Whatzup Politics (1091)
Senate leader agrees with Governor’s health emergency declaration; Says Senate will meet Monday to take action
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat said he agrees with the governor’s health emergency declaration issued Thursday and that the Senate will convene Monday to take action on the order.
“This particular kind of order hasn’t ever been issued by the executive branch, but I agree it’s needed now during these extraordinary and unprecedented times. We must take this pandemic seriously as a state. Life, at every stage, is precious and we must do everything to protect it.
The health emergency declaration gives the governor and his team greater authority to coordinate Oklahoma’s overall coronavirus response. Oklahoma will come through this health care crisis, and with a unified and statewide response, that comeback will happen quicker and more effectively,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City.
On Thursday, Governor Kevin Stitt issued an health emergency declaration in accordance with the provisions of 63 O.S. § 6101 - 6900 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor’s Office said: Under 63 O.S. § 6104 of the Oklahoma Statutes, the governor is granted broader powers during a health emergency, like the COVID-19 pandemic, to waive statutory or regulatory requirements as well as the ability to coordinate a cohesive statewide response among city and county health departments. This declaration also gives the governor the authority to allow health care professionals who have left the workforce to quickly rejoin the front lines against COVID-19 and protect first responders by helping them manage their personal protective equipment (PPE). By loosening some restrictions, first responders will be able to know if the home they are dispatched to has a resident who has tested positive for COVID-19. Patient names and other identifying information will still be restricted.
The issuance of the health emergency also triggers a special legislative session to approve or deny the governor’s actions. The special session is set for 8 a.m. Monday. Treat said the Senate consulted with the Attorney General’s Office and legal staff since these statutes and provisions have never been invoked.
“The legal opinion is that the governor’s executive order is effective upon its issuance. The Senate is not currently in session; however, attorneys inform us the special session can be held next week. That will help us minimize the amount of time the Legislature meets so that we can adhere to social distancing guidelines,” Treat said.
Treat said the Senate was finalizing logistical plans for session, which include utilizing a minimum amount of Senate staff and rotating senators’ time on the Senate floor so that proper social distancing practices could be observed. ###
WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) released the following statement after the House passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“We are in the middle of an unprecedented public health crisis and the American people need help,” Mullin said. “Over the past two weeks, I have had countless calls with constituents and they have all said the same thing: they’re hurting. Our small businesses, our farmers and ranchers, our teachers, our Tribal governments, our health care workers and first responders on the front lines- we are all hurting right now. While this bill won’t fix all our problems, it brings some much needed relief and confidence that the federal government is taking action to combat this crisis.” “In Oklahoma, we call it the Oklahoma Standard,” Mullin continued. “Neighbors helping neighbors through hard times. Together, as a country, we will help our neighbors and get through this together.” Some of the highlights of the CARES Act includes: • Cash relief payments to the American people.
• $349 billion for Small Business Administration loan guarantees.
• Community Health Centers, the National Health Service Corps, the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program, Special Diabetes Program for Type I Diabetes and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians are funded through November 30, 2020.
• $150 billion will go directly to States, Tribal governments, and units of local governments, including $8 billion to tribal governments and not less than $1.25 billion to each state. • $1.032 billion for the Indian Health Service.
• Aligns 42 CFR Part 2 regulations with HIPAA, allowing the medical community to utilize substance use disorder treatment records in the same manner as all other medical records. Mullin has been a leading advocate for this to provision in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
By Congressman Markwayne Mullin
The number of COVID-19 cases in our country is growing by the day and without taking any steps to address it, the number of people who become infected will exponentially grow. It’s going to take all of us working together to slow the spread or “flatten the curve” of the number of people getting the virus.
The decisions we make each day impact our communities. Even if you are a young or healthy person, you can spread the disease and increase risk for others, including older people and those with underlying health conditions who are the most at risk. I strongly encourage you to take this seriously and heed recommendations from federal, state, and local public health officials.
President Trump and his Coronavirus Task Force announced an initiative to help slow the spread of the virus. Here are the recommendations:
While these may feel like extreme measures, it’s critical that we all make these sacrifices for the greater good of our communities. Over these next few weeks, I encourage you to do your part to flatten the curve.
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Lundy Kiger (R-Poteau) today announced he will be working with public leaders to develop plans for young children and others in need following the closure of public schools for two weeks following Spring Break.
The Oklahoma House of Representatives is scheduled to adjourn Tuesday afternoon, and Kiger said he plans to be back in the district to continue work already taking place.
He will be speaking with business and industry leaders, health care professionals, city leaders, ministers, daycare owners, school leaders and anyone else available who wants to help and to develop plans make sure there are places for young children and how to get food to those in need.
This virtual meeting will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 18 with the help of the Poteau Chamber of Commerce setting the opportunity of using Go to Meeting. We also will try to live stream through Facebook. I would call on all community leaders and county officials and anyone available to join in the meeting by one of these two sources to help assist us in this planning.
The State Board of Education voting to close schools for two weeks following Spring Break is creating many problems for us locally. The ripple effects are causing major problems for parents who are employed but have no child care available. This is a top priority of our people and for our businesses who need our help to assist them.
