Last week I took part in a subcommittee hearing that was really a first for Oklahoma—in order to protect the safety of all involved, we’ve begun the process of holding committee meetings virtually. When we were last at the Capitol on April 6, we had voted to suspend certain rules to enable virtual committee meetings and meetings of the full Senate to help limit potential spread of COVID-19. All of these meetings will be live-streamed on the Senate website at www.oksenate.gov enabling the public to continue to follow all official actions in committee or by the full chamber.
The virtual hearing last week was a joint meeting of the Senate and House subcommittees to look at how the economic impact of the pandemic and plunging oil and gas prices is affecting budgets of agencies, courts, etc., within the areas of public safety and the judiciary, many of which rely more heavily on funding from fees than do other areas of government. While I agree it is always important to search for innovations and efficiencies, these are extraordinary circumstances and times. I remain grateful that we had the foresight to set aside additional emergency savings to help provide critical resources, particularly as we continue to deal with this global pandemic.
We have more committee meetings this week—the Senate has the responsibility of vetting and then voting on the confirmation of gubernatorial appointments to various state agencies, boards and committees. These are called executive nominations.
I have the privilege of carrying the executive nomination of one of our citizens—former State Rep. Dennis Casey, from Morrison, has been nominated to serve as a State Regent for Higher Education. In addition to his experience in the Legislature, including serving as Vice-chair of Appropriations and Budget, Dennis is a career educator and coach. He understands the importance of education and has dedicated his life to public service. I know he’ll make an outstanding contribution as a regent.
I also wanted to update you on how our state and Senate District 20 are doing with response rates for the 2020 U.S. Census.
Right now, Oklahoma is ranked 42nd. We can and must do better. As I’ve said before, billions of federal dollars are distributed every year to communities, counties and states based on population counts as determined by the census. If our population isn’t fully counted, we will miss out on much-needed funding for our schools, hospitals, transportation and other services that impact everyone in our state.
As of this past weekend, the national average response rate was 50.5%. For Oklahoma, it was 45.5%. For the counties in Senate District 20, the response rates were as follows:
Noble County – 45.5%
Pawnee County – 33.4%
Logan County – 50.5%
Kingfisher County – 40.5%
Among various communities in the district, the U.S. Census reported:
Perry – 48.6%
Pawnee – 36.7%
Guthrie – 51.6%
Hennessey – 46.0%
Again, these population counts determine whether we get our full share of federal dollars for core services. If you and your family are not fully counted, there won’t be another opportunity until 2030, so if you haven’t responded yet, please do—it only takes a few minutes. If you’ve received a census form at your home you can respond by mail, or if you haven’t gotten one, you can still complete your census over the phone by calling 1-844-330-2020, or you can respond online at 2020census.gov.
Thank you for the privilege of allowing me to be your voice in the Oklahoma Senate. 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.
MAKE IT COUNT OKLAHOMA! An undercount in the census of just 2 percent can cost the state $1.8 billion in lost federal money over the next 10 years. Fill out your census form, Oklahoma. Learn more at: www.2020census.gov.