The 58th Legislature started Feb. 1, 2021, with the governor delivering his annual State of the State address.
The governor stressed the work he’s done with legislative leaders to help set his priorities this year. Those include making Oklahoma a Top Ten state for business, delivering taxpayers more for their money and investing in fellow Oklahomans. The overall goal is keeping Oklahoma a wonderful place to live and work. We do this by keeping our tax burden low for our citizens, protecting our energy industry from radical national policies, keeping regulation and red tape to a minimum, and protecting our freedoms.
Also this past week, our House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittees received lists of the bills they will be considering over the next week. Once bills pass in subcommittee they are eligible to be considered by the full Appropriations and Budget Committee. This committee held its first meeting Feb. 3 passing seven bills. Those measures now can be considered by the full House.
The Oversight Committee for the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT), of which I am the House chair, also met this past week. The office heard an update from Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Executive Director Shelley Zumwalt. The Commission continues to see progress in the number of ongoing claims it has open, with about 7,000 fewer of those over the past week. The office also is seeing a decline in the number of initial claims filed. I’m trusting this means people are getting back to work.
Additionally, if my office can be of assistance with an unemployment claim, please do not hesitate to call.
The LOFT Oversight Committee was set to review a report by the office that examined Gov. Stitt’s use of $1.26 billion in federal pandemic relief funds dedicated to state use. The review was postponed, because of a family medical emergency for state Chief Operating Officer John Budd. That review will be rescheduled at a later date.
I’ve also heard from a number of people that they are getting their second COVID-19 vaccine. This is good news. The Department of Health is still in Phase 2 of vaccine distribution. The priority groups eligible for vaccine appointments in this phase are:
- Healthcare workers including expanded healthcare worker groups such as allied health fields and general outpatient health service (i.e. behavioral health, dentists)
- First responders
- Oklahomans age 65+
Oklahoma teachers are a part of Phase 2. The Health Department says they should start receiving the vaccine once those who are most vulnerable have received their first doses.
If you are in one of these groups, you can sign up for the vaccine at https://vaccinate.oklahoma.gov. This site also gives additions information about the current vaccine phase.
Kevin Wallace serves District 32 of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. He can be reached by phone at (405) 557-7368 or via email at [email protected].