Whatzup Politics (1278)
OKLAHOMA CITY – A group of state legislators on Tuesday held an interim study on the administrative rules process with the goal of analyzing potential improvements, changes or reforms so the Legislature is more involved in the process.
The Joint House and Senate study was heard before the Senate Rules Committee. It was held by State Reps. Tom Gann, R-Inola, and Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont, chair and vice chair, respectively, of the House Administrative Rules Committee, and State Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow.
“The focus of the study was to determine a baseline of information so legislators have a better understanding of the current status of the administrative rules process in relation to the Administrative Procedures Act,” Gann said. “I wanted to provide examples of areas of needed reform as well as where reduction of rules could benefit Oklahomans. I would also like to see greater participation among lawmakers and a more robust process in the Legislature as well as increased transparency.”
With administrative rules having the effect of law once approved by the Legislature, the lawmakers said it is incredibly important to make sure each rule is studied and that it follows statute and doesn’t create new state law. The problem is there are hundreds if not thousands of rules submitted each year, and the current process only allows them to be mass approved or to create individual resolutions that must then go through the legislative process if they desire to deny a rule.
Rep. Crosswhite Hader said she asked to be on the House Administrative Rules Committee and even campaigned on this issue because she sees it as one of the most important issues impacting Oklahomans.
“Agencies do their best to follow the guidelines the Legislature sets out when asked to promulgate rules to follow state statute, but it is the Legislature's responsibility to maintain a check on those agencies to ensure they didn't go beyond the scope of what is in the law,” Crosswhite Hader said. “This hearing was to help insure that all of the Legislature - the House and Senate – are on the same page when it comes to protecting citizens from agency overreach.”
Sen. Dahm said, “For years I have worked on limiting excessive regulation in our state. This interim study allowed members of the Legislature and the public to hear from experts across the country about reforms other states have enacted. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have this joint study with the House, the governor’s office and all those involved as we work together to make a better Oklahoma and a better business environment for the future.”
Sens. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, and Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher, also took part in Tuesday’s study.
"Red tape and over regulation affect individual liberty and economic growth,” Daniels said. “We must streamline the elimination of egregious or unnecessary rules and regulations. And the legislature must be more engaged in its administrative rules oversight responsibilities. The information and ideas provided by this study will help show us the way.”
Jech added, “The issue of administrative rules is an important one. I’m pleased that Senator Dahm and Representative Gann chose to present their joint study on this particular issue. I know that both legislators devoted much time and effort preparing for the study. There was some very important information presented, which will be very beneficial while drafting potential legislation for the upcoming session.”
Other speakers at Tuesday’s study included Cara Rodriquez with Glenn Coffee & Associates who spoke on the constitutional framework and administrative and legislative powers as well as the difference between rules, statute and executive actions and ways for lawmakers to assess the proper channel; James Broughel from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University who spoke on the regulatory burdens of the Oklahoma Administrative code and exploring reforms for Oklahoma; Peggy Coe and Chris Coffman with the Oklahoma Office of Administrative Rules who gave an overview of the process and a presentation on the forthcoming Administrative Rules Portal.
Rep. Gann gave an overview of the House process for the oversight of administrative rules, and Daniel Dew with the Pacific Legal Foundation spoke on administrative rule reform and best practices from other states.
OKLAHOMA CITY – The leader of the Oklahoma Senate commented on the withdrawal of an initiative petition on redistricting.
“I’m not surprised the initiative petition was withdrawn because this latest iteration was flawed. Regardless of what some may say, the redistricting process in Oklahoma is not broken. Senators take our responsibility seriously to uphold the constitution. That is why we are soliciting the public’s input and taking steps in our process to ensure the public’s important role in redistricting. The Oklahoma Senate will represent the interests of Oklahomans and will conduct an open and transparent redistricting process,” Treat said.
Treat last year announced the formation of the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting, chaired by Senator Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle. In July, Treat and Paxton announced steps taken by the Senate to ensure the public’s role in redistricting including public hearings held at locations around the state with opportunity for public comment at those meetings, and the public submission of proposed maps of state legislative and congressional districts, as well as public notice given before action taken by the redistricting committee.
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, and State Sen. Joe Newhouse, R-Broken Arrow, on Tuesday held joint interim studies before the Common Education Committees that focused on the State Aid Funding Formula and the Bilingual, ELL and Transportation components.
The first study examined bilingual education funding, testing, qualifying conditions, school procedures and transparency and accountability. The second targeted transportation funding in the changing virtual environment as well as funding for schools that utilizing city transit systems, and the 1.5-mile rule for school districts bus routes.
