Legislative session is winding down

by Chris Kidd

We have less than two weeks remaining in the legislative session, and I’m looking forward to finalizing the state budget for our critical state services like education, public safety, health, mental health, and infrastructure.

While budget negotiations have been difficult this session, Oklahoma has the highest revenues available ever in state history. A large portion of those funds are one-time monies carried over from previous sessions. We have been extremely careful not to spend all of our available funds each year because of not knowing what the national economy was going to do.

We still don’t know but all economic indicators are starting to trend down. Fortunately, we have a historic amount in savings to protect our state services should a recession occur. 

Last week, I had the honor of presenting Senate Resolution 15, recognizing the incredible life and legacy of Oklahoman Delbert Black. This outstanding man will forever be a part of not only Oklahoma history, but our nation’s history as he was the highest-ranking enlisted member of the U.S. Navy and the first to be named Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) in 1967.

What an amazing military career this hometown hero had and to think it all started from humble beginnings in Orr, Oklahoma, where he was born in 1922. His career spanned three decades, from 1941-1971. He was aboard the USS Maryland (BB-46) in Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, and also served on numerous other vessels involved in other conflicts, including WWII, the Korean War, and Vietnam.

His patriotism and dedicated service earned him countless accolades, including being the first Navy enlisted man to receive the Distinguished Service Medal.

Even after retiring, his dedication to help his fellow veterans continued through his work in several retired and active duty organizations, including the USO Council of Central Florida, the Fleet Reserve Association, and co-chairman on the Secretary of Navy Committee on Retired Personnel. MCPON Black passed away in March 2000, and those who followed in his footsteps were determined to continue honoring his legacy, and in 2017, their persistence paid off when the USS Delbert D. Black was launched and then began service in 2020. 

The admiration and respect for this Oklahoman and American hero was also witnessed when several U.S. Navy officers came to Oklahoma for the special presentation honoring MCPON Black. These included U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officers, Chief Jonathan Ricks, Senior Chief Mike Vant, and Command Master Chiefs Jacob Stovall, Leo Eugene, and Kevin Lohrky. It was a privilege to get to meet these fine men and also thank them for their service to our country.

As the legislative session begins to wind down, we’re working to review all of the governor’s 185 executive nominations. This session, I’m carrying the nominations of Austin Benton, of Walters, to the Alcoholic Beverage Law Enforcement (ABLE) Commission and John Richard Braught, of Duncan, to the OU Board of Regents.

Mr. Benton was approved by the Senate Public Safety Committee, and Mr. Braught’s nomination will go before the Education Committee this week. The full Senate will then consider both as well. 

Thank you again for the privilege of serving our district and the State of Oklahoma in the Senate. If I can be of any assistance, you can reach me at (405) 521-5563 or Chris.Kidd@oksenate.gov.