Legislators get busy in first week of session

by Todd Brooks
Comanche Times owners Todd and Sarah Brooks with State Sen. Chris Kidd during the Oklahoma Press Association Legislative Summit on Feb. 9. Comanche Times owners Todd and Sarah Brooks with State Sen. Chris Kidd during the Oklahoma Press Association Legislative Summit on Feb. 9.

State Rep. Marcus McEntire and State Sen. Chris Kidd, who both have Comanche in their districts, had a busy first week as legislators returned to the State Capitol last week.

“It’s been pretty good so far,” McEntire said. “It takes about two weeks to get back into session shape. You have so many people talking to you and you just go home at night and fall to sleep immediately. It’s pretty tiring. Then about the second week, you start to hit your stride.”

McEntire said the governor’s State of the State address sets the tone for the beginning of the session.

“(The address) was pretty heavily education based,” McEntire said. “Gov. (Kevin) Stitt said his election was a mandate on school choice and I get why he said that but I think a lot of people just voted Republican because they didn’t want to vote for any Democrat. So, I don’t know if it was that much of a mandate on school choice.”

School choice has been a hot-button issue at the Capitol. It is a divisive issue as not all the Republicans are on board with the governor’s plan, including McEntire and Kidd. Both believe it would hurt rural schools.

“I’m not going to put our public schools in District 50 through that,” McEntire said.

“We don’t have a private school in the five counties I represent,” Kidd said.

Another hot issue favored by the governor is cutting grocery tax, but McEntire is not so sure he’s fully on board with that either.

“Anything we do at the state level could jeopardize the assessment at the local level,” McEntire said. “The local tax rate is based off the state. And so locals would still be able to tax, but there’s no way we can take away the tax base. We are going to have to be real careful and so the devil is in the details.”

McEntire is also chairman of a subcommittee on health and he said even in the first week the House committee has already been talking to the Senate side.

“We’re still watching managed care and the Medicaid delivery system we set up last year,” McEntire said. “My goal is keep as much of the money in Oklahoma as I can and not be sending it out of state.”

The state is having to deal with a lawsuit in managed care, so it may slow down the process some.

“The request for proposals on the dental side of managed care have already been awarded,” McEntire said. “There’s a few statutory things that I need to clear out this year, so I’ve got bills to do that. My bills aren’t real sexy to report on. They’re highly complex and but huge in terms of how we deliver care to people on Medicaid and the cost of it. I’m trying to carve that down as much as I can for taxpayers.”

McEntire said it was also nice coming into the session with a state financial surplus and not have to worry about having to make cuts.

On Feb. 6 the State Capitol gained nationwide attention when supporters of transpeople protested outside the chambers. McEntire, though, said it was blown way out of proportion in the media.

“There were people in like half the rotunda and a picture got tweeted out,” McEntire said. “The right-wing media got a hold of it and were saying things like ‘It’s an insurrection when we do it, but it’s just a protest when the left does it.’ But, it really wasn’t that big of a deal, I didn’t even know they were there until I walked out to get some ice before the State of the State. The next day we were overrun by homeschoolers and then the day after that by abortion abolitionists and there were no problems. It was no different than any of those.”

Kidd has a bill that aims to streamline the inventory process for county governments. The bill, he said, would help the counties from having to keep two different books because right now there are two different laws that have to be followed. The bill would change the threshold from $500 to $2,500 that would be needed for counties to have to put inventory in a public notice. Right now, Kidd said, the state and counties are not on the same level and his bill would even that out.

Comanche Times
Comanche Times
Comanche Times