(Due to icy roads, little happened in the Oklahoma House during Week 3 of the session.)
Attorney General John O’Conner visited Bartlesville this week for a reception in his honor. As attorney general, he and his staff have made themselves readily available to members of the legislature and individual citizens. His office has been quick to answer questions and to hear complaints from people in House District 11.
He mentioned his support for HB3903 as an important measure this session. This bill is necessary because it will clearly define the role of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board when considering clemency. The board will only be able to consider clemency for reason of mercy or lenience. The board will be forbidden to consider innocence or guilt in a decision. It is important for all citizens that decisions of guilt or innocence be left in the court system to be determined by a jury of peers rather than by members of a board appointed by the executive branch. This will ensure the proper separation of branches which will benefit all Oklahomans.
This week was committee deadline week at the State Capitol. All bills to be heard this session were expected to clear the committee process in the chamber of origin. Last week, many committees were cancelled due to icy roads across the state causing some committee meetings this week to be lengthy.
Last year, Governor Stitt signed the No Patient Left Alone Act which was intended to protect the right of hospital patients to have visitors. As many families soon discovered, there were numerous exceptions to the hospital visitation requirement and patients continued to spend days and weeks alone in most hospitals. HB3313 successfully passed the Public Health committee this week. This bill will prohibit a diagnosis of Covid-19 alone to be a reason for denied visitation. If a hospital does not comply with this act, citizens may bring civil action against the hospital.
Some other bills of interest heard in Public Health were attempting to address nursing shortages:
HB3311– will require the State Regents and CareerTech to annually report the types of health care degrees offered and the number of students enrolled in, and graduating from, each degree type each year. The reports will also include the possible healthcare degrees that could be offered with more resources.
HB3892– will allow a Certified Nurse Practitioner to delegate tasks to nurse aids and other nursing home staff. Currently, CNPs do not have this authority.
HB4330– will create a diploma nurse program to be offered at technology centers and colleges. This program will remove some of the general education requirements from the current RN program and can be completed in 18 months. The proposed LPN to diploma RN will require only 6 months to complete.
Many federal dollars in the form of ARPA(American Rescue Plan Act of 2021) funds have been designated to address nursing education in colleges and technology schools. Schools have presented applications for millions of dollars to upgrade laboratory and classroom space in order to allow more nursing students to be accepted.
It is time, however, to look at broader changes to address medical care in our state. These additional programs slated to receive millions in taxpayer dollars to produce a few additional nurses each year will do little to change our current predicament. Currently, under federal oversight, we are effectively unable to make a decision in Oklahoma concerning healthcare without consulting CMS rules. The communist agency known as CMS believes their rules supersede state law. We all know that with federal funding comes federal regulation. The people of Oklahoma and those who represent them must determine to reject assistance in the form of stimulus, inflation relief, or other welfare programs. An actual reduction in tax rate or removal of fees are the only acceptable monetary help we should ever accept from state and federal government.