Special Reports . . .

Fixing the Past is Today’s Obstacle
2016-04-12 06:31:39
By Speaker Jeffrey W. Hickman

In 2005, voters handed Republicans control of the Oklahoma House of Representatives for only the second time in history. Our transportation system was crumbling, our prison system was dangerously overcrowded, and the Capitol building was falling apart after decades of neglect. Oklahoma had a non-competitive income tax rate and possibly the worst funded public pension system in the nation.

Republicans also inherited an education system where too many dollars weren’t going to the classroom and teacher salaries, and student outcomes needed improvement. That first year, House Republicans gave our schools an immediate increase of $168 million, and education remains one of our highest priorities more than a decade later.

From 2007 through 2015, funding for preK-12 schools increased more than $136.8 million (5.83 percent), while many other state agencies received cuts of more than 25 percent. Beginning in 2012, Republicans increased common education funding a total of nearly $207 million over three years, and last year, despite a budget shortfall of $611 million, local schools received no budget cut.

Today, 51 percent of the state budget is dedicated to education, with almost 35 percent going to preK-12 schools. Between state appropriations and local and federal sources, our preK-12 education system received a record $8.2 billion for the current fiscal year, the most in state history, which includes nearly $300 million for the teachers retirement system.

Reforming our pension systems is a national success story. This past decade, Republicans stopped the bleeding from years of robbing the system. All seven retirement systems are now on the road to solvency, protecting commitments to current and future retirees.

In 2005, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation budget was the same as in 1985. Annual funding for transportation was less than $180 million and Oklahoma had nearly 1,200 structurally deficient bridges. To correct this mismanagement, Republicans more than doubled funding for infrastructure this past decade. We have now appropriated over $2 billion for state roads and bridges and pumped an additional $1 billion into county roads and bridges. That’s $3 billion which could have been used to increase teacher pay, improve rural health systems and put more money back into the pockets of hardworking taxpayers.

Additionally, we face a crisis in state prisons. Funding is critical but won’t solve structural problems in criminal justice. In 2013, we passed the Justice Reinvestment Initiative to reduce repeat offenders and lower crime rates. Since then, we continued this effort passing reforms and providing resources to lock up the most dangerous criminals.

After ten years implementing conservative ideas, we are making progress on nearly 100 years of mismanagement and failed policies. Despite these obstacles, House Republicans will continue making tough decisions and promote ideas that allow the private sector to create better jobs, make our state more prosperous and provide better opportunities for Oklahomans. We will focus on new efficiencies, continue to fund and improve our schools, restore state infrastructure and make Oklahoma families safer. This is how we will leave Oklahoma - in a better place than we found it.

2014-03-26 06:20:59

Oklahoma City- The Department of Public Safety announced today they will begin to implement a temporary extension for CDL holders who have been downgraded due to failure to timely submit an updated medical examiner certificate or complete a self-certification form.
The temporary extension will allow applicants to have the downgrade of their CDL removed while giving them until December 31, 2014 to successfully complete all required examinations for their specific class of license.This temporary extension does not waive any applicable fees or any requirements necessary to be issued a new license or maintain a current CDL.

DPS Commissioner Michael C. Thompson stated that he “deeply appreciated the efforts by the personnel assigned to the CDL division who identified an alternative to allow effected CDL drivers more time to comply with the federal requirement.”

Governor Mary Fallin thanked the department and Commissioner Michael Thompson for quickly addressing the situation.

“CDL holders are drivers who provide essential services to the state as well as to businesses," said Fallin. "I appreciate the efforts of Commissioner Thompson and his department to accommodate their needs and grant an extension while they work to submit their required paperwork."

Anyone affected by this may contact DPS Driver License Help Desk at (405)
425-2020 and will temporarily have their license upgraded to their previous CDL, (prior to the downgrade) once they provide a self-certification affidavit and/or medical card. If they self-certify as non-excepted interstate, they must also provide a current copy of their medical examiner’s certificate.

Rep. Sean Roberts says bill would raise taxes on military
2014-03-06 09:55:16


OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Sean Roberts said legislation approved today in the Oklahoma House of Representatives would increase the tax burden paid by military personnel and their families.

House Bill 3143 would make individuals living on military installations on federal property subject to sales, use and occupancy tax ordinances of a municipality if annexed by that municipality.

“This legislation allows cities to tax veterans and active duty military personnel who they have not been able to previously tax,” said Roberts, R-Hominy. “I am sure the bill’s intent is to help municipalities who sometimes struggle to find funding streams to address all their needs, but I think this is a grossly inappropriate expansion of who they can tax. Veterans, military personnel, and their families deserve our gratitude and our protection from further taxation.”

State Rep. John Bennett also criticized the legislation.

