Communications & Public Affairs
Feb. 16, 2022
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wes Carter, Press Secretary
Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus
(405) 962-7674 email@example.com
Democrats Announce 2022 Legislative Priorities
OKLAHOMA CITY — The House Democratic Caucus on Wednesday presented their legislative priorities for the 2022 Legislative Session.
The Democratic Caucus highlighted policy initiatives in five primary areas: transparency and accountability, health care, criminal justice, education, and the state economy.
House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, spoke to the intent of Democratic policies and reiterated the caucus’ recent success to elevate ideas focused on Oklahomans. Virgin named the EITC, protecting education funding, and eliminating the state grocery tax as examples.
“Our goal for the 2022 Session is to provide and support compassionate, common-sense ideas focused on the needs of Oklahomans,” Virgin said. “What you won’t find in our priorities are tax credits or cuts to large corporations, legislation that restricts voting rights, or attacks on tribal sovereignty.”
The Democratic Caucus recognized the current lack of transparency in the Capitol and highlighted the caucus’ desire to require the House of Representatives to follow the Open Meetings Act.
“As Democrats and Oklahomans, we believe in accountability and transparency,” said Rep. Andy Fugate, D-Del City. “We believe in a government that works, and the best way to make sure it’s working efficiently and effectively is to let everyone see what we are doing.”
Infant and maternal mortality, prescription drug prices, and expanding mental health services were the focus of the health care portion of the press conference.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and related social and economic issues have negatively affected many people’s mental health and created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness,” said Rep. Merleyn Bell, D-Norman. “Medications are too expensive for many Oklahomans, and we rank 7th in infant mortality. If we do nothing, the issues surrounding mental health, prescription drug prices, and infant mortality will grow larger. We must act now.”
Democrats recognized that for Oklahoma to move forward, the state must first address the daily injustices in the criminal justice system.
“Oklahomans deserve a criminal justice system that prioritizes reformation and not incarceration,” said Rep. Jason Lowe, D-OKC. “House Democrats put forward legislation that bans chokeholds by police officers, requires the use of body cameras when available, and ends the state’s reliance on fines and fees. These issues are hurting Oklahomans, and Democrats continue to provide common-sense solutions on how to fix them.”
The fight against school vouchers, teacher retention, and accountability for education is a key focus of the Democratic Caucus.
“Teachers are leaving the state and the profession due to the disrespect felt from their state government, and it is a problem the Legislature must address,” said Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa. “We can’t solve this problem by taking more money out of public schools or putting on our blinders when education money goes missing. We need common-sense education reform, and the initiatives we put forward today are a step in the right direction.”
Finally, House Democrats spoke on how they plan to put more money back into the pockets of Oklahomans.
“We heard from the governor that the economy is doing well,” said Rep. Cyndi Munson, D-OKC. “If the economy is doing well, we should be able to ensure working Oklahomans receive a livable wage. By removing barriers to employment for Oklahomans released from prison, we can ensure more Oklahomans find their way to a path that doesn’t lead to incarceration.
“Finally, we can provide direct relief to Oklahomans by ending the state portion of the grocery tax. These are not far-left ideas but common-sense solutions that benefit all Oklahomans.”
To find out more about the Oklahoma House Democratic Caucus’ 2022 Legislative Priorities, visit www.oklahomafocused.com.