Senate Review: More than 400 bills made it through committee

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We’re now entering the final days before the March 12 deadline for the full Senate to vote on bills that were introduced in this chamber.  There were more than 400 bills that made it through the committee process this session.  We’ve worked diligently each day to work through dozens of bills ahead of the deadline.  By this past Wednesday evening, I still had about 10 bills that had been approved by various Senate committees and were awaiting votes by the full Senate.

Senator James Leewright

On Tuesday, I won unanimous approval for a bill clarifying the rights of patients and their families in residential care facilities to use video monitoring equipment.  A few years ago, the legislature passed a measure supported by the Oklahoma Silver Haired Legislature and other advocates ensuring the right of nursing home residents or their family members to place video monitoring equipment in their private rooms to make sure their loved ones were being appropriately cared for when family and friends were not there.  The legislation that was passed and signed into law made it illegal for nursing homes to evict or threaten other retaliation against residents and their families who used video monitoring.

I filed Senate Bill 1739 this session after a constituent’s loved one was threatened with eviction from a residential facility because of the video monitoring equipment in her room.  My legislation clarifies the video monitoring law applies to all continuum of care facilities and prohibits them from threatening residents with eviction or other actions for using video cameras in their private rooms or apartments.

On Thursday, I received full Senate approval for a bill designed to boost the number of skilled workers in the state.  Senate Bill 1693 creates a tax credit for employers who hire apprentices to work with them.  The employer credit is $1,000 per apprentice for a maximum of 10 positions with a cap of $10,000.  The credit would be available for tax years 2021 through 2025.  The total statewide credits could not exceed $3 million. The measure now moves to the House.

Lastly, I want to remind you it’s time to be counted.  The U.S. Census is taken every 10 years, and it determines representation in Congress and is used to determine boundaries for legislative districts.

Furthermore, businesses use census data when determining whether to locate or expand in a particular area, bringing more jobs and positively impacting local economies. 

The census also determines the distribution of federal dollars that support core services in our state. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than $675 billion in federal funds is spent annually on schools, hospitals, roads, public works and other essential programs. 

Consider the fact that every person not counted in the census costs the state approximately $1,800 per year in lost federal funding for 10 years. An undercount of just two percent could cost the state up to $1.8 billion over a decade.  Getting an accurate census count is vital to Oklahoma and to all our communities in Senate District 12.

I thank you for the privilege of being your voice at the State Capitol.  If you have any questions or concerns about legislation or other issues at the state level, please feel free to contact my office by calling 405-521-5528, or email James.Leewright@oksenate.gov.

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