The second week of the session is behind us, and it was an extremely busy one. While a few bills are beginning to trickle through to the floor, the main focus continues to be on working through legislation in the various standing committees. Our days involve attending multiple committee meetings where we are either presenting legislation or voting on it as members of a particular committee. In between, there are meetings with constituents, representatives of advocacy organizations and with fellow members.

We had a full slate of proposals in the Senate Rules Committee, which I chair, on Wednesday. Most of the legislation was aimed at fine-tuning the election process. We considered bills addressing issues as diverse as cybersecurity to legislation amending current law allowing time for employees to go vote to include days when early voting is held.

Also on Wednesday, the joint legislative committee on medical marijuana voted on the unification bill—this is a comprehensive bill that creates the foundation for necessary regulation for the medical marijuana industry in Oklahoma. I am the Senate co-chair for this committee.

Oklahoma voters chose to approve medical marijuana in our state, but there were many issues that were not addressed by the language in State Question 788. For example, laboratory testing is necessary to ensure there are no impurities that could worsen the health of those individuals who have been approved for this product. Without this testing, there’s the risk of contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides and mold, yet it wasn’t covered in the state question.

We held a series of public hearings which included individuals from every aspect of this new industry, as well as bringing in experts from other states to talk about best practices for testing, labeling and business regulations. It’s been complex and time-intensive, but necessary. More modifications will emerge throughout this process, but we’ve addressed many of the most pressing issues through this working group. Our work will now be reviewed by the president pro tempore of the Senate and the speaker of the House.

Of course, there are other events happening at the Capitol throughout each week of the session. This past Tuesday was Higher Education Day, and East Central University was well represented at the Capitol, as was Seminole State College. Our regional universities and colleges ensure students throughout the state have access to a college degree that will open the doors to greater opportunities. These institutions are vital to our local communities and to our state as a whole, and I am proud to support them here in the state Senate.

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 by email at mccortney@oksenate.gov.