“The needs of our children today are different than the needs of our children when the funding formula was established 40 years ago,” Dills said. “It is time we begin the process of adjusting the weights for state aid to ensure taxpayer dollars are meeting the needs of our children, and our government is operating efficiently.”
Newhouse added, “This joint interim study explored ways to improve our education funding formula so non-English speakers can receive the instruction and help they need to become proficient English speakers. We also studied ways transportation costs can be appropriately accounted for and reimbursed. Moving forward, we must be very intentional with how we spend our taxpayer dollars to make the greatest impact for our Oklahoma students.”
Other presenters at Tuesday’s bilingual study included:
- State Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, chair of the Senate Education Committee and chair of the State Aid Funding Formula Task Force from 2017-18;
- Matt Richmond, chief program officer for Ed Build, an organization working to bring fairness to school funding formulas, speaking on the Oklahoma State Aid Formula as well as bilingual and English language learners;
- Dan Ruhl, executive director of English Proficiency for the Oklahoma State Department of Education; and
- Chris Berry, director of language and cultural service for Oklahoma City Public Schools.
Presenters for the transportation study included:
- Monty Guthrie, deputy superintendent of finance and federal programs;
- Ron Flanagan, Muldrow Public Schools;
- Jason Simeroth, Yukon Public Schools;
- Daniel G. Thatcher, J.D. National Conference of State Legislatures Senior Fellow in Education
- Richmond and Stanislawki also spoke during this study.
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, led an interim study Tuesday regarding the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Attendees heard from Interim Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye, who said the state was ill-prepared at the beginning of the pandemic in March, but the situation has improved across the state since.
"It has really been a pretty impressive response by the state," Frye said in the study. "We started with less than nothing… and we have done well with where we are compared to the rest of the nation."
Frye said at the beginning of the pandemic, the state did not have an adequate supply of personal protection equipment for healthcare professionals, nor did the state have testing capabilities. Both of these situations have improved and Oklahoma is often used as a model for the rest of the nation of a good response to the pandemic.
Two Oklahoma doctors were invited by Roberts to speak before the committee. Dr. Chad Chamberlain told attendees that policymakers should consider multiple factors that are affected by public health decisions, including mental health issues as a result from isolation, and Dr. Jim Meehan encouraged proactive practices and bolstering bodies’ defenses to be better prepared to fight viral illnesses. He discussed an effective vitamin protocol that includes Vitamin D3, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, melatonin and zinc.
“I appreciate our speakers for lending their valuable expertise and experience to this important topic,” Roberts said. “It’s important to reflect on how our state has improved since the early days of the pandemic and begin the process of addressing the issues that arose so that, in the event of a similar devastating situation, we are better prepared.”
Roberts chairs the House Public Health Committee. A recording of the study is available at https://okhouse.gov/Video/Default.aspx.
(Oklahoma City) – Officials with the Oklahoma State Election Board cautioned voters about a mailing from a Tulsa-based organization, “OKVOTE,” after state and county election offices received several complaints from voters this week.
The mailing is an unsolicited, pre-filled voter registration application accompanied by a letter that mistakenly advises some recipients that “according to State Election Board records” they are not registered to vote at their current address – even though official Election Board records actually show many of the recipients who have contacted election officials are already properly registered.
“State and county election officials are not affiliated with OKVOTE nor with this mailing,” State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said. “Although we know OKVOTE has good intentions, this mailing has caused confusion by mistakenly telling some registered voters that they are not registered to vote at their address. We encourage voters who received this letter to use the official OK Voter Portal or contact their County Election Board to confirm their voter registration.”
Voters have until October 9 to update their voter registration or register for the first time for the 2020 General Election. Voters can use the State Election Board’s new online Voter Registration “Wizard” to complete an application online, then print, sign and mail it to their County Election Board. A paper voter registration application can also be printed from the State Election Board’s website.
Ziriax also urged voters to use official Election Board sites for election information or voter services.
“If you want to register to vote, request an absentee ballot, find your polling place, get a sample ballot, or sign up for election reminders, the best place to get these services is from the State Election Board or your County Election Board,” Ziriax said.
