Whatzup Politics (1484)
August is here, which means summer is coming to an end. In our family, like many other families, there is a mix of sadness that summer vacation is almost over and anticipation for the new school year to begin. As our kids start school again, I want to recognize Oklahoma’s teachers and what they do for all of us.
Primary education provides the foundation a child needs to be successful for the rest of their life. It could be argued the most important duty we have in our communities is to educate the next generation and we entrust our teachers to fulfill that duty. Most parents understand that it takes a village to raise a child, and teachers play a vital role in that village.
The pandemic created unprecedented disruption to our education system and our children’s lives over the past year and a half. As the father of six kids, all attending public school in Oklahoma, I saw firsthand the challenges my kids’ schools faced and the difficulty of remote learning when the Internet wasn’t always available. Teachers went to incredible lengths to help students keep learning, whether remote or in the classroom. They set an example of how to thrive in adversity. Our children are lucky to have resilient role models to look up to.
We all have teachers that have made a lasting impact on our lives, and I know I would not be where I am today without some of the incredible teachers I had. As our kids head back to school, be sure to thank a teacher in our community for all they do to help shape the young minds of the future.
You can’t spend more than you have without acquiring debt. And eventually, you will have to pay that debt. I believe most people understand this basic principle of fiscal responsibility.
Every day, families make choices on how they plan to spend their hard-earned paychecks without taking on crippling debt. It’s unfortunate that Democrats in Congress don’t seem to understand this.
Despite an economy that is well on the path to recovery, Democrats are continuing down the path of reckless spending. This week, they rammed through a massive $600 billion spending package. It provides unprecedented increases for their socialist priorities, like heavy-handed government regulations, the Green New Deal, and mass amnesty for illegal immigrants, all while underfunding our national defense.
This is not Monopoly money. This is taxpayers’ money. The more we spend, the higher inflation rises.
And right now, inflation is rising at a rapid pace. In fact, it has risen every month President Biden has been in office. This means families are paying more for just about everything from gas to building materials. According to a recent study, 83 percent of Americans said they noticed price increases on their commonly purchased groceries or household goods in June and July. Further, more than half of Americans are moderately or significantly concerned about future price increases.
Make no mistake: President Biden and Congressional Democrats’ spending spree is causing this inflation. We cannot continue this out-of-control spending because it’s American families who will ultimately pay the price.
I’ve received many calls and emails asking about COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates. I wanted to reassure my constituents that neither are in sight here in Oklahoma.
The Legislature this year passed a bill, and the governor signed it into law, prohibiting any Oklahoma public school, college or university from requiring vaccines in order for students to attend. The bill also stipulates masks cannot be required unless the governor has declared a state of emergency and the local school board votes to impose mask mandates. House Bill 2335 also disallows discrimination and penalties against someone who declines vaccination or who declines to vaccinate their children.
The governor this week said he is not considering declaring a new state of emergency.
People should be allowed to decide for themselves whether they want to receive a vaccine or if they want to vaccinate their children for COVID-19. If they have questions or concerns, they should consult with their health care professional. The government has no place mandating such a thing. In fact, I and many other lawmakers recently signed onto a letter to the governor asking him to draft an executive order prohibiting health care facilities and medical schools and programs from requiring vaccines for their thousands of employees or students. These health care employees and future nurses and doctors are our heroes. They, too, should be able to decide for themselves whether they want to take a vaccine. We must protect an individual’s right to choose what goes into their body. This is just a basic tenet of a free society.
Even in the far-left state of Oregon, employees such as health care providers, health care facility employees, clinical lab employees, law enforcement, and firefighters are protected by a 1989 state law that says “A worker shall not be required as a condition of work to be immunized” unless otherwise required by federal or state law.
I hope this clears things up for people.
Even though we are in interim, I still have a fulltime legislative assistant available to help with any issues that arise. If I can help you with anything, feel free to call my Capitol office at (405) 557-7413 or email me at email@example.com.
- Rick West represents District 3 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes part of LeFlore County.
OKLAHOMA CITY – A group of House members today sent a letter to Gov. Kevin Stitt requesting executive action to prohibit vaccine mandates for Oklahoma healthcare workers. This comes in response to constituent concerns about healthcare institutions across Oklahoma requiring employees to receive COVID-19 vaccinations as a condition of continued employment.
“This issue requires the immediate attention of our state government,” said Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, author of the letter. “These employees are the heroes that stood on the front line of the pandemic caring for those that had fallen ill to COVID-19. The quickest and most effective way to protect these workers is an executive order prohibiting these mandates."