Kiger said he has contacted each of the public schools in the county to discuss their plans of possibly preparing meals for their students, and they are working with many others on helping to get these meals delivered to our kids up to the age of 18 who are able to stay at home.
For those parents who have children too young to stay home, they may be faced with no place to send them. Staying at home with their kids creates the real possibility of losing their jobs. This is more than an individual problem when you take into consideration the needs of health care and the need for these employees to be at work, especially at our nursing homes and hospitals.
Kiger has talked with the administrator at Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center as well as nursing home leaders to discuss possible steps to try and coordinate daycare options for their employees with young children. Discussions have also been held with Karen Wages at the Poteau Chamber and Arielle Perry with The LeFlore County Boys & Girls Club to see what can be done to help fill in the needs for younger children to ensure getting food for their kids while away from home.
Local churches also are working to help and assist in organizing these efforts to make sure no one is left behind or unattended.
All city mayors or city managers are being called to see what steps they may be taking to assist their towns. Kiger also is asking some of the businesses that can to consider allowing parents to bring their younger children to work if they don’t have relatives or childcare available. If children can get to different locations during the day, they have a better chance of making sure that food is provided.
“The best ideas are coming from our people,” Kiger said. “One lady suggested that when schools prepare meals they consider the option of bus drivers being allowed to run their routes with assistance from teachers to deliver food at specific times. This is a great idea, especially for staff. When schools are closed non-certified personnel don’t get paid while off and there is plenty of work they can do to continue receiving their pay related to helping with food. Certified personnel continue to receive pay at schools during a pandemic.”
“Everyone in LeFlore County in District 3 can play an important role as we work to avoid further spread of this virus during these next few weeks and months,” Kiger said.
WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) offered condolences after Air Force Staff Sgt. Marshal D. Roberts, of Owasso, Oklahoma, was killed in action during a rocket attack on Camp Taji in Iraq on March 11, 2020. Staff Sgt. Roberts was a member of the 219th Engineering Installation Squadron, a subordinate unit of the 138th Fighter Wing in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“Christie and I offer our deepest condolences to Staff Sgt. Roberts’ family and friends and we will keep them in our thoughts and prayers,” Mullin said. “Thank you, Staff Sgt. Roberts, for making the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our great country.”
OKLAHOMA CITY -- A bill aimed at preventing suicide among Oklahoma students passed the House on Tuesday with a bipartisan vote of 93 to 1.
House Bill 3346, authored by Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-OKC), requires public schools that issue identification cards and serve students in grades seventh through twelfth, to print the telephone number and crisis text line for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on the ID card starting July 1, 2021. “Evidence shows that people with mental health challenges are more likely to get the help they need when they’re aware of support and treatments that are available to them," Dollens said.
"With this in mind, I decided to author House Bill 3346. This lifesaving service is free, confidential, and available 24/7, which is critical when a school counselor isn’t available.
“This legislation isn’t a cure-all for the mental health issues our student’s face. It is, however, a pragmatic, cost-effective approach that not only makes it easier for young people to connect with trained mental health professionals, but it also reminds them that they are not alone. By requiring schools to put the number on the back of student ID’s, we can get help to someone before it is too late.” In Oklahoma, someone dies from suicide every 12 hours. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Oklahomans between the ages of 15 and 34.
“After my brother's first attempt, I avoided talking about it because I thought those discussions may resurface suicidal thoughts,” Dollens said. “ After he died, I learned the opposite is true. Talking openly about suicide prevention is shown to reduce ideation and helps destigmatize mental illness.” The legislation is now available to be heard in the Senate.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is (800)273-8255 and will soon simply be 988.
The number for the Crisis Text Line is 741741.
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Rhonda Baker (R-Yukon) on Monday passed a bill in the House that would require all Oklahoma public high schools to offer at least four Advanced Placement (AP) courses to students beginning in the 2024-25 school year.
An amendment to House Bill 3400 would allow schools to choose the type of AP courses offered.
The measure passed the House with a vote of 81-7. “A blend of both AP and concurrent coursework better prepares students for higher education pursuits and the workforce, and this helps cut college tuition costs,” Baker said.
“By focusing on quality coursework, we are signaling to job creators that Oklahoma is serious about training the next generation of leaders.” Baker said schools will be able to select the platform on which to offer these courses, whether in a traditional classroom setting, a virtual option or through an area CareerTech. The bill directs the State Department of Education to provide information to all local boards of education, to be distributed to students and parents, on available opportunities and the AP enrollment process. Virtual schools also would need to make these course options available. Nearly six in 10 Oklahoma schools do not currently offer a single AP course, many of those in rural areas. Baker said this legislation is a way to ensure all students throughout the state have access to at least some AP courses so they are equally prepared for higher learning and the job market
. She said this measure builds on several investments the state has made to expand AP, including allocating funding for teacher training, test fee assistance for low-income students, and grants for districts to start new AP programs.