Audio Available: https://www.ok.gov/elections/multimedia/ElectionBoard_9-21-2018.mp3
OK Voter Portal: https://www.ok.gov/elections/OVP.html
Voter Registration “Wizard”: https://okvoterportal.okelections.us/Home/RegWizard
County Election Board Directory: https://www.ok.gov/elections/About_Us/County_Election_Boards/index.html
State Election Board Website: https://www.ok.gov/elections/index.html
View OKVOTE Letter:
By Congressman Markwayne Mullin
SPC Vanessa Guillén’s disappearance and horrific murder earlier this year shined a light on the systemic issue of sexual harassment and sexual assault within our military. Her name made headlines across the country, #IAmVanessaGuillén was trending on social media, and her family vowed to bring change to the system in her memory. What happened to Vanessa inspired others to come forward and share their experiences of sexual harassment and assault while serving in the U.S. military.
When I heard Vanessa’s tragic story, my heart broke. As a father of six, I cannot imagine losing any of my children, especially in the heinous way Vanessa was taken from her family. We can’t stand by and let what happened to Vanessa happen again. We must strengthen the military’s ability to protect its most important resource – the men and women who willingly sign-up to protect all Americans.
That’s why I introduced the I Am Vanessa Guillén Act earlier this week. The I Am Vanessa Guillén Act will fundamentally reform reporting and investigating of sexual harassment and assault in the military and transform prosecution of sexual harassment and assault by empowering an independent prosecutor, within each military service, to bring charges. It will also encourage survivors to come forward to report sexual assaults and sexual harassment so perpetrators will be held accountable and survivors will get the justice they deserve.
The issue of sexual assault and sexual harassment in the military isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue – it’s an American issue. This is about protecting our men and women in uniform. They fight for us and now we must fight for them.
This bill will ensure Vanessa will not have died in vain. As a soldier she proudly served her country and, in the wake of her death, she will save countless lives through this vital change to our military. I will keep fighting so no family has to go through what the Guillén family has gone through.
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. Cyndi Munson hosted an interim study today focused on the public health risks connected to Loperamide in connection to opioid abuse.
Loperamide is a drug found in over the counter medications such as Imodium A-D. The drug is often sought out by people suffering from opioid withdrawal, but the large quantities of Loperamide necessary to provide temporary relief from withdrawals can cause severe and even fatal side effects.
“I was completely unfamiliar until a constituent's family member died due to misuse of Loperamide,” Munson said. “The opioid epidemic has created multiple side-effects that we are going to have to deal with as lawmakers and as a society. Loperamide misuse may seem small compared to other epidemic side effects, but it is costing lives. This study took a look at this problem and solutions to fix it.”
Joel Hild, the constituent who brought the issue to Munson’s attention, lost his son to Loperamide misuse while he was recovering from a substance abuse disorder.
“When the medical examiner told us Loperamide was the only drug in his system, I was shocked,” Hild said. “Through my research since my son died, I understand that this drug does have a need. I’m not here to get rid of it. I just want it to be treated similarly as Sudafed.”
Unfortunately due to a lack of a statewide or national database and the relative recency of Loperamide misuse, hard data on the number of deaths due to overdose is hard to find.
“The big takeaway from this study for me is that there is a desire by everyone, including manufacturers of Loperamide, to increase education and possibly even controls to help prevent someone from misusing this drug,” Munson said. “I want to thank all of the stakeholders involved in today’s study, and I look forward to working with each of them to continue making progress on this issue.”
The study presenters were Jermaine Galloway, Tall Cop Says Stop; Interim Commissioner of Mental Health Carrie Slatton-Hodges; Joel Hild, District 85 Resident; Carlos Gutierrez and Mike Tringale, Consumer Health Products Association; Oklahoma Chief Forensic Toxicologist Dr. Byron Curtis.
OKLAHOMA CITY – The House Insurance Committee held a recent interim study to review ways to decrease the cost of health insurance, save money and improve health insurance efficiencies.
Representatives of Strategic Cost Containment Concepts (SCCC), powered by AmWINS, presented RX Interceptor & Pharmacy Rebates, a proprietary program to provide significant savings to the state in prescriptions and medical care.
The RX Inceptor Program claims to help reduce prescription claims spend by 30% to 50%. The group works with pharmaceutical advocates to help eligible individuals qualify for savings on high-cost specialty medications. They say that up to 100% of the drug rebates, built-in stop-loss, and a full annual Pharmacy Performance Audit can account for savings to the state.
SCCC has shown it can return large savings through this proprietary program and guarantee contracts to return money to the state that it would not otherwise receive. They say they can implement the program with little or no interruption in service to state employees and other insureds.
When coupled with PrimeCare Indemnity, which provides direct primary care and urgent care services, a rough estimate of approximately $111 Million a year in guaranteed savings for three years is projected, premised upon on reviewing current data to ensure accuracy. Significant tax savings are available to employers and employees. Unlimited $10 doctor visits are key features of this wellness plan.