The following lawmakers signed on to the letter:
Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy
Rep. Lonnie Sims, R-Jenks
Rep. Steve Bashore, R-Miami
Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont
Rep. Mike Dobrinski, R-Okeene
Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane
Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Roland
Rep. Mark Vancuren, R-Owasso
Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore
Rep. Rick West, R-Heavener
Rep. David Smith, R-Arpelar
Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola
Rep. Wendi Stearman, R-Collinsville
Rep. Chris Sneed, R-Fort Gibson
Rep. Randy Randleman, R-Eufaula
Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow
Rep. David Hardin, R-Stilwell
Rep. Sherri Conley, R-Newcastle
Rep. Marilyn Stark, R-Bethany
Rep. Danny Williams, R-Seminole
The full text of the letter can be seen below:
Oklahoma House of Representatives
July 15, 2021
Governor J. Kevin Stitt,
As I am sure you are aware there are many healthcare facilities across the state that have decided to mandate the COVID-19 vaccines to their thousands of employees. These employees are the heroes that stood on the front line of the pandemic caring for those that had fallen ill to COVID-19.
Many Oklahomans are about to have their paychecks used against them to make a medical decision that goes against their beliefs. Healthcare workers are left to choose between taking a vaccine authorized for emergency use or risk losing their job, this goes against “liberty and justice for all”. If we do not protect the individual’s right to choose what goes in their body, we no longer live in a free society.
The Oklahoma legislature had bills introduced last session that were related to these type of vaccine mandates, but none of these bills came to be law. Some other states in the country have taken action on these issues while others already had laws on the book to protect their healthcare workers. For example in Oregon, employees such as health care providers, health care facility employees, clinical lab employees, law enforcement, and firefighters are protected by a 1989 state law that says “A worker shall not be required as a condition of work to be immunized” unless otherwise required by federal or state law.
After talking with healthcare workers and citizens across the state many of my colleagues and I have come to the conclusion this is an issue that requires the immediate attention of our State Government. The quickest and most effective way to protect these workers is an executive order prohibiting these mandates.
Those signed onto this letter and I respectfully request you draft an executive order to deal with this issue. If you deem this to be an issue the legislature needs to take care of, we respectfully request you call the legislature into special session to end medical tyranny and help us secure and protect our most basic human rights and civil liberties.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Reps. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, Brian Hill, R-Mustang, Dick Lowe, R-Amber, and Tammy West, R-Oklahoma City, last week took part in an educational tour of U.S. Army Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri led by the Oklahoma Recruiting Battalion.
The tour focused on job creation and educational opportunities available to Oklahoma youth that are seeking additional vocational training options and career choices. The lawmakers said they were inspired by the professionalism and commitment to excellence displayed by the soldiers and officers throughout the tour.
“This was a tremendous opportunity for us to learn about the multiple educational opportunities available to Oklahoma students,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “We were shown areas such as engineering, military police, forensic science, chemical and biological detection and much more. We want our Oklahoma students to stay in the state after they graduate, and we realize this must include more career and job readiness training. The military is an excellent partner in helping us accomplish this goal.”
The four representatives thanked Gen. James Bonner and the leadership team of Fort Leonard Wood, in addition to Lt. Colonel Jacob Cecka, Dr. Teresa Taylor and the entire staff of the Oklahoma Recruiting Battalion, for the opportunity to listen and learn from their Army experiences.
Noting that the tour came so close the July 4 holiday, the legislators also thanked all Americans who currently or who have previously served in the United States’ military.
“Thank you for your service to this great nation and to all Oklahomans! Your sacrifice and dedication are greatly appreciated.”
- Rhonda Baker serves District 60 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes parts of Caddo and Canadian counties. Brian Hill serves District 47, which includes parts of Canadian and Grady counties. Dick Lowe serves District 56, which includes parts of Caddo, Grady and Kiowa counties. Tammy West serves District 84, which includes part of Oklahoma County.
Mullin, Trone, Fitzpatrick, Kuster, Herrera Beutler, and Butterfield Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Help Overdose Victims
WASHINGTON— U.S. Representatives Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), David Trone (MD-06), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Ann Kuster (NH-02), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), and G.K. Butterfield (NC-01) recently introduced legislation to help overdose victims by closing a dangerous information gap that keeps prescribers uninformed about a patient who overdoses. The Improving Medicaid Programs’ Response to Overdose Victims and Enhancing (IMPROVE) Addiction Care Act would require state Medicaid programs to use jointly funded drug utilization review programs to increase access to treatment and boost safeguards for those on Medicaid who have experienced a non-fatal, opioid-related overdose.
“In order to safely and effectively treat a patient who has previously experienced a non-fatal overdose, it is critical prescribers have access to their patient’s overdose history in order to prevent it from happening again,” Mullin said. “This legislation breaks down barriers to help Medicaid beneficiaries get access to the treatment they need and ensure providers have a clear picture of the patient’s history with opioid-related overdoses. We all know someone who has been affected by the opioid epidemic, whether it’s a family member or loved one, and it’s going to take all of us working together to put an end to this crisis.”
