The 2020 legislative session began this past Monday. The main event during that first day is always the governor’s State of the State address. This marked Gov. Kevin Stitt’s second time to deliver the annual remarks, giving the state’s chief executive the opportunity to talk about his accomplishments from the previous session and outline his vision for the new year.

During this past interim, I co-chaired a bicameral, bipartisan working group looking at how we could improve Oklahoma’s health outcomes. Without a doubt, this is an extremely complex issue, but one that that impacts our citizens and our state in a variety of ways. There are far too many health statistics where Oklahoma is trailing the nation. We need to improve access to healthcare and insurance in a way that works best for our state.

The week before session began, we learned Gov. Stitt would be working with President Trump to find a way to insure more Oklahomans, but with a plan that is truly designed for Oklahoma. The plan would be called SoonerCare 2.0 and would include moderate premiums and work requirements. In his address, the governor explained the plan would encourage personal responsibility and encourage able-bodied adults to transition towards a path of maintaining private insurance and pursing educational or employment opportunities that advances their full personal potential. These are positive advancements for Oklahoma.

I recently was appointed by the President Pro Tempore to serve as chair of the Senate Health and Human Services committee, so I will be working closely on this issue throughout the 2020 session.

I was also very excited to hear what the governor had to say about examining ways to increase efficiencies by combining agencies with common missions. Just because the state’s business has been conducted in the same way for decades doesn’t mean it’s the most efficient system. It’s always important to consider new and better ways of delivering core services with approaches that can save taxpayer dollars while enhancing the ability of those entities to become even more effective.

It was also encouraging to hear about his plans to cut through unnecessary red tape that can make it harder for Oklahoma businesses to thrive and grow. Reducing such regulations can help us create even more jobs in our state, expanding our economy and building an even stronger future for our citizens.

In closing, I want to remind everyone that The U.S. Census Bureau will begin mailing out postcards in just a few weeks. Your participation matters! Federal funds are distributed throughout the country to support hospitals, roads, public works and other essential programs, based on population as determined by the census. When you don’t respond, it means populations are not fully counted, and our towns, counties and state miss out on important resources. Every person not counted in the census costs the state approximately $1,800 per year in lost federal funding for ten years. An undercount of just two percent could cost Oklahoma up to $1.8 billion over a decade. That’s money we need to improve our schools, our roads and bridges, healthcare services and more.

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 Greg.McCortney@oksenate.gov

MAKE IT COUNT OKLAHOMA! Census Day is April 1 and Oklahoma needs a full count. An undercount in the census of just 2% can cost the state $1.8 billion in lost federal money over the next 10 years. Fill out your census form, Oklahoma. Learn more at www.2020census.gov.

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