Whatzup Politics (1399)
WASHINGTON— During today’s Energy and Commerce Committee markup on the next COVID-19 relief package, Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) emphasized the importance of access to mental health care.
Below are Mullin’s remarks as prepared for delivery:
Thank you, Chairman Pallone.
Governors and city leaders across the country have forced our communities to shut down because of the pandemic. These shutdowns have caused the mental health crisis in our country to get worse.
Light of Hope in Claremore, Oklahoma helps individuals struggling with addiction and other mental health issues, all free of charge.
Every day, Layla Freeman, Nancy Phelps and their staff help a countless number of people who have been negatively impacted from the isolation COVID has created. In a time when many organizations are downsizing, Light of Hope has expanded twice during the pandemic.
Not all communities are lucky enough to have an organization like Light of Hope to provide these services.
We haven’t even scratched the surface on the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health crisis in our country.
Mental health care is just as important as physical health care. As we consider this next COVID relief package, we must ensure that expanding mental health care is part of the conversation.
I yield back.
OKLAHOMA CITY – House Speaker Pro Tempore Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa, on Tuesday secured unanimous committee passage of a bill that would provide income tax credits for doctors practicing in rural areas of the state.
House Bill 2089 is authored by House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka and Speaker Pro Tempore O’Donnell. The bill would grant up to a $25,000 tax credit for income from compensation directly related to the practice of medicine or osteopathic medicine by a qualifying physician.
“The lifestyle of rural physicians doesn’t always appeal to young students getting out of medical school these days,” O’Donnell told members of the House Rules Committee. “This tax credit would help us incentivize doctors to go into practice in our state’s rural communities, an effort to bolster rural health care.”
“This measure will help us build the ranks of rural doctors to serve residents who choose to live in our state’s smaller communities,” said Speaker McCall. “These residents are as deserving of access to a family physician, obstetricians and or other health care specialists as people who live in more populous areas.”
Doctors qualifying for the tax credit will be allowed to receive it for four subsequent years as long as they remain qualified. There would be a $1 million cap on the cumulative total of credits that could be claimed in any one year.
HB 2089 defines qualifying doctor as a medical doctor or osteopathic physician:
- who is licensed in Oklahoma on, after, or at any time within the two years prior to January 1, 2022, but not earlier than January 1, 2020;
- who has graduated from a college of medicine or has completed residency in Oklahoma; and
- whose primary residence is located in the same county as the qualifying rural area or within the jurisdiction of a federally recognized tribe and is directly employed by a tribally owned or operated health facility or federal Indian Health Service facility.
The measure defines rural area as a municipality or unincorporated location that has a population not exceeding 25,000, as determined by the most recent federal census, and is at least 25 miles from the boundary of the nearest municipality in Oklahoma with a population exceeding 25,000.
HB2089 passed the House Rules Committee with a vote of 8-0. It is now eligible to be considered by the full House.
Terry O’Donnell represents District 23 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes parts of Rogers, Tulsa and Wagoner counties.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Bipartisan legislation to address concerns over data privacy and data manipulation unanimously passed out of the House Technology Committee today with a vote of 6 to 0.
The Oklahoma Computer Data Privacy Act, House Bill 1602, requires internet technology companies to obtain explicit permission to collect and sell personal data.
The legislation has bipartisan support and is co-authored by more than 40 representatives and senators. The legislation’s primary authors, Reps. Josh West and Collin Walke, see the bill as an opportunity to claw back privacy rights from companies that continue to abuse them.
“This bill protects Oklahomans from companies that seek strictly to profit off of the buying or selling of their personal data so they can then try to steer their purchasing and other life decisions,” West said. “These practices by big tech are wrong and harmful. The only argument against this bill is that it limits big tech’s profitability. I’m OK with that.”
The legislation is one of the first “opt-in” data privacy bills in the country. The bill’s authors hope that other states will follow suit so that the practice of data mining without consent ends.
“It is a bit absurd that these companies think it’s ok to do this in the first place,” Walke said. “This legislation is a chance for our citizens to stand up to large corporations and this intrusive practice. We don’t have to sit back and let our data be taken from us, and we aren’t going to.”
