Freshman Democratic legislator presses measures he says will support middle class
Share this Article: Twitter Facebook Republish Print
YouTube Video

Published: 26-Dec-2014

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Entering his first legislative session, newly elected Oklahoma State Rep. Jason Dunnington, D-Oklahoma City, has proposed a slate of legislation targeted, he said, at Oklahoma families and the middle class.

Dunnington’s proposals include allowing public schools flexibility to be innovative with funding, ensuring employment equality, public health reform specifically targeted at children, expanding access to family leave for new parents and medical leave to care for relatives during an emergency. The Oklahoma City Democrat also plans to file measures to support economic development, raise the minimum wage, and promote energy conservation measures in public schools across the state.

The First Regular Session of the 55th Oklahoma Legislature will convene at noon on January 6 to organize, and the fourth-month annual session starts in earnest on February 2.

Dunnington’s bills cover a range of topics, many of which he heard during the last two years while meeting with constituents on the campaign trail.

Dunnington contends smoking should be banned in vehicles in which children are present, because of the health risks and medical costs. “Smoking in a car is bad for anyone’s health but is very bad for children because their lungs are still growing. It has been shown that breathing cigarette smoke in a closed car is similar to what a firefighter breathes working four to eight hours fighting a wildfire. Exposing our children to secondhand smoke is not in their best interest and will negatively affect their health and the public will likely end up footing part of that bill.”

The freshman legislator said that under proposed legislation, any driver ticketed for smoking in the presence of children would be fined but would not be penalized on his/her car insurance or driver’s license.

Another Dunnington proposal would extend paid family and medical leave for maternity/paternity via access to temporary disability insurance. “This proposal helps middle-class families across the state afford to spend time with their child after birth and at such an important stage of their family life. If we say we are ‘family first’ in Oklahoma, then it’s time we show it by supporting families being together from the start,” he said.

Referencing economic growth, Dunnington contends the minimum wage in Oklahoma should be raised above the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour, a level that was established five and a half years ago. At the very least, he said, “Municipalities should have the local control to decide for themselves what minimum wage best fits their economic growth plan.”

Concerning public schools, Dunnington would like to see the same flexibility that charter schools possess available to public schools as a method of introducing innovation in the classroom. “In order for our state to produce a competitive workforce, we must continue to invest in strong public schools and give them the tools they need to succeed,” he said.

Also concerning schools, Dunnington will file a measure that would create an energy conservation program for school districts, modeled after the State Facilities Energy Conservation Program. The ultimate objective of the proposal is to reduce school utility bills and thereby “get more money back into the classroom,” he said.

Finally, Dunnington will file a measure that encourage women to start their own businesses and another that will focus on preventing work place discrimination.

sign up for email updates

Steal Our Stuff