Redistricting maps proposed, interim studies wrap

By State Rep. Cynthia Roe

It's been a busy week at the state Capitol!

On Monday, the Legislature debuted our proposed maps for Oklahoma's five congressional districts, as well as released updated maps for legislative districts.

The Legislature is required by our state constitution to redistrict legislative maps during regular session, but the pandemic slowed data retrieval from the U.S. Census Bureau, so the maps signed into law in the spring were only temporary.

We knew they would be tweaked once we received our final population data and received a clear view of how out population is shifting.

Our census data shows us that more Oklahomans are moving from rural areas to the urban areas of our state. This is one reason why HD 42's boundaries are expanding.

Under the new map, House District 42 covers 907 square miles and has a few changes from its current boundaries.

In McClain County, HD 42 would lose Cole and most of Blanchard and Washington.

However, the new boundaries would include the southernmost portion of Cleveland County and the entirety of southern McClain County.

It would also expand to the eastern border of Garvin County and pick up Stratford and Wynnewood.

HD 42 would still represent Purcell, Lindsay and most of Pauls Valley. However, the central and southern portion of Garvin County would become part of House District 48.

A map can be viewed on the House Redistricting website at https://okhouse.gov/Publications/Redistricting.aspx.

Also on Monday, I led two interim studies before the House Alcohol, Tobacco and Controlled Substances Committee.

The first study focused on curbing youth access to tobacco products. We heard from Thomas Larson, director of public information and outreach for the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), who told us that while teen tobacco use has declined in the last two decades, the prevalence of vaping as led to a new epidemic.

Their study reports that more than 25% of Oklahoma teens have vaped at least once in the last 30 days.

Vaping introduces nicotine to these teens, which is deeply concerning as brains continue developing until 25 and addiction at an early age is correlated with lifelong addiction.

Larson told legislators that lowering teen tobacco use would lead to lower addiction levels overall in the state and fewer deaths from tobacco.

In my second interim study, which focused on the lack of oversight with minor patients in medical marijuana, we heard about the process that people under the age of 18 must go through to receive a medical marijuana license.

Minor patients must have two doctors sign off that they would benefit from medical marijuana, whereas adult patients only require one doctors' signature.

However, we learned in the interim study that this is where the differences end for regulation of medical marijuana for minors versus adults.

Under current statute, minors are not required to again receive doctors' approval when renewing their license, nor do they have to inform their health care providers that they use medical marijuana. This can be dangerous, especially as young people grow.

One health care worker told us that in some circumstances, children have to be given overdose drugs to combat the effects of too much marijuana in their system, such as a slowing heart rate

I want to thank the presenters at both of my interim studies for giving up their time to share their knowledge with us.

As we move closer to our new regular session in February, I'm considering potential legislation to file, and both of these topics are ones I plan to look into in further detail.

In the meantime, please reach out with any questions or concerns you may have. I can be reached on my office phone at (405) 557-7365 or at cynthia.roe@okhouse.gov.

Thank you for the honor of serving House District 42 at the state Capitol.

(Rep. Cynthia Roe, a Republican, serves District 42 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which covers Garvin and McClain counties.)

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