There are at least two camps in Oklahoma: those who believe the government is not doing enough to prevent the spread of coronavirus and those who believe the government is overreacting to the pandemic. Regardless of which camp you are in, the truth is we can see clearly the nations and states that have adopted stricter sets of prevention measures have fared better than those with more relaxed measures. I generally look for the middle-ground on issues, but the middle ground for this pandemic looks to be only marginally better than doing nothing at all.
Blaise Pascal was a French philosopher, mathematician, and physicist who lived in the 1600s and is famous, in part, due to an argument called “Pascal’s wager.” Pascal argues a rational person should not only live as though God exists, but also seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, a person will experience only a few losses like worldly pleasures and luxury, etc. If God does exist, however, that person stands to receive infinite gains (Heaven) and avoids infinite losses (an eternity in Hell). Basically, Pascal argues, bet on God’s existence and one stands to gain much more than that person will lose.
I bring this up not to debate the religious and theological nature of this wager or to make light of it (and, yes, I believe God exists). Pascal’s wager is a beneficial illustration for us to begin to navigate our stances in regard to the coronavirus pandemic. We have it much easier than Pascal, though, because we know the coronavirus pandemic actually exists. If we wager the coronavirus pandemic is a real threat and do things to decrease exposure, we will be much better off in the end. If we do not believe this pandemic is a real threat and live our lives as normal, we are flirting with disaster.
The conundrum facing the Governor and other leaders is how do we contain the virus without submarining the economy even more? We know other countries like South Korea have virtually halted the spread of coronavirus and with comparatively less impact to their economy by banning travel, following strict social distancing guidelines, swift testing, quarantining those tested, following up on positive tests and tracing those the infected have exposed, and then quarantining those potentially infected people. We have been at a disadvantage because tests have been scarce, but fortunately, tests are becoming more available in our state with both OU and OSU now testing in their labs.
It is time to screen widely. I was relieved when Oklahoma Secretary of Health Jerome Loughridge mentioned a partnership with Google yesterday in the Governor’s press briefing where Oklahomans can self-report their symptoms via a link on their phones. This would give the state the ability to see in real-time who are presenting symptoms, locate the possible infected people, instruct them to stay home, and get a test to them quickly.
This will be incredibly helpful to all of us, BUT ONLY AS LONG AS OKLAHOMANS FOLLOW QUARANTINE AND SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDELINES. We are in this boat together and we need to protect each other. Be a good neighbor, take Pascal’s wager and bet on the pandemic being real and severe. Then, follow the CDC guidelines by self-quarantining when you feel bad, social distancing when you feel fine, washing your hands often, and observing coughing and sneezing etiquette. How we react to this pandemic on a personal level either will pay large dividends to the state and its citizens or incur large losses.
I fully expect local and state leaders will soon be calling for more extensive and more limiting actions. Until then, be rational, wise and responsible. Be willing to do everything you can to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The Oklahoma Legislature adjourned to “the call of the Chair” on Tuesday, March 17. This means the legislature will be resuming session at some point in the near future, but not this week. Amid all of the uncertainty with the coronavirus pandemic and the oil power play from the Russians and Saudis, your state legislature must focus on what it is constitutionally required to do—and that is to pass a budget.
The state cannot spend more money than it has, which is a stark contrast to our federal government that habitually borrows money for deficit spending. Our state constitution requires a balanced budget each year, and rightly so. If you have been keeping up with the price of oil and gas drop and watching the stock market fall, you can imagine how tough it is to predict how much money the state will have next year—yet a budget must be set.
Generally, budget negotiations between the House, Senate, and Governor start to really heat up in May, but we started in earnest around two weeks ago. With the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic, we have no idea when the legislature will be able to meet again. Solidifying the budget early is crucial and it is the right thing to do. All parties have been working together well and we are closing in on a budget to get us through these tough times ahead.
I encourage all of you to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously and be vigilant. Area doctors report a number of tests from our district are still pending results. Our vigilance now will have a direct effect on how many people in our district are infected later. The reason for “social distancing” is to keep the numbers of infections contained so our hospitals are not overwhelmed. I realize the ideas of quarantine and not congregating in groups of 10 or more are an affront to our concepts of liberty and freedom, but sometimes we need to act in others’ interests instead of our own.