An Alternative Healthcare Plan was presented that provides a National PPO network for a cost reduction of up to 35% or more. The private and public sectors can utilize this plan that includes built-in dental and vision coverage.
“The state of Oklahoma is projecting a billion-dollar-plus budget deficit next year, and we are thankful that innovative companies have approached us to help better our state,” said State Rep. Lewis Moore, R-Edmond, the author of the study. “Speaker McCall and Appropriations Chair Kevin Wallace have motivated us as chairmen and women to be receptive to change where we can improve efficiencies and save tax payer dollars,” Moore added.
“A savings plan to streamline processes and save the Oklahoma HealthCare Authority more than $661 million dollars is waiting to be acted upon.” Moore said.
Letter Asks if CARES Act Dollars to Private Schools Is Legal
OKLAHOMA CITY – The House Democratic Education Policy Group sent a letter to the Oklahoma State Attorney General Mike Hunter requesting an opinion on whether Gov. Kevin Stitt acted within his authority when he chose to send a portion of the CARES Act funding to private schools.
Citing a recent decision against the US Department of Education for similar CARES fund activity, the House Democrats asked specifically about the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, which was provided by the CARES Act.
“We wish to ensure that the application of the CARES Act funds in Oklahoma were spent appropriately in accordance to the directive in the CARES Act 18003 (d)(f) which specifically calls for the ‘providing of services to low-achieving students’ which ‘funds activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students,” said Rep. Melissa Provenzano, the primary author of the letter. “This includes all funding streams: Learn Anywhere Oklahoma, Bridge the Gap Digital Wallet, Stay in School funds as well as any other expenditures made with these funds.”
If Attorney General Hunter does deem that the Governor acted beyond his constitutional authority by incorrectly distributing these funds, Democrats are seeking an opinion that directs the governor to distribute the $38 million as directed by the President and Congress.
“Whether it is State Question 781 funding or education funding, our state government has a hard time following the letter of the law,” said State Rep. Andy Fugate, D-Del City. “We requested this opinion because it’s time to stop this ‘do as I say, not as I do’ approach to government funding. There are real questions regarding the legality of the governor’s actions. These CARES Act dollars are not a slush fund for the governor to spend as he pleases. ”
Democrats have requested an expedited response from the AG’s office to prevent the misuse of federal dollars that would need to be repaid.
Democratic Caucus Education Policy Group Members: Rep. Melissa Provenzano (Chair) Rep. Kelly Albright, Rep. Andy Fugate, Rep. Monroe Nichols, Rep. Trish Ranson, Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, and Rep. John Waldron
LINK TO LETTER: Letter to Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter
Homeless/Displaced Youth Resources Highlighted
OKLAHOMA CITY -- State. Rep. Chelsey Branham, D-OKC, hosted a youth provider summit Thursday focused on Oklahoma’s homeless and displaced youth population.
The virtual summit featured a keynote address from Oklahoma DHS Child Welfare Director Dr. Deb Shropshire, five different breakout sessions for participants to attend as well as a legislative panel that allowed lawmakers to give their perspective on what has been done and can still be done at the Capitol to protect and serve this vulnerable population.
“It is incredibly important that we in the Legislature continue to focus on and address the issues of Oklahoma’s homeless and displaced youth populations,” said legislative panel participant and Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Kay Floyd. “Thanks to Rep. Branham for organizing the Youth Provider Summit and a special thanks to those who participated.”
The breakout sessions were led by organizations and agencies that are working daily to serve Oklahoma’s displaced and homeless youth populations. The organizations represented were SISU Youth Services; Generation Citizen; Pivot; Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth; Oklahoma Association of Youth Services; Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
“Many barriers are standing in the path to success and this summit helped educate and connect policymakers and service providers to collaborate on removing these obstacles,” said Jamie Caves, Sisu Youth Services Executive Director. “This summit was important to provide needed resources and support for these young people as they pave their road ahead. As we have learned during this pandemic, our other problems don’t go away because we are focused on COVID. They are exacerbated. Meeting virtually and hearing from the different agencies allows all of us an opportunity to refocus on these children.”
Like the work that these organizations do, the success of this summit was due to the collaborative effort of everyone involved.
“This summit was a huge success in part to our wonderful speakers, but largely from the large number of community members, service providers, and youth that attended and committed to collaborating to make Oklahoma better for our youth,” Branham said. “I am incredibly thankful to every person and I look forward to what we can do together as a community.”