A Dozen Education Bills Pass Through House Committee

The bills about education addressed school safety, maternity leave and school funding.

Monday, February 12th 2024, 3:16 pm

By: News 9, Haley Weger

At the capitol: lawmakers are back for week two of the legislative session and are already getting into discussions on dozens of bills. Today, education is a big topic in the house, with 11 bills passing through committee.

Lawmakers discussed school safety, maternity leave, and school funding.

Starting with school safety: HB3404 would adjust the school security funds. This would allow leftover funds to roll over and be given on a first-need basis to districts that need additional security measures like school resource officers, security cameras, or metal detectors.

Each district could apply for a grant up to $10,000, which the author, Rep. Dick Lowe says would make a big difference for schools in need. “There is $2,688,000 left in that account. With this bill we would be able to add $10,000 more to 267 schools,” said Rep. Lowe ( R) Amber. “So we would be able to invest that money back into the safety of our schools.”

Rep. Lowe is also introducing what he calls a long-overdue pay raise for the transportation budget. “Transportation funding has not been raised for our schools in many years, and with that, if anybody has looked at the price of school buses they have exploded from about $40,000 -$50,000 to about $120,000 minimum,” said Rep. Lowe. 

Also passing through committee, HB3953 would create a grant program to employ additional school nurses or mental health professionals.

HB3792 would create The Oklahoma Opportunity Scholarship Program would extend these college scholarship opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities.

A big discussion during the 2023 legislative session was paid maternity leave. HB3272 would update the measure passed last year, adding adoption leave. “We were in such a rush at the end that we had inadvertently left out that employees that adopted a newborn are also allowed to receive the 6 weeks of maternity leave as well,” said Rep. Rhonda Baker, ( R) Yukon.  “I think anytime we offer families maternity leave and the ability to stay at home with their babies I think that is important not only to the children and their families but for keeping those people in their jobs,” said Rep. Baker. “We want to definitely be fair to those families that are going through the exact same situation as a family that had a child naturally.”

All eleven bills presented in the House Appropriations and Budget Education Subcommittee were passed and will now move to the House floor. http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/2023-24HB/CMN-AP-EDU-20240212-10300000.pdf


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