During this uncertain time, it is important to be vigilant, but not afraid. Seek ways to serve others and support local businesses. Be intentional about helping others. You need it and others need it, too! God bless you all.
Our first major deadline passed this week in the Legislature. All bills had to pass in committees in their legislative chamber of origin by Feb. 27 in order to advance.
Deadline weeks are brutal. We heard hundreds of bills in committee this week. I’m thankful that all of my bills passed committee, especially my bill that would end surprise medical billing. This procedure happens when an insured goes in for what they believe is a covered medical procedure only to be surprised by a medical bill from an out-of-network health care provider. My bill would require the insurance companies and the medical providers to come up with a payment solution and leave the patient out of the middle. Having this bill advance out of committee means I can bring the final product to the floor to be voted on by the entire membership of the House.
In total, the House passed 469 House Bills, one House Joint Resolution and one Senate Bill in committees. We’ve passed 26 House Bills or House Joint Resolutions and two House Concurrent Resolutions on the House floor so far and concurred on Senate amendments on one bill carried forward from last year. This is out of 1,381 house bills filed for this session.
Because this is the second session of the 57th Legislature, we were able to carry forward bills that didn’t advance all the way through the legislative process last year. We had 859 House bills or resolutions carried forward, some of which may still be considered.
The next two weeks will be very busy as we now have until March 12 to hear all House bills in the House. Then we will receive Senate bills while they consider bills from our chamber.
On Thursday, this week, I was the presiding officer over the House. This is always an exciting job as it gives me experience at running the speaker’s chair. The House chamber has a set of rules I must not only know but also enforce. The most common action I take is calling the House into order. I can’t tell you how many times I am prompted to call the House to order and ask members to quiet down and focus them on the business being presented. Many members like to use their time on the floor to catch up with other members to discuss various pieces of legislation and I do not blame them for this. With 101 members, this makes for a good deal of noise in the chamber and that noise level must be controlled out of respect to those presenting bills, those questioning bills and those in the gallery and on the floor listening to the bills.
Also this week, I was asked to present a speaker’s bill on the floor that will give doctors who agree to practice medicine in rural and underserved areas a tax credit of up to $25,000 per year. This is an attempt to help us attract more physicians to our rural areas where they are much needed.
We also continue to work with the governor’s office on his Medicaid expansion plan. I’m hoping something will be forthcoming on that front in the near future. Oklahomans want to know the details.
In the meantime, if I can be of any assistance, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com or (405) 557-7327.
We started this legislative session with lawmakers in the House and Senate filing almost 2,400 bills or joint resolutions for consideration. Session ended with 519 of those measures becoming law. This is common. Creating bills is fairly simple, but passing bills is difficult. The system is designed with built-in, bill-killing hurdles.
I’d like to report to you some of the pieces of legislation I was able to pass this session that will have a positive impact on Oklahomans.
One is the nursing home pay-for-performance plan, which is designed to improve quality of care and outcomes for the residents of our state’s nursing homes. I authored House Bill 1902 and was the principal House author of Senate Bill 280, which is the version that eventually passed and was signed into law. Sen. Frank Simpson and I worked closely together on both bills with nursing home administrators, AARP Oklahoma, nurses and other senior advocacy groups to enhance funding, increase the numbers of caregiving personnel at nursing homes and helped negotiate a pay-for-performance model designed to reward nursing homes for better health outcomes.
I've said over and over that we must do better as a state for elder healthcare services, and this is a measurable plan for achieving that goal.
Another personal highlight was pharmacy benefit managers’ (PBM) regulation, which Gov. Kevin Stitt recently signed into law via House Bill 2632. This bill will regulate PBMs, increase competition and allow people to choose which pharmacy they want to use while still getting the same prescription discounts as the big, company-owned pharmacies. Special thanks to Sen. Greg McCortney and Rep. Jon Echols for their help in getting this bill through the maze of legislative hurdles it faced. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth the fight.
Extending the sunset on the Supplemental Hospital Offset Payment Program (SHOPP) fee until 2025 was another accomplishment. This allows Oklahoma hospitals to provide additional money to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which manages the state’s Medicaid program. These fees allow us to draw down matching federal dollars equal to approximately the federal upper payment limit. This increases state Medicaid dollars without obligating the state to future payments if the federal government stops paying its share.
