Whatzup Politics (1396)
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, and Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, attended the ceremonial bill signing for House Bill 2587, the Nondiscrimination in Health Care Coverage Act, and House Bill 2588, which allows Oklahoma courts to grant guardians the power to consent to withdrawing or withholding life-sustaining procedures.
House Bill 2587 and House Bill 2588 were formally signed into law in May.
Roberts, who chairs the House Public Health Committee, said HB2587 prohibits any state agency from developing an adjusted life-year calculation for individuals with a disability in order to determine their health care coverage. The bill also requires state agencies to consult with organizations advocating for individuals with disabilities and older adults before implementing health coverage changes.
HB2588 requires issuance of a separate court order that contains specific findings of fact and conclusions of law required under the Oklahoma Advance Directive Act to grant authority to a guardian to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment of a ward.
“I was honored to carry these bills during the legislative session, and I believe their impact will be valuable to our most vulnerable Oklahomans,” Roberts said. “I firmly believe these measures will ensure proper care and treatment for individuals. I appreciate Senator Daniels for serving as Senate author of these bills and the Governor for acting quickly to sign these bills into law."
Both bills were carried in the Senate by Daniels.
“These bills reaffirm that Oklahomans believe each individual life has value,” Daniels said. “Those who are elderly, disabled or chronically ill deserve just as much access to care and treatment as others. Their lives must not be reduced to a calculated formula when critical healthcare decisions are being made.”
HB2587 and HB2588 will take effect Nov. 1.
Workforce, Small Business, Education Communities Focus of Letter to Congressional Delegation
OKLAHOMA CITY -- House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, today sent a letter on behalf of the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus to each of the seven members of Oklahoma’s congressional delegation to express the caucus’s disagreement with Gov. Kevin Stitt’s assessment that Oklahoma doesn’t need an additional stimulus package.
“We feel we simply cannot let the governor’s statement stand as the only assessment of Oklahoma’s needs,” Virgin said. “The purpose of this letter is to advocate for the constituents who have reached out to us during this pandemic.
The letter details the struggles of constituents who have reached out to members of the caucus during the pandemic. From Oklahomans recently laid off or returning to work with fewer hours to Oklahoma small business owners who are in desperate need of financial assistance, the House Democratic Caucus has fielded calls and emails from constituents affected by this pandemic in a multitude of different ways.
“The needs of Oklahomans are many,” Virgin said. “We respectfully ask that you ignore the governor’s misguided comments and do what is in your power to bring this money home.”
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City, today addressed the looming spike in evictions throughout the state and announced a coalition of community leaders that will be providing support to those facing eviction.
“Thousands of Oklahomans, devastated by job loss and decreased income due to COVID-19, are facing eviction next month now that the federal eviction moratorium has expired,” Lowe said. “It is imperative that the public knows their rights as tenants, as well as the community services available to them in order to prevent a homelessness crisis.”
Lowe was joined by several community members representing organizations with resources to help Oklahomans facing evictions.
“Tulsa and Oklahoma City are Top 20 nationally for eviction rates and that was before COVID,” said Michael Figgins, the executive director of Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma. “When you add illegal lockout evictions, studies are showing that we are looking at more than 130,000 potential evictions.”
The resources available by the providers present ranged from legal representation, back rent, to occupational retraining videos.
“We have eviction attorneys at the courthouse every time there is an eviction docket,” said Jennifer Montagna, the lead eviction attorney at Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma. “If you are facing eviction and you receive a summons or prior to the court action a notice regarding being late on your rent, you should call Legal Aid immediately.”
While the purpose of the press conference was to bring attention to the upcoming eviction crisis Oklahoma faces, Lowe did offer some direct legal advice.
“No matter what, the thing you cannot do if you get an eviction notice is ignore it,” Lowe said. “As an attorney, I see people in courthouses every day that are scared and feel hopeless because there is nobody there advocating for them. We want everyone to know that you don’t have to face eviction alone. The people here today and more importantly the organizations behind them are here to help and be your advocate.”
Speaking at the conference today: Michael Figgins - Executive Director of Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Jennifer Montagna - Lead Eviction Attorney at Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma, Ginny Carl – Executive Director of Community Cares Partners and Founder and CEO of Giving Well LLC, Brian Wilkerson – Director of Litigation and Legal Services at Oklahoma Disability Law Center, Inc., Marilyn Long – Founder and Executive Director at North East Resource Center, Inc.
Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Committee members Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT), Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), and Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D. (D-CA) released the following statement on H.R. 7948, the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act of 2020, a bill that would reaffirm that Tribal public health authorities are entitled to access public health data.
“Native American Tribes face structural challenges accessing federal public health data that state and local governments can access—data they are entitled to by law. This needs to change. Our bipartisan bill tears down this information barrier so Tribal communities can utilize federal data to help guide their public health decision-making, something that is critically important during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that Native Americans are being impacted by this pandemic disproportionately. As we continue our work to reduce disparities in health outcomes, access to public health data will help close the gap,” said Gianforte, Rodgers, Mullin, Luján, O’Halleran and Ruiz.
The National Indian Health Board CEO, Stacy A. Bohlen, expressed support for this bill.
“The National Indian Health Board strongly supports the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act. Tribal Nations, as sovereign governments, are inherent public health authorities providing vital public health programs and services to their citizens and communities. By statute, Tribal Epidemiology Centers (TECs) are also public health authorities, and play a critical role in assisting Tribal governments and Tribal organizations in public health activities. Yet for years, both Tribes and TECs have faced immense challenges in accessing federal and state health data systems necessary to engage in foundational public health work. NIHB applauds Representatives Gianforte and Luján for leading the Tribal Health Data Improvement Act. This bill will help ensure Tribes and TECs have direct access to federal healthcare and public health surveillance systems, and require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to work directly with Tribes to address widespread misclassification and undersampling of American Indians and Alaska Natives on birth and death records, and in public health surveillance systems,” said Bohlen.
Teachers Help Shape Our Future
By Congressman Markwayne Mullin
It is often said it takes a village to raise a child. The saying could not be truer and I firmly believe our country’s teachers are an important part of that village.
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. As the father of six kids who all attend a small, rural public school in Oklahoma, I understand firsthand the importance of a child’s education and the role our educators play in our children’s lives.
Teachers do more than just teach our kids reading, writing and arithmetic. They teach them valuable life lessons they will carry with them throughout their lives. They are a support system and provide encouragement through difficult times. They inspire their students to work hard and chase their dreams.
We all have teachers that have made a lasting impact on our lives and we can still recall the lessons they’ve taught us. Without the teachers who pushed me to do better as well as the ones who disciplined me when I deserved it, I know I would not be where I am today.
Our children are the successors of our community and their success is our community’s success. As our kids begin to 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.
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 – Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy) today released the following statement regarding the choice of National Basketball Association (NBA) players to take a knee during the national anthem prior to the beginning of their game.
“By kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, the NBA and its players are showing disrespect to the American flag and all it stands for. This anti-patriotic act makes clear the NBA’s support of the Black Lives Matter group and its goal of defunding our nation’s police, its ties to Marxism and its efforts to destroy nuclear families.
If the Oklahoma City Thunder leadership and players follow the current trend of the NBA by kneeling during the national anthem prior to Saturday’s game, perhaps we need to reexamine the significant tax benefits the State of Oklahoma granted the Oklahoma City Thunder organization when they came to Oklahoma. Through the Quality Jobs Act, the Thunder is still under contract to receive these tax breaks from our state until 2024.
Perhaps these funds would be better served in support of our police departments rather than giving tax breaks to an organization that supports defunding police and the dissolution of the American nuclear family.”
WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) released the following statement after the House passed the second Fiscal Year 2021 funding package. Mullin was not present for the vote due to supporting his son’s ongoing rehabilitation from a wrestling injury but would have voted “no” on the bill.
“Yet again, Pelosi Democrats are using our appropriations process to push their socialist agenda,” Mullin said. “Rather than working with Republicans to find bipartisan compromise, they packed this bill full of partisan poison pills that ensure it will never become law. Especially during this unprecedented time where our country is hurting, we need to put bipartisan solutions over a political agenda.”
H.R. 7617 includes:
OKLAHOMA CITY –State Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa, today released the following statement after Governor Stitt announced that he would be developing a plan for getting PPE into the hands of school districts in order to protect Oklahoma’s students and teachers. Rep. Provenzano was one of two lawmakers to release a list of seven recommendations for students and teachers to safely return to school. Guaranteeing PPE was first on the lawmakers’ list.
