Senate Review by Senator James Leewright

Session begins the first Monday in February and must end no later than 5 p.m. on the last Friday in May.  In between, to keep the bills moving through the process in a timely, orderly way, we have a series of deadlines.  March 24 was the final day for the Senate to vote on bills that were filed by members of our chamber. 

At this point in the session, our Senate committees are voting on bills sent over from the House, and they are considering our legislation.  That’s why each bill must have a principal author from each chamber, working together to help move those bills forward.

This session, I’m principal Senate author for several House bills, including House Bill 3092, whose principal author in that chamber is Representative Kyle Hilbert, from Bristow.  There have been a lot of concerns voiced throughout the state and here in Senate District 12 about what materials are being made available to students in school libraries.  This past year, Representative Hilbert and I met with parents, administration, teachers and librarians to develop a commonsense approach to this issue.

Currently, there are no rules in state statute for the acquisition of school library materials.  This practice is tied to federal standards.  HB 3092 would decouple us from federal standards and set our standards in state statute.  Rather than being subject to the influences of Washington D.C., this bill is about local control, giving local school boards the statutory backing they need to make changes as needed to school library book acquisitions. 

I think it is important to point out that this bill adds the term “age appropriate” to our state standards.  That isn’t about the reading level, but rather it’s about the content of the material being appropriate for the age of the student.  I think that is extremely important and something parents expect.

This past week, I won approval for HB 3092 in the Senate Education Committee, and the measure now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.

Wednesday was AERO Oklahoma Day at the state Capitol, helping bring attention to the importance of aviation, aerospace and defense to Oklahoma.  Stakeholders from private industry, the military and education were part of that event. 

Throughout my service in the Legislature, I’ve authored and championed legislation in support of the aviation and aerospace industry, which has a $44 billion annual economic impact in Oklahoma, making it the second-largest industry in our state.  A report by the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission noted aerospace and defense industries in Oklahoma are job creator giants, directly employing about 120,000 professionals, including engineers, technicians, mechanics, pilots, air traffic controllers and more. The overall industry supports more than 205,000 total jobs when indirect and induced impacts are considered.

Students considering what they want to do in the future as well as adults looking at a career change should be interested in knowing that the average annual salary of a direct employee in aviation is $73,300.  Some of these great-paying jobs require a college degree, while others require a CareerTech certification that can be completed in a relatively short time. 

Oklahoma has a long history with the aviation industry, stretching back to before statehood.  It’s an industry that’s grown by about 250 percent since just 1999 and continues to fuel our efforts to diversify the economy and carry our state into the future.

I thank you for the privilege of being your voice at the state Capitol.  If you have any questions or concerns about legislation or other issues at the state level, please feel free to contact my office by calling 405-521-5528, or email