Senate Democratic Leader
Senator John Sparks
Senate District 16
For Immediate Release: February 2, 2017
Sen. John Sparks
Oklahoma Senate Democrats announce 2017
Senate Democratic Leader
John Sparks on Thursday unveiled the Senate Democrat’s
2017 legislative agenda with a focus on specific plans and solutions,
which will ensure that core government services in Oklahoma are
protected and enhanced in a way that benefits hard working Oklahoma
families and our business community.
“Oklahoma teachers, small business owners and hard working
families are looking to the legislature for reassurance that there
are, in fact, plans on the table to address issues like our budget
crisis, our education crisis and our healthcare crisis. The Democrats
in the Senate are prepared to present and champion legislation which
specifically addresses these issues,” said Sparks, D-Norman.
“Now is the time for bold ideas and true leadership. Non-election
years are the time to do hard things and take hard votes. This session
we must be prepared to do the right thing for Oklahoma and turn
crises into opportunities. We are hopeful that these practical,
common-sense ideas will gain the support of members across the political
spectrum and, together, we can muster the political will to do hard
things this session, which will truly benefit Oklahoma families
and businesses,” said Democratic Caucus Chair Sen. Kay
Floyd, D-Oklahoma City.
Senate Democrats have filed 91 bills this session with a clear
focus on protecting and investing in public education, supporting
Oklahoma business and industry, fixing the revenue problem in the
state budget, making Oklahoma healthier and expanding access to
healthcare for hard working Oklahomans, expanding criminal justice
reform, and supporting and protecting the most vulnerable among
The 2017 Senate Democratic Agenda includes specific proposals in
each of these areas:
Protecting and Investing in Public Education
• Implementing an 8-year plan for the State Department of
Education to get a better long-term view of how budget changes and
legislative mandates impact our children, our teachers and our schools
(SB 437 – Sparks).
• Reinstating the National Board Certified Teacher bonus program
to ensure merit pay opportunities for Oklahoma’s best, brightest
and most innovative teachers (SB 463 – Sparks).
Supporting Oklahoma Business and Industry
• Repealing Oklahoma’s non-compliance with the Real
ID Act (SB 1 – Sparks, Floyd) and empowering the Department
of Public Safety to implement a self-funding system, which will
make Oklahoma compliant with the Real ID Act (SB 190 – Floyd)
as quickly and efficiently as possible, so as to limit the impending
interruption to the mission and work at our military installations
and solve this problem promptly.
• Protecting Oklahoma businesses from excessive fees and taxes
and ensuring that fees and taxes paid are spent in support of the
industry that pays them and are not used to balance the state’s
budget (SB 454 – Sparks).
Fixing the Revenue Problem in our State Budget
• Establishing a fund to replace the revenue from oil and
gas extraction as that resource continues to diminish (SJR35 &
SB610 – Sparks).
• Stopping the 2018 trigger on the most recent short sighted,
politically motivated tax cut and ensure no more tax cuts happen
in this budget environment (SB 82 – Matthews).
Making Oklahoma Healthier and Expanding Access to Healthcare
for Hard Working Oklahomans
• Creating a paid family medical leave model for Oklahoma
state employees (SB 736 – Floyd) where we can model the value
in supporting Oklahoma families in a way that will encourage private
industry to follow our lead.
• Restoring Insure Oklahoma to pre-Affordable Care Act levels
(new SB 805 in process – Sparks).
Expanding Criminal Justice Reform
• Reducing unnecessary costs to state taxpayers by empowering
the Pardon and Parole Board to parole prisoners who are 70 years
of age or older and meet certain other public safety requirements
(SB 185 – Floyd).
Supporting and Protecting the Most Vulnerable Among Us
• Restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit to its previous
refundable status for the lowest-income working Oklahoma families
(SB 434 – Sparks).
• Protecting survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence
and stalking from certain landlord/tenant issues (SB 621 –
• Extending the statute of limitations on human trafficking
(SB 249 – Pittman) and child sexual abuse or child sexual
exploitation (SB 192 – Floyd) to protect Oklahoma’s
most vulnerable children.
• Passing a package of incentives and benefits for Oklahoma’s
military families and veterans, including making 100% of military
retirement pay exempt from state income taxes (SB 126 – Dossett)
and extending reduced motor vehicle registration fees to military
retirees (SB 125 – Dossett).
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