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Over the past few years, our state has made positive strides in reforming state government with the goal of making it more accessible and user-friendly to both citizens and to business. Much like our education system, 2020 has also helped us better understand how our citizens and businesses utilize state services.
This session, AFP will support a measure to create the first Joint Committee on Administrative Rule (JCAR). The JCAR will make administrative rule-making and review an ongoing effort. Currently the legislature passes measures regarding rules for agencies, the agency then reviews the new guidelines, writes new language for the rules and then sends them back to the legislature to approve. Many times though, the rules don’t stay within the guardrails the legislature intends.
The JCAR would make the rule review process an on-going effort where the rules are regularly reviewed and either approved by the committee or sent back to the agency for review and revision. It will create a much more transparent system for the executive, agencies and the legislature to promulgate rules which serve the citizens and Oklahoma businesses.
If the events of 2020 have taught us anything, we understand that families must be empowered when it comes to their child’s education. Whether educating their children at home, online or in a traditional classroom setting, parents understand what works best for their kids.
Even more though, our education system must be one that is fair, and provides equal access and equal opportunity for all Oklahoma families. Legislation that would reform our state’s open enrollment and open transfer rules will help level that playing field.
But beyond that, it is critical that we update the way in which our state’s public schools are funded, now more than ever. The current system funds school districts based on a roll three-year average, this antiquated process doesn’t accurately reflect the actual students in each school and is a disservice to students, families, educators, and administrators.
In 2020, health care in the Sooner State changed forever. With the onslaught of COVID-19 coupled with the passage of the onerous Medicaid Expansion plan, the cost of health care in Oklahoma is on the rise. But the prospects are not entirely grim. The pandemic has made way for technology and innovation to take root, especially in areas like expanded tele-health and scope of practice for highly skilled, highly trained medical professionals.
As we all work to put the pandemic behind us, we must make permanent the temporary reforms which helped us get through it. Issues like tele-health and scope of practice reforms are important to both moving forward from the pandemic but also giving Oklahomans more options, more control, and more access to quality, affordable health care. Those types of reforms work to serve our citizens and drive down prices which benefits the patient and the taxpayer.
Oklahoma must continue to take a principled approach to criminal justice reform. Keeping our communities safe, providing second chances and upholding the rule of law are not mutually exclusive and can be accomplished. It is far past time for the legislature to take action to be soft on taxpayers and smart on crime. By curbing over criminalization, providing real opportunities for those reentering society, assuring that the punishment truly does fit the crime and changing the way our courts use fines and fees we can take positive steps towards a sustainable incarcerated population and cut future budget issues off at the pass.
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