“We are encouraged that the governor is taking our recommendations to heart,” Provenzano said. “This is Step 1 to a safe return to school. I look forward to hearing how the governor and the state board of education plan to accomplish the remaining steps to ensure the safety of our teachers, students, and parents.
"As a former educator, I am happy to see the governor’s support for in person education. This is a bipartisan position. The question is ‘how do we do it safely?’ Providing PPE is a great step that we should build on together to reach the shared goal of returning to the classroom safely, and we are thankful to the countless school districts across our state that are working hard to provide a variety of options, both in person and virtual, so that our families may make the choice that best suits them when the time comes."
WASHINGTON— Last night, Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) held a telephone town hall where he provided an update on the federal government’s response to COVID-19 and took questions. More than 8,400 Oklahomans participated in the call.
Below are highlights of the event and a full recording can be found here.
On the Senate Republican’s proposed HEALS Act:
“It’s roughly a trillion dollars and I’ve got to think really hard about this if it’s something I’m willing to support yet. We’ve spent a lot of money, well over $3 trillion so far on the COVID crisis and the question becomes, can the country afford this? What we pay today, we’ve got to pay later. We’ve got to be really careful about this.”
On renewing the Paycheck Protection Program in the next relief package:
“The PPP was a lifeline for 64,000 businesses in the state of Oklahoma. Otherwise, we would have seen drastic lay-offs. The Paycheck Protection Program protects our number one asset, which is our employees.”
On extending unemployment assistance:
“If workers can make more money being at home than they can at work, there is no incentive for them to work. We’ve got to be very careful as a country that we don’t stagnate our own economy. Companies can’t grow if they don’t have help and our economy has to grow each year. One thing that has been great about President Trump and his presidency is that, until as of late, we’ve seen our economy growing. It’s been one of the strongest economies in recent history for the U.S. Right now, it’s not that they’re not willing to work, it’s that financially it would be crazy for them to go back to work because they can make more money staying at home.”
WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) made the following statements today after an update from the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs on their response to coronavirus, specifically regarding the impact at the Claremore Veterans Center. View the update press release here.
“The outbreak of COVID-19 cases stemming from the Claremore Veterans Center was extremely concerning. I am relieved ODVA immediately saw the issues at hand, took the necessary steps to fix the problems and will ensure something like this does not happen again,” Mullin said. “I am confident in the leadership of the ODVA and Governor Stitt and their commitment to Oklahoma’s veterans. We owe no greater debt than to those who have served our country and they deserve the highest quality of care.”
“Our veterans deserve the high quality care they have earned. Period,” said Inhofe. “After my office learned of the situation at the Claremore Veterans Center, we were highly concerned and immediately contacted the Governor’s team and the appropriate state and federal entities to offer any assistance necessary. As a state operated facility, I appreciate the willingness of the Oklahoma Secretary of Veterans Affairs and his team to promptly bring in the Oklahoma State Department of Health to implement any needed reforms to slow the spread of coronavirus in the facility and provide the best quality care for all patients. I will continue to collaborate with their teams in Oklahoma and ensure they have access to federal assistance moving forward if needed.”
“I am thankful the Claremore Veterans Center has taken swift action to address the tragic outbreak of COVID-19 cases and deaths at the facility in the last month,” said Lankford. “Claremore’s management team is working directly with ODVA and the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) to curb the spread and protect veterans, their families, and staff at the center. COVID-19 poses a difficult situation and a serious, unique threat to each veteran care facility. I am grateful for ODVA’s diligent efforts to keep facilities clean and safe and immediately address this spread. I will continue to work with the Oklahoma congressional delegation to ensure the State, Claremore Veterans Center and ODVA have what they need to keep our veterans safe.”
“The Department of Veterans Affairs will continue to work closely with the state nursing home in Claremore and the Oklahoma State Health Department to ensure Veterans receive the best possible care,” said VISN-19 Director Ralph Gigliotti, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “Our first priority is a safe environment for Veterans and we will work closely with the state of Oklahoma to ensure they deliver that kind of care. We are all in this together. VA will continue to provide guidance and expertise as needed during these unprecedented times.”