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Jun 14, 2024
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One-Time Appropriation Gives FFA Leadership Camp a New Lease

Legislation funding much-needed renovations of the Oklahoma FFA Alumni Leadership Camp, located near Wagoner, has been signed into law. House Bill 2927 grants a one-time $9.5 million appropriation to improve housing options at the camp and purchase maintenance equipment for the buildings and grounds. The alumni camp, which began 52 years ago, has been held at the Wagoner location for over four decades. Six other Oklahoma CareerTech student organizations utilize the property as well, but deteriorating conditions recently forced FFA to relocate its leadership event. House Speaker Pro Tempore Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, is an FFA alum and former FFA camp student director who coauthored HB2927. He said the campground is synonymous with the alumni camp experience. "This camp has been a part of the FFA experience for decades, but previously the children and grandchildren of alumni who grew up hearing about this site had no choice but to relocate," Hilbert said. "These repairs couldn't have come at a better time. Protecting that history is important, and I'm thankful this one-time appropriation will help preserve that legacy for many more generations." Jacey Fye, executive director of the Oklahoma FFA Foundation, thanked legislators for their support. “This will make a positive impact on Oklahoma FFA members for generations to come,” Fye said. Oklahoma FFA Alumni Council Secretary Jarrod Johnson is a former camper who can attest to the value of the FFA leadership experience. “Without this appropriation,” Johnson said. “A permanent home for our camp and other events would only be a dream. Rep. Hilbert made it a reality.” Shawnee business owner Randy Gilbert serves on the board of directors and is past president of the Oklahoma FFA Foundation. He, too, is excited to see the camp renovated. “The opportunities that mold our Oklahoma FFA students will continue to make them the best leaders in our state,” said Gilbert, who is also an FFA alum. “We appreciate the long relationship we have with the Oklahoma FFA Association." Oklahoma FFA Alumni Advisor Kurt Murray, who has overseen the Alumni Camp for more than 20 years, said, “I’m excited about going back. The camp will be open to FFA members from all 366 chapters in all 77 Oklahoma counties.” Murray expects it will also be used by other agricultural youth organizations, other CTSOs, church camps, corporate retreats, family reunions, and hobby or special interest groups. The $9.5 million appropriation will be administered by the Oklahoma Department of Ag, Food and Forestry. After the renovation is complete, the campground will be owned and managed by Alumni Leadership Camp, LLC, a non-profit group wholly owned by Oklahoma FFA Alumni. The camp will operate from revenues generated through rentals and usage by public and private groups, including FFA.



Jun 14, 2024
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Representatives Commend Governor's Line-Item Veto of Education Budget Limits Bill

A group of legislators on Friday praised the governor's line-item veto of Sections 15 and 16 of Senate Bill 1122, which would have placed spending limits on the State Department of Education (SDE) for its Fiscal Year 2025 budget, which goes into effect July 1. The statement is issued by Reps. Chad Caldwell, R-Enid; Chris Banning, R-Bixby; Sherrie Conley, R-Newcastle; Rusty Cornwell, R-Vinita; Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont; David Hardin, R-Stilwell; JJ Humphrey, R-Lane; Tom Gann, R-Inola; Jim Grego, R-Wilburton; Mark Lawson, R-Sapulpa; Mark Lepak, R-Claremore; Cody Maynard, R-Durant; Jim Olsen, R-Roland; Clay Staires, R-Skiatook; Kevin West, R-Moore; and Rick West, R-Heavener. "We'd like to thank Governor Stitt for his thoughtful line-item veto of Sections 15 and 16 of Senate Bill 1122," they said. "These portions of the bill would have done nothing to improve the education of Oklahoma students and instead would have significantly damaged the Department of Education's ability to carry out its mission." The lawmakers said Section 15 of SB1122 would have required SDE to apply for every federal grant, while Section 16 would have included provisions that forbid SDE from using any money to secure media interviews or public relations, or for other public promotional purposes. The group noted that no other agency is subject to these restrictions. State agencies are granted the autonomy to decide which grants to apply for and almost every state agency spends money to communicate to the public about particular programs or services offered. Section 16 would have singled out and severely limited SDE in this function. The lawmakers spoke about the Teacher of the Year program, teacher recruitment efforts, certain financial disclosures, and other public relations messages that would have been hampered should this measure have been signed into law. On Friday afternoon, the governor issued Executive Order 2024-12, which prohibits all state agencies, rather than inequitably highlighting a specific agency, from entering into sole source contracts with public relations, marketing, or communications firms and vendors, as well as requires all PR vendors be procured through a 30-day request for proposal.



Jun 12, 2024
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Newton, Garvin Comment on Prior Authorization Act Being Signed into Law

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Carl Newton, R-Cherokee, this week commented on the Ensuring Transparency in Prior Authorization Act being signed into law.    House Bill 3190 establishes timeframes and policies for prior authorizations by insurance companies when health care services and procedures are sought.   "I'm very pleased we were able to get this act passed and signed into law," Newton said. "This will be great for Oklahoman patients seeking care as it will allow their doctors more time to spend with them and less time on administrative functions. The act also ensures medical professionals are the ones determining what qualifies for prior authorization."   Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, is Senate author of the measure.   “I’m thrilled House Bill 3190 has been signed into law to simplify the prior authorization process and make it more transparent for physicians and patients alike,” Garvin said. “This measure will allow doctors to focus on treating patients instead of getting bogged down by tedious paperwork. Notably, this law also ensures medical professionals and their patients, not insurance bureaucrats, are determining the best course of treatment.”   The act requires health insurance companies to: Employ licensed medical professionals to make determinations that deny care; Modernize authorization systems; Publish prior authorization requirements online; and Honor prior authorizations for at least 45 days, or six months in the case of chronic conditions.   Newton said he worked with multiple health care providers, insurance groups and patient advocates to ensure the language is clear for everyone involved.    The bill passed both the House and the Senate unanimously. It takes effect Jan. 1, 2025.