New fiscal year and new laws

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New fiscal year and new laws

Sat, 07/11/2020 - 14:11
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My family had a wonderful July 4th celebrating our great nation. The fireworks show at Lake Ponca was phenomenal. I hope everyone got to enjoy time with their friends and family as well.

As Americans, we’re so blessed. It’s easy sometimes to lose sight of that fact because it’s just our way of life. But it’s important that we never take our freedom for granted or forget the many lives and sacrifices that have been made the last 244 years to get and keep those freedoms.

Around the world, many women still don’t have the right to an education, to wear the clothing they want or to pursue the career they want. Many families aren’t allowed to own property, worship freely or choose the size of their family. They don’t have clean water, healthcare or a car. In many countries, families live in fear of their government and whether they’ll live to see the next day. There is a stark contrast between life in America and many other countries. We are so blessed!

God bless our veterans and military service men and women who make it all possible as well as our law enforcement, first responders and healthcare workers who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe and healthy.

July 1st is the beginning of the new fiscal year, which means all the state agencies’ have new budgets and we also have nearly 30 new laws. You can read them on our website at www.oksenate.gov.

The most exciting one is the Cost-of-Living-Adjustment for our state’s outstanding retired public employees including teachers, state employees, law enforcement, fire fighters and judges. Those who have been retired for five or more years as of June 30th will get a 4% COLA while those who have been retired 2-5 years will receive a 2% increase. Those who retired in the last two years won’t receive a COLA. This is a good first step to help retirees keep up with the everincreasing costs of goods and services.

Another new law that should benefit many across the state is SB 1362. It lessens restrictions for local governments on projects that are prohibited from receiving state local government matching payments under the Oklahoma Local Development and Enterprise Zone Incentive Leverage Act. Currently, development projects that use more than 10% of their net leasable space for retail places don’t qualify for the matching payments. This increases the net leasable space limit for retail places to 50% and exempts any space leased to a grocery or specialty food store from the limit when they provide healthy food options and improve access for low income and low access geographies.

Oklahoma has several food deserts where citizens are forced to drive long distances to find a grocery store or somewhere that provides healthy, fresh food options. This change will hopefully provide better access to nutritious foods for all Oklahomans.

I was honored to be one of only eight Oklahoma legislators recently to earn a perfect score from the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy on their 2020 Legislative Scorecard. The scorecard included seven bills relating to the health, safety and wellbeing of Oklahoma’s children including House Bills 1282, 1276, 2804, 3251, 2791 and Senate Bills 1436 and 1303. HJR 1040 was also included but a “No” vote was the prochild vote.

I want to thank Gov. Stitt again for coming and speaking in Ponca City at City Central recently. There was a good crowd. We were excited to welcome him to our community, and I had the special privilege of interviewing him on my radio stations.

In closing, don’t forget to fill out your census form. Our state desperately needs the federal funding tied to the census population counts. Your answers will impact how much federal funding our state and counties receive for important government services like healthcare, education and public safety for the next ten years.

We currently have the 42nd worst participation rate. If we don’t get closer to 100%, our federal funds will go to those states with higher participation rates.

You can fill yours out at www.2020Census.org or by calling toll-free 1-844-330-2020.

You can contact me by calling (405) 521-5581 or emailing Bill.Coleman@oksenate.gov.