News from the Campaign 

The Speaker’s Bills That are Now Law

HB 1908 — Welfare Reform Marriage:

Orders DHS to create a PSA to promote marriage as a social benefit and anti-poverty tool.

  • One of the main purposes of the 1996 federal welfare reform act was to reduce poverty through marriage.

According to the Heritage Foundation, marriage reduces the likelihood of child poverty by 80%.

HB 1909 — Welfare Reform Work:

Orders DHS to no longer seek waivers for Food Stamp Work Requirements.

  • Able-bodied people, 18-50, and without dependents will have to do 20 hours of work activities as required by the 1996 Welfare Reform Act.
  • The goal is to get more individuals out of poverty altogether by incentivizing work (or other acceptable activities under the 1996 law that lead to employment, such as taking classes directly related to achieving employment).

HB 1910 — Pay-As-You-Go Infrastructure Plan:

  • Reforms the Long Range Capital Planning Commission and calls for repair of the Capitol and create an 8-year maintenance plan for infrastructure.
  • LRCPC will direct OMES to liquidate underused assets.
  • Proceeds from liquidation and funds allocated by the legislature will go to prioritized projects.

HB 1911 — Reforms to Unemployment Program:

The legislation defines certain actions as being conduct that would disqualify a claimant from benefits including “excessive or unexplained absenteeism or tardiness.”

  • Gives clear language
  • The claimant signs that they understand the definitions
  • Will limit frivolous claims

HB 1912

Allows a victim to file for a protective order without filing a previous criminal or legal complaint against an alleged defendant. The court can also consider the safety of a victim before setting a bond for an alleged violation of a protective order.

HB 1919 — Deduction for Care for Orphans:

The legislation allows a deduction of $2,500 for single persons/$5,000 for married persons for contributions made for the care of foster children.

HB 2032 — Income Tax Cut and Funding for State Capitol Repairs:

  • Lowers the top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5.0 percent on January 1, 2015. This has a fiscal impact of $54.4 million in FY 2015.
  • Lowers the top income tax rate from 5.0 percent to 4.85 percent on January 1, 2016. This has an additional fiscal impact of $40.5 million in FY 2016 and $101 million once fully annualized.
  • Capitol repairs: HB 2032 reserves $60 million in FY 2014 and an additional $60 million in FY 2015 for capitol repairs. Any leftover money will be turned over to the Maintenance of State Buildings Revolving Fund to pay for other critical infrastructure needs.

House Bill 2195

Caps bonded indebtedness by limiting debt service payments as a percentage of the General Revenue Fund. The measure places the payment cap at five percent of the GRF. By doing so, this would limit the ability to increase state debt when interest rates are high.

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Speaker Shannon’s Statement on Today’s Tornado in Moore

“Today’s events in Moore are unfathomable and disturbing. Members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and staff huddled in the basement of the Capitol after being ordered to take cover this afternoon. We were unable to do anything but watch the forces of nature destroy homes and devastate the lives of our fellow Oklahomans.

“We stood and watched as first responders, emergency workers and civilians ran towards danger with no thought other than saving the lives of their friends and neighbors. The whole world witnessed the bravery of these Oklahomans.

“While the full impact of this disaster is yet to be determined, let us be thankful for those who are on the frontlines tirelessly working to save the people of this great state. I call on my fellow Oklahomans to mirror their spirit and do what you can for those whose lives are forever changed by this disaster. They need our help now more than ever. Let us also stay strong in prayer and have faith that God will see us through.”


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Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon making name for himself

OKLAHOMA CITY — T.W. Shannon, speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and a fast-rising star in national conservative politics, has a special name for the off-white couch in his state Capitol office.

“The Truth Sofa.”

House members come into his office, sit on The Truth Sofa and tell him … the truth: Why they can’t vote for leadership bills, why they have to vote for non-leadership bills, why certain proposals are essential to their districts, or their constituencies, or their friends.

Many times, Shannon says, he spends the better part of his day sitting across from The Truth Sofa, listening.

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Speaker Shannon and Conservative Leadership Take a Stand Against Federal Intrusion into Child Education

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Speaker T.W. Shannon and House Republican Leadership announced a measure that will halt the federal intrusion of Common Core in Oklahoma Public Schools today.

House Bill1719 repeals the 2010 law requiring Common Core to be implemented by Oklahoma school districts. The measure will also prohibit the Oklahoma Department of Education from enacting new regulations concerning Common Core without legislative approval. The state will also cease to seek any further waivers or federal funds that are conditioned on Common Core.

