The second session of the 57th Legislature officially begin on Monday, Feb. 3 with Gov. Kevin Stitt’s second annual state of the state address.
During his address, the Governor highlighted several policies he believes will position Oklahoma to become a “Top Ten” state. Among these, the Governor recommitted to increasing the state’s Rainy Day Fund. After last year’s investment of nearly $200 million, the fund currently sits at just over $1 billion. The Governor would like to increase that to $2 billion so the next time we face an economically hard year, state services can continue without heavy agency cuts.
After the state of the state address, the House hit the ground running. With our first legislative deadline coming up to pass bills out of committee, lawmakers have spent hours in committees voting on which bills should move forward in the legislative process.
On Monday, I presented House Bill 2503 before the House Business and Commerce Committee. The bill was initially filed by House Speaker Charles McCall, but I have been asked to take authorship of the bill and run it on behalf of the Speaker.
HB2503 provides an incentive for Oklahoma-licensed medical professionals, including medical doctors, osteopathic doctors, advanced practice registered nurses, or physician assistants, who practice medicine within rural parts of our state.
The credit may be claimed beginning tax year 2021 through 2030. It would be dependent on the type of medical professional and number of rotations in a calendar year.
Qualified medical doctors and osteopathic doctors may receive up to $8,500 per year for up to nine years. Advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants would be eligible for up to $6,375 per year for up to nine years.
This model is one adopted and used in Georgia, who has had a similar problem recruiting doctors to rural portions of their state. However, they’ve seen success with this approach, and I’m optimistic that HB2503 would help our rural areas receive better health care as well.
The deadline to hear bills in committee is Feb. 27. Any bill not passed in committee by this deadline is essentially done for the session, but bills that have passed committee and have a Senate coauthor are eligible to be heard on the House floor.
There’s a lot of reading that has to take place in a short amount of time here in the House, but we’ll continue to work toward legislation that betters our state.
Rep Garry Mize, a Republican, serves District 31 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes Logan and Oklahoma counties.