By Greg McCortney
Beyond writing and voting on legislation and the budget, the Senate also has an additional responsibility in state government unique to this chamber.
Many of the positions the governor appoints, including cabinet posts, certain agency directorships and membership on various boards and commissions, cannot become permanent without vetting and confirmation votes, first in a Senate committee, then by the full chamber.
It’s a check and balance to make sure the person nominated is indeed a suitable candidate who is well-qualified for the post. I want to assure you that it is a very thorough process.
As chair of Health and Human Services, when I schedule confirmation hearings in my committee, I urge my members to reach out to these nominees before the meeting and use the hearing as an opportunity for further vetting. This process is not by any means a mere rubber-stamping of a gubernatorial nomination.
This past Monday, we considered the executive nominations of Dr. Lance Frye as Health Commissioner, Kevin Corbett as Secretary of Health and Mental Health, Carrie M. Slatton-Hodges as Commissioner of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and Nathan Raith to the Oklahoma State Board of Examiners for Long-Term Care Administrators.
After extensive questioning, each nominee received committee approval. Each must now be confirmed by the full Senate.
And in related news, I want to say Oklahoma is doing an incredible job getting people vaccinated against COVID-19.
The latest data I’ve seen shows we’re one of the top five states in the entire country. That’s due to a massive effort by our state and county health departments, our tribal governments, including the Chickasaw Nation, and other entities within the state working to protect as many people as possible.
Oklahoma experienced our first cases and our first death from COVID-19 just over a year ago, and since then hundreds of thousands have actually had it.
Some people who caught the virus were asymptomatic, others were very ill and continue to have symptoms months later, and far, far too many have lost their lives.
More than 7,700 deaths in Oklahoma have been attributed to the pandemic. Think about it – that’s more than the entire population of Pauls Valley and then some.
Too many families have been forever impacted by this disease. This is why getting vaccinated is so important – it could save your life or the life of someone you love.
Beginning Monday, March 29, Oklahoma will open COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all residents over the age of 16, meaning more than half a million more people will be able to get the vaccination now.
There is no charge for the vaccine. If you haven’t been inoculated yet, I urge you to get signed up.
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.