Higher Education Day held at state Capitol, Chancellor encourages opposition to S.B. 858 (concealed carry)
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Published: 23-Feb-2011
By Billie Rodely

Published: 23-Feb-2011

The Oklahoma Higher Education System is frequently touted as a priority of the State Capitol Leadership, leaders of Commerce and Industry, and certainly of the students and administrators of Oklahoma’s colleges and universities.

Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education Chancellor Glen Johnson said as much as he welcomed hundreds visiting the capitol Tuesday (February 22) for the annual Higher Education Day.

Oklahoma higher education officials are looking to the state to fund an increase of $115.6 million for fiscal year 2012.

Johnson told those gathered from across the state that Governor Mary Fallin has made education a priority. In her proposed budget, Fallin does not use across the board cuts, and does spare higher education the more severe cuts proposed for other state agencies, Johnson said.

Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce Dave Lopez addressed those gathered and stressed that higher education is an investment in Oklahoma’s economic development and job creation efforts.

Rogers State University senior Josh Mulanax was one of the student presenters and echoed Lopez when he took the House Chamber podium. “I am your investment,” Mulanax said.

Job creation, economic development and financial support for higher education dominated the conversation Tuesday afternoon as representatives rallied and lobbied.

In his remarks, Johnson brought another priority to the higher education table.  The Chancellor asked those gathered to urge lawmakers to shoot down any legislation that would allow guns on Oklahoma campuses.

Senator Steve Russell, an Oklahoma City Republican, has introduced Senate Bill 858, which would allow concealed carry on campus. “We have these gun-free zone signs on the edge of campuses, but all they do is prevent legal, law-abiding citizens from carrying guns on campus,” Russell recently told the Associated Press. “Those signs don’t do anything but create a cornucopia of defenseless citizens who become easy targets for these criminals.”

Johnson made the point that all 25 public college and university presidents in Oklahoma oppose S.B. 858 and any other legislation which would allow guns on campuses. “Keep those bills in committee,” he said.

House Speaker Kris Steele and Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman also addressed the students. 

At the conclusion of the Higher Education Day session in the House chambers, the representatives of Oklahoma’s institutions of higher education shot-gunned through the capitol to meet and greet lawmakers.

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