Sen. Chris Kidd

Sen. Chris Kidd

Thursday is the deadline for consideration of House bills on the Senate Floor. We have around 150 bills to get through this week.

The Senate is also working through numerous board and commission executive nomination confirmations under the newly-created system.

Budget negotiations are moving forward. The Senate, House and Governor’s office are in agreement on a majority of the budget and are working out the final details. Education will see another significant investment this year. The Senate is also focused on investing additional money into criminal justice reform and diversion programs.

As of Monday morning, the Governor had signed 42 Senate bills and 51 House bills including two of my bills. SB 853 increases the travel allowance amount for county officers in lieu of reimbursement. Allowances for each county commissioner and sheriff will be increased from $600 to $700, for each county assessor from $500 to $600, and for each county clerk, court clerk and county treasurer from $400 to $500.

HB 1110 provides that anyone who deliberately dumps or discards garbage, trash, rubbish, refuse, debris or other deleterious substance on his or her own property in violation of any county or state zoning or public health regulation is guilty of a misdemeanor. The bill increases the minimum fine from $200 to $500. Both bills will go into effect November 1, 2019.

I’ve also signed on as a co-author of the Nursing Home Quality Assurance Initiative (SB 280) to help secure funding for senior citizens in our district. The bill directs the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) to establish an advisory group to recommend quality measures to be included in a nursing facility pay-for-performance program. It increases the number of long-term care ombudsmen employed by DHS and funded by the Nursing Facility Quality of Care fund by five. SB 280 also increases the personal needs allowance for residents from $50 to $75 per month as well as authorizes facilities, beginning January 1, 2020, to implement 24-hour based staff scheduling. The bill increases the direct care service rate from 2.86 to 2.9 hours per resident per day and prohibits a nursing facility administrator from being included in the direct-care staff-to-resident ratio. It modifies the methodology used by OHCA to calculate the direct care rate component and requires clinical nursing facility employees to receive at least four hours of Alzheimer’s or dementia training per year. The bill must receive final approval by the Senate before moving on to the governor’s desk.

In other news, I’m getting a lot of questions on HB 2304, which is the cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) bill for public employee retirees. The bill is not dead. Rather the Senate Retirement Committee followed state law and sent it for an actuarial study. Once the study is complete later this year, it can be considered by the legislature next session.

Last Wednesday, April 17, we celebrated the 22nd Annual 4-H Day at the Capitol. I was proud to introduce J’Kai Johnson of Coyle who currently serves as the president of the Langston 4-H Club as well as Trent Gibbs of Duncan who is the 4-H State President. Both young men are State 4-H Ambassadors.

4-H is the youth development component of the Cooperative Extension Service geared toward young people ages 5 to 19, and provides hands-on learning opportunities to help our youth develop valuable life skills such as decision making, leadership and citizenship. Oklahoma’s 4-H Youth Development Program reaches more than 120,000 participants each year through club membership, project clubs and school enrichment programs, and more than 95,000 club members, as part of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service provided by Oklahoma State University and Langston University, participate in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) projects.

At the State Senate, I can be reached by writing to Senator Chris Kidd, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 427, Oklahoma City, OK 73105, emailing me at kidd@oksenate.gov, or by calling (405) 521-5563 and speaking to my assistant Suzanne Earnest.