A glaring disappointment this session was the failure of House Bill 1056. This measure would have ensured domestic assault and battery be defined as a violent crime and offenders found guilty of this charge would have to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence. Crimes against spouses or children are particularly heinous. I will not give up my efforts to protect the vulnerable. To say I am disappointed this bill stalled in the legislative process is an understatement. The bill sailed through the House with only one nay vote but never made it to a committee hearing in the Senate. I will continue to work on this.
Remember that even though session has ended, I am still available by email, and my Capitol office phone will be answered. Please feel free to reach out to me with your questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org or (405) 557-7327.
Have a safe summer.
I am grateful for this year's session. The Legislature worked together tirelessly to create good policies and a balanced budget, and we completed the session a week early. I am proud of the work I was able to get done this session. I realize I could have done none of it without the trust and support of my colleagues. The governor has signed 23 House and Senate bills on which I was the principal author this year. Two more are on his desk, and he is likely to sign both of them.
It was a very busy and productive session. The bills I authored cover a combination of healthcare and business reform as well as government modernization efforts to bring our laws into the current century to meet the needs and wishes of Oklahoma residents.
The healthcare reforms I authored give me the most pride because they have the potential to affect Oklahomans' quality of life for years to come. As the chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health, I had the opportunity to offer several ideas and changes that will result in long-term budget restructuring and will help us meet the needs of more Oklahomans going forward.
For example, I was able to increase our Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentage (FMAP) match to allow for a 5 percent provider rate increase in the Fiscal Year 2020, which in turn will increase funding support to hospitals, health clinics, health providers and nursing homes. We will put more funding into provider rates next year to bring more certainty and confidence for Oklahomans who use these services. I also passed policy for pay-for-performance legislation to increase the quality of care for our nursing home residents.
Other lawmakers have pointed out that by far the wisest move I made for this budget is the $29 million saved to a new rate preservation fund to preserve Medicaid provider rates when the federal government’s 3-year rolling average results in a rate decline. When that $29 million is matched by federal dollars in the future it should net the state over $80 million.
The budget provides $62.8 million for Graduate Medical Education programs to support physician training for those who will serve in rural hospitals. The budget includes $10 million to decrease the Developmental Disability Services waiting list and increase provider rates, which will help some of the most vulnerable in our society. Finally, a $4.6 million increase is designated for immunizations and to staff county health departments throughout the state.
This budget also prioritizes education, giving preK-12 an additional $158 million this year over last to include a teacher pay raise and $74.3 million additional funding to classrooms. We also increased funding to CareerTechs and higher education. Transportation, public safety, and many other areas of government services are increased as well.
Perhaps best of all, we were able to save money in this budget. We set aside $200 million that will bring our state savings to about $1 billion by the end of this fiscal year. We plan to continue this until we have enough money to ensure we will not have to cut core services in the next economic downturn. We saved while increasing funding for core areas of state government by about 6 percent.
I ran on a platform of bringing sound budgeting principles to the Capitol, and this legislative session I was able to help advance those. I’m proud to be keeping my promises to those who elected me.
Now that session has ended, I will be at the Capitol less and the district more. But, I will still be available by email, and my Capitol office phone will be answered. Please feel free to reach out to me with your questions or concerns at email@example.com or (405) 557-7327.
Have a safe summer.
A ballot initiative to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma was filed on April 19. If the groups--some from which are from out-of-state--behind the measure gather the requisite signatures and complete the required filings, you will see SQ802 on the ballot in 2020 The filing of SQ802 did not catch Senator Greg McCortney (R - Ada) or me off guard. We had substantiated information this would happen and it did.
Our Republican-controlled government failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in Washington in July of 2017. Since then, unfortunately, Democrats have taken control of the House. There seems to be little chance of repeal, which means the ACA is here to stay; it is not going away. Sure, there are court cases challenging the ACA, but the likelihood of the courts overturning it in its totality is low. A court decision to overturn the ACA would result in chaos because 20 million Americans would lose health coverage and hospitals across the country would be in jeopardy.
