Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, is calling the 2019 legislative session the most productive of his tenure in the State Senate, in terms of both budgeting priorities and public policy that was signed into law. Lawmakers were able to conclude their work a week before the constitutional deadline of May 31.
“We were able to make targeted investments in all of our core services of government, including education, health and mental health, transportation and public safety,” Standridge said. “All of our agenda items were signed into law, including budget and policy legislation prioritizing education, creating greater transparency in the budget process, legislation strengthening government accountability and in the area of criminal justice reform.
Standridge said he was very pleased by the support he received from fellow legislators and Gov. Kevin Stitt on key pieces of legislation he authored this past session, including House Bill 1365, creating the Office of Mobility and Public Transit under the Department of transportation.
“I was the Senate principal author of this bill which we believe can help us address critical unmet transportation needs in our communities through the use of innovative pilot programs such as autonomous vehicles and micro-transit,” Standridge said. “We’re really focused on the positive impact this could have on the lives of Oklahomans with disabilities who currently may struggle to meet their transportation needs, whether it’s just getting to work, doctor’s appointments or being able to get to the store and other day-to-day needs. I think this is going to be a real game-changer for a lot of people.”
Standridge also pointed to his “Oklahoma First” initiatives that have been signed into law, including Senate bill 240 and House Bill 2330.
“Every year, Oklahoma sends millions upon millions of dollars out of state and even out of the country on contracts that I am convinced could easily be fulfilled by Oklahomans at Oklahoma companies,” Standridge said. “These are my initial efforts to guide some of those contracts and work back to Oklahomans. When that money stays here, it gets reinvested here, creating greater wealth within our own state instead of sending it to Florida, Texas or halfway around the world.”
Standridge also succeed in enacting Senate Bill 378, which allows third-party commercial driver license (CDL) testing helping Oklahoma address a costly testing backlog in an industry that is an important part of the state’s economy.
“Testing backlogs and delays have cost Oklahomans $5 million in lost wages every year, plus there are losses from reduced economic output and in taxes,” Standridge said. “Third-party testing will get thousands of Oklahomans licensed and on the job.”
Standridge also won full passage for Senate Bill 162, which he says will help Oklahomans with terminal conditions have easier access to doctors who can prescribe medical marijuana.
“We clarified that doctors must be licensed by the State of Oklahoma, rather than requiring that they are board-certified. It’s a phrase that was misused in the state question wording that inadvertently required doctors to be certified as specialists. There are many Oklahomans in hospice care that may only see their hospice care physician, who may only be a general practitioner,” Standridge said. “This legislation corrects that, and limits batch size testing to the ten pound industry standard, better ensuring the safety of the product for patients.
Standridge was also gratified to win passage of Senate Bill 338, honoring the life and service of Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper, Lt. Heath Myer whose life was cut short in an accident after a high speed chase on I-35 in Cleveland County.
“Lt. Myer died in the line of duty. This designation enables us to honor and remember his life and service,” Standridge said.
Another measure by Standridge to be signed into law was Senate Bill 198, which calls for all state agencies and all political subdivisions of the state to adopt a social networking and social media policy.
“I had an interim study last year to look at the impact bullying is having on Oklahoma’s youth, and it was eye-opening and heartbreaking. Cyber-bullying is one of the abusive behaviors we heard about over and over, and often teens and kids learn it from some of the adults in their lives,” Standridge said. “The idea is that we should expect the best out of every citizen that is paid by the hard earned tax dollars of their fellow citizens. Private sector companies and organizations increasingly are adopting social media policies—implementing such policies for government entities is a positive step forward.”