“As a Marine, I am offended by the legislation and I do not understand why my colleagues would support this bill,” said Bennett, R-Sallisaw. “Even if there is a legitimate rationale for it, I think we should put our military men and women first and support them against municipal interests. Fortunately, the vote was captured and so there is an opportunity to bring it up for another vote. This will allow us to ask more questions and further debate the bill before holding another vote.”

The legislation was approved by a vote of 69-20.

A Note to my Constituents
2013-05-04 05:24:31
A Note to my Constituents:

The legislative process requires elected officials to consider multiple aspects of issues that not only affect their constituents, but also impact the communities in which they reside and serve. There is lengthy research, debate, and consideration given to each measure. As a result, the service owed to the community as a whole often requires voting for or against legislation in ways that some do not prefer.

The preservation of my personal integrity and the values on which I was not only raised, but also elected, require my uncompromising ability to vote with my moral convictions. I cannot vote for a bill that I cannot support. While I am certainly sympathetic to the beliefs of some who may oppose my stances, my position is, and will remain, to adequately represent the district as a whole; voting with the conscience and convictions through which I obtained this office.

I always welcome your feedback. I appreciate knowing how proposed or pending legislation will impact you, your community, and your industries. I ask that you keep myself and this office in your prayers as we approach the conclusion of this legislative session.

God Bless,

Rep. Dan Kirby

Governor Signs Heart Screenings for Newborns Bill
2013-04-22 07:10:08
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin today signed legislation to require a heart screening of newborns before they leave the hospital where they are born.

The new law, House Bill 1347, by state Rep. Dan Kirby and state Sen. Kim David, will require hospitals and other birthing facilities to perform a pulse oximetry screening on every newborn prior to discharge from the facility. The bill received unanimous approval in the Oklahoma Senate and nearly unanimous approval in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Senator Kim David and my colleagues on this important bill,” said Kirby, R-Tulsa. “Giving newborns the best chance at a long and healthy life is policy we can all get behind. Pulse oximetry screenings are the newest and best way to detect congenital heart defects that are often not identified by other methods. Requiring these screenings will ensure more newborns survive their first weeks of life and have fewer health problems as they continue to grow and develop.”

The pulse oximetry screening is a noninvasive test that measures the percentage of hemoglobin in blood that is saturated with oxygen.

Congenital heart defects are the No. 1 killer in infants with birth defects.

Pulse Oximetry Bill Passes Senate
2013-04-11 07:33:49
April 10, 2013
Nellie Kelly
(918) 550-2728

Pulse Oximetry Bill Passes Senate

Bill to require heart screening for newborns goes to governor’s desk

The American Heart Association is happy to announce that the Oklahoma Senate passed HB 1347 by a vote of 44-0 on Wednesday afternoon.
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Dan Kirby and Sen. Kim David. It was passed by the House of Representatives on March 5. With approval from the House and Senate, it will go to Gov. Mary Fallin later this week.
“This means other babies won’t have to go through what my daughter did,” said Ashley Brown of Skiatook, whose daughter was born with a complex heart defect that wasn’t detected for three months. “This means that other moms won’t have babies who suffer in the dark. They will get help promptly. I was in tears so many times because I knew something wasn’t right, but I didn’t know exactly what was wrong.”
Brown’s daughter is now 2 years old and her surgery is working. However, she was not diagnosed until she was three months old and already in heart failure. A pulse oximetry screening at birth could have detected a heart problem much earlier.
Pulse oximetry is a simple test that measures oxygen in the blood and can indicate how well the heart is functioning. A low oxygen level could signal a heart issue. Research suggests that wider use of pulse oximetry screening would help identify more than 90 percent of heart defects.
“The sooner a heart problem is detected, the sooner babies can get the help they need,” said Naomi Amaha, government relations director for the American Heart Association. “We want to make sure that no matter where a baby is born, parents can be sure that a pulse oximetry screening has been performed.”
To send a letter of support to the governor or learn about other legislative issues important to the American Heart Association, go to www.yourethecure.org.

Legislation to require newborn heart screenings has one family's wholehearted support.
2013-02-28 09:21:05
Legislation to require newborn heart screenings has one family's wholehearted support

By SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writer
Published: 2/26/2013 2:22 AM
Last Modified: 2/26/2013 4:59 AM

Ashley Brown's 2-year-old daughter almost didn't survive past 3 months because of a heart defect that could have been detected at birth.

Having lived through three months of heartache and the near death of her daughter, Brown, of Skiatook, supports a bill in the state Legislature that would make screening for heart defects in newborns mandatory.

It requires that a pulse oximetry test be performed before the baby is sent home.

The legislation by Rep. Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa, is named after Brown's daughter, Fayelen Brown.

