We’re now headed into the final month of the 2022 legislative session. April 28 marked the last day for the Senate to vote on bills that originated in the House, and for them to vote on measures that were sent over from our chamber. At this point in the session, bills that were amended by the opposite chamber may end up in conference committees where a unified version can be crafted and brought back to each chamber for a final vote. We should also soon begin seeing the product of months of budget analysis and negotiations moving forward.

I was very gratified that one of my bills, SB 1238, was approved by the House before the deadline and is now awaiting the governor’s signature. This bill was actually requested by Stillwater Public Schools, and allows transfers into full-time virtual programs offered by school districts throughout the state. This bill was approved unanimously by both chambers. I’m very grateful for my fellow members’ support on this measure, and look forward to it becoming law.

I was also pleased to help support a measure before the full Senate aimed at helping us better address the ongoing teacher shortage in Oklahoma. This is a significant problem – in the last five years, the number of students seeking teaching degrees in Oklahoma has dropped by 33%.

HB 3564 will create the Oklahoma Future Teacher Scholarship and Employment Incentive Program, providing scholarships and incentives to encourage more students to pursue teaching degrees. After agreeing to teach in an Oklahoma public school for at least five years, students would receive $1,000 in annual scholarships for the first three years of college and $2,500 in their final year. After graduating, that teacher would receive up to $4,000 in an annual employment incentive payment for up to five years if the school district determines their service is satisfactory. This bill now returns to the House for further consideration.

I also won initial approval for an executive nomination in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee this past week. Executive nominations are appointments made by the governor to various boards, commissions, cabinet posts and agency executive director positions. These nominations require the consent of the Senate. The nomination is carried by the Senator in whose district the nominee resides. Dr. Randy Grellner, of Cushing, was nominated by Governor Kevin Stitt to serve as a member of the State Board of Health. I know he’ll do an outstanding job, and look forward to his nomination winning support by the full Senate.

We also recognized another outstanding group of OSU students in the Senate on Wednesday. The OSU Livestock Judging Team, under the guidance of coach and mentor Parker Henley, was honored in our chamber for their 2021 National Champions title. Well done, and again, congratulations on this outstanding achievement.

I thank you for the privilege of being your voice at the state Capitol. If you have any questions or concerns about legislation or other issues at the state level, please feel free to contact my office by calling 405-521-5572, or email Tom.Dugger@oksenate.gov.

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