Representative Melissa Provenzano

Hi, I’m Melissa Provenzano and I represent the people of Oklahoma’s 79th District.



Assistant Minority Leader

59th Legislature

News & Announcements

Nov 10, 2023
Recent Posts

Mental Health Caucus Hosts Workforce Interim Study

OKLAHOMA CITY – Chairs of the Oklahoma Legislative Mental Health Caucus—Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa, Rep. Melissa Provenzano , D-Tulsa, Sen. Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan—hosted a joint interim study on Tuesday before the House Public Health Committee about the most pressing challenges facing Oklahoma’s behavioral health workforce. “Oklahoma faces critical shortages of nearly every type of behavioral health clinician,” said Boatman. “The Legislature has made investments in behavioral health workforce development, including the passage of House Bill 2036 earlier this year to create a pilot incentive program through the OSU Medical Authority. However, more needs to be done, and I encourage my colleagues in both chambers to seriously consider additional investments during the next legislative session.” During the interim study, Tequia Sier, project director for behavioral health workforce at Healthy Minds Policy Initiative, noted that Oklahoma’s psychiatrist workforce is 22% smaller than the per-capita national average. Sier mentioned the state's psychologist workforce is less than half as robust as the rest of the nation and Oklahoma also meets less than 29% of the estimated need for psychiatric advanced practice nurses. "This study provided a poignant look at the gap between the size of our mental health workforce and the need by Oklahomans, in particular psychologists and psychiatrists,” said Provenzano. “The limited number of university internships and residency opportunities in Oklahoma means our future doctors must overwhelmingly move out of state to complete their training. When they go, they tend not to return. It’s time for Oklahoma to grow our capacity and retain these doctors here at home.” Sier said the state’s degree programs supporting behavioral health careers are graduating more students than ever, but not enough to meet the state’s growing need for treatment services after workforce attrition. In-state training opportunities are particularly limited for the most-needed, most highly trained behavioral health professions — psychiatry and psychology. “The challenges facing Oklahoma’s behavioral health workforce are especially acute in our rural communities,” said Garvin. “We need to grow this workforce in ways that help Oklahomans better access services and find quality care for themselves and their families.” “Despite the dire urgency, this study was hopeful,” said Kirt. “It showed us that we do not have to accept long waits for care or underprepared professionals. We have a clear roadmap for improving Oklahoma’s behavioral health workforce through boosts in investment.” Recommendations for strategies to address the state’s key challenges and opportunities included incentivizing students into expedient training pathways, expanding training that fuels in-state retention of critically needed clinicians, enhancing educational programs tailored to treatment system needs and providing upskilling opportunities for paraprofessionals. “Policymakers have practical and realistic options for addressing the state's most pressing behavioral health workforce challenges,” said Healthy Minds Executive Director Zack Stoycoff. “With roughly $30 million in targeted funding and policy initiatives, Oklahoma can significantly strengthen workforce pipelines to meet the state’s growing need for behavioral health professionals.” Other speakers at the interim study included Dr. Melissa Craft, associate dean for clinical affairs at University of Oklahoma College of Nursing; Dr. Julie Miller-Cribbs, director of the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work at University of Oklahoma ; Dr. Sara Coffey, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences; Jim Serratt, of Parkside Psychiatric Hospital and Clinic; and Josh Cantwell, COO of GRAND Mental Health.

Aug 29, 2023
Recent Posts

House Democrats Call on Speaker of the House to Form Special Bipartisan Committee to Investigate State Superintendent

OKLAHOMA CITY – Today, House Democrats called on the Speaker of the House to form a special bipartisan committee to investigate possible impeachment charges for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters amid recent bomb threats at Tulsa area elementary schools believed to be linked to Walters' rhetoric about Tulsa Public Schools. “Oklahomans deserve a public school system where parents, students and teachers feel safe to go to school and the needs of our students are prioritized over dangerous political rhetoric,” said House Democratic Caucus Chair Trish Ranson, D-Stillwater. House Democratic Leader Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City said the special bipartisan committee would investigate the current state superintendent to determine if his actions rise to the level of impeachment. “Allocating funds for public education should be free of corruption or political gain. There is already evidence of Walters’ corruption through misspent federal dollars along with discrepancies in his campaign finances. Paired with his toxic rhetoric that is impacting the safety of our schools, we believe it is more than enough to, at the very least, investigate him,” Leader Munson said. Rep. Provenzano mentioned that the rhetoric from the state superintendent has been harmful and potentially compromised the safety of school children. She also believes he is willfully neglecting his duty of office. “The rhetoric from the state superintendent has, up until now, been designed to distract and ?sow chaos. But now, elementary schools in the Tulsa area have received bomb threats as a ?result of disinformation shared by him. Our children deserve to be safe. The willful neglect of ?that duty, even in the highest offices in our state, cannot and will not be ?overlooked. Enough is enough,” Rep. Provenzano added. Leader Munson said, "We share in the growing frustration of Oklahomans across our state who want action to address their deep concerns for the future of public education. It is now time for action." -END-

Aug 15, 2023

Oklahoma Military Order of the Purple Heart Selects Rep. Provenzano as Legislator of the Year

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Andy Fugate, D-Del City and Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa were recently awarded Legislator of the Year by the Oklahoma Military Order of the Purple Heart. The organization represents combat-wounded veterans and continues to serve our country by helping America’s active-duty service members, veterans, their families and those who have borne the burden of battle, according to their website. “I count as one of my highest honors to be recognized for fighting for our military veterans and their families. They represent us all over the world and I’m proud to represent them here at home,” House Democratic Floor Leader Andy Fugate said. Military Order of the Purple Heart's legislative goals include veteran’s healthcare, veteran’s and survivors’ benefits, accountability, education and employment. “Many thanks to the Oklahoma Military Order of the Purple Heart for this honor. My dad was a veteran, and he was painfully honest about life after service and the challenges it posed. I will always do what is needed and necessary to support our veterans. They have earned every ounce of support and effort we can provide,” Rep. Provenzano said.