HB 3400 is co-authored in the House by State Reps. Dustin Roberts (R-Durant), Chad Caldwell (R-Enid), Sherrie Conley (R-Newcastle) Tammy West (R-Oklahoma City), Randy Randleman (R-Eufaula), Mark Vancuren (R-Owasso), Forrest Bennett (D-Oklahoma City), Mickey Dollens (D-Oklahoma City), Jacob Rosecrants (D-Norman), Denise Brewer (D-Tulsa), Melissa Provenzano (D-Tulsa) and John Waldron (D-Tulsa). The measure now moves to the State Senate where it is authored by Sen. Gary Stanislawski (R-Tulsa). -30-
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Lundy Kiger announced a second meeting for the Southeast Oklahoma Alliance on Mental Health at 10 a.m. Friday, March 13, at the Kiamichi Technology Center in McAlester.
Kiger said health care professionals in the Southeast quadrant of Oklahoma (I-40 west to I-35 and counties connecting with Texas and Arkansas) will meet with law enforcement and state agencies over mental health, as well as other legislators from Southeast Oklahoma, to define the bigger issue and to also make decisions with current laws and facilities currently in place to help improve conditions for area people that have immediate needs.
The Southeast Oklahoma Alliance On Mental Health (rural hospitals in Southeast Oklahoma), along with health care professionals, law enforcement and state agencies, met two weeks ago in Poteau for the purpose of identifying specific issues causing delays in people receiving medical evaluations and treatment for mental health issues.
“Many people have been jailed without proper medical evaluations to determine if jail is the right place for them,” Kiger said. “From this initial meeting, it was decided to continue the discussion and invite the entire Southeast Oklahoma health care community to a larger meeting with the goals of improving this situation for everyone in Southeast Oklahoma.”
Kiger explained to the group in Poteau that it’s ridiculous it takes weeks and months for hospitals or law enforcement to get the help they need and forcing them to use precious manpower and time for so long or having to travel long distances to get a medical evaluation on any person. With the technology available today, most of this can be handled through telemedicine, saving time and money for city and county law enforcement as well as area hospitals.
“The difference in the meeting on Friday will be more lawmakers from both the House and Senate are invited to attend,” Kiger said. “I believe this will give us a great audience for local people to explain their difficulties so we can push for changes to be made immediately.”
“One of the areas we can see immediate improvement in is with Carl Albert Mental Health that’s located in McAlester,” Kiger said. “I’ve discussed the situation with the CEO for quicker medical evaluations and I believe we have a strong agreement with CAMH in working with us. We also will focus on helping law enforcement who may get a call with a subject that is experiencing mental health issues to get an evaluation quicker to help avoid a long jail hold time and delays in getting the help a person may need.”
Kiger told the group last week that mental health is a priority and will only get worse over time.
“Now is the time to improve the problems that our professionals and their families are experiencing as we work on lasting improvements through law over time,” Kiger said.
Oklahomans who want to change party affiliation, must submit their change no later than March 31, said, LeFlore County Election Board Secretary Sharon Steele.
Voters may change their party affiliation online using the OK Voter Portal at elections.ok.gov/ovp or by completing a new Voter Registration Application.
Steele reminds voters that no party changes are allowed between April 1 and August 31 during an even numbered year. "If we receive your request after March 31, we are required by law to hold that request and process it in September," Steele said. Oklahoma has three recognized parties: Democrat, Republican, and Libertarian.
In Oklahoma, voters must be a registered member of a party in order to vote in that party's primary election. Independents are permitted to participate in a primary election, only if a party officially requests its elections be opened to Independent voters. Currently, only the Democratic Party allows Independents to vote in its primary elections.
All registered voters, regardless of political affiliation, can vote for any candidate during a General Election.
Voter Registration Applications can be downloaded from the State Election Board website at: elections.ok.gov
Applications are also available at the LeFlore County Election Board located at 103 N. Church St., Poteau. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. For questions, contact the County Election Board at 918-647-3701 or .
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Carol Bush (R-Tulsa) today secured unanimous passage of a bill that ensures price transparency to the public for common health care treatment options.
House Bill 3029 creates the Transparency in Health Care Prices Act and would require health care providers, groups and facilities to make health care prices available to the public for their 20 most commonly provided inpatient and outpatient services. The measure passed the House with a vote of 93-0.
“Someone needing health care services deserves to know the price they will pay for such treatment,” Bus said. “This bill is an effort to provide more transparency in our health care treatment system and to set up a basic structure for supplying such cost information to the Oklahoma consumer.”
Bush said the legislation is supported by the Oklahoma State Medical Association and was a request bill from three doctors that live in her district.
Health care price referenced in this measure means the cash price a provider, group or facility will charge a patient for standard services to be rendered. This pricing list shall be made available to the consumer by the provider, group or facility via their website or other conspicuous posting and must be updated annually. The health care cash price would not include any amount in the case of complications or exceptional treatment.
HB 3029 was co-authored in the House by State Reps. Lewis Moore (R-Arcadia), Andy Fugate (D-Oklahoma City), Robert Manger (R-Oklahoma City), Melissa Provenzano (D-Tulsa) and Dr. Randy Randleman (R-Eufaula).
The bill now moves to the State Senate where it is authored by Adam Pugh (R-Edmond).
Carol Bush represents District 70 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes parts of Tulsa County.