I am starting the column this week with exciting news. House Bill 2398, my bill that would provide mental health coverage to first responders, passed the Senate.
By addressing mental health concerns, we are equipping first responders with the tools to support their mental well-being and improve their job performance.
I am proud to say that we are one step closer to offering mental health coverage for our first responders.
For even more exciting news, an Oklahoma educator made national news when she was named National Teacher of the Year for 2023. This is the first time Oklahoma has had a national winner since 1964.
Rebecka Peterson is a math teacher; her classes ranged from Intermediate Algebra to Advanced Placement Calculus at Union High School for the past 11 years. She was named Oklahoma Teacher of the Year before being named a finalist for the national award last month.
Rebecka will spend a year as an ambassador for students and teachers, where she will travel across the nation to encourage and attract more people to teach. Congratulations, Rebecka! On another note, Gov. Stitt signed Senate Bill 613 into law, banning gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies for children under the age of 18. Penalties for violation include felony charges, license revocation, and civil actions, which a parent or guardian can file.
Last year, the governor called for a statewide ban on all irreversible gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies on minors, and the Legislature delivered.
SB 613 protects children and families from making life-changing, irreversible decisions until the child reaches some level of maturity to better understand the risks and irreversible effects of gender transition procedures. I am pleased to see this legislation signed into law and will always stand to protect Oklahoma’s children.
Lastly, we’ve seen some movement with the education plan, and hopefully, we can all come to an agreement quickly. The process has been slower than I like. However, I remain committed to a plan that supports all students, parents, teachers and schools in the state. I hope to have an update in the next couple of weeks on the finalized plan.
It is truly an honor and privilege to represent you at the State Capitol. As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me with any concerns at 405-557-7302 or neil. email@example.com.
Rep. Neil Hays, a Republican, serves District 13 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which covers McIntosh, Muskogee and Wagoner counties.