Oklahoma State Senate
State Senator Chris Kidd
Senate District 31
(Comanche, Cotton, Jefferson, Stephens and Tillman counties)
February 20, 2017
We’re starting the third week of committee work and have also started hearing bills on the Senate floor.
Last week, two of my bills passed out of committee and are now awaiting further consideration by the full Senate. SB 47 would declare August 19th each year as Oklahoma Aviation and Aerospace Day in the state to commemorate the achievements of Oklahoma in aviation and aerospace.
SB 673 updates statutory language regarding the responsibilities of the Attorney General to represent and protect the interests of insurance consumers in rate-related proceedings before the Insurance Commissioner rather than the Insurance Property and Casualty Rate Board.
Previously, I talked about some of the areas that the Senate will be focusing on this year and I’d like to mention a few more.
This year, we’ll continue promoting access to quality health care services especially for rural and underserved areas of the state. We’ll be encouraging “block grant” programs from the federal government that would empower Oklahoma to infuse free-market principles into health care plans. Our hope is to reduce waste and duplication at health care agencies in an effort to use more innovative health care delivery systems. Finally, the Senate is going to push legislation to promote private/public sector partnerships to address the ever-growing problem of mental health and substance abuse in our state.
Protecting children and supporting families is also very important. The Oklahoma State Senate is looking at ways to improve the state’s foster care and adoption services. This will include strengthening support for foster families. We want to reform social service programs to offer economic mobility and help end dependency on government assistance. Also, eliminating restrictions on non-profits and faith-based organizations is a crucial role in closing the gaps in social services. Lastly, we’ll continue with our commitment to protecting the sanctity of life.
Supporting our veterans and military families will also be a priority. We’re going to work to minimize licensing challenges for military spouses due to relocation. Military families move quite often and we want to make sure that when they’re stationed in Oklahoma, their careers aren’t interrupted because of licensing issues. We’ll continue supporting public-private partnerships to develop a comprehensive health care system that meets the needs of both our active and retired military men and women. Part of that will be ensuring that they are connected with existing mental health and social service programs. Finally, we must pass legislation to better protect service members’ financial and contractual rights when they are deployed or mobilized.
There is so much that needs to be done but since we’re facing a nearly $900 million revenue shortfall, we thought these areas and the ones I mentioned in my last column are the most crucial for our state’s economy and for the health and safety of our citizens.
While those are the Senate’s priorities, the House and governor have their own proposals of how to address the budget shortfall and move Oklahoma forward.
I welcome and appreciate your comments or questions. At the State Senate, I can be reached by writing to Senator Chris Kidd, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 411A, Oklahoma City, OK 73105, emailing me at email@example.com, or by calling (405) 521-5563 and speaking to my assistant Suzanne Earnest.