A few thoughts from the recent legislative session that may or may not be completely finished.
• First, a thank you to Rep. Mike Sanders, who wrapped up his 12 years of service in the State House of Representatives.
Throughout his time in the legislature, Sanders was a strong advocate for rural issues in general and Northwest Oklahoma in particular. There are numerous highlights, but his work in fighting for roads and bridges stands out as does his support of legislation to strengthen volunteer firefighting departments.
We wish him well going forward.
• The Medicaid expansion question took another turn on Thursday when Gov. Kevin Stitt vetoed a legislative measure that would fund much of his SoonerCare 2.0 proposal, though Stitt said it would not fully fund the first year of the proposal.
What comes next? Do lawmakers return to try and redo a funding proposal? Or is it just a wait and see until June 30 when voters go to the polls and decide on State Question 802, which would put Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act in the Oklahoma Constitution, thus forcing everyone to agree on a funding mechanism?
Much uncertainty there.
• Domestic violence will now be considered a violent crime in Oklahoma after the governor signed legislation reclassifying the crime.
It’s actually amazing that it took this long for this type of legislation to pass. Domestic abuse and assault almost always involves violence. Hopefully this reclassifcation will strengthen accountability for the offenders and increase protection in some way for the victims.
• The governor also recently signed cost-of-living adjustments for retirees in Oklahoma’s pension plans for teachers, firefighters, police, public employees, justices and judges. The increase is the first in 12 years and finally got through the legislature by large numbers this session.
It’s a boost for thousands of Oklahomans and one that is long overdue. Congratulations to the legislature and governor for getting it done.