This past week, Oklahoma received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines and frontline health care workers began to receive their shots as part of the first phase of inoculations. Not only have many areas of the state been scrambling to find adequate ICU bed space during the pandemic, but staffing levels have also been a concern. Keeping those frontline doctors, nurses and other health care workers protected must be a priority.
That said, I was very pleased by Governor Stitt’s announcement that K-12 teachers would be moved up to phase two in the state’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. While many schools have pivoted to online learning during the pandemic, we know this has been an extremely difficult situation for students, parents and teachers. Making sure teachers can receive vaccines sooner will help Oklahoma schools return to in-person instruction. In addition, the State Department of Health will continue to offer schools access to testing to provide frequent monitoring for COVID-19.
Here at the Capitol, preparations for the upcoming legislative session are in full swing. Members are working with staff to finalize language for bills they plan to file by the Jan. 21 deadline. We’ll have an organizational day on Jan. 5 to elect our leadership for the 58th Legislature, then the session will resume on Feb. 1.
Most of the first month of the session will be focused on hearing and voting on those measures in committee. Earlier this month, I was asked to serve as vice chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The state budget ultimately impacts every single person in our state. It’s a huge responsibility, but one I am very excited about. I will also hold seats on the Agriculture and Wildlife Committee, Finance, General Government and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary.
As a reminder, the Senate and House are continuing to hold town hall meetings throughout the state through January to help Oklahomans learn more about the redistricting process, ask questions, and share their ideas. Redistricting is the process of redrawing boundaries for legislative and congressional districts to ensure proper distribution of population based on the U.S. Census. A complete schedule of all the town meetings can be found here: https://oksenate.gov/press-releases/oklahoma-senate-house-announce-statewide-redistricting-meeting-dates?back=/press-releases. You can also attend most meetings virtually, and you can submit questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In closing, from my family to you and yours, I want to wish you a blessed and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
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.