House bill grants COLA to retirees

Staff Writer
Pawhuska Journal-Capital

The Legislature was hard at work last week, passing hundreds of bills through the House. Thursday was the deadline to pass remaining bills from the House floor, and the House passed a total of 390 bills on to the Senate.

As a coauthor of HB 2304, I was glad it passed by a wide margin. This bill grants a much-need, 4-percent cost of living adjustment to retirees of Oklahoma’s six retirement systems, including retired teachers, police and other public employees. Our state’s former public servants haven’t received a COLA in over a decade. The bill also amends the Oklahoma Pension Legislation Actuarial Analysis Act to include a safe harbor clause that allows the bill to be treated as a non-fiscal retirement bill in the legislative process. It passed the House 98-3 and will soon be considered by the Senate.

Five more of my bills passed the House last week. HB 2429 allows the State Election Board to conduct a data validation of Oklahoma’s voter registration database with other state and federal databases to confirm someone’s citizenship status. This bill is necessary to ensure that only those allowed by law to vote in our elections are voting. Our democracy is based on the principle of equal amount of votes for citizens, and HB 2429 ensures that our election integrity remains intact.

HB 2339 was another one of my bills that passed the House before deadline. The bill prohibits a student from being vaccinated at school or on school grounds without prior written authorization from the parent or legal guardian. There have been numerous reports from parents of children that were vaccinated without parental consent. In one case, a student was mistaken for another student. In another, the student had a medical exemption on file. If students need written authorization to have sunscreen applied at school, the same laws should be in place for vaccinations. Both of these bills successfully passed the House this week.

My third bill is HB 2341, which broadens the list of practitioners who can make referrals to include an advanced practice registered nurse. I also passed HB 2571, which also addresses Oklahomans’ health and improving access to health care. HB 2571 allows the State Board of Medical Licensure to conduct criminal background checks for applicants, providing a vital step to ensure Oklahomans receive safe treatment from proper medical professionals.

My fifth bill to pass the House this week was a local school protection bill. HB 2336 allows school boards to adopt policies allowing authorized personnel to carry firearms on campus. In rural areas, law enforcement may be 30 minutes away when they receive a call about a dangerous situation. This bill allows our local schools to decide for themselves the best ways to protect their students by allowing them to have select personnel onsite available to respond to a situation. I worked with Osage County Sheriff Eddie Virden to develop this legislation and I’m pleased the bill passed the House.

I served as a coauthor of HB2632, which creates the Patient’s Right to Pharmacy Choice Act, meant to establish minimum and uniform access to a provider and requires retail pharmacy networks to comply with specified access standards. This bill is important for rural Oklahomans because it would help those buying prescriptions by lowering cost and being able to buy from local pharmacists.

I was also a coauthor on Senate Bills 456 and 457, which were two of the five agency accountability bills to grant the governor more oversight and authority in those departments. I was also a coauthor on the three House bills addressing another three agencies. All five bills passed the second chamber last week, and I was proud to attend the signing of the bills by Gov. Kevin Stitt. State agencies spending taxpayer dollars should be held to the highest standard of accountability, and an important way to do that is by ensuring the directors of our state agencies are held accountable to an elected official.

Now we will begin sorting through Senate bills before breaking into committees again to hear their bills. I encourage my constituents to reach out about legislation they’re passionate about. Thank you for the privilege of serving House District 36.

Rep. Sean Roberts, a Republican, serves District 36 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes Osage and Tulsa Counties.