It’s been an extremely busy past few weeks as we worked toward the March 11 deadline to pass measures that originated in our chamber. We had a few late nights, but when it was all said and done, we passed more than 450 measures that now move to the House of Representatives for consideration. We began the session with more than 1,050 measures, so we narrowed these down by a little more than half.
Just as we’re sending our approved measures to the House, they’ll send their House Bills that they approved to our chamber for consideration, and we’re now beginning the process of assigning these bills to our committees for a hearing.
I’m appreciative to my colleagues for advancing a measure I’m particularly passionate about, Senate Bill 339, which would require every child 17 years old and younger to wear a seatbelt while riding in a car. Oklahoma is the only state in the entire country that doesn’t require seatbelts for children over the age of eight. That directly correlates with the fact that car crashes are the leading cause of injury and death for children ages five to 19 in our state.
This bill was developed after I met with two young ladies from Drummond who experienced first-hand the lifesaving difference a seatbelt can make when it comes to car crashes. I was impressed with their passion for this issue and agree – seatbelts save lives. I’m thrilled this bill will now head to the House for their consideration.
We also passed a measure that will be of particular importance to our hard-working school support staff. Senate Bill 807 would direct school support employees to be paid for any time not worked when a school district is closed due to a health pandemic, or when a closing order is issued by an authorized health officer. Unlike teachers, under current state statute, support staff are not required to be paid while a school is closed for these types of events. This measure would permanently close this loophole and ensure support staff are also protected.
School janitors, secretaries, cafeteria workers and other support staff are vital to the inner workings of our schools. I was proud to be a ‘yes’ vote on this measure and urge my colleagues in the House to vote ‘yes’ as well.
Speaking of our schools, I’d like to send congratulations the Garber High School boys and girls basketball teams that advanced to state, as well as all of the other area basketball teams that played in the state tournament playoffs.
Finally, it was an honor to welcome Governor Stitt to Enid this past Friday. He spoke to the Enid Regional Development Alliance and toured the 4RKids Foundation, which provides vocational, educational and social opportunities for children and adults with special needs. He also hosted a meet and greet with folks at the Oklahoma-owned Jiffy Trip in Enid.
It’s always a pleasure to host the governor, and I’m proud of the way our community rolled out the red carpet and showed him everything Northwest Oklahoma has to offer.
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.