Work continues at the Capitol, although we spend much of the interim in our respective districts meeting with constituents. Interim studies will be getting underway soon. More than 100 Senate and House studies were recently approved by leadership. The studies will run through Friday, Oct. 30.
They will touch on several issues including teleworking for state employees, benefit debit cards, minority businesses, law enforcement training, transportation, diabetes, prisons and other important issues.
These public meetings can be viewed live on the Senate and House websites. Presentations will be available online as well. If you have an interest or expertise in any of the issues and would like to participate, please contact the legislator who requested the study.
The purpose of these meetings is to provide a broad perspective of each issue from the public and private sector as well as private citizens. The information is then used to craft legislation for the upcoming session if the author feels it’s necessary.
I’ve been busy traveling around the district and meet- ing with other legislators and state agencies on various issues. I recently took a tour in Lawton with Director of Commerce Brent Kisling to meet with companies who have received funding through the Reboot, Bounce Back or Oklahoma Business Relief Programs. I applaud our Oklahoma businesses for their dedication and perseverance during this difficult time to keep our state running.
I also attended another meeting at the Capitol recently to hear how and if Oklahoma can rank among the top 10 states in education nationally. Alpha Plus Educational Systems in Oklahoma City presented a matrix and prototype of what our state would need to do to make that happen. The data is promising but we have some work to do.
As for unemployment, I wanted to remind everyone about resources we have locally to help you secure your benefits. There are 28 Oklahoma Works Job Centers around the state where you can get help with your benefit claims. The Lawton American Job Center is located at 1711 SW 11th Street and you can set up an appointment by calling 580- 357-3500. Regardless of where you live or work, you can go to any of the resource centers, which are listed at http://oklahoma- works.gov/about/oklahoma- works-centers/.
Again, if you’re looking for employment or you have jobs available, please visit www. okjobmatch.com. You may not realize it but there are many companies around the state looking to grow and expand who are hiring. Regardless of how big or small your business, if you have job openings, please post them. We need to make sure that as many Oklahomans know about this employment resource as possible so share it with everyone. There are thousands of available jobs statewide. We just have to help those who are unemployed find them.
In closing, the deadline to complete your 2020 census form is rapidly approaching. Although it could change, the deadline to participate online or by calling in is Sept. 30. Your communities, counties and the state as a whole depend on federal funding that is determined by the U.S. Census. This is simply a population count to decide how billions in federal funds will be appropriated.
For every Oklahoman counted, the state will get around $17,000 in additional federal funding for critical services over the next decade. The state’s participation rate (58%) is currently lagging the national average (over 63%) and our Senate district is further behind than that (barely 48%).
We must get more people to submit their census forms in our district or our counties stand to miss out on tens of millions in federal funding. Jefferson County is just over 38% while Cotton and Tillman are over 45%. Comanche is over 55% and Stephens is over 56%.
When you don’t participate, you’re essentially sending your portion of federal funding to other states. Please take the few minutes to fill out your census. You can do it online at 2020census.gov or by calling 844-330-2020. Your answers will remain confidential and will strictly be used by the federal government to determine city, county and state population numbers.
Thank you again for the privilege of serving our district and the State of Oklahoma in the Senate. If I can be of any assistance, you can reach me at (405) 521-5563 or Chris. Kidd@oksenate.gov