Senate approves trio of bills; Santa isn't going anywhere

by Sen. Jessica Garvin

Last week, the Senate cleared its second major deadline week of this session with a lengthy, 13-hour floor hearing, in which we advanced numerous bills to the House. March 14 was the deadline for bills to be heard in their chamber of origin, meaning Senate bills that advanced from committee had to pass off the Senate floor last week in order to continue through the legislative process.

My Senate colleagues and I voted on more than 100 bills last week, sending some of our best policy proposals to the House. I was surprised and honored last week when the Conservative Political Action Conference, commonly known as CPAC, gave me a Conservative Achievement award for my voting record. I was one of a handful of Oklahoma lawmakers to be recognized for my commitment to supporting the state's deeply held Republican values.

My three bills to boost state retirement and pension benefits for retired police officers, firefighters and Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers all unanimously passed the full Senate last week. Leading public safety organizations say these measures are key to helping them recruit and retain more law enforcement officers and first responders. I am proud of these three bills, as I know they directly impact every community in our district in a positive way. In addition to the unanimous support on the three pension bills, I received unanimous support for a bill that eliminates the statute of limitations on rape convictions when someone confesses to the crime or new DNA evidence becomes available. Senate Bill 1658 is one of Attorney General Gentner Drummond's legislative priorities this year. This bill is a huge win for victims of rape, an issue that impacts predominately women across the country.

One of my most unusual bills this year has to do with Santa Claus. Yes, you read that right. The Office of Juvenile Affairs asked me to introduce legislation to eliminate the agency's Santa Claus Commission. At its core, this bill is simply streamlining state government and getting rid of an unnecessary commission. The Santa Claus Commission has long coordinated a program to provide Christmas gifts to children in group homes across the state. These children in state custody will still receive presents at Christmas time.

Senate Bill 1754 just simplifies the process by allowing agency staff to coordinate the gift-giving program without having to rely on a separate commission. Some of my Senate colleagues have joked that I'm trying to kick Santa out of Oklahoma, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Santa is always welcome in the Sooner State and at the Garvin household.

To stay informed about what's happening in the Senate, visit, along with my

Facebook page @SenatorJessicaGarvin. Follow the main Senate Facebook

@oksenate or the Senate GOP page @OKSenateGOP.

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