By Sen. Greg McCortney
We had a tough vote this week on an education funding formula reform bill. The bill is simply aimed at making sure the state dollars we appropriate go to the school where a student is actually enrolled.
There are strong feelings on both sides of this issue, and I truly want to thank everyone who reached out to me, explaining their perspectives and sharing their knowledge of the issue.
In a representative democracy, there are often strong opinions both for and against the measures that are considered by the Legislature – views that run deep and are sincerely heartfelt. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for me to be able to hear all sides. I’m grateful to all those who participate in the process.
Most of our efforts this past week were concentrated on committee votes on bills sent over from the House. The deadline for committee action on those bills is April 8.
I’m Senate author of a bill I’ll be presenting to the Health and Human Services Committee I chair dealing with an issue that’s impacted countless Oklahoma families during the pandemic – the prolonged separations of families from their loved ones in long-term care facilities.
While strict no-visitor policies were in place in order to prevent spread of COVID-19, the fact is the prolonged separation of family members took its toll on the mental and emotional well-being of many of those residents and their loved ones. Many Oklahomans lost loved ones without ever being able to say goodbye in person.
To be fair, there was no blueprint for how to deal with this life-threatening pandemic – it had been over 100 years since the world had to grapple with anything like this. I believe everyone was simply trying to make the best decisions at the time with the limited information we had.
But we can learn from this experience and do better in the future.
House Bill 2566 would prevent those facilities from blocking visits from family and loved ones unless they had guidance to do so from the federal government and the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
But just as importantly, it would require all long-term care facilities to have a plan on file with the state outlining how they will protect residents and still enable visitation as much as possible.
The concept is fairly straightforward – let’s take what we’ve learned and actually put policies in place so that if this ever happen again, we’ll be better prepared to respond in a way that is both safe and compassionate for residents and their families. I’ll update you on this bill after it is heard in committee.
I also want to take this opportunity to wish all of you a blessed and Happy Easter.
I am honored to serve you in the Oklahoma State Senate. If you have a question about a legislative matter, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (405) 521-5541 or by email at Greg.McCortney@oksenate.gov.
(McCortney's District 13 includes most of Garvin County.)