This year has been one for the books. Between falling energy prices and the COVID-19 outbreak, our state has been through the ringer, which is unfortunate because last year our economy was the strongest it’s ever been. But just as Oklahomans do, we picked ourselves up by the bootstraps and carried on. It hasn’t been easy, but we’re on the road to recovery.
For those of you still waiting on unemployment, please know that my office is here to help however we can.
The Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) announced this past week that they will be completely taking over the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission’s (OESC) IT division and business practices. OMES has been working tirelessly in recent weeks to help improve OESC’s antiquated website and computer systems, but finally decided consolidation was necessary. OESC will still make sure claims are processed and paid, but OMES will do the actual work.
OMES Director Harpe says that all Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims will be processed within two weeks.
I know it’s easier said than done but please continue being patient. This isn’t the state employees’ fault who are answering calls and emails. The technology was created to handle the normal 2,500 or so weekly claims. It simply couldn’t handle the 440,000 Oklahoma claims that have been filed during this crisis.
As for legislative news, the Senate officially adjourned this past Friday. Nearly 200 bills were signed into law. Please check out the Senate website at www.oksenate.gov to learn more about those.
I do want to mention that our retired public employees are finally getting a much-needed and well-deserved cost-of-living adjustment after 12 years. Those who have been retired for more than five years will see a 4% increase while those retired 2-5 years will get a 2% bump. This includes those in the Oklahoma Firefighters Pension and Retirement System, the Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System, the Uniform Retirement System for Justices and Judges, the Teachers’ Retirement System of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System and the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System.
While many of my Senate and House bills were still working their way through the process when the pandemic hit, only two ended up moving forward this session. Both were signed into law and the others we’ll revisit next session.
SB 1349 updates statutory language within the Oklahoma Public Health Advisory Council Modernization Act to reflect recent legislative changes. The State Board of Health is changed to the State Commissioner of Health as the oversight authority.
SB 1748, the Patient Disclosure Act, creates a method for patients to be treated for an emergency before they’re asked for payments by all hospitals and know whether their emergency conditions will be paid for by their insurance. It would require prominent disclosure to patients before medical services are provided.
Besides approving a balanced budget and passing essential legislation, the Senate also confirmed nearly 200 executive nominations to state boards and commissions. I was honored to carry Lawton resident Keely Cox’ nomination to the State Textbook Committee. Keely will do an outstanding job on this committee. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to participate in the virtual confirmation meeting because my amazing wife, Lindsey, was in labor.
We are so excited to announce the birth of our beautiful baby girl Kacey Lou Kidd. She was born on May 13th at 6:26 p.m. weighing 7 lb. 1 oz. We’re smitten and are so grateful for all the messages, thoughts and prayers.
Thank you again for the privilege of serving our district and the State of Oklahoma in the Senate. If I can be of any assistance, you can reach me at (405) 521-5563 or Chris.Kidd@oksenate.gov.