By Rep. Scott Fetgatter
The Legislative session began this week with newly elected Gov. J. Kevin Stitt delivering his first State of the State address.
Stitt outlined some of his main goals as the state’s top executive:

  • More economic growth, more businesses come to the state with more jobs;
  • Greater accountability over agency heads and the spending of taxpayer dollars;
  • Another pay increase for public school teachers and more money to public school classrooms;
  • A solution that is affordable for the state to help low-income and rural residents with their health care needs;
  • A continued push for commonsense criminal justice reforms that reduce prison sentences for those with simple drug possession charges and that redirect those with addiction and mental health issues to treatment programs instead of prison.

scott fetgatterThe governor also mentioned asking the Legislature to support sending additional funds to the governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund to help the Department of Commerce in its mission to bring new business to the state. Appropriating money to this closing fund was a mission I worked hard to champion in the last two legislative sessions. This fund will help the state attract high-paying jobs without having to wait on the slow machinations of the legislative process. I’m glad to see the governor take up this cause.
I’m proud to have the opportunity to work with Gov. Stitt. I and my fellow legislators will be looking carefully through his executive budget to see what parts of his plan we can implement.
Stitt mentioned in his address that the state should have increased revenue this year of about $600 million dollars. I must issue a word of caution here. We won’t know the actual numbers until later this month with the state Board of Equalization releases certified figures. I’m optimistic we will have a good report, but I’m cautious, knowing it might be below the $600 million figure. The state has yet to see the full effect of the recent downturn in oil and gas prices.
In the meantime, all of my legislation for this year has been filed and I am starting to present my bills before various committees. I am chair this year of the House Appropriations & Budget Finance Subcommittee. I am in the process of evaluating all bills assigned to my committee to determine which ones will make for good policy for Oklahoma.
Also very soon, we should be considering some legislation proposed by the Medical Marijuana Working Group. This group met during the interim to determine ways to best implement State Question 788. The question legalized the growing, dispensing, selling, prescribing and ingestion of medical marijuana, but there are some gaps in the wording of the law that need to be addressed to keep the public safe. The law did not, for instance, address testing or labeling. We want to make sure the legislation we file does not infringe on the will of the people, but that is does fix some of the problems. This is not about personal thoughts and feelings about marijuana. The majority of Oklahomans approved the question so we must implement this to the best of our ability.
As always, I am available for anyone who lives in my district. It’s an honor, a privilege and a pleasure to serve as your state representative.