"We must do everything in our power to work together to prevent fatal opioid overdoses," Trone said. "The IMPROVE Addiction Care Act will ensure that state Medicaid programs alert prescribers to their overdose history and connect them to treatment, saving countless lives."
“Annual mortality from drug overdoses increased by over 30 percent last year,” Fitzpatrick said. “As Co-Chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force, I am proud to support the Bipartisan IMPROVE Addiction Care Act, which seeks to prevent fatal overdoses by ensuring doctors are better informed about the medical histories of their patients.”
“Physicians need to know when the opioids they have prescribed were involved in the overdose death of their patient, and providers need access to a patient’s full opioid use history to prevent future substance misuse and fatal overdoses,” Kuster said. “The IMPROVE Addiction Care Act would close dangerous loopholes in our health care system to ensure those on the frontlines of the addiction crisis have the information and resources they need to improve treatment for patients in New Hampshire and across the country who are struggling with addiction.”
“Long before COVID exacerbated the issue, the opioid epidemic was already touching every corner of Southwest Washington. That’s why I’m helping introduce the bipartisan IMPROVE Addiction Care Act which will provide prescribers with the information they need to help protect patients who have suffered from a nonfatal overdose, improve provider education on the risks of prescribing opioids, and connect addiction survivors to treatment options,” Herrera Beutler said. “I’m pleased to work with my colleagues on this crucial legislation to advance our goal of ending the destruction caused by opioid addiction.”
“This bipartisan, common-sense bill will close the loop and inform providers of their patient’s previous nonfatal and fatal overdose following receipt of a legal opioid prescription,” Butterfield said. “By giving Medicaid providers access to this critical information providers will be better able to assist their patients and connect Medicaid beneficiaries to appropriate opioid use disorder treatment. Providers will gain insight into their own treatment and prescribing methods and will be able to make necessary adjustments to protect their patients and reduce risk of future overdoses.”
The IMPROVE Addiction Care Act would require that state Medicaid programs use their existing drug utilization review (DUR) programs to:
Alert prescribers to their patient’s previous nonfatal and fatal overdose;
Provide notice to providers if opioids prescribed to a patient were involved in an overdose;
Connect survivors to treatment after identifying individuals who have suffered a nonfatal, opioid-related overdose; and
Perform ongoing reviews of prescribing patterns and offer provider education.
WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), co-chair of the Social Determinants of Health Caucus, highlighted how his legislation would improve health outcomes during an Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing yesterday.
Mullin’s bill, H.R. 2503, the Social Determinants Accelerator Act of 2021, would help states and communities devise strategies to leverage existing programs and authorities to address all aspects of health, including food, housing, transportation, and workforce. Known as social determinants of health, a focus on these non-medical factors can improve health outcomes and wellbeing.
WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) released the following statement after the House passed H.R. 3841, the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act. The bill would reaffirm Tribal public health authorities are entitled to access public health data.
“Our sovereign Tribal Nations and Tribal Epidemiology Centers were always supposed to have equal access to public health data that states, counties, and cities have. But for years, many Tribes have faced numerous challenges while trying to access this public health data,” Mullin said. “The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of equal access to this data in order for Tribes to make decisions for their communities, and the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act makes that happen. I am glad this bill passed the full House today and I encourage the Senate to take it up quickly, so Tribes don’t have to wait any longer for the data they need.”
WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) released the following statement after voting against H.R. 256, which repeals the 2002 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against Iraq.
“While the AUMF may need some updating and enhancing, repealing it without providing updated authority puts our national security at risk,” Mullin said. “Removing these authorities would tie our military’s hands and prevent our troops from defending themselves against ongoing attacks from Iranian backed terrorists in Iraq.
The threats in Iraq have changed since the original AUMF, but we cannot undermine the safety and security of Americans at home and abroad by removing it entirely.”
WASHINGTON— Congressmen Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) and Tom O’Halleran (AZ-1) today introduced the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act. The bill would reaffirm Tribal public health authorities are entitled to access public health data.
“Our sovereign Tribal Nations and Tribal Epidemiology Centers were always supposed to have equal access to public health data as states, counties, and cities. But for years, many Tribes have faced many challenges while trying to access this public health data,” Mullin said. “The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of equal access to this data in order for Tribes to make decisions for their communities, and the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act makes that happen.”
“Arizona tribal communities suffered the very worst of COVID-19. Now, more than ever, it is critical that they have access to all data related to health care and public health surveillance programs,” said O’Halleran. “The Tribal Health Data Improvement Act ensures that sovereign tribal nations will have the data they are entitled to by law to make the best decisions to keep their citizens safe."
The Tribal Health Data Improvement Act passed the House last Congress by a voice vote but was not taken up by the Senate.