This week was the deadline to pass bills from the opposite chamber of origin. We certainly had robust debates on the House Floor, and we carefully considered legislation spanning a wide variety of subjects. During the next few weeks, we’ll finalize the budget and begin conference committees. If a member doesn’t agree with amendments that were made to his or her bill, then they can request a conference committee to work on the legislation with stakeholders.
Certainly, SB 441 has received quite a bit of attention. After reviewing the various amendments to this bill, I voted for the final version because I believe this bill is a good compromise that emphasizes both optimal student outcomes and local control for school districts. Beginning in the 2021-22 school year, school districts can either establish 180 days of classroom instruction; 1,080 hours of classroom instruction to be completed in a minimum of 158 days; or 1,080 hours of classroom instruction with no minimum number of days. The third option is predicated on a school district applying for a waiver, and the rules for approval will have to be passed by the legislature, which means that we’ll make sure that the waiver rules promulgated by the State Department of Education are fair and thorough. School districts can decide the best possible scheduling option for their students and faculty. Additionally, with a teacher pay increase of $1,200 included in this bill, we can ensure that our pay salary is competitive with the surrounding states. We still have more to do to properly fund our public education system, and we will continue to make progress with this year’s budget, which should have an increase to the education funding formula. I believe that paying our teachers competitively along with investing more in classroom funding will lead to a strong education system in Oklahoma.
I was excited to have Katherine Macleod as my second page of this legislative session. Katherine is currently a senior at Lawton High School who plans on attending the University of Central Florida to study political science. She’s been extremely involved in Key Club International and wants to pursue a career in public service.
During the past couple of days, many Lawtonians have visited the State Capitol. Our delegation spoke with members of Junior Leadership Lawton Fort Sill and encouraged them to be civically engaged. There were also a few constituents who visited the Capitol during Together Oklahoma’s Rally for Coverage to discuss how we can increase access to quality health insurance. This is an issue that we’re hoping to address during the next year. In my view, health care is an issue that should transcend party lines because it affects everyone in the general population. I look forward to working with my colleagues on a common sense solution to help our working poor, mentally ill, and drug addicted just like many other states have already done.
I’m excited to report that the Governor has signed two more bills that I authored: HB 2281 and SB 700. HB 2281 adds evading a law enforcement officer in the context of a felony pursuit that endangers the general public to the list of dangerous crimes, and SB 700 updates how a legal signature can be obtained as a reflection of changes in modern technology, specifically blockchain.
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As always, I can be reached via email at email@example.com and phone at 405-557-7374.