I’m very pleased that the House of Representatives this week gave final approval to my proposal to require that public schools give students the opportunity to recite the pledge of allegiance each school day.  Senate Bill 1143 is a proposal that underscores the value of the pledge as a tradition, and an act that brings us all together in a spirit of appreciation for the blessings of liberty.  I want our children to have the same opportunity to recite the pledge that most of their parents and grandparents had.  I’m grateful for the support of my fellow lawmakers, who approved the bill by an overwhelming majority.

The governor this week signed my bill to limit the state’s stake in the Lifeline program.  Senate Bill 1510 reduces the amount telecommunications providers can be reimbursed through the program, which has often been abused for fraudulent purposes.  A number of telecommunications providers have been fined by the federal government for providing participants with duplicate services, thereby increasing the amount of their reimbursement.

The Senate this week advanced a proposal that responsibly reduces the state’s income tax rate.  House Bill 2508 would reduce the top marginal rate to five percent beginning in 2016, provided that estimated growth in the general revenue fund exceeds the cost to pay for the .25% cut.

We also approved legislation that prohibits an abortion from being performed or induced without voluntary and informed consent at least 24 hours prior.  House Bill 2685 places requirements on procedures that must be performed to be considered consent.  Under the bill, the State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision must publish materials regarding available perinatal hospice and palliative care within ninety days after the passage of the act.

House Joint Resolution 1026 will propose a constitutional amendment declaring it a fundamental right of each individual citizen to keep and bear handguns, rifles and other arms for security, defense, lawful hunting or any other legitimate purpose.  Given the renewed wave of activism against our Second Amendment rights, this amendment will provide an important layer of protection.  A majority of Oklahomans would oppose additional restrictions on gun ownership, and this proposal furthers our efforts to protect those rights from being limited by misinterpretation of state law.  The bill was advanced by the Senate this week.

The Senate this week passed a measure that would authorize up to $160 million to repair our State Capitol building.  The Capitol is much more than the seat of state government – it is a building of historic importance and a tourist destination that gives visitors a picture of our state’s identity and heritage.  The longer we wait to repair this building, the more expensive the job will ultimately become.  We need to do the right thing and approve a bond to fix the Capitol this year.                                                         

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