Column: From the Office of Senator Jessica Garvin | Opinion

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The first month of session is behind us, and so much has been accomplished. More than 300 bills were sent off the committee last week with just four days before the deadline to wrap up committee work. As of Tuesday, the full Senate approved nearly 60 bills and sent them to the House.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature interrupted our work last week, forcing the House and Senate to close on Wednesday and Thursday. Since this Thursday is the deadline, our committee agendas will be loaded to try to make up for those lost days.

Improving public safety is a huge issue this session on Capitol Hill with several bills under consideration. Senate Bill 1568 would require various forms of domestic violence to be registered under the Mary Rippy Violent Crime Offenders Registration Act. In 2020, Oklahoma had the highest number of domestic violence reports in 20 years and 61 Oklahomans were killed by their domestic abuser. This public database allows people to verify the identity of others and whether they have a violent past, which can prevent them from entering a dangerous relationship or allowing their children to be around them.

SB 1569 would create the Address Privacy for Surviving Children and Their Families Act to protect victims of human trafficking and child abduction by allowing them to participate in the Address Privacy Program. This provides these individuals with an alternate address to list on school, local, and state forms to conceal their home address from public searches.

Another measure will protect our retired public servants. SB 1522 would prohibit the doxing of retired law enforcement officers. This includes posting any personally identifiable information, such as their home address, with the intent to threaten, intimidate or harass them.

In addition to working on legislation in our committees and in the field, we can join many caucuses to dig deeper into the particular issues that we are particularly passionate about. Caucuses bring together people with shared but unique experiences. I am currently a member of the Women’s, Aerospace (AERO), Hispanic, Rural, Mental Health, Futures and Republican caucuses.

The Rural Caucus recently met with the Oklahoma State Highway Patrol to discuss recruitment and retention plans for our soldiers. The number of men and women coming out of law enforcement, not only soldiers but also local and county law enforcement officers, is alarming. Like many state agencies, OHP has been unable to grant raises to its staff, and compared to a list of larger local agencies, OHP ranks at the bottom of the list. list of pay rates. Additionally, the “defund the police” mentality and lawsuits against officers have caused many people to leave the profession. Both of these issues were brought to light during our meeting, and I look forward to continuing these conversations to determine how best to support our soldiers across the state.

I love when students are interested in their state government and the legislative process. There are different ways for students to get involved and see firsthand the workings inside their State Capitol. They can apply to page for a week of their junior or senior year or can shadow for a day.

Wayne’s Taelyn Ringwald followed me on Monday February 14th. It was a busy day as I presented SB 1323 to the Pension and Insurance Committee and SB 1259 to the Health and Human Services Committee. Our committees had full agendas and we also heard the first five Senate bills on the floor, including my SB 1344. In addition to seeing our committee and the work on the floor, Taelyn got to see several hundred of Oklahomans champion issues important to them on Capitol Hill.

For such a short week, it’s been a busy week and I can’t wait to see what we accomplish this week.

If you have any questions or concerns about legislative matters, please contact me on Capitol Hill by emailing me at [email protected] or by calling (405) 521-5522.

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