Bartlesville Regional Chamber of Commerce held its Legislative Wrap-Up Forum on Tuesday at the Bartlesville Community Center, hosting our local delegation as they talked about the legislative session that has come and gone.
Representative Judd Strom discussed the State of Oklahoma’s budget during the luncheon. Strom, the Chairman of the House A&B General Government Committee, said Oklahoma spent $9.1-billion through the coronavirus pandemic. He said they’ve started to include a lot of things in the budget that wouldn’t have been included before such as transportation.
As transportation came through, Rep. Strom said there was $575-million that would’ve came in and gone out without anyone noticing, but they were able to bring that in as they were able to bring in so many other things. He said they’ve reflected this in the state’s budget so you can see where your tax dollars have come in and where they’ve gone out.
$210-million were added to education in Oklahoma. Rep. Strom said they focused on transportation to fix the roads and infrastructure in the state. He said they were able to cover parts of Oklahoma that were not covered by doppler radar as well.
Paying lawyers to help figure out the McGirt decision has also been funded. Rep. Strom said they don’t know what that entails yet, but they’ll continue to figure out for all sovereign tribes and governments that are impacted by the decision.
Rep. Strom also talked about the film industry in Oklahoma and the film tax rebate. Strom said Oklahoma is not sending money to Hollywood.
Instead, the State of Oklahoma is letting movie producers to keep some of the money they spend in Oklahoma. Rep. Strom said its like providing incentives to bring manufacturing and production to the state. He said they have to create infrastructure, find suitable property and more in the long-term to bring them here.
While talking about « Killers of the Flower Moon, » which is being filmed in Osage County, Rep. Strom said the industry is making a huge economic impact in Bartlesville and the surrounding area. Strom said they’re trying to make their dollar worth a little more to them by getting them to spend their monies locally in Oklahoma. He said actor salaries, production company fees, and the like will head back to Hollywood, but the electricians, the painters, the plumbers, the movers, the tent makers, the chair rentals, and other things that are below the line have to be bought locally, which can go a long way.
Rep. Wendi Stearman often addressed protecting individual rights during the luncheon. Stearman went over the Second Amendment Sanctuary State Bill. She said any federal, state, county or municipal action that orders the buy back, confiscation, or surrender of firearms will be considered infringement on the right of citizens to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment in the U.S. Constitution and in the Oklahoma Constitution.
Rep. Stearm went on to talk about H.R. 1009, which would reject H.R. 1 on the federal level. Stearman said H.R. 1 is still very prominent and is still being considered on the national stage. If H.R. 1 is approved, Stearman said it would allow the federal government to effect the election process at the state level. She said H.R. 1009 is simply a resolution that states that they will not allow the federal government to usurp the election process in Oklahoma.
Senator Julie Daniels helped pass a bill that would allow student athletes to profit from their name, image and likeness. Daniels said 15 states had already joined this effort. She said it was important for Oklahoma’s universities that this became a reality.
Sen. Daniels said Oklahoma had the potential to lose student athletes to campuses across the nation where they would be paid to play in college. This goes into effect on Thursday, July 1, 2021.
There was also the abortion restriction bill that Sen. Daniels authored that passed this legislative session. If a fetal heartbeat is detected, Sen. Daniels said you may not move ahead with an abortion. She said an abortion could be performed under certain limited circumstances. The goal of the bill was to protect life.