We’re more than halfway through the 2019 legislative session at this point. We’ve got less than one week left to hear bills sent over from the House in committee, so this coming week will be another hectic one with several committee meetings scheduled next week. Thursday, April 11 will be the final day for those votes.

With the passage of several bills that have given the governor the power to hire and fire the directors at five of the state’s largest agencies, the President Pro Tempore announced he would have a working group examine how to create a more robust confirmation process within the Senate. It’s an important check and balance, and even more so with the changes that have now been signed into law.

Although the final recommendations will probably be released this coming week, I think we already have a pretty good idea of what to expect with the Senate Education Committee’s confirmation of Eric Stevenson, Governor Stitt’s nominee for the OU Board of Regents. Mr. Stevenson is an OU graduate with a bachelor’s of business administration in finance and has a master’s degree from Northwestern.

He is a senior vice president at Nationwide. Several members had many questions about how it would work to have a regent that lived out of state—although Mr. Stevenson grew up in Oklahoma and graduated from college here, he currently lives in Ohio. That issue was vetted very thoroughly, along with many other questions committee members had. Mr. Stevenson actually communicated by phone and text multiple times with members before the hearing and continued to answer more questions that day. In the end, I think everyone was well-satisfied that he was an excellent fit, and his nomination was unanimously approved. He now must be confirmed by the full Senate. Again, I think this gave us an important look at a much more rigorous confirmation process for such important nominations.

I also want to mention that in addition to committee and floor work this past week in the Senate, on Wednesday, it was Agriculture Day at the State Capitol. It’s an opportunity to highlight the importance of farming, ranching and related businesses in our state. It’s a huge part of our past and current identity and continues to be a major employer and economic driver in Oklahoma.

As part of the event, I had the privilege of honoring Christie Puckett, a third- through sixth-grade science teacher at Maysville Public School who was selected as the Teacher of the Year for Ag in the Classroom 2019. I also presented a citation of congratulations to Dusti McCartney, a sixth-grade teacher at Willard Fifth and Sixth Grade Center in Ada, for being a Middle School Finalist for Ag in the Classroom 2019 Teacher of the Year. Congratulations to Christie and Dusti, and thank you for all you do for your students!

I am honored to serve you in the Oklahoma State Senate. If you have a question about a legislative matter, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 405-521-5541 or contact me by email at mccortney@oksenate.gov.