Republican caucus releases agenda
This week, we’re racing to meet another deadline—consideration of the remaining Senate bills in our chamber. Last week, we got through around 160 of the 550 bills reported out of committee. We’ll be working long days and nights to get as many of these measures heard as possible.
So far, six of my bills received approval in the Senate and moved across the rotunda, leaving me five more to present on the floor this week.
The Senate Republican Caucus released our 2021 agenda this past week. Our objectives focus on helping Oklahomans and our economy recover from this historic pandemic. We’re already doing so much better than many other states that are facing devastating budget shortfalls because their economies were shut down for months, while ours was closed for mere weeks.
Oklahomans have once again shown their strength and resilience, and we will do the same in the legislature. We’re in this together and will come out stronger than ever.
We’re working on ways to diversify and grow our economy by supporting legislation to strengthen vital industries while attracting new ones. This will involve further licensing reforms and eliminating unnecessary and burdensome government red tape and regulations that are smothering our businesses.
Our state government desperately needs to be modernized and brought into the 21st Century. There are still state agencies operating on dial-up technology in our wireless world. How can these agencies provide efficient state services when they’re using badly outdated hardware and software?
We must also ensure the security of these systems while making them more accessible and user-friendly for citizens. Part of this effort will also include updating our out-of-date state employment practices, which recognizes and rewards seniority rather than the best and most capable employees. We must change this, so our agencies have more flexibility when it comes to hiring, promoting and paying our nearly 33,000 state employees.
Next, we want to invest more resources in Oklahoma’s families and our children. The first few years of a child’s life are critical to their life-long mental, physical and emotional development. We want to focus on providing more care and services for children from conception to age 2. This will also involve providing better support for expectant parents and those with young kids.
And in our nation’s ever-changing political environment, we’ll continue fighting to protect Oklahomans’ rights and liberties.
Health is an issue that affects all Oklahomans, not just our youngest citizens. Oklahoma continues to rank poorly in many health rankings, and we’re working hard to turn that around. Bills are moving through the process to increase access to high-quality, affordable health care services and providers as well as addressing the high costs of prescription medications and healthcare.
Another major problem facing Oklahoma that has been very apparent during the pandemic is our poor connectivity statewide. Having high-speed internet is crucial for our businesses, schools, government agencies, and healthcare industry. Even filing for unemployment or job searching has been a chore for many because there isn’t proper internet in their area.
We must remove the regulatory roadblocks that are keeping high-speed internet companies from expanding, especially in rural Oklahoma. We’re currently working to lay the foundation for investment in a statewide infrastructure that will connect all of Oklahoma. Last year, the Oklahoma Rural Broadband Expansion Council was formed to develop a comprehensive plan to get high-speed internet to all Oklahomans.
Finally, we want to support our Oklahoma heroes who protect our freedoms and our communities—our brothers and sisters in uniform, be they military or law enforcement. Many reforms are working their way through the process to make our state more welcoming to military families and retirees as well as protecting and supporting our law enforcement and their families.
As we work to recover from the worst pandemic in our nation’s history, I’m excited about our plan to address these important issues and I’m proud to work with my Senate colleagues to ensure Oklahoma is stronger than ever and a place that any family would love to be.
If you have any questions or concerns on legislative matters, please contact me at the Capitol. Please write to Senator Jessica Garvin, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 237, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at Jessica.Garvin@oksenate.gov or call (405) 521-5522.
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