REAL ID, midwives and vaccines…

This week there were several committee votes and the REAL ID vote made it to the Senate floor for approval.  I voted in favor of the REAL ID proposal for two reasons.

First, this is a federal mandate and Oklahoma was facing a rapidly approaching hard deadline.

Secondly, and more importantly, the bill offers the choice to opt out of a REAL ID compliant license.

HB 1845 will ensure Oklahomans who choose to get a REAL ID compliant driver license or ID card will be able to fly commercially or enter federal facilities. Oklahomans doing business at Tinker AFB and other federal facilities are asking for this option.  Additionally, the provisions of the bill allow those wishing to obtain a noncompliant license to do that as well. Those provisions leave Oklahomans without a valid REAL ID-compliant state ID the ability to use a passport for travel or identification when needed.

We also heard several other bills in Senate committees this week.  This step in the legislative process takes place before a bill can advance to the Senate floor for consideration.

Some of the proposals we debated in committee included Senate Bill 747, which would have prevented a midwife from performing services related to a VBAC birth unless it was in a hospital setting or due to an emergency situation.

I supported this measure because it would have added a layer of protection for both the health of the mother and the baby, but the bill was defeated in the Health and Human Services committee.

Senate Bill 83, also known as the vaccination bill, was approved in committee this week.  The original bill did not include parental choice initially, and I did not support it.  It would have removed personal exemptions from the mandatory vaccines children must currently have before attending public schools.

Medical exemptions would have been the only exception left in place in the original legislation.  I was able to support the eventual committee substitute that was passed in committee, which leaves the personal exemptions as valid, but would require parents to view a short video before opting to exempt their children out of vaccines.

This bill had many contact our office in both support and non-support of the bill and caused me to do much research – on both sides of the issue.

As I cast my vote, two thoughts confirmed my vote: 1) This bill will keep Oklahoma from becoming a mandated vaccine state (like California – either by legislative or judicial act), and 2) my daughter and daughters-in-law were supportive.  It was passed and, most likely, will go to the Senate floor.

Senate Bill 560 is the school choice bill that’s been in the news lately, but was laid over this week and will likely remain dormant for now.  I do not like vouchers, but was interested in SB560 because it targeted families at 1.0 – 2.0 poverty levels.  Tulsa’s mayor recently announced that citizens in a particular zip code in Tulsa have a 10-year less life expectancy because of where they live.

Part of that issue can be attributed to education, and there’s no doubt there are some children whose lives can be changed with just a little help.

Tulsa Public Schools have initiated some promising programs in the same area, and I don’t believe this bill would have been detrimental to Tulsa Public Schools; instead it would have provided more educational options for families in lower income brackets as a compliment to the TPS programs/schools.

I’m looking forward to a productive legislative session and I always welcome your questions and concerns.

Please feel free to contact me at the state Capitol by calling 405-521-5620 or by email at rader@oksenate.gov.