37 states have expanded Medicaid in some fashion. Expansion was passed in 2018 in Nebraska, Idaho and Utah. All three of those states voted for President Trump AND Medicaid Expansion on the same ballot. This outcome seems extraordinary to some. However, polling from last summer suggests this ballot measure will pass here, as well. With ballot success in the three red states just mentioned, polling numbers, and the inability or unwillingness of Republicans to repeal the ACA, we knew Oklahoma would be a probable state for the same type of ballot initiative.
SQ802 will add a new Article to our state’s Constitution expanding Oklahoma’s Medicaid program with a full, Obamacare State Plan. This is problematic. First, once Medicaid Expansion is placed in the Constitution it will remain there; it will be very difficult to remove or amend should the Federal government decrease funding, add new mandates, or require broader coverage. Second, a State Plan is a one-size-fits-all, inflexible approach to healthcare; it does not take into account Oklahoma’s needs and unique healthcare environment. Third, a State Plan is nearly impossible to amend at the federal level in the future.
Oklahomans are better served by Medicaid waivers. Medicaid Waivers allow the federal government to waive rules that usually apply to a Medicaid State Plan. Waivers allow states to be creative and innovative, reduce costs, require health outcomes, accomplish goals, and improve health for specific populations.
Waivers are preferred by President Trump, and this preference has paved the way for enterprising states to take advantage of them and tailor their plans to their populations. We can and should do the same. Waivers are a more nimble approach. They allow us to amend our plan should the federal government decrease funding or increase mandates or requirements. Waivers also allow the legislature to change course if health outcomes are not met or the price tag gets too high. We can do none of these things if SQ802 passes at the ballot box and we are forced into a State Plan.
Oklahoma ranks far below top 10 states in healthcare access and outcomes. Frankly and sadly, Oklahoma ranks in the bottom 5 states. We must do better. Improving access to healthcare will mean more covered working Oklahomans, less uncompensated care at our rural hospitals and fewer rural hospital closures.
I have traveled to Washington, DC to research and learn more about this issue. I have spoken with many health experts, legislators from other states, business leaders and economists. This is why I have been working with like-minded Senator McCortney (R- Ada) for over a year on our Oklahoma Plan to help working Oklahomans who cannot afford health insurance and do it in a fiscally responsible way. In our opinion, not having an alternative plan for SQ802 is irresponsible, foolish and sets Oklahoma up for problems in the future.
Increasing access to health care for hard-working Oklahomans is good for our district, our hospitals, our health clinics and our state. Being a business person like Governor Stitt, I see the 900% return available to us on the tax dollars we pay to the federal government and I want to bring those dollars back to Oklahoma. Would you turn down a 900% return on your money? Oklahoma has been turning that rate of return down for years. The best part is we can leverage Medicaid waivers without raising taxes and receive the 9 to 1 federal match. We have been subsidizing other states' Medicaid plans for years. It is past time for us to use our own tax dollars to subsidize healthcare for our fellow Oklahomans. Our Oklahoma Plan will bring those taxes back to us instead of sending them to states like California for Nancy Pelosi to distribute.
This week has been a whirlwind of activity at the Capitol. Not too long ago, all of the bills the Senate passed were sent to the House, and all the bills the House passed were sent to the Senate. This week marked the deadline for those bills to be passed out of the opposite legislative chamber.
In total, the House heard 291 Senate bills and joint resolutions. Two failed, so we passed a total of 189.
Bills passed without being amended go to the Governor's desk for his signature or veto. A total of 277 bills from both House and Senate have gone directly from the floor to the governor; another 15 will go to him Monday.
Bills not heard are still alive for next year. Bills amended will go back to their chamber of origin to have those amendments accepted or rejected by the bills' authors. If amendments are approved by the chamber of origin, bills undergo a fourth and final reading. If passed, they move to the governor. If amendments are rejected, the bills can be sent to a conference committee to work out the details. Many bills languish there, but some will be able to escape if the authors agree to changes made in conference. There are many hurdles before a bill can become a law.
In the meantime, budget negotiations between the House, the Senate and the governor’s staff have gone smoothly, for the most part. There are always hiccups, but both chambers are working hard to settle their differences. Once the House and Senate reach an agreement, the budget is taken to the governor for his modifications and approval. It’s been helpful that all three bodies are working together during the process.
