Life is a blessing. It’s a gift I thank God for, because I know mine could have turned out very, very differently. I am blessed because I had a biological mother who chose life, and then as a newborn baby, I was blessed by wonderful adoptive parents who gave me love, support, guidance, and opportunities. They taught me the value of hard work and service and put me on a path for success throughout life – I cannot even imagine how my life could have turned out had they not chosen me to be their son.
This past week, I had the opportunity to champion a very pro-life piece of legislation that is aimed at making it a little easier for more Oklahomans to become adoptive parents. As many of you may know, there are a couple of different ways to adopt. There are children available through the Department of Human Services (DHS), but some prospective parents may choose to go through a private adoption. These are children who likely have not been in state custody, and it tends to be a much more expensive process. Many services and costs through DHS are covered by the state, but private adoptions can cost prospective parents an average of about $41,532 per adoption in this country. That includes court-related costs, health and psychological exams, medical expenses and other costs that are outlined in statute.
Currently, there’s a tax deduction available for parents who opt for a private adoption, which is equal to five percent of the cost incurred. In tax year 2019, some 636 Oklahoma taxpayers claimed this deduction. This year, I am proud to serve as principal Senate author of House Bill 3421. This measure would replace that deduction with a 10 percent tax credit for adoption expenses of up to $2,000 for an individual or up to $4,000 for joint filers. This bill would give much greater financial support for those seeking private adoption and could even be used by those adopting through DHS to cover out-of-pocket expenses.
It is my sincere hope that this tax credit will help even more Oklahomans choose to adopt and provide a loving, nurturing home to children throughout our state. HB 3421 was approved by the Senate Finance Committee this past Tuesday and next will be heard by the full Appropriations Committee.
The Finance Committee also approved the House versions of my legislation creating Service Oklahoma, a franchise system that will modernize and standardize services and operational hours for tag agencies throughout Oklahoma. HB 3419 also moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration.
Lastly, it was my great pleasure to visit with the Stillwater Meridian Technology Center Leadership Class. These students are officers of the school’s many student organizations, and their participation in the Leadership Class gives them even more opportunities to take part in leadership and teamwork activities, volunteer in the community, assist with special events at Meridian, and meet with local and state officials.
Students from Senate District 20 are among this outstanding group, and as vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I was able to tell them a little bit about the budget process and shared how I’d also spoken to previous Leadership Class members when I served as mayor of Perry. These students are truly tomorrow’s leaders, and I really appreciated the opportunity to meet with them.
Please feel free to contact my Capitol office with any questions or concerns you may have about legislation or other issues impacting our state at 405-521-5628 or at Chuck.Hall@oksenate.gov.