Human Services Committee, Senate Health And Human Services Committee, Commissioner discussed on The Oklahoma Observercast
This past week the last week in February was the first step on week of two thousand twenty the Oklahoma legislature. All bills had a pass out of committee in their chamber of origin by Thursday afternoon. If you don't know we'll tell you. Committee deadline-week is full of legislative shenanigans. And this week was no different. This was the week where the language in bills is suddenly replaced by committee substitute language. It's the week of Zombie. Bills revived from the previous session where they sat waiting to be placed on the committee calendar with the committee chairs and if the member running a bill is high ranking enough there can be some serious twists and turns in the language they swap in and out as committee substitutes. For instance Senate bill four fifty six and February two thousand nineteen bill run by Senate president. Pro Tem Greg. Tree was one of the quintet of bills eventually signed by the governor that gave him control of five new state agencies but during committing deadline. Better the week before. The governor signed these bills Senator Tree because he can as majority leader introduced almost entirely new language and Senate bill four fifty six as a committee sub as part of the back and forth between the House and the Senate over. Who's bills would be the ones. The governor signed and which version of the composition of agency board. Compositions would make final passage committee used to be in. The committee bills went to in the Oklahoma House. However that's no longer the case well used to be an unassuming committee is now chaired by quiet. Lower ranking in relatively new house member Representatives Act Taylor and culture by Representative Lindy Tiger are pretty big figure out in Kotova homeland but in the committee are some high powered. Legislators floor leader John eccles from South Oklahoma City who controls everything that sees the light of day on the House floor in one of his deputy for leaders represented Dome Pifer as well as the majority leader. Josh West in the Judiciary Chair Chris Kennedy on this committee. We see some interesting antics for lack of a better word like can sit agenda that was passed with Multiple Committee sabs Thursday morning. This means committee members were forced to vote in bulk on twenty two bills many of which they had not seen the language for on the committee subs because there have been placed the night before no crazy tactics were were employed to pass some of the other very important bills out of committee but between the surprise. Consider Agenda in the House Rules Committee and other bills that passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Their passage goes to the heart of our theme. This session on ABS overcast. There are many bills moving quickly along this session. That will enable the governor's agenda to consolidate both state agencies and power in the governor's Office Democratic senators Jerry Hicks on the health and Human Services Committee that pass legislation this week weakening the job qualifications for agency head heads like the Commissioner of Health as well as eliminating the commissioner of mental health at the same time a bill in the House pass out of committee consolidating the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority scenario skirt and hex both expressed alarm at the passage of the bills. Watering-down eligibility requirements for agency directors like the Commissioner of. How in the has to be noted that currently the agency directors governors has appointed in twenty nineteen simultaneously have not gotten final. Senate confirmation nor does a single one of his agency appointees meet the statutory requirements for the position in so we see legislation. Lightning those requirements in order to compensate. I am synergy occurred on from district. Thirty which is northwest. Lucidity Workers Bethany and village. I'm Senator Kerry Hicks Senate district forty which is also northwest. Oklahoma City Avenue also encompasses Nichols Hills. Village a little bit of Bethany workers so this week on a deadline. We community specifically Right there was a lot of that but specifically I'm talking about legislation that evert on in the Human Services Committee lesson the basically all of occasions sport the Commissioner of Health. How went through and surgery at your reactions and responses to that bill so as a member of the health and Human Services Committee You know I think. The frustrating thing about some of the bills that have advance out of our committee. This change or that title is title is off title is stricken Which is somewhat of a you know. We don't know what's GONNA end up in here before the final vote but just know that it's a work in progress meetings sometimes depending on this subject matter. That's really a positive sign in that the authors willing to come to the table and continue to make sure that informative conversations are up need however was what we're seeing as it relates to potential consolidation. The rewriting of statutes surrounding requirements for serving the commissioner. I think it indicates that there's a real move to dismiss qualifications or work experience. That would leave to kind of this. Holistic approach to tackling a really tough thing surrounding Oklahoma's health care. So you know it's it's that even when we don't know what finally guages they continue to advance. You know observed that just as a as an observer was deeply troubled. I mean you know the eligibility requirements that typical. You know things like a master's degree in a health related field. Were being actually having a medicine or a science degree and those are not unreasonable things to ask for something that's leading our health agencies. I mean I think there's been a dismissal of professions whole professionals are being dismissed as they talk about removing eligibility removing experience consolidated agencies without understanding emissions to me. It's just a dismissal. All that expertise everything that's been learned in a whole field. Just gets dismissed. I saw in finance bill to get rid of the qualifications for the chief information officer and not only did they get a vacation. Got Rid of the salary range that was written in there. And this is an appointment by the governor and the top of the sorry inches. One hundred and seventy five thousand dollars and they're saying it wasn't high enough and I think there's an unrealistic view of what quality candidate would be for that position. If we're not expecting higher better things go ahead while she was somewhat offers the controllable to make the churches you the language that was kind of used in committee during questioning was that. There's just these are just a check off system so to speak in. This is the this is one less box to Chattanooga meaningless meaningless items And so the reality is that it's not just removing a box. It's it's removing the entire checklist. All of the language that was currently statute has been completely eliminated. And so we're hearing these fewer their riders such sometimes the whole section being a repeal. And so. We're hearing that obviously won't show up that way in final form but we won't be involved in the conversations between now and then and I think that's what continues to make us. You worried were frustrated in that you know. Those conversations do happen behind closed doors and if we want to talk about accountable and transparent government then there should be a better vetting process to what we're currently being asked to do by the governor's office when the other big thing and I think this theme frankly. The session has been just a haphazard and arbitrary nature of decision making that it seems as far as we can tell the things are being planned law second sick back of the Napkin Plan. And you're going to consolidate agencies so there's not a pre work that to study consequences there's not an analysis of what's been done in the past. Why those decisions have been made. I talked to someone the other day. Wanted to give me the history on the commissioners of Land Office because they're getting rid of eligibility requirements for that because the person that the governor has chosen.