HB1602 is now eligible to be heard on the House floor.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation to expand the use of play-based learning in Oklahoma public schools passed out of the House Common Education Committee on Tuesday with a vote of 14 to 0.
The Oklahoma Play to Learn Act (HB1569), authored by Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman, declares the Legislature’s intent to focus on the importance of child-centered, play-based learning as the most developmentally appropriate way for young children to learn.
The measure authorizes educators to create learning environments that promote movement, creative expression, exploration, socialization, and reading for pleasure, among other things. Additionally, HB1569 allows school districts to provide ongoing early childhood professional development for teachers and administrators, which may include existing State Department of Education professional development programs.
“The Oklahoma Play to Learn Act is a product of early childhood education advocates coming together to create legislation that will positively impact our students,” Rosecrants said. “This legislation is about fostering an environment that encourages children to learn new things and also enjoy doing so.”
The legislation received support from Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, who offered a friendly amendment that says a school district shall not prohibit a teacher from utilizing play-based learning in early childhood education. Hilbert then signed on as a co-author of the legislation.
“This bill empowers educators and will have a positive impact on the lives of our students,” Hilbert said. “Children learn better when they are engaged with the material and play-based learning is a method that improves that engagement taking place.”
HB1569 is now available to be heard on the House Floor.
“While our support is picking up momentum, there are still many hurdles to pass before this bill becomes law,” Rosecrants said. “I encourage everyone in favor of this legislation to call your local legislators in support of play-based learning.”
Constituents of House District 46 can reach Rep. Jacob Rosecrants at (405) 557-7329 or email .
OKLAHOMA CITY -- House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, released the following statement today in support of House Speaker Charles McCall’s push for the Legislature to have more oversight regarding how CARES Act funds are spent.
“I fully support Speaker McCall’s position that the Legislature should have a say in how CARES Act funds are being distributed, especially money that is used for long-term projects,” said House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman. “Setting aside the LOFT report that has already shown several examples of undocumented, questionable spending from the executive branch, the Legislature is the branch of government closest to the people and should absolutely be involved in how these dollars are spent with ample input from the public.”
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa, today won passage of the Sgt. Craig Johnson Metal Theft Act in the House Judiciary – Criminal Committee.
House Bill 1001 is named after Johnson, a Tulsa Police officer who had served as the lead on a statewide coalition developing this legislation before he was killed in a shooting while on duty last June.
“Sergeant Johnson was a key to this important legislation that would help us curb scrap metal theft in our state,” Bush said. “This crime costs state home and business owners hundreds of thousands of dollars each year and has even resulted in loss of life, something Sergeant Johnson was passionate about stopping. It’s an honor to name this legislation after him even as it is heartbreaking to no longer have him here to see its passage.”
Bush filed similar legislation last year but it was sidelined because of COVID.
HB 1001 seeks to clarify the data required to be maintained by a scrap metal dealer. Any federally recognized identification card could be used, and a vehicle identification number must recorded if no license plate is affixed. The measure also requires a digital image of the items purchased and of the seller. Records must be maintained for no less than two years from the date of the transaction.
The bill removes separate requirements for recording data about purchases of scrap metal under 35 pounds and of purchases 35 pounds and over. Requirements that a seller prove their ownership of a used motor vehicle, trailer or recreational vehicle when selling to a scrap metal dealer are clarified. The person selling must provide either a certificate of title, a notarized power of attorney from the individual on the title authorizing the seller to dispose of the vehicle on their behalf, or a statement of ownership from the seller accompanied by a bill of sale from the lawful owner.
Finally, HB 1001 places any copper wire that is four gauge or larger and any copper wire from which the insulation or coating has been burned or melted, as well as remote storage batteries, under the provisions of the Scrap Metal Dealers Act.
HB 1001 passed the House Judiciary – Criminal Committee with a vote of 9-0. It now is eligible to be considered by the full House.
Carol Bush represents District 70 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes parts of Tulsa County.
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, today won committee passage of a bill that would help homeless youth get access to housing, medical care, education and other services.
House Bill 1739 creates the Connecting Futures Act, which would allow the Department of Human Services to create a pilot program with social service providers to address the needs of minors who are not supported by parents or guardians and who are not in state or tribal custody. The act would not deprive a parent or legal guardian of any parental or legal authority.
