The first half of the 57th Session of the Oklahoma House of Representatives has drawn to a close. It has been a very productive session with many pieces of legislation that help everyday Oklahomans. As promised during my campaign, I focused my work during this session on three main areas: Education, criminal justice reform and health care. Below are key pieces of legislation that I am proud to say have now become law.
HB1905, SB446: provide for trauma-informed instruction training for aspiring teachers as well as those currently in the classroom, leading to better mental health supports for our students. HB1395: mandates financial transparency for virtual public schools and will finally allow us to see how our tax dollars are being spent. Lastly, I am pleased to report that our teachers will receive a $1200 raise this coming year. We also successfully fended off bills that would have allowed for emergency certified school superintendents as well as tax credits that drained away money from the education budget.
Criminal Justice Reform
HB1269: Allows retroactivity for voter-approved State Question 780. This bill allows those in prison for certain minor drug and theft offenses that are now re-classified as misdemeanors to be released from our critically overcrowded prisons for a savings of $30 million to Oklahoma taxpayers. SB415: allows for children to provide testimony via video conference rather than having to sit in the courtroom for certain crimes.
HB2632: the Patient’s Right to Pharmacy Choice Act, which allows smaller pharmacies the same access to reasonably priced drug distributors and removes the “gag clause” that prohibited pharmacists from telling you when your prescription would cost less if you paid out of pocket rather than if you paid using insurance. SB142: protects nursing home residents from the growing problem of over prescription of anti-psychotic drugs. The drugs will now have an informed consent component designed to help determine use only when necessary.
The 2019 Oklahoma Budget brings much needed relief to several core services in large part thanks to last year’s increases in the Gross Production Tax, ball and dice gaming and amazon purchases from out of state. We saw increases across the board for all agencies, most notably public education, with an additional 157 million dollars going to our classrooms for increased support staff and much needed supplies. After more than a decade of budget cuts every single year to multiple agencies which have led to critical negative impact, this is much needed step in the right direction. As always, fiscal responsibility in the funding of core services remains critical.
Keep in Touch!
Our weekly Sunday office hours have drawn to a close, but will begin again when session resumes. In the interim, you can keep in touch by following me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or sign up for my e-newsletter at the address above. Please let me know if I can come speak to your neighborhood association, PTA, special event or any other group that works and serves in House District 79.
Thank you for the honor of serving as your Oklahoma State Representative. We are off to an excellent start!
Representative Melissa Provenzano