Phantom vote recorded on budget bill
Questions arose Thursday after the House voted 59-40 to approve House Bill 2301, the state budget bill. House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, said the electronic voting system showed Rep. Terry O'Donnell, R-Tulsa, had voted for the budget even though he had left the Capitol an hour earlier. Inman said House Republicans told Democrats that two different House members pressed O'Donnell's green yes button on his desk. One vote was whether to adopt the text of HB 2301 and the other vote was on the bill's passage. Rep. Bobby Cleveland, O'Donnell's seatmate, said he didn't see who voted for O'Donnell, who couldn't be reached for comment. “I didn't even know he was gone,” said Cleveland, R-Slaughterville, saying O'Donnell often walks away from his desk on the floor. “I didn't vote for him.” Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, is looking into the matter, said his spokesman, Joe Griffin. Democrats pressed Speaker Pro Tem Mike Jackson, R-Enid, at least to admonish members about the voting rules. In 2008 House members were reminded that the rules require them to be in the chamber when telling others to vote for them after a House Democrat's vote was recorded while he was in his office. Members vote on bills by pushing buttons on their desks in the chamber. If they're away from their desks, they can signal to the presiding officer, usually the speaker pro tem, how they wish to vote or to another member to push their button for them.
Bill would increase trooper allowance
A measure should be heard in the House next week that would increase the equipment allowance for state troopers. House Bill 1794 would increase troopers' allowance from $150 a month to $300. Troopers have not seen an equipment allowance increase since the early 1990s; a pay raise is not included in the budget for the 2014 fiscal year, which starts July 1, for troopers or other state employees.
Lawmakers honor Byng teacher
The House and the Senate honored a Byng Junior High School physical science teacher for being one of five educators nationwide to be inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. Deborah Cornelison, a ninth-grade physical science teacher, is only the third Oklahoma teacher to receive the national honor, said Rep. Todd Thomsen, R-Ada. The House and Senate adopted Senate Concurrent Resolution 30, by Sen. Susan Paddack, R-Ada, and Thomsen, which noted her accomplishments. Cornelison has been teaching physics and chemistry since 1988. She has won numerous awards, including the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association Teacher of the Year, the Oklahoma Science and Engineering Fair Hall of Fame and Byng Teacher of the Year, and has been a finalist for Oklahoma Teacher of the Year.
MICHAEL MCNUTT, CAPITOL BUREAU