Whatzup Politics (1163)
Thank You, First Responders
By Congressman Markwayne Mullin
Our country has been through a lot throughout the past four months. Between the COVID-19 pandemic and violence and rioting in cities across the country, it has been a trying time for everyone. Through all of this, America’s first responders have risen to the occasion for their communities.
Doctors, nurses, and medical professionals have seen the effects of COVID-19 from the frontlines. From testing patients who are experiencing symptoms to providing care for those who have been diagnosed with COVID-19, they have faced this challenge head-on without hesitation. Health care workers from Oklahoma have even traveled to some of the hardest hit areas of the country to lend a hand.
Nursing home and long-term care facility employees have also been working hard to care for residents. Many have stepped up while family members are not able to visit because of the pandemic. They have sat with them to keep them company, played games, and even exchanged videos with family members so they could see their loved ones.
Law enforcement officers across the country have also been facing a difficult time. While protecting peaceful protestors and communities from violence, many in the national media have made them out to be the enemy. The men and women of our law enforcement put their lives on the line each day to protect our families and they deserve not only our gratitude, but also our prayers.
First responders have all put in long hours and put themselves in harm’s way in order to keep our communities healthy and safe. We all rely on them so be sure to thank our first responders for all they do for our communities, not just during times of crisis, but every day.
Want to stay up-to-date on what I’m doing in Oklahoma and Washington on your behalf? Sign up for my newsletter by visiting Mullin.house.gov/newslettersignup.
OKLAHOMA CITY – In support of law enforcement, legislation developed with the assistance of a fallen Tulsa police officer will be named after him next session. Sgt. Craig Johnson, a 15-year veteran of the Tulsa Police Department, was shot early Monday morning after a traffic stop went wrong. He later died from his injuries.
Johnson was the Tulsa lead on a statewide coalition working on legislation and policies regarding copper wire theft, which has increased in recent years due to its variety of uses and high market price. The statewide coalition involves businesses, utilities, construction, builders, municipalities, schools, churches, scrap metal dealers and law enforcement and is headed by Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa.
Bush said Johnson spearheaded the coalition as the Tulsa lead and provided valuable insight from his experience from the front lines.
“Sergeant Johnson would often work a double shift and drive down for coalition meetings or legislative committee meetings. The only thing he asked for in return was a fresh cup of coffee to make it back home,” Bush said. “He was selfless when it came to serving his community and state. There is no greater hero than Sergeant Johnson, and I know he will be greatly missed by myself, other coalition members and members of the Tulsa Police Department.”
Bush said she plans to refile the legislation in the upcoming session and will rename the bill in his honor. The original bill, House Bill 3031, was passed by the House prior to the legislative session being interrupted by COVID-19 in mid-March.
Rep. Ross Ford, R-Broken Arrow, is a former Tulsa Police Department officer and voted in favor of HB3031 earlier this year.
“The death of Sergeant Johnson was a horrible tragedy,” Ford said. “Our public safety officers put their lives on the line every day to protect Oklahomans of all backgrounds, and it’s devastating that what should have been a traffic stop came to this. Our Tulsa Police officers need the support of their community as they mourn the loss of one of their brothers.”
Rep. Josh West, R-Grove, is a U.S. Army Veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“My heart goes out to the family members of Sergeant Johnson,” West said. “I know firsthand what it is like to lose soldiers on a battlefield, what makes this worse, is the fact that this senseless act of murder was carried out in our own country. We must continue to support our brothers and sisters who put on the uniform every day, protecting our communities.”
Sen. Chuck Hall, R-Perry, will be the co-author for the re-filed measure. He passed Senate Bill 1749, a companion bill to HB3031, out of the Senate during the 2020 legislative session, but it stalled in the House due to COVID-19. Sen. Hall plans to re-file his Senate bill renaming the act in honor of Sergeant Johnson during the 2021 legislative session.
“I’m heartbroken over the loss of Sergeant Craig Johnson,” Hall said. “I worked closely with him over the last year to draft legislation in conjunction with the Oklahoma Scrap Dealers Association to curb copper wire theft in our state. Sergeant Johnson worked diligently to bring all sides together on the issue to find a solution for this problem, and it was a true honor to work with him on the bill. I’m excited to once again join Rep. Bush to hopefully get this legislation to the finish line and honor Sergeant Johnson in the process.”
A group of lawmakers also issued the following statement in support of law enforcement.
“We fully support law enforcement, especially when they lose a colleague in the course of duty. As civilians, we are grateful every single day for the sacrifices our public safety officers make. As legislators, we rely on the expertise and first-hand experience of our law enforcement officers across the state to set sound policy,” the group said. “Today, however, we are Oklahomans mourning the loss of one of our state’s finest.
“We will continue to work with law enforcement to develop legislation that protects them from the threats they face daily while also preserving public safety for the communities they selflessly serve. With everyone at the table, we can preserve public safety, support law enforcement and protect all citizens from any injustice while building and strengthening relationships in our communities. Law enforcement always provides a valuable perspective, as evidenced by Sergeant Johnson’s selfless service both on the front lines in Tulsa and here at the Capitol.”
In alphabetical order, the group issuing the statement includes:
State Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon
State Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa
State Rep. Brad Boles, R-Marlow
State Rep. Ty Burns, R-Morrison
State Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa
State Rep. Sherrie Conley, R-Newcastle
State Rep. Rusty Cornwell, R-Vinita
State Rep. Denise Crosswhite-Hader, R-Yukon
State Rep. Dean Davis, R-Broken Arrow
State Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa
State Rep. Scott Fetgatter, R-Okmulgee
State Rep. Derrel Fincher, R-Bartlesville
State Rep. Ross Ford, R-Broken Arrow
State Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola
State Rep. Jim Grego, R-Wilburton
State Rep. David Hardin, R-Stilwell
State Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow
State Rep. Ronny Johns, R-Ada
State Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City
State Rep. Dell Kerbs, R-Shawnee
State Rep. Lundy Kiger, R-Poteau
State Rep. Mark Lawson, R-Sapulpa
State Rep. Robert Manger, R-Oklahoma City
State Rep. T.J. Marti, R-Broken Arrow
State Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond
State Rep. Stan May, R-Broken Arrow
House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka
State Rep. Marcus McEntire, R-Duncan
State Rep. Garry Mize, R-Edmond
State Rep. Lewis Moore, R-Arcadia
State Rep. Jadine Nollan, R-Sand Springs
State Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Tulsa
State Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Roland
State Rep. Mike Osburn, R-Edmond
State Rep. Daniel Pae, R-Lawton
State Rep. Randy Randleman, Eufala
State Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy
State Rep. Cynthia Roe, R-Lindsay
State Rep. Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher
State Rep. Lonnie Sims, R-Jenks
State Rep. Chris Sneed, R-Fort Gibson
State Rep. Marilyn Stark, R-Bethany
State Rep. Danny Sterling, R-Tecumseh
State Rep. John Talley, R-Stillwater
State Rep. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole
State Rep. Tammy Townley, R-Ardmore
State Rep. Mark Vancuren, R-Owasso
State Rep. Tammy West, R-Oklahoma City
State Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston
State Rep. Josh West, R-Grove
State Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore
House Speaker Pro Tempore Harold Wright, R-Weatherford
Mullin Highlights Importance of Breaking Down Barriers to Mental Health Care During Health Subcommittee Hearing
WASHINGTON—Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) yesterday, during the Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing on mental health legislation, highlighted the recent successes in breaking down barriers to mental health care and discussed what else can be done to improve access to care.
H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, included a provision championed by Congressman Mullin aligning the outdated and restrictive law and regulations, collectively known as 42 CFR Part 2 (or “Part 2”), with the patient privacy protections currently in place under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This allows the medical community to utilize substance use disorder treatment records in the same manner as all other medical records while still protecting patient privacy.
Mullin also called for the passage of his bill, H.R. 884, the Medicare Mental Health Access Act, which would expand the definition of “physician” under the Medicare program to include a clinical psychologist for services within the psychologist’s scope of practice. This would allow for seniors, especially those in rural areas, to get access to the mental health care they need.
WASHINGTON—Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) today introduced the Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act, which would encourage and promote the construction of energy infrastructure across border lines with our North American neighbors.
“Energy production in the United States plays a vital role in our country’s job creation and economic growth,” Mullin said. “This legislation simplifies the construction and operation of energy facilities that cross international borders. It restructures the process so cross-border pipelines can deliver lower costs to consumers and create additional jobs in the energy field, rather than energy projects being politicized or hung up in regulatory uncertainty.”
The Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act would establish transparent, reliable procedures to provide regulatory certainty and enable the United States to further expand the mutually beneficial energy relationship with Canada and Mexico. By streamlining the construction and operation of international border-crossing facilities used for the import and export of oil, natural gas, and electricity, the United States can more efficiently continue the trade of energy products with neighboring countries.
The United States, Canada, and Mexico have always enjoyed the benefits of a firmly united and highly productive North American oil, gas, and electricity trade market. The value of energy traded between the United States and our North American neighbors exceeded $140 billion in 2015, with $100 billion in U.S. energy imports and over $40 billion in exports.
Mullin introduced this legislation last Congress and it passed the House by a vote of 254 - 175.
OKLAHOMA CITY – A group of Oklahoma lawmakers today issued the following statements in support of law enforcement officers in this state:
"In the past few weeks, our law enforcement professionals have come under incessant attack. We want these law enforcement professionals to know that we have their backs. As Oklahoma's policy leaders, we are coming together as a team, collectively locking arms and standing in defense of those who defend the citizens of Oklahoma.
"All Oklahomans must know that we will never bend a knee to a mob, nor will we ever comply with demands to defund those who protect the rule of law and the citizens of Oklahoma."
The group of lawmakers united together after one of the nation's prominent police chiefs stated: "The police, we always have everybody’s back and nobody has our back. Right now the officers feel like they can’t win. And I would have to agree with them."
The lawmakers said they want all police officers to know that, “We are with you. Stay encouraged and know that just as you defend all of our citizens during their most difficult times, so also will we defend you."
The lawmakers hope that because Oklahoma policy makers are standing with and defending law enforcement, the state will be able to avoid what they believe will be a sharp rise in violent crime that has been seen across the nation.
They point to the tragic death of one of Tulsa’s finest and dedicated officers and ask for prayer for their family and the recovery of the other officer who was critically wounded performing their duty in protecting the citizens of Tulsa. Even though the incident may or may not have had anything to do with recent protests, they believe the degradation in attitude toward law enforcement by certain factions has created a very hostile environment towards the rule of law and increased the danger to an already dangerous job.
As a result of these recent attacks on police, the subsequent loss of support of police from public officials, and the outright lies and commentary allowed by some of the news media, they believe the spread of anarchy is quite likely.
“We are determined to stand beside and behind law enforcement who protect our communities and will do all we can to keep morale high and allow them to do their job.”
The lawmakers hope this will be the first of a wide array of Oklahoma groups stepping forward to publicly support law enforcement.
"We are calling on all organizations to bravely step forward and defend those who defend us. Without the service of the law enforcement professionals, our ability to make a living in peace and safety would not be possible.
"We must not remain silent and allow the insanity to continue. We owe it to the police and other law enforcement officers to come forward and defend them, and we must act now!"
In addition, the group is speaking out against the cancel culture.
"As America risks falling into the abyss of anarchy, the totalitarian mob, with implicit consent of too many government officials, takes down statues, denounces their support for America, demonstrates their so called 'wokeness' by canceling classic movies, television shows and products. They intimidate anyone from the silent majority who dares the slightest disagreement with their new ideology and seem to be attempting to erase history itself.”
Finally; the group is calling on the immediate halt of the "woke" agenda items that have been pushed by legislative members in recent years. "Good policy isn't made in a hurry, in time of crises or when demanded by mob rule. We will not support the 'woke' legislative agenda that seeks to radically transform the state's jurisprudence. As lawmakers we are preparing to bring forward an aggressive legislative agenda in response to these Anti-American actions.”
In alphabetical order, the group issuing these statements includes:
State Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont
State Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola
State Rep. David Hardin, R-Stilwell
State Rep. Toni Hasenbeck, R-Elgin
State Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane
State Rep. Jim Olsen, R-Roland
State Rep. Randy Randleman, R-Eufaula
State Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy
State Rep. David Smith, R-Arpelar
State Rep. Jay Steagall, R-Yukon
State Rep. Johnny Tadlock, R-Idabel
State Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore
WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) released the following statement in support of President Trump’s recent Executive Order strengthening child welfare and promoting permanency in the foster care and adoption system.
“As adoptive parents of three, Christie and I are committed to ensuring every child has a forever family,” Mullin said. “Too often, the foster system fails children and they have a difficult transition into adulthood. We must do more to give them the support they need, and this Executive Order will help do that. I am grateful to President Trump for taking this action to improve outcomes and help children and families thrive.”
The Executive Order will:
- Increase partnerships between public, private, faith-based, and community organizations to help keep families together and, when that is not possible, to find children forever families.
- Improve the resources available to both caregivers and children, including by increasing the accessibility of trauma-informed training.
- Drive transparency on key statutory child welfare requirements and guide states on how best to support high-quality legal representation for parents and children.
The full Executive Order can be found here.
There are currently 7,789 children in custody of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, with 498 waiting on forever families. There is also a need for 898 foster families in Oklahoma this year.
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Reps. Ty Burns, R-Pawnee, and Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, today commented on a new partnership between the Oklahoma Departments of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and Career and Technology Education they are hoping will clear a processing backlog for Oklahoma cattle producers.
State ranchers in recent months have faced a backlog in getting their cattle processed, being told they could have up to a year-and-a-half wait. The problem arose after the shutdown of many national processing plants because of the COVID-19 pandemic and because of a lack of local meat inspectors.
Oklahoma Agriculture Secretary and Commissioner Blayne Arthur and CareerTech Director Dr. Marcie Mack today announced the potential solution to this problem. The Department of Agriculture will work with CareerTech to develop curriculum to offer meat processing and inspection courses to help curb this workforce shortage. This, in turn, will allow for more local processors to produce meat for local ranchers and will allow Oklahoma consumers to buy more local products.
“I’m hoping this course will fill the demand for meat inspectors and promote small butcher shops throughout our state,” Burns said. “I’m thankful to Secretary Arthur and to our leaders at CareerTech for all their work and dedication to Oklahomans.”
Hilbert said, “I’m excited for this opportunity to fill a void in Oklahoma that is so desperately needed and for the opportunity for students to receive training in a career field that will allow them to earn a good income to support themselves and their families.”
Both representatives attended today’s announcement at Central Tech in Drumright in Rep. Burns’ House District. Dr. Mack explained that self-paced online courses will be offered in meat safety, evaluation and selection, which will lead to the knowledge needed to pass industry certification exams, preparing Oklahomans for careers in the meat processing industry.
Secretary Arthur said in addition to addressing the meat processing backlog, this presents an opportunity for rural economic development, which will benefit many rural communities throughout the state.
WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) submitted several questions for the record asking the Administration to continue expanded telehealth services during the Energy and Commerce Committee’s hearing on "Oversight of the Trump Administration’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
“The Administration has made great strides in cutting back red tape and burdensome regulations in telehealth and these actions have been incredibly beneficial for health care providers and seniors in my district throughout the pandemic,” Mullin said. “Extending this relief would allow more people in rural communities to get the care they need without having to travel far to get it. Providers and individuals need to know if the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will continue this regulatory relief once the public health emergency ends.”
In the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Congress expanded the ability to use telehealth in the Medicare program and in the commercial market during the public health emergency. HHS then expanded full telehealth access to all Medicare patients during the pandemic, which has allowed seniors to continue to get care without risking COVID exposure.
Providers have been waiting for the Medicare program to expand the use of telehealth services for years. The services that Medicare reimburse for often set an example for private insurance companies. Since Medicare greatly broadened access to telehealth during the pandemic through reimbursement, so has private insurance.
Mullin’s questions can be found at this link.
WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) today highlighted the work he has done to reduce stigma associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and to expand mental health treatment for those who are suffering from it. June is PTSD Awareness Month.
“PTSD Awareness Month is a time when we remind ourselves to remain aware of the unique struggles veterans, current service members, and others around us may be facing and let them know they are not alone,” Mullin said. “By knowing the symptoms and talking about it, we can reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues. When we reduce the stigma, we can help them get the help they need.”
“Throughout my time in Congress, investing in mental health treatment has been a priority for me and we have seen results,” Mullin continued. “The CARES Act, which was signed into law earlier this year, extended funding for CCBHCs, which have been proven to help those with mental illness get access to the treatment they need.”
Mullin has long been an advocate for expansion of and additional funding for the Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) pilot program, which provides coordinated care to patients with mental health and substance use disorders. The CARES Act extended the program through November 30, 2020 and expanded it to two additional states.
Grand Lake Mental Health Center, which is a part of the pilot program, has seen a 95 percent reduction in inpatient psychiatric admissions in its 7-county service area. In 2015, before the program began, there were 1,115 inpatient psychiatric admissions in the Grand Lake Mental Health Center service area. In 2018, there were only 15 admissions because patients are getting the treatment they need.
Voters will go to the polls Tuesday for the June 30 Primary Election, Leflore County Election Board Secretary Sharon Steele said today.
Please keep the following information and tips in mind as the election approaches.
- Early voting will be Thursday, June 25 and Friday, June 26 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Early voting will also be available on Saturday, June 27 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- Polls are open from 7 m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Lines are possible at peak voting times. Wait times will likely be shortest at mid-morning and mid-afternoon. Anyone in line to vote at 7 p.m. will be allowed to cast a ballot.
- Anyone who needs to look up their polling place, verify their registration information, or view a sample ballot can do so online. The Online Voter Tool can be accessed on the Oklahoma State Election Board' s website: elections.ok.gov. Those who vote by mail can also check the status of their ballot using the Online Voter Tool. Sample ballots are also available at the County Election Board office.
- Oklahoma law requires every voter who votes in person at the precinct polling place or during early voting at the County Election Board to show proof of identity before receiving a ballot. There are three ways for voters to prove their identity under the law (only one proof of identity is required): Show a valid photo ID issued by federal, state, or tribal government; or show the free voter identification card issued to every voter by the County Election Board; or sign an affidavit and vote a provisional ballot. (If the information on the affidavit matches official voter registration records, the ballot will be counted after Election Day.)
- Physically disabled voters who cannot enter the polling place, need help marking their ballots, blind or visually disabled voters and illiterate voters may be assisted by a person the voter chooses. In all cases, a person providing such assistance may not be the voter's employer or an agent of the employer or an officer or agent of the voter's A person providing assistance also must swear or affirm that the voter's ballots will be marked in accordance with the voter's wishes. Alternatively, all blind, visually impaired, and physically disabled voters in LeFlore County may use the audio tactile interface (ATI), a feature offered on all Oklahoma voting devices, to vote privately and independently, either at Leflore County Election Board during early voting or at their assigned polling place on election day.
- Voters who have moved since the last election, but who have not transferred their voter registration to their new address, may do so on Election Day by going to vote at the polling place where their registration has been in the While voting, they may fill out a form instructing the County Election Board to transfer their registration to the new address before the next election.
- Those who became physically incapacitated after 5 p. Tuesday June 23 still can request an emergency absentee ballot. Those who might qualify for an emergency absentee ballot should contact the County Election Board office at 918-647-3701 as soon as possible for more information.
- Any violation of election law will be reported to the proper law enforcement authorities. Electioneering is not allowed within 300 feet of a ballot box. It is also unlawful to remove a ballot from the polling location, possess intoxicating liquors within half a mile of a polling place or to disclose how you voted while within the election enclosure.
For additional election-related information, visit: www.elections.ok.gov.