Oklahoma State Senator announces interim studies on racial equity

Oklahoma Politics
Oklahoma Senate

The Oklahoma State Senate, pictured on March 28, 2018. (KFOR/Bill Miston)

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – A series of interim studies focused on racial equity were approved for the Oklahoma Senate.

Photo goes with story
Sen. George Young. Photo courtesy of Oklahoma Senate website.

Sen. George Young, D-Oklahoma City, requested five interim studies that focus on racial concerns and issues. Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat approved all five last week, along with 66 other interim studies, according to an Oklahoma Senate news release.

The five studies give state senators the opportunity to explore a range of topics such as racial equality, health disparities in the African American community, minority-owned businesses and funding for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU).

“Our nation is at a turning point in the fight for racial equality, and it’s more important than ever that every state and community take a look at what we can do to bring about true equity for our minority communities,” Young said. “These studies will take a deep dive into some of the most pressing issues facing the Black community – health care, education, entrepreneurship and more. I appreciate the Pro Tem for approving these studies and look forward to learning more about what Oklahoma can do to make our state a better place to live for minority communities.”

The five studies Young requested include the following:

  • Health disparities in the African American community and social determinants of health: a study into the indicators and determinate factors of the healthcare shortage in Oklahoma, as well as the areas contributing to the state’s health disparities.
  • Equitable procurement for minority and women-owned businesses: a study into the resources and legislation needed to support economic health and minority and female-owned businesses across the state.
  • Historically Black colleges and universities funding: a study diving into the need for support and investment for Langston University, the only HBCU in the state. The study aims to look at the resources needed to enhance infrastructure, renovations, repairs, campus facilities, instructional research, residential spaces, reliable high-speed broadband access and long-term technological capacity.
  • Race and equality: a study into equality issues related to racial discrimination and bias, state agencies, employees, communities, organizations and businesses in the state.
  • Community (racial) impact – a study on the impact of certain legislation on particular community and racial entities: a dive into how proposed legislation impacts the incarceration rates of certain demographics and burgeoning Department of Corrections numbers.

The studies were assigned to the following committees: Health and Human Services; Business, Commerce and Tourism; and Appropriations and Rules.

“I’m excited for the opportunity for my colleagues to hear from experts in these areas about how we can make Oklahoma a ‘Top 10’ state for minority communities,” Young said. “We can’t move forward as a state unless all of us are working together, and I know there are things we could address legislatively to steer us in the right direction.”

The studies must be assigned a hearing date by each respective committee chair in order to be heard. Those dates will be posted online at www.oksenate.gov.

All studies must be concluded by Friday, Nov. 5.

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