It was a momentous week across the state and in Senate District 19 as the COVID-19 vaccine was delivered to Oklahoma.
I received an invitation from Integris Bass Baptist Hospital CEO Finny Mathew to witness the first COVID-19 vaccinations administered to some of our frontline medical workers. What a joyous occasion to see a little light at the end of the tunnel.
Many of you may recall taking part in the U.S. Census earlier this year. There was a major push for all Oklahomans to fill out their census form so our state could get an accurate population count, which determines how the federal government distributes funds for core services like education, health care and transportation.
Another reason we needed a clear picture of our state’s population count is for legislative and congressional redistricting, which takes place every decade after the conclusion of the census.
Redistricting is the most important thing the legislature will address this session, aside from the state budget. It’s important that each Senate and House district have approximately the same number of people so everyone has an equal voice. This is why redistricting takes place after our population counts are updated.
The Senate is committed to holding redistricting in an open, transparent and bipartisan manner. That’s why we’ve partnered with the House to host a series of town hall meetings across the state to allow all Oklahomans a chance to participate in the process.
At each meeting, the public can hear from redistricting experts, ask questions and give input on how they feel lines should be drawn.
There will be two town halls held in our area, and I’d encourage you to mark your calendars and attend if you can. The first will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 6 p.m. at the High Plains Technology Center in Woodward.
The second will be on Thursday, Jan. 21, at 6 p.m. at the Autry Technology Center Lectorium in Enid. If you’re unable to attend these meetings in person, both will be livestreamed. You can visit www.oksenate.gov to view the Enid meeting, or www.okhouse.gov to view the Woodward meeting.
You can also submit redistricting comments and questions at any time to email@example.com.
Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat recently announced committee chairmanships and appointments for the 2021 legislative session, and I’m happy to share that I’ll serve as vice chairman for the Agriculture and Wildlife Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services for the next two years.
I’ll also sit on the Transportation, Veterans and Military Affairs, and full Appropriations Committees.
By serving as a vice chairman and committee member, I’ll have a greater voice on legislation pertaining to these areas, ultimately a benefit to all of District 19.
Finally, I’d like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas. I’m looking forward to spending some quality time with my family and reflecting on all of the blessings we’ve received, even during a challenging year.
I hope you’ll remember the true reason for the season – the birth of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 9:6 says: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Best wishes for a peaceful and healthy holiday season.
Thank you for allowing me to be your voice at our state Capitol. Please feel free to reach out if there is anything we can help you with. You can contact me at 405-521-5630 or via email at Roland.Pederson@oksenate.gov.