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Sen. George Young announces slate of interim studies focusing on racial equity

The City Sentinel, Staff Report 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Of the 71 interim study requests approved by Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat early this month, five were requested by state Sen. George Young, D-Oklahoma City. 

The series of studies would give senators the opportunity to delve into 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 requested by Senator Young include:

  • 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 have been assigned to the Health and Human Services; Business, Commerce and Tourism; Appropriations and Rules committees.

“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 number of approved studies is unusually high. In 2020, Pro Tempore Treat’s 64 requests from Senators, approved 39 of those to proceed.  

For the 2021 interim process, 72 requests were initially submitted, but one was withdrawn. Treat then gave approval to all 71 submitted.

Although the studies were approved by Senate leadership, they now must be assigned a hearing date by each respective committee chair in order to be heard. These dates will be posted online at oksenate.gov.  

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

NOTE: Pat McGuigan contributed additional analysis for this report, which is drawn from a legislative staff release.

Langston University is Oklahoma’s Historical Black College and University (HBCU). A legislative interim study will, this summer and fall, look at ways to boost resources for the institution, which, in addition to its home campus, has branch campuses in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and a nursing program operating from Ardmore. File photo
Greg Treat, an Oklahoma City Republican, is President Pro Tempore for the Oklahoma State Senate. Legislative Photo.