“Many young people throughout our state are separated from any kind of support system, and they need our help,” Dills said. “This act would give these young people access to vital services so we can help them become successful adults.”
Dills said there are many youth who for whatever reason have become homeless and have not fit into the state’s foster care system. These youth have a high incidence of dropping out of school and not being equipped for jobs. Many don’t even have access to necessary documents such as their birth certificates or social security numbers so they can gain drivers licenses or employment. Too many end up in poverty, in the state’s penal system or worse. The Connecting Futures Act could change that trajectory by identifying barriers facing this population and identifying solutions and resources to help them. She said the program is designed for youth between the ages of 15 and 18.
HB 1739 passed the House Children, Youth and Family Services Committee with a vote of 5-0. It now is eligible to be considered in the House.
OKLAHOMA CITY - State Rep. Andy Fugate, D-Del City, today won committee passage of a bill that would allow absentee voters to vote in person when their absentee ballot is rejected.
House Bill 1843 extends the use of provisional ballots to include situations where a mailed ballot was rejected or wasn’t received in time to be counted. The bill does not change who is allowed to vote or otherwise alter voting procedures.
“The state of Oklahoma has a safe and secure process, through provisional ballots, to allow voting in situations where a voter’s eligibility to vote is uncertain,” said Fugate. “The state election board holds provisional ballots and does not count them until the Friday following an election. During that time, they verify that only a single vote will be counted for the voter.”
Fugate said almost 5,000 voters had their votes rejected in the November 2020 general election. These are legal, registered voters whose votes were not counted because of some kind of administrative problem. Today, there is nothing they can do to fix the problem. HB1843 provides an option for those voters to still have their voices heard in an election.
House Bill 1843 passed the Ethics and Elections Committee by a vote of 6-2. It is now eligible to be considered on the House floor.
The Biden Plan is a Bad Deal
By Congressman Markwayne Mullin
Despite President Biden’s calls for unity, the radical Left are continuing their all-or-nothing crusade of wasteful government spending, blue state bailouts, and burdensome regulations that hinder our economic recovery from the pandemic. Congressional Democrats are using what’s called the budget reconciliation process to pass a massive $1.9 trillion “relief” bill, which will fund their socialist agenda.
The budget reconciliation process is a way to fast-track bills into law. This process is a powerful tool, but it also limits debate on the bill and lowers the number of votes needed for it to pass the Senate. It will allow Congressional Democrats to force through their radical policies, like the Green New Deal and government-run health care, without any bipartisan cooperation.
We cannot afford to write blank checks that will ultimately fall on the backs of hard-working families across the country. The proposed Biden “Stimulus” Plan, combined with the relief bills that have already been signed into law, will cost more than $17,000 per person, which is roughly $69,000 for a family of four. With more than $1 trillion from previous relief bills that has yet to be spent, saddling future generations with more debt in the name of “relief” is reckless.
Since their first day in office, the Biden Administration has been focused on weakening the economy and destroying hundreds of thousands of American jobs. Now, they’re wanting to further increase our dependence on the federal government rather than getting our economy reopened and Americans back to work. At the end of the day, the Biden Plan is a bad deal for the American people.
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 -- State Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, on behalf of the House Democratic Caucus, released the following statement on the passing of former State Senator Maxine Horner.
“Generations of Oklahomans have a better life today because of the service of Senator Maxine Horner,” said Rep. Regina Goodwin. “It is impossible to count the number of lives Senator Horner impacted during her time on Earth. Her loss will be felt by her friends and family and a community of people who were able to find hope and education due to her efforts.
“Senator Horner’s legacy is long. Not only does it include being one of the first Black women to serve in the Oklahoma Senate, Senator Horner also began ‘Oklahoma’s Promise,’ which is a scholarship program that has allowed generations of Oklahomans attain a college education.
“Senator Horner, with the help of former State Rep. Don Ross, also began what is now called the Greenwood Cultural Center. Her vision for Oklahomans to have a place to see and understand our history and culture will continue for many years to come.
“Today, the House Democratic Caucus lifts up Senator Horner’s family during this difficult time, and we dedicate ourselves to move forward in a way that honors Senator Horner’s dedication to the people she served.”