We’ve hit the ground running this session as we work through the more than 1,000 Senate Bills that were filed this year. Of these bills, we’ve passed 263 measures out of committee and 36 off of the floor. We still have to work quickly, though, as we race to hear bills ahead of the Feb. 25 deadline that we must meet to pass bills out of committee.
I’m grateful to have received passage of two of my bills in committee this past week. Senate Bill 335 would create the process for cemeteries to resell unused burial plots if there has been a reasonable search for the owner of the plot and no contact has been made with them for 75 years. As many of you know, this is an issue in our rural cemeteries. Families buy plots, only for children and grandchildren to move away and settle in other communities or states. This measure provides a mechanism to revert these burial sites back to the cemeteries to resell to those who wish to be buried in their communities.
The Senate Education Committee passed SB 142, which would allow a school district board of education to accept students from a bordering, out-of-state district without charging tuition if the receiving school district does not receive funds from the state or has a per-pupil expenditure higher than the state average. Both of these measures are now awaiting consideration from the full Senate.
The governor also signed SB 1031, by Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, into law this past week, which renews exemptions made to the Open Meetings Act that we passed last session in response to COVID-19. It also included some minor changes to greater increase access and transparency. This means that public bodies are now able to meet virtually again as we continue to deal with the pandemic. This is the first bill signed into law this session, and it was passed with wide bipartisan support.
The governor also announced that all teachers and school personnel will be able to begin receiving the COVID-19 vaccine on Feb. 22. Specific sites will be set up just for teachers and staff. The state estimates there are about 89,000 people that will fall in this category. This is a great step to getting all of our students and teachers back in the classroom for in-person learning.
I’d like to give a big congratulations to all of the new city council members who won their races this past week. It definitely takes a servant’s heart to hold these positions, and I wish you all much success as we all do our part to make our state a better place to live, work and raise a family.
Finally, my thoughts and prayers are with all as we endure this brutal winter storm. I know it will be impossible for many of us to stay inside as we must tend to our livestock, but please be sure to take the necessary precautions to stay as safe and warm as possible. If you see a law enforcement officer, firefighter, first responder or lineman out, please remember to say ‘thank you’ for all they do to keep us safe.
It’s an honor to serve as 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.