"Her case is a perfect example," Brown said. "This is a child that statistically should have died. It's a miracle that she didn't."

The bill has passed through committee but has not yet received a floor vote.

Requiring the testing could help save lives and keep families from the trauma of a child who isn't well but hasn't been properly diagnosed, said Nellie Kelly, director of communications for the American Heart Association, which supports the bill and is pursuing it in states across the country.

Twenty-five states are pursuing similar legislation, according to the association.

Congenital heart defects are the most common and for infants the deadliest type of birth defect in the United States, she said.

Some hospitals do the testing already, but not all, she said. The pulse oximetry test is noninvasive and easy to perform. It tells doctors how well the heart is functioning, Kelly said.

"Nobody wants to think that something is seriously wrong with their baby, but if there is then pulse oximetry would be an easy test to know for sure," she said.

When Fayelen was born she seemed healthy, but soon after she was crying all the time, she had feeding issues and her color wasn't right.

Her mother took her to the doctor frequently, but the problem went un- detected.

At about 3 months, she became lethargic and her eyes were glazed over.

"The lights were on, but nobody was home," Brown said. "She was dying."

The baby eventually was rushed to a Dallas hospital, where she was diagnosed with cor triatriatum and underwent open-heart surgery.

She is now doing well and goes to a cardiologist for a checkup every six months.

"She runs around. She walks. She talks. She's happy," Brown said.

During the ordeal. Brown kept thinking there had to be some way to detect such problems earlier and give babies with heart defects a better chance of surviving.

"We are tired of standing by and watching children suffer and watching mothers lose their babies," she said.

The cost of the test is $5 to $7, various news media have reported.

Kirby said he is optimistic the bill will pass.

Most hospitals already have the equipment to do the test, and it is fast, inexpensive and simple, he said.

"To me it's a common-sense thing to do to save babies' lives," he said. "I don't see why everyone's not already doing it."

Original Print Headline: Hearty support


Lawmakers Want Heart Screenings for Newborns
2013-01-31 13:32:21
OKLAHOMA CITY – As America gets ready to celebrate National Wear Red Day, two state lawmakers are preparing a push to require a more effective heart screening of Oklahoma’s youngest residents.

House Bill 1347, by state Rep. Dan Kirby, would require hospitals and other birthing facilities to perform a pulse oximetry screening on every newborn prior to discharge from the facility.

“The more common methods for detecting congenital heart defects identify less than half of all cases,” said Kirby, R-Tulsa. “The pulse oximetry screening has been shown to catch some of these cases that would otherwise be missed. It will be a requirement that is easy to comply with and that will ensure a safer start on life by those newborn infants with a congenital heart defect.”

The pulse oximetry screening is a noninvasive test that measures the percentage of hemoglobin in blood that is saturated with oxygen.

Congenital heart defects are the No. 1 killer in infants with birth defects.

State Sen. Kim David, who will carry the legislation in the Oklahoma Senate, said such screenings can give newborns the best chance to live longer, healthier lives.

“By detecting heart defects that may otherwise go unnoticed, this legislation could have an extraordinary impact on the lives of Oklahomans,” said David, R-Porter. “Successful screenings can prevent the tragedy of the unexpected, and potentially fatal, cardiac episods as newborns get older. House Bill 1347 is another important step in our efforts to make Oklahoma a healthier state.”

House Bill 1347, will most likely be assigned to the House Public Health Committee, where members will review the legislation and vote to send it on to the full House.

The legislative session convenes Feb. 4, 2013.

Lawmaker Invites Remington to Oklahoma
2013-01-24 08:12:45

Oklahoma House of Representatives
Media Division
January 24, 2013

Contact: State Rep. Dan Kirby
Office: (405) 557-7356

OKLAHOMA CITY – In light of a New York ban on assault rifles, state Rep. Dan Kirby said today he would like to invite Remington to consider Oklahoma as a gun manufacturing location.

“I was just reading about the backlash from an Ilion, N.Y., Remington gun factory and I wanted to get the word out that many Oklahoma lawmakers would welcome gun manufacturing jobs in our state and would like an opportunity to talk to Remington about our incentive programs and friendly business climate.”

Kirby said Oklahoma has a deeply embedded gun culture and will unlikely ever consider any type of ban on guns.

“Support for Second Amendment rights is bipartisan and overwhelming,” said Kirby. “Really, I think most Oklahomans would be proud to welcome gun manufacturers to the state.”

Kirby noted that Oklahoma has several manufacturing incentives available to companies that bring jobs to the state such as the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Act and a 5-year property tax exemption for manufacturers. State lawmakers have enacted lawsuit reform in past year and are working this year to reform the state workers’ compensation system.

“You can’t get much more business-friendly,” said Kirby.