Getting Ready for Session
Mike Seals - October 15, 2020 10:15 pm
By Sen. Bill Coleman
Work continues at the Capitol with seven more interim studies scheduled by the end of the month. The House will wrap up their studies this month as well.
In the General Government Committee, we have an interesting study coming up on Oct. 30. We will get an update on state employees who have been teleworking and the benefits or drawbacks of allowing such work. Telework has forced our state agencies to make significant investments to upgrade their technology. We’re going to look at how technology was utilized by state government pre-COVID and currently.
Many other studies have found that allowing telework is beneficial in many ways. It’s attractive to younger workers because it frees up their time that would normally be spent getting ready and on the commute. It saves workers money from them not having to pay for daycare, gas and other normal work-related expenses. Workers typically claim higher productivity and overall better mood when allowed to work from home.
Due to the benefits, teleworking can be a great recruiting tool for businesses and government agencies. This is something our state government desperately needs as turnover is extremely high as younger workers use state jobs as stepping stones before seeking higher paying jobs in the private sectors. Turnover is extremely costly not only in training man hours but millions of dollars annually each year. State agencies must do better at competing with the public and private sectors.
It’ll be interesting to see if productivity, customer response rates, customer satisfaction or other areas of state work have changed from telework.
On Tuesday, I also virtually attended a redistricting meeting. The House and Senate are gearing up to begin the arduous task of redrawing legislative lines based on 2020 Census population counts. Each district must have relatively the same amount of people to ensure fair and equal representation. Based on the 2010 Census, each Senate district includes just over 78,000 citizens while every House district covers more than 37,000 Oklahomans. Our population has increased so the districts will be changing.
Last week, there was also a Senate Republican Caucus rules committee that met at the Capitol.
On Friday, I’m attending the 2020 Annual Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association Legislative Awards lunch. I’m proud of the work we accomplished this year to improve our criminal justice system while protecting our brave law enforcement officers.
Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to attend the unveiling of a special painting celebrating our state’s history. The painting is of the 100 steers that ran through downtown Pawhuska in recognition of the state’s centennial. It’s a gorgeous piece and I’m hoping to get it on display at the Capitol.
Last Friday, my colleague from southwest Oklahoma City, Sen. Paul Rosino, came for a tour of Ponca City. I’m always so proud to show off our beautiful community. We also got to tour Archein Aerospace at the Ponca City Airport. The senator is the co-chair of the Legislative Aerospace Caucus and has been a driving force behind strengthening Oklahoma’s aviation and aerospace industry. A retired, decorated Navy officer, he worked at Tinker Air Force Base for nearly a decade where he served in Strategic Communications Wing ONE in support of their fleet of E-6B aircraft.
You may not know this, but aerospace is our state’s second largest industry and will soon pass oil and gas as the state’s strongest economic driver.
The election is right around the corner. Don’t forget if you want to vote by mail, you must request your absentee ballot by Tues., Oct. 27 by 5pm. It’s imperative you also return it as quickly as possible.
You can contact me by calling (405) 521-5581 or emailing [email protected]