Senate Review: Session is officially winding down

We’re officially winding down the 2021 legislative session, and with it, we’ve concluded work on the final versions of some very important policy bills that have been in progress throughout the last few months. One of these is Senate Bill 131, which deals with Medicaid expansion in the state.

Since the majority of Oklahoma voters passed Medicaid expansion this past June, we are constitutionally required to fund it and implement the expansion. The governor has pushed for managed care companies to take over the expansion, and that is the direction we are going. SB 131 allows for the governor’s plan, but adds significant guardrails to ensure our rural hospitals and health care providers are protected from the insurance companies managing the expansion. The measure also ensures there will be legislative oversight to protect Oklahomans and make sure they are receiving a high level of care.

We also gave final Senate approval to SB 229, also known as the Redbud School Funding Act. This measure taps into more than $30 million of medical marijuana revenue and the State Public Common School Building Equalization Fund to give grants to more than 300 public school districts and brick-and-mortar charter schools who receive below average local tax revenue.

The measure also reverses the decision of the State School Board to give all charter schools access to local property taxes, which would’ve shifted millions of dollars away from our public schools.

This bill will be beneficial to many of our schools across Senate District 19. For example, if the measure is signed by the governor, Enid Public Schools will receive an estimated $510,000, Drummond will receive about $14,000, and Blackwell will receive approximately $72,000. This is a very important measure to ensure stability and funding equity for many of our schools across the state.

The last of the executive nominations have been approved, and I was proud to carry the nominations of Larry Dewitt to the Oklahoma Real Estate Commission and Dr. Jonathan Bushman to the Physician Manpower Training Commission.

I’ve also joined a bipartisan coalition to promote the northern extension of the Heartland Flyer to include a track going from Oklahoma City to Newton, Kansas. I’m hopeful that adding this route will help diversify the economy in our region.

In closing, while there are other Memorial Day celebrations across the district, I’d like to invite you all to the Celebrate Freedom weekend in Enid to honor our veterans who so selflessly gave their lives to defend our freedoms. The celebration begins on Friday, May 28 and will continue through Monday, May 31. I’ll be in attendance at the traditional Memorial Day service on Monday, along with U.S. Congressman Kevin Hern and Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader. I hope to see you all there.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your state Senator. 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.

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