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Week 3, Day 1 - President's Day

Why are Monday’s always so busy???

Because the weather forecast was for rain Monday morning, I drove to OKC Sunday evening in order to get an early start on Monday. My first committee meeting at 10:30, Higher Ed & Career Tech, was canceled. Democratic Caucus met at 11:30. We were told to be there on time because U.S. Representative James Lankford was scheduled to come in and speak with us. He actually spoke to both caucuses, just separately. The man is smooth; the first thing he did was offer to help any constituent (Republican, Democrat, Independent, unregistered) encountering any problem, no matter how complex - he has the staff to handle it. We then asked about Russian interference in our election (they apparently were able to get into the Oklahoma voting system, but just looked around, and backed out without harming anything), gun control, and immigration. An obviously intelligent and interesting man, I thought.

The last meeting of the Second Special Session began at 1:30. Because of the defeat of the Step Up Plan and with no other plan being considered, the only option left to balance the FY18 Budget is to make 2% cuts for various agencies of the executive, legislative and judicial departments (HB1020xx), and in some DHS programs including child support enforcement, child welfare, foster programs, child care licensing and subsidies, TANF and SNAP administration. This provides funding for: the Advantage Home and Community-based Waiver Program, Homeward Bound Waiver, In-Home Supports, Advantage Waiver, Personal Care and state-funded community residential, intensive in-home services, Adult Day Services, home care and adoption subsidy rates, and the Senior Nutrition Program (HB1021xx). Also, a special appropriation from the General Revenue Fund (we never could get them to explain to us exactly where this money came from, even after repeated questioning) to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority in the amount of almost $32M for the OU and OSU Medical College schools (HB1022xx).

I voted NO on HB1020xx and HB1021xx not because I thought what they funded was unimportant but as a Protest Vote that we should be in such a horrendous position in this State in the first place that funding all these OBVIOUSLY necessary social services would be in jeopardy. I knew these bills would pass (They only required 51 votes to pass.) regardless of my NO vote; had there been any question of their being in jeopardy of not passing, I would have changed my vote in a heartbeat, because what was of ultimate importance was that these programs MUST be funded, even if that funding falls short of what it actually needs to be. I voted YES on HB1022xx because that was a true emergency that required immediate funding; we CANNOT lose our State Medical Teaching Hospitals!

Special Session done.

But my day isn’t done. I had another committee meeting at 3:00, Transportation. This is the first committee meeting I have attended, that I thought was well enough conducted that I understood what was going on and actually learned from the experience. The questions asked were intelligent on-point questions and were intelligently and thoroughly answered (which I’ve learned is not always the case here in the legislature). After the meeting, I had the opportunity to speak with the Chairman regarding my own bill which is supposed to come before the committee next week. He asked me if I had had the opportunity to speak to the Secretary of Transportation regarding my bill and I told him I had not, but I would take care of that opportunity before our next meeting. On my return to my office, who should practically follow me in but the Secretary of Transportation who had been sent there by the Chairman to talk to me. I really appreciated that the Secretary thoughtfully listened to my concerns and promised appropriate action. At this point, I don’t know where my bill stands, but I feel like I’m farther along the road to learning how this procedure works than I was before. 

Day finally over.

Paid for by Karen Gaddis for HD75 2018
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