This will fund the portion of last year’s education budget which the Superintendent refused to allocate revenue to pay for National Board Certificated Teachers’ Stipends and two months of Flex Benefits that pay for school employees’ insurance premiums.
It was interesting because the very same leaders that are “thumping their chests” and complimenting themselves were the very same leaders that wanted to cut that from the budget. This changed only as teachers, administrators and school employees raised a ruckus loud enough to be heard on 2300 N. Lincoln.
Let’s keep that in mind the next time the leaders target you and make promises attempt to “shrink government.”
On a more positive note, a bill that I co-sponsored, HB 2326, Small Employer Quality Jobs Act, passed out of the House and is headed for the Senate. This is designed to provide incentives to businesses located in rural areas in counties that meet one of the following criteria. (the per capita income is 85 percent or less of the state wide average; population has decreased over the previous 10 years; or the unemployment rate exceeds the lesser of six percent or two percent above the state average unemployment rate.
This program must be revenue neutral as taxes from the newly created jobs in basic industry including mining must equal or exceed the incentives paid the business that qualify. All applicants for participation must undergo a cost/benefit analysis by the Department of Commerce.
This program is designed for a 10-year period that continues as long as the jobs create required growth in revenue. Of the six counties that District 15 partially encompasses, I am confident that at least three will qualify for consideration.
The legislature has been focused on incentivizing new jobs, but most are located in the urban areas. This bill has the potential of promoting job growth in our rural areas.
Another bill that I co-authored and helped pass out of the House this week is HB 2582 which provides legislation that would increase the safety of vulnerable Oklahomans in long term care settings and assist those who provide this care by hiring employees that have passed a thorough background check.
HB 2582 authorizes the state Health Department and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to develop and implement a single web portal to consolidate registry checking, allowing facilities (nursing homes, assisted living centers and state agencies) to check multi-state abuse, neglect, and sex offender registries from one online site.
This program will be supported by a grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that will cover 75 percent of the cost for a three year period. This bill goes on to the Senate. I am confident that they too will see the cost effective nature of utilizing developing technologies to protect Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens.
We began the sixth week of session with a bill, HB 2388, which would require those citizens receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families to pass a drug test. If a member of the family or caregiver tests positive for use of control substance he/she will lose their government assistance.
What made this bill interesting is that it was amended to include anyone running for a state or local elected office. While there are arguments against this bill since not all tests are reliable, the question of Fifth Amendment violations, and/or should we expand this requirement for all individuals who receive government revenue.
Another issue that was brought up is that the state’s greatest drug abuse is prescription drug abuse. I voted for this bill even though I recognize the validity of these arguments. We must do what we can to help families by breaking dependency on drugs. If there is evidence that other groups that receive government money and have a record of drug abuse we need to identify and require them to be tested as well.
If you would like to have my weekly Notes sent to by email each week, please contact me at the address below. If you wish to contact me please utilize any of the following: PO Box 98, Porum, OK 74455, by email at [email protected] , home phone: 918 484 5701, cell: 918 448 5702 or Legislative Assistant, Gene Fowler, at 1 800 522 8502 or 405 557 7375 and fax 405 962 7685 at the Capitol. Web Site http://www.edcannaday.com Ed Cannaday