I am the chairman for the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Healthcare. It has been a challenging, but gratifying experience to be entrusted with this budget. The health budget is roughly a third of our overall appropriations budget.
The governor tasked the Legislature with saving $200 million this year. I knew if I massaged this large health budget the right way and applied a little creative thinking I would be able to save taxpayer money for use when our economy takes a downturn. Without getting into the weeds, I am proud to report that I found a way to save over $70 million in the health budget this year while increasing health provider rates. A savings account will be created specifically for use in healthcare during economic downturns. The best thing is, we will be able to save even more next year. I appreciate Budget Chairman Kevin Wallace for allowing me – a second-term representative – the freedom to work this budget and believing in me enough to accept my ideas, input and recommendations. Of course, this is not final, but is a very promising inclusion toward meeting the governor's goal.
In other news, what will potentially be State Question 802 was filed to be on the ballot in 2020. The State Question seeks a vote on whether to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma. This question will cause considerable debate. For some, it is welcome; for others it causes anxiety. I will submit another article this week explaining this state question and its potential impact on the Legislature and our state.
As always, I will keep you updated as the session progresses. Please feel free to reach out to me with your questions or concerns at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling my office (405) 557-7327.
The House and Senate this week convened in joint session to honor the service of the Oklahoma National Guard and the 45th Infantry Division.
Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Michael C. Thompson praised the Guard for always being ready to answer the frequent calls to duty in Oklahoma, including assisting after tornadoes, fires, floods or other disasters. The Guard also serves overseas – in 10 countries since 2018 and currently in four.
Several members of the Guard spoke during Tuesday’s joint session, inspiring us with their stories of dedication and sacrifice. Gov. Stitt also praised members of the Guard for their willingness to serve and sacrifice time with their families and other careers and ultimately to be willing to lay down their lives in service to their state and nation. About 9,000 men and women currently make up the Oklahoma National Guard; 19 of those members lost their lives during conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. I cannot say enough to express my appreciation for this ultimate sacrifice.
Also this week, we observed National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. Last November, Oklahoma voters approved Marsy’s Law, which amended the Oklahoma Constitution to give crime victims the right to be notified throughout criminal justice proceedings. It also requires they receive information about services available to them and to be updated on an offender’s release from custody. Victims also have the right to be heard in plea or sentencing. House Bill 1102 would add many of the requirements of the state question into state statute to ensure the law is evenly administered across the state. In rural areas, district attorneys don’t have some of the same resources as urban areas; but in urban areas, courts are often stretched thin from the number of cases and affected victims. The bill will likely advance to conference committee so final language can be adopted.
Also this week, House Bill 2640, Francine’s Law, passed the Senate and can now be signed into law by the governor. The measure requires law enforcement, medical examiners and coroners to enter all missing and unidentified persons’ information into the national NamUs unidentified persons’ database, which provides free forensic services for families of missing persons to better help them find and identify their loved ones.
The legislation was named for Francine Frost who was abducted from a Tulsa grocery store in 1981. Her case was cold until 2014 when a grandson found information in the NamUs system that helped identify an unidentified person as his missing grandmother. Had this legislation been in place years earlier the family might have avoided an agonizing wait to learn the fate of their loved one.
On a fun side note, America Ninja Warrior was at the state Capitol this week filming for an upcoming episode. The group travels with about 150 regular employees and then employees about 100 local people plus local caterers in each city where they film. They rent local hotel rooms, eat in local restaurants and explore the cities they visit investing in the local economy. They average about 10 days in each city, so this is a nice boost. Maybe we can talk them into coming to our area in the future.
As always, I will keep you updated as the session progresses. Please feel free to reach out to me with your questions or concerns at email@example.com, or by calling my office (405) 557-7327.
Community members, leaders and partners have made progress to identify the unique needs in our community. A plan to meet those needs and serve young people involved in or at risk of involvement in the juvenile justice system is currently being developed for youth and families in Stephens County and the immediate surrounding area. I am happy to see folks in the community joining in the effort and contributing to the development of this comprehensive plan. It allows us to come together and respond to the needs within our own community. Every member of our community has the opportunity to have a seat at the table to plan and respond to the challenges facing our young people and their families.
The Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) recently (March 12 and 13) held four community meetings in Stephens, Cotton and Jefferson counties to address the lack of juvenile prevention and diversion services since last year’s closing of Youth Services for Stephens County.
OJA allocates funds to designated youth service agencies to provide community-based services to youth and families. Jefferson, Stephens and Cotton counties are in need of these services. The meetings are a part of OJA’s Community Action with Targeted Solutions (CATS) project to develop a unique plan for serving youth involved or at-risk of involvement in the juvenile justice system in this area. It is important that all community stakeholders have a voice in naming needs, existing strengths and resources; and creating a plan to prevent delinquency and promote success for all youth in these tree southern counties.
I’ve been informed that great suggestions were heard from a variety of participants there and at other meetings held in Waurika and Walters.
Those attending the four meetings in these counties included judges, court staff, district attorneys, juvenile justice staff, elected officials, school representatives, young people, family members, and faith-based leaders. Discussions were held to identify the needs (risk factors) and existing resources. For every risk factor (substance abuse, poverty, inadequate supervision, negative peer groups), protective factors must be developed to insulate our youth and protect them. Protective factors such as caring adults, positive social activities, and community connectedness are vital to prevent delinquency and strengthening the overall community.
To ensure community needs are met, a comprehensive plan will be developed to target existing dollars to the areas of the community with the highest need.
Follow-up meetings are scheduled for:
These meetings are to help OJA formulate long-term, community-based service strategies. I strongly suggest residents plan to attend.
In the meantime, I urge you to have your voices heard by taking part in a survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/OKCATS.
Everyone in this area is welcome to participate. Answers will be anonymous and combined with all other answers. Results will be shared at the April 15 and 16 community meetings. Taking time to attend one of these meetings or just a few minutes to fill out this survey could go a long away to preventing juvenile delinquency and strengthening our community.
Two important House bills recently passed the Senate Appropriations committee. One will reimburse the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges (CIRB) fund, and the other expands the Pay for Success Act. If these gain the approval of the entire Senate they could be signed into law by the governor.
Last year the Legislature borrowed from the CIRB fund when we were dealing with budget shortfalls; it is time to pay back that money. Restoring CIRB funding is a big deal, particularly in rural Oklahoma where we have to drive longer distances than those in urban areas--often on roads needing greater repairs.
At one time, Oklahoma had 1,800 structurally deficient bridges, but lawmakers made transportation a funding priority and now that number is down to less than 200. Paying back the funds borrowed means our county transportation workers can continue bridge renovation while keeping other roads projects on track. When you see county transportation workers, thank them for their work.
The Pay for Success Act, meanwhile, would expand a program that allows private/public partnerships to help divert certain women from prison by treating them for substance abuse. We would rather them be treated, working and being reunited with their families, rather than in jail. Pay for Success is much less expensive than incarceration, and it is better for families and employers. The program has been immensely successful, changing the lives of the women involved as well as their families. This bill would broaden the act to be available to all state agencies, allowing them to contract with private entities to provide programs or services that achieve certifiable and beneficial results for state residents. The state would pay only if the desired results are achieved. The bill is a way to encourage innovation and benefit the state without risking state dollars on programs that may not work.
In other news this week, the state reached a $270 million settlement in its lawsuit against opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma. Our state’s attorney general has promised nearly $200 million will go to the Oklahoma State University Center for Wellness and Recovery in Tulsa, which will create a national addiction center modeled after the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. About $17.5 million will go to counties and cities to help them deal with the opioid crisis. The state has other lawsuits pending against additional manufacturers, so there could be future settlements as well.
Serving as the House budget chairman over mental health and substance abuse, I welcome the Purdue Pharma settlement. Yet, I was disappointed by the lack of communication from the Attorney General's office to the Legislature about the terms of the settlement and essentially bypassing the Legislature's appropriation process. In my opinion (I do not speak for the Legislature on this matter), the settlement belongs to you and those affected by addiction. Don't get me wrong; I believe a national addiction research center is needed. However, I will be fighting to ensure future opioid settlements are negotiated to benefit the entire state, not merely the northeast corner of it.
As always, I will keep you updated as the session progresses. Please feel free to reach out to me with your questions or concerns firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling my office (405) 557-7327.