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The Journal

Stay Informed About the Latest House & Senate Bills






With motions, measures, committees, revisions and votes, keeping up with the Oklahoma legislature can be a difficult process. As Oklahoma’s early childhood advisory council, OPSR is staying in the know, so we can update you on the latest at the state capitol. Below you’ll find the House and Senate bills that we’re following most closely as they directly relate to Oklahoma’s early childhood system.

HB2212

About: Authored by Rep. Todd Russ (R-District 55), this bill would require advance notice of at least one week to child care providers by inspectors reviewing child care facilities for the quality rating improvement system (QRIS). Child care facilities go through several types of inspections and this bill is not to be confused with, for example, a safety inspection. Instead HB2212 is focused on QRIS because this type of inspection requires file preparation and often additional staff is needed during said inspection, so that a child care facility can continue with its regular operations. By receiving advance notice, child care providers can be sufficiently prepared.

Status: After being read to the House, this bill was referred to the Children, Youth and Family Services Committee. After amending the bill, it was passed out of committee on 2/14/19. For this bill to move forward, it will have to be passed in the House and then go to the Senate for the same process.

For a complete timeline of this bill, click here.

SB11

About: This bill, authored by Sen. Greg McCortney (R-District 13), would increase the age to enroll in certain grades, including the requirement that children must turn four-years-old by Aug. 1 in order to attend pre-K and five-years-old by Aug. 1 to attend kindergarten. Currently, Oklahoma children must turn five on or before Sept. 1 in order to attend kindergarten. This standard is aligned with the majority of other states who also implement a cutoff date of Sept. 1. Hawaii and Nebraska have the earliest cutoff dates, requiring children to turn five on or before July 31.

It’s important to note that this bill may have inequitable repercussions for lower-income families, single parents and vulnerable citizens who struggle to afford high quality child care and whose children would not be able to attend school.

“Delaying school entry for children, whether by changing the law or through parents’ voluntary decisions may…be disadvantageous for low-income children, who already begin school with relatively poor cognitive skills. First, the evidence is clear that out-of-school time contributes to the racial and social class achievement-gap more than does in-school time. Second, middle-income children are also more likely to attend high-quality preschool or daycare programs, which have been shown to contribute to children’s language and other cognitive skills…Children with special needs are especially disadvantaged by delaying entry into a formal education because they are less likely to be identified and receive early intervention” (Society for Research in Child Development, State Notes: Kindergarten, Education Commission of the States).

To learn more about studies on kindergarten entry cutoff age and educational achievement, click here.

Status: After being read to the Senate, this bill was referred to the Education Committee. After amending the bill, it was passed out of committee on 2/26/19. For this bill to move forward, it will have to be passed in the Senate and then go to the House for the same process.

To follow this bill, click here.

HB2038

About: Authored by Rep. Dean Davis (R-District 98), House Bill 2038 sets nutrition standards and physical activity requirements for child care settings. In addition it would eliminate screen time on certain devices for children under the age of two. The American Academy of Pediatrics has stated “…for children younger than 2 years, evidence for benefits of media is still limited, adult interaction with the child during media use is crucial, and there continues to be evidence of harm from excessive digital media use.”

Status: After being read to the House, this bill was referred to the Children, Youth and Family Services Committee. It passed out of committee on 2/20/19.  For this bill to move forward, it will have to be passed in the House and then go to the Senate for the same process.

To follow this bill, click here.

SB40*

About: Senate Bill 40 would cease Oklahoma’s Soon-to-be Sooners Program. This bill was authored by Sen. Paul Scott (R-District 43). Soon-to-be Sooners is a state Medicaid (SoonerCare) program that provides pregnancy related health care services to low-income, pregnant women. This program provided services to about 9,800 women in fiscal year 2018. If Soon-to-be Sooners is eliminated, the state would lose millions in federal funding from the federal-state Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is a part of SoonerCare. According to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority’s 2017 Annual Report, 191,544 children qualified for SoonerCare under CHIP. If Oklahoma eliminates its Soon-to-be-Sooners Program, the state would fail to meet federal requirements that do not allow for reductions to CHIP eligibility benefits.

Status: After being read to the Senate, this bill was referred to the Health and Human Services Committee and then to the Appropriations Committee. For this bill to move forward, it will have to pass these committees, go back to the Senate for a vote and then go to the House for the same process.

For a complete timeline of this bill, click here.

In addition to the proposed bills listed above, several others are focused on Oklahoma children and families, they include: HB1287, HB1288, HB1921, HB1930*, SB1020*, SB140*, SB154, SB191*, SB580*, SB831 and SB951*.

To find out even more, visit https://okhouse.gov.

*Update: These bills did not pass committee and therefore are dormant until next session.