“The more information we learn about Common Core, the more it appears to be another vehicle for federal control of our public education system,” said Speaker Shannon, R-Lawton. “I have become increasingly concerned about this issue, and today I’m announcing legislation that will be the first step in putting an end to federal intrusion into our education system.”

The Obama Administration has been pushing states to adopt Common Core standards. The federal government has created incentives for adopting such standards, but with those funds come heavy mandates that increase costs for school districts.

“As lawmakers, we must ensure that quality standards are applied when it comes to the education of our children,” said Speaker Shannon, R-Lawton. “One-Size-Fits-All solutions from Washington, D.C. allow the federal government to have a hand in the level of opportunity and achievement our children can reach. The House of Representatives has a unique opportunity to lead and say no to federal control of our education system, no to yet another over-reach from the Obama Administration.”

“On- Size-Fits-All solutions from Washington, D.C. have done little to improve the quality of life of Americans or the education of our children,” said Representative Dennis Casey, the author of HB 1719. “We must work to create standards that allow our children to excel.”

HB 1719 must go through conference committee and be approved by both chambers before going to the desk of Gov. Fallin to be signed into law.


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Fallin signs pro-marriage public service ad bill

Via Tulsa World

OKLAHOMA CITY - Gov. Mary Fallin on Friday signed a measure requiring a state agency to air public service announcements promoting marriage as a way to combat poverty.

House Bill 1908 requires “a statewide public service announcement campaign, under the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative, promoting marriage as a tool against poverty and targeting all members of the public.”

The measure was sponsored by House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, and Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City.

The measure prohibits state officers from appearing in the public service announcements.

The Marriage Initiative, created in the 1990s under then-Gov. Frank Keating within the Department of Human Services, provides counseling to couples, Holt said.

The initiative attempts to keep the divorce rate down, Holt said.

But “it only reaches those who seek its services,” he said. “The PSAs reach a much broader audience.”

He said the Department of Human Services will use existing funds to pay for the public service announcements.

Marriage is an important issue in the Oklahoma, which has a high divorce rate, Holt said.

Critics have said airing PSAs is not a core government service and that it might negatively impact those who are in marriages marred with abuse.

“I don’t think a PSA is going to force someone to stay in an unsafe situation,” Holt said.

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Cameron commencement is a family affair

Via The Lawton Constitution

House speaker is speaker for wife’s graduation

When Devon Shannon graduates from Cameron University tonight, she will be in the unusual situation of watching her husband give her commencement address.

She is the wife of T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, Oklahoma’s first African-American Speaker of the House and the youngest member of the House to attain the leadership position.

Shannon said she will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing. It will be her second degree. She previously earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from the University of Oklahoma.

Devon Shannon is the vice president of Shannon Strategies, her husband’s consulting firm.

Devon and T.W. have two children, Audrey Grace, 7, and Tahrohon Wayne II, 4. Both attend Lawton Christian School.

Shannon said she started her academic career at Cameron, where she met her future husband.

“He was standing there looking so handsome,” she said.

Shannon was a communication major at CU. She spent a lot of time working on broadcast projects, both in front of and behind the camera.

She transferred to OU, only to find out that a number of classes were required at the larger school before students were allowed to have as much hands-on time in the studio as she had enjoyed at Cameron.

About two years ago, Shannon started back to school at Cameron after rediscovering her love of writing.

“I’ve always been a writer,” she said.

She was looking online for a writing conference and discovered Cameron offers an English degree with a creative writing emphasis.

“After my kids went off to school, T.W. was just like ‘you should do this, you should go back to school,’” Shannon said.

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New budget is fiscally responsible, increases support for education

By state Rep. Scott Martin

Over the course of the legislative session, the crafting of the state budget is the biggest task we face each spring.

As chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, I am a part of that process every step of the way. It’s daunting, but it is rewarding to be working on the ground floor of what will become next year’s budget. I work with an incredible budget team of fellow legislators and fiscal staff.

I’m happy to report to you that the budget for Fiscal Year 2014 has been agreed to by the governor’s office and leadership in the state House and state Senate. In other words, a deal is in place to operate our state in the upcoming year and has come weeks earlier than normal.

In addition to being completed early, I’m proud that it is fiscally conservative while providing increases where resources are most needed, such as education, transportation, health, child welfare and infrastructure. The budget for FY 2014 is slated at $7.1 billion. It should be fully passed out of the Legislature soon and signed by Gov. Mary Fallin later this month.

While there are many aspects of this budget I like, I am especially happy that education funding was protected and advanced. The field saw a targeted increase to the tune of $91 million for common education – 43 percent of the growth revenue we had to budget this year. Historically, common education is about 35 percent of our entire state budget. Also included is a $33 million increase for higher education and $3 million more for career tech funding. Over half of all the new growth revenue, nearly 60 percent, is going to education. That’s important as Oklahoma’s tomorrow is nurtured in today’s classrooms.

Other targeted increases include:

  • $40 million for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to support programs such as SoonerCare
  • $1.2 million to the Department of Health in support of Veteran Center inspections and infant mortality reduction initiatives
  • $17.4 million for the Department of Mental Health and Substance to support programs related to suicide prevention, prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment, and school safety
  • $44 million for the Department of Human Services to support continued implementation of the Pinnacle Plan and reduction of the waiting list for services related to individuals with developmental disabilities
  • $30 million to the State Buildings Revolving Fund to address aging infrastructure all across our state
  • $120 million for repairs and renovations of the state Capitol

Keep in mind that, with this fiscal year budget plan, appropriations to state agencies are held flat or targeted increases to core state services are provided for. The $7.1 billion budget takes into consideration recent budget cuts due to the national recession and inflationary cost increases.

Most importantly, we’ve come to an agreement on a budget without taking on additional debt. This budget is balanced, delivered on time and is focused on the fundamental priorities this state needs to thrive.

Scott Martin serves District 46 of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

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Governor Mary Fallin and Legislative Leaders Announce Budget Deal

Budget Holds the Line on Spending for Most Agencies, Provides Targeted Increases to Education, Health and Other Areas

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin, House Speaker T.W. Shannon, Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman and appropriations chairmen in the state Legislature today reached an agreement on a proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2014. The agreement outlines a fiscally conservative blueprint for state government, holding the line on spending for most agencies while providing targeted increases in resources for education, health, child welfare and infrastructure.

A spreadsheet outlining details of the $7.2 billion budget is attached. Examples of targeted increases include:

  • $91 million for common education, including: $74M in FY 2014 to support reform efforts and get more resources into classrooms; a $17M supplemental for common education to fund teacher health benefits and other costs in FY 2013
  • $33 million for Higher Education and $3 million for Career Technology to support operations and the goal of awarding more degrees and career certificates
  • $40 million for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to support operations, including Sooner Care
  • $1.2 million for the Department of Health to support infant mortality reduction initiatives and to implement new inspections of long term care facilities for veterans
  • $17.4 million for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse to support initiatives including suicide prevention, prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment, counseling for children with mental illnesses, and “smart on crime” initiatives like the Justice Reinvestment Act
  • $44 million for the Department of Human Services to support operations, including the implementation of the Pinnacle Plan and the reduction of the waiting list for services offered to individuals with developmental disabilities
  • $30 million to Maintenance of State Buildings Revolving Fund and $60 million for repairs and renovation of the State Capitol

Governor Mary Fallin said, “Today’s budget deal holds the line on spending for most agencies, and continues to reinforce the idea that state government must operate more efficiently and effectively, not simply ask taxpayers to write a larger check. At the same time, it recognizes that there are a limited number of priority areas that require more resources to succeed. Chief among them are education and health services. These are quality of life issues as well as economic issues. For Oklahoma to continue its remarkable economic growth and create more jobs, we need a healthy, highly educated and highly skilled workforce. Our focus on improving education and health will continue to make the state a better place to live, locate a business and raise a family. My thanks go out to our legislators for working so hard with me to create this fiscally conservative roadmap for the state. “

House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, said, “This budget reflects conservative leadership’s commitment to core government services. We have produced a sensible budget without taking on debt, and we are investing in education to better prepare our children for tomorrow. This deal also takes the first steps toward the state becoming better stewards of the people’s infrastructure by dedicating funds to maintenance and repair of state buildings. This Legislature will continue to work to create conservative policies that are mindful of the taxpayers’ money and create opportunity and a more prosperous future for Oklahomans.”

Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said “This is a balanced budget with a focus toward fundamental priorities like teaching in the classroom, improving child welfare, and responsibly maintaining our infrastructure investments. I’m proud of our conservative approach to limit government growth while still meeting important obligations in education, health, and human services. We know funding historic education reforms is essential to our continued economic growth, and I’m proud of the progress we’re making to better care for our state’s most vulnerable children. Job creators are watching Oklahoma, and what they’re seeing is a state committed to an educated workforce, to healthier citizens, and to pro-growth policies backed by low taxes and spending restraint.”


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