Week 5 begins the two week process of hearing bills on the House floor. This occurs after all bills have been heard in committee(at least, all the bills that were given a hearing in committee). All bills that will be sent to the Senate must be heard by midnight on Thursday, March 11.
We hear and vote on 30-80 bills each day. With each simple press of a button, 101 people determine policy that affects hundreds, thousands, and even millions of individual citizens in the state of Oklahoma. To me, the thought is a heavy weight that I take very seriously. As I read each bill, I first measure each as I said I would during the campaign.
- Does it place a burden on individual Oklahomans?
- Does it regulate private enterprise?
- Does it restrict government?
The answers should be: No, No, Yes
This week, we heard some good bills and some bad bills. Among the most important bills, was one presented by Representative Marilyn Stark with whom I share an office. She has worked tirelessly on reducing the restrictions of assisted living centers so families can be reunited. HB1677 allows residents of assisted living facilities to designate a caregiver that shall not be denied entry into the facility. There are so many heartbreaking stories of families that have been separated from parents and grandparents during this last year. The purpose of this bill is to guarantee this separation is never repeated. Well done, Representative Stark!
I have been surprised by the number of bills brought to the floor relating to the Department of Mental Health. I will not argue that there is a mental health crisis in this state. In fact, there is a mental health crisis nationwide and even worldwide. A primary cause is gross government overreach and this is causing fear, depression and suicide. What concerns me is the apparent belief that offering more government programs provided by the Department of Mental Health is the answer to this crisis. How has State intervention truly helped anyone? Do we think that allowing a State agency into our mental health will make anything better? The term “Thought Police” comes to mind. Below are links to several bills that have been presented this session. Do you think these bills will help or harm the citizens of Oklahoma?
HB1103 (Passed) The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is required to maintain the survey and provide technical assistance to schools in survey administration, and help create health prevention and intervention strategies based on survey results.
HB1593 (Passed) A local district board of education shall require a training program for teachers which shall emphasize the importance of recognizing and addressing the mental health needs of students.
HB1027 (Passed) The State Department of Education and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services training . . .
HB2006 (Passed) The Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services shall promulgate rules and standards for certification of Problem Gambling Treatment Counselors . . .
HB1568 (Passed) In collaboration with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services requires the State Board of Education to mandate that all schools provide instruction in mental health, emphasizing the interrelation between physical and mental well-being.
HB2877 (Passed) The Department of Mental Health and law enforcement.
HB2388 (Passed) Social emotional learning is defined as the process through which children and adults manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy, maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
Just because something might be a good idea, does not mean the state should be involved. Most “policy” should be left to the individual to decide.
All of these bills are headed to the Senate. Consider contacting your senator in the next few weeks to voice your thoughts on these measures.
Feel free to comment below if you have questions or comments about specific bills.