New year means new state laws

by Jessica Garvin

ad a wonderful holiday weekend, celebrating with friends and family while also getting some rest as we kick off 2022.

With the new year comes new laws. There are three main dates when laws go into effect, July 1, Nov. 1, and Jan. 1. This week, we saw nearly 20 officially go on the books, including one I served as the principal Senate author on. House Bill 1062 extends the homestead tax exemption for 100 percent disabled veterans, their surviving spouses, or the surviving spouse of someone who died while in the line of duty to include those who own homes located on land owned by a city or town.

HB 1009 provides further financial relief by increasing the maximum gross household income to qualify for an additional homestead exemption of $1,000 from $20,000 to $25,000. Any federal stimulus or relief payments related to the COVID-19 virus are excluded from the calculation.

Oklahomans will also be getting some much-needed tax relief thanks to two other new laws. The top personal income tax rate will be reduced from 5 percent to 4.75 percent, impacting more than 1.5 million Oklahomans who on average will save about $130 annually. The Earned Income Tax Credit refundability has been restored, providing tax relief to low- and moderate-income working families. The corporate income tax will also be lowered from 6 percent to 4 percent, providing tremendous tax relief to our business community.

Several important health laws also went into effect. Telemedicine will now be covered under all health benefit plans in Oklahoma. This will help improve our state’s health outcomes as so many more citizens will be able to access mental health services and meet with their primary care physician from the comfort and safety of their home. Many individuals, who never sought healthcare services prior to the pandemic, are now taking advantage of tele-health services. The new law also will ensure payment parity for physicians who care for patients using telemedicine. Typically, insurance companies have paid doctors a lower amount for telemedicine visits compared to in-person office visits for the same services. Under the governor’s emergency orders during the pandemic, doctors received the same amount for telemedicine, and that change will now be permanent.

Another healthcare-related law now requires health insurers to make direct payments or reimbursements to licensed pharmacists for providing covered healthcare services to individuals whose health benefit policy, contract, or patient agreement provides for such payments or reimbursements for the services.

This year, Oklahoma’s civil service or merit system for state agency employees is also getting modernized. State employees will no longer be categorized as classified or non-classified, which will allow them more freedom career-wise within the state system. Agencies will also have more flexibility in hiring, compensating, and promoting their employees. The new law further expands state employees’ rights by creating a fair process to dispute adverse actions taken against them. 

These are just a few of the important new laws that went into effect this week. You can learn more about the others on the Senate website at

I’ve got a busy week ahead with several meetings with agencies to wrap up language on their bill requests. All final bill language must be submitted to staff this Thursday, so it’ll be a busy week at the Capitol as we work to hit this next deadline.

I’m also looking forward to volunteering at the Sigma Nu Year Bull Bash at the Stephens County Fairgrounds on Saturday. This is an annual event put on by Sigma Nu Women’s Sorority to raise money for various causes throughout Stephens County. Come watch some great bull riding, enjoy a snack, and help us raise money for a great cause. You can get tickets at by searching Sigma Nu Year Bull Bash.

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 or call (405) 521-5522.