Murdock's Minutes

Murdock bill authorizes veterinary scholarships, clarifies telemedicine statutes

 


We’ve now concluded work on the budget and policy legislation, and wrapped up the 2021 session at the Capitol. One of my final measures to present was Senate Bill 270, which updates various state laws related to veterinary medicine in the state – something that is extremely important to rural Oklahoma and our agriculture industry.

SB 270 provides authorization for the State Board of Veterinary Medicine Examiners to provide student scholarships for veterinary medicine to meet the needs of livestock producers in rural Oklahoma. A report issued earlier this year by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) declared 221 veterinary shortage areas throughout the country, including right here in Oklahoma. Increasing access to large animal veterinary care is extremely important to ranchers – improved health of their livestock results in a much greater return on their investments. This legislation also allows for Oklahoma State University’s rural veterinary training program to resume new program agreements to meet the needs of livestock producers in rural Oklahoma.


This session, we saw several bills moving through the Legislature dealing with telemedicine – something more people than ever took advantage of during the pandemic. SB 270 also addresses telemedicine in veterinary practices, clarifying in the statutes what can and can’t be done virtually. While we’ve seen legislation dealing with reciprocity for licensing for active military personnel and their spouses in a variety of professions, SB 270 will extend that same reciprocity for licensing in the profession of veterinary medicine. The measure also cleaned up outdated language related to licenses for nonveterinary equine dental care providers and nonveterinary reproductive services.


I’m also pleased that another bill approved last week will provide $3 million to OSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine for accreditation needs.

Even though the session has concluded, the Capitol won’t be quiet for very long – work on next year’s budget will soon begin, as our Appropriations Committee chair and Subcommittee chairs begin reviewing revenue and economic projections for the 2023 fiscal year.

In addition, within a few weeks, members will be submitting their requests for interim studies. These studies give members an opportunity to hold in-depth hearings on a variety of topics ahead of the legislative session. I plan to request a study to examine herbicide drift, which is something that occurs when farmers treat their crops, but the herbicide may drift and impact marijuana grow facilities. I think it’s extremely important to take a comprehensive look at this issue and the resulting liability concerns.


In July, members of the House and Senate will begin holding a series of town hall meetings on the congressional redistricting process. Five in-person town halls have been scheduled—one in each of the state’s five congressional districts, along with two virtual town halls for those who can’t attend one of the in-person meetings. Again, this is much like the legislative redistricting process we conducted throughout the legislative session. Every 10 years following the U.S. Census, the Legislature must redraw legislative and congressional district boundaries to adjust for population shifts. We’ll return in special session this coming fall to complete work on the congressional district boundaries, and if the final census data indicates any adjustments may be needed for the legislative districts, we’ll make those at that time as well.

The session may be over, but our work at the Capitol continues.

It is my honor to serve you in the Oklahoma State Senate. You can reach me by calling 405-521-5626 or emailing [email protected]

 

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