of uninsured in our state and investing in infrastructure
improvements across our state.”
State Senator Kenneth
Corn, Co-Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee
for Public Safety and Judiciary and a Democrat from Poteau said
keeping Oklahomans safe is one of governments greatest responsibilities.
“It is no secret that in previous years Oklahoma’s corrections
system has faced tough times with prison overcrowding and staff
shortages,” he said. “We intend to use the recently
released independent audit as a roadmap to ensure we are making
necessary changes and wise investments to help keep all our citizens
State Senator Debbe
Leftwich said in this election year, the Senate Democratic Caucus
wants to rise above the political posturing to help move Oklahoma
“We cannot allow an election year to stop us from doing what
is right for the people of this state,” the Democrat from
South Oklahoma City said. “Our vision for Oklahoma includes
making certain that government is responsible to the people, that
insurance companies are responsible to their policy holders and
that Oklahomans are displaying personal responsibility to help themselves
move into greatness.”
Senator Morgan (D-Stillwater) said he will continue to ensure Oklahoma’s
historic power-sharing agreement remains intact and that the people’s
business is conducted in a manner that will make all Oklahomans
“As we begin the first session of Oklahoma’s second
100 years, we have the opportunity to make tremendous progress in
this state,” he said. “We are committed to making the
tough decisions required to bring Oklahoma a government that works
Our Democratic Vision for Oklahoma: Opportunity and Responsibility
1. Corporate Responsibility
• Enforce the law on employers who are knowingly hiring illegal
immigrants. By holding corporations responsible for their actions
in regards to employing illegal immigrants we are getting to the
heart of the illegal immigration problem.
2. Greater Opportunity for Higher Education
• All Oklahoma students, regardless of their ability to pay,
should have the opportunity to realize their dream of getting a
college education. Offering qualified Oklahoma high school graduates
the opportunity to attend a college tuition free will give many
students that opportunity they might not otherwise have had. It
will increase the number of college graduates in our state and boost
our economy by offering better jobs and higher wages for working
Oklahomans throughout the state.
* SB 2164 by Senator Randy Bass creates the OHLAP Enhancement Act,
includes fees and books for students receiving OHLAP scholarship.
* SB 2020 by Senator Kenneth Corn creates the Second Century Promise
Act modifies eligibility for OHLAP.
* SB 530 by Senator Sean Burrage increases OHLAP income eligibility
3. Health Care Opportunity and Insurance Reform
• We will support policies to make insurance affordable and
effective for Oklahomans, including a comprehensive patient’s
bill of rights. Powerful insurance companies must meet their responsibilities
to Oklahoma families rather than continuing the recent trend of
*SB 2114 by Senator Jim Wilson establishes a Patient’s Bill
*SB 1521 by Senator Andrew Rice creates “Steffanie’s
Law” aimed at increasing healthcare options for patients involved
in clinical trials. It also requires insurance companies to cover
costs of services through premiums already paid by the insured.
*SB 2190 by Senator Charlie Laster reestablishes the Board for Property
and Casualty Insurance Rates and is designed to help stop arbitrary
insurance rate increases and practices.
4. Responsible Tax Cuts
• The only tax cuts that should be considered are those that
help working and middle-class families such as cutting the grocery
tax or eliminating taxes working Oklahomans pay on their overtime
*SB 1153 by Senator Jay Paul Gumm establishes the Freedom From
Hunger Act to eliminate the taxes Oklahomans pay when buying groceries.
*SB 1132 by Senator Kenneth Corn eliminates the taxes Oklahomans
pay on their overtime wages.
5. Responsible Investments for Oklahoma’s Future
• DOC Funding—We will use the audit as a road map to
keep Oklahoma families safe from those who prey on them.
• Roads and bridges funding—Safe roads and bridges
are critical to Oklahoma’s economic future and public safety.
We will support responsible funding to help make our roads and bridges
safe for Oklahoma families.
• Teacher Pay Raises—We must keep the promise we made
to Oklahoma teachers to raise their pay to the regional average
and we must do this without condition. Once we have met our responsibility
of raising every Oklahoma teacher’s salary to the regional
average, we can address a merit based teacher pay plan that is locally
controlled and has community support.
*Legislation dealing with investments for our future will be assigned
bill numbers during the appropriation and budgeting process over
the course of the legislative session.
For more information contact:
Senator Morgan's Office: (405) 521-5695