Tuesday, February 14, 2006

OK pro-life


February 14, 2006

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House Republicans’ Pro-Life Bills Pass Committee, Go to Floor for Vote
OKLAHOMA CITY – Lawmakers in the Oklahoma House on Monday gave quick approval to a package of pro-life legislation first announced by House Republicans last week.
"These measures foster a culture of life in Oklahoma," said Speaker Todd Hiett (R-Kellyville). "These are common sense measures that make sure women have all of the information available about abortion decisions. And we’re doing what we can to protect unborn children from harm."
Lawmakers in the House Health and Human Services Committee today passed the Republican package of pro-life legislation. The bills next go to the House floor for a vote:
House Bill 2496, the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, authored by Rep. John Trebilcock (R-Broken Arrow), would require that a woman considering an abortion be informed that her child could experience pain during an abortion, if the child is 20 weeks or older. The bill would also require that a woman be counseled about the option of anesthesia for her child to alleviate pain.
House Bill 2614, authored by Rep. Kevin Calvey (R-Del City), would require that a woman considering an abortion be given the option of seeing her baby through an ultrasound. The ultrasound could take place at an abortion facility or another location.
House Bill 2654, the Oklahoma Statistical Reporting of Abortion Act, authored by Rep. Susan Winchester (R-Chickasha), would require all physicians performing or treating abortions to report complete and accurate information regarding abortions and their consequences in Oklahoma. For example, the bill would require tracking the number of abortions, the circumstances surrounding abortions and the medical complications arising from abortions.
House Republican Leadership Announces Faith-Based Agenda
OKLAHOMA CITY – Speaker Todd Hiett, along with House GOP leaders Rep. Lance Cargill and Rep. Thad Balkman, recently announced measures aimed at strengthening faith-based partnerships in Oklahoma while tackling some of the state’s most pressing social problems.
"When it comes to problems like the explosion of gambling addiction or repeat offenders in our state, Oklahoma’s faith-based programs can help repair our state’s frayed safety net," said Speaker Todd Hiett (R-Kellyville). "We know the role Oklahoma’s faith-based organizations play in our communities every day, and we must have their help to solve social challenges."
The centerpiece of the House GOP faith-based agenda are three measures providing a charitable tax credit, helping prison inmates prepare for life after they’ve served their sentences, and helping compulsive gamblers in Oklahoma.
Tax Credits for Charitable Donations - House Bill 3122, authored by Speaker Hiett and co-authored by Rep. Brian Bingman, would establish a new tax credit for those who give more to charities that assist the poor. Individuals could get a $200 credit, while couples would get a $300 credit in 2007 and $400 thereafter. The credit would apply to individuals who give more than they did either in the 2006 tax year or the first year they itemize. Individuals would also garner the credit if they gave more than 2 percent of their gross income. The credit is similar to a measure enacted in Arizona.
Aiming to Reduce Repeat Offenders in Oklahoma Prisons- House Bill 3037, the "Restorative Justice Act of 2006," would establish new incentives for expanded partnerships between prison officials and faith-based & community groups.
"Government alone can’t do it all," said Rep. Cargill (R-Harrah), Majority Floor Leader, who conducted an interim study and held hearings to develop the HB 3037 plan. Cargill said the incentives in HB 3037 would aim to lower repeat offender rates by preparing inmates for life beyond prison walls before they are released. The HB 3037 plan has four main elements:
  • Tying recidivism rates to the evaluation of Oklahoma’s prison system.
  • Ensuring that corrections facilities recruit and welcome volunteers and establish partnerships with faith-based and com-munity groups to provide services.
  • Coordinating re-entry programs to help inmates find jobs, housing, substance abuse treatment, medical care and mental health services.
  • Establishing collaboration among private and public sectors to connect inmates to employment opportunities and ser-vices before release.
Helping Oklahoma’s Gambling Addicts - Meanwhile, to address the growing problem of compulsive gambling in Oklahoma, House Bill 2408, introduced by Rep. Thad Balkman (R-Norman), would provide a reliable source of funds for compulsive gambling treatment. Previously, gambling treatment programs re-ceived state funding only from unclaimed lottery prize money – an uncertain and very limited source of cash -- and $250,000 from casino revenue. However, while the legalization of casinos has fueled an explosion in problem gamblers, the state has received only a small fraction of the money promised.
House Bill 2408 would require the Oklahoma Lottery Commission to spend $500,000 per year on gambling treatment programs for the first time. The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services would have over-sight of treatment programs and the legislation directs the agency to work with faith-based programs as part of the treatment initiative.
House Bill 2408 would also require "truth in advertising" in lottery marketing, including a disclosure of the actual odds of winning. The bill would require the Oklahoma Lottery Commission to disclose the odds of winning each lottery game by stating the odds in advertisements or by posting the odds at each retail outlet selling tickets. Similar legislation passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives last year on a 98-0 vote.


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