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Care Providers Oklahoma Responds to President Joe Biden’s Nursing Home Vaccine Mandate

New Requirements Could Cause Unprecedented Workforce Catastrophe

OKLAHOMA CITY – Care Providers Oklahoma, the association representing Oklahoma’s skilled nursing professionals and residents, today released the following statement in response to President Joe Biden’s announcement that all skilled nursing staff must be vaccinated:

“Oklahoma’s skilled nursing facilities, through a combination of successful vaccination campaigns and rigorous safety protocols, are now clearly the safest places in Oklahoma for vulnerable seniors when it comes to COVID protection. In the week of August 8-14, for example, the state’s Epidemiology Report indicates that skilled nursing and long-term care (LTC) settings had just 44 new COVID cases among residents across over 600 facilities, representing just .28% of the state’s total portion of new cases. That number has fallen precipitously since the last week of December 2020, when skilled nursing/LTC reported 443 new cases among residents, representing 2.4% of the state’s total caseload. As the Delta variant continues to explode across the state and country, Oklahoma nursing homes have largely kept COVID under control and offered the most successful protection to their residents available anywhere. “For that reason, it is extremely frustrating and disappointing to see the Biden Administration single out nursing homes as the only health care provider facing a federal vaccination mandate. More importantly, this mandate will transform the current workforce shortage in the skilled nursing profession (where administrators report upwards of 20% of jobs are going unfilled) into an untenable crisis that could result in facility closures and the complete abandonment of vulnerable seniors.“Today, approximately 49% of Oklahoma’s skilled nursing staff and 82% of our residents are fully vaccinated, which significantly outpaces the state average of 42%. Continue Reading →

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Arkansas House of Representatives Update 8-20-2021

Everyone has a responsibility to ensure students arrive at and from school safely. This includes being mindful of student safety when approaching school buses. 

We want to take this week to remind Arkansans to obey all traffic laws whenever they are near a school bus. 

It is illegal to pass a stopped school bus whenever its red lights are flashing, as students are present. The fines, penalties, and punishment for anyone found guilty of illegally passing a stopped school bus were increased dramatically by Act 2128 of 2005, also known as Isaac’s Law. 

The legislation was named in honor of Isaac Brian, an elementary school student in the Bryant School District who was struck and killed when a driver illegally passed his school bus while students were exiting the vehicle. 

The law requires drivers to stop on two-lane and four-lane highways in both directions, even those with a middle lane. Drivers cannot attempt to pass in any direction until the school bus vehicle has finished receiving or discharging its passengers and is in motion again. In the 2021 Regular Session, the General Assembly passed Act 264 to clarify the distance and areas where drivers must stop. Continue Reading →

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Arkansas House of Representatives 8-6-21

This week, House members convened in the House Chamber for two orders of business.In accordance with ACT 403 of the Regular Session, the House convened as a committee of the whole on Tuesday, August 4, to consider whether to terminate the Governor’s July 29, 2021 declaration of a statewide public health emergency.When it was determined that no concurrent resolutions had been filed in the House and that one resolution filed in the Senate had been withdrawn, the House adjourned its committee of the whole. Since no resolution was adopted by the General Assembly, the Governor’s declaration remains in effect for 60 days.The House convened on Wednesday, August 4, for an Extraordinary Session.The Governor called for the session primarily for two purposes.The first item on the call was to allow public school boards and open enrollment charter schools to implement masking protocols for children under 12. Children under 12 are currently not eligible to receive the vaccine for COVID-19.The second purpose listed on the call was to concur with the Governor’s decision to terminate the state’s participation in federal pandemic unemployment compensation program often referred to as PUA.In response, to the call the House considered two pieces of legislationHB1001 outlines the General Assembly’s concurrence with the termination of PUA in Arkansas.This bill passed in the House with a vote of 74-17-0HB1003 stated that a public school district can mandate the use of a face mask, shield, or other face covering only with approval of the school board and if the district or area served by an open-enrollment charter school has a fourteen-day COVID-19 infection rate of at least 50 new known infections per 10,000 residents of the public school district based on the most recent data published by the Department of Health or the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement. Currently, 100 school districts meet that criteria.HB1003 outlined certain exemptions and limits such mandates to 60 days. This bill underwent Committee review, but did not advance to the House floor. Continue Reading →

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Tourism group announces McCurtain County entertainment scene still rolling throughout Summer 2021

Hochatown, OK— More entertainment is in store for Southeast Oklahoma as tourism leader “Thