By State Rep. Rick West
It was an interesting week at the state Capitol. Snow and ice that covered much of the state shortened our work week and caused us to cancel some of our committees. We met three days, though, getting much work done.
The House Appropriations and Budget Committee passed House Bill 2078, which would revise the school funding formula. The bill’s author said the change would better allow funding to follow student. Right now, schools are allowed to use a three-year high weighted average daily membership count. This would shave off that third year. Right now, the state is paying double or triple for students that move from one school to another. Oklahoma will spend nearly $200 million for 55,000 students that don’t actually exist in the system if the change is not made. The bill does allow schools greater flexibility with their carry forward amounts and sets a larger cap on those in the future.
The A&B Committee also passed House Bill 1091, the Ensuring Access to Medicaid Act. This act sets up some protections for Oklahomans should the state end up going with the managed care system the governor is pushing. The act specifies the timeframe by which claims must be paid to health care providers, the rates the managed care companies can charge and how quickly they must authorize treatment. Right now, Oklahoma has a pretty good system. We want to make sure that continues if we hand off the keys to third-party, for-profit corporations.
House Bill 2030 passed in the Common Education Committee. This bill would require high school students, beginning in the 2022-23 school year, to pass the United State naturalization test in order to graduate. This test asks simple question such as how many stars are on our state flag, what the stripes on the flag stand for, how many branches of government we have and so on. It also will require students be taught the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Federalist Papers and other founding documents of our nation. The bill’s author said teachers may be teaching these as part of state standards right now, but making sure students can answer questions about our nation’s founding and our current system of government will prepare them to be better citizens once they graduate.
House Bill 2074, known as the Open Transfer Act of 2021, also passed in the Common Education Committee. This bill would allow Oklahoma students to transfer to any public school district at any time during the year. The bill won’t allow the student’s current district to deny the transfer, but it does allow the receiving district to deny the transfer if they can show they are at capacity or if the student has discipline or attendance problems.
Now that these bills have passed committee, they will likely come to a vote on the House floor. I’ll be talking to the folks in District 3 to see how they feel about each piece of legislation and to answer any questions I can.
Remember to listen to me on KPRV Radio each Thursday morning during the legislative session. And if I can help you with anything, feel free to call my Capitol office at (405) 557-7413 or email me at .
Rick West represents District 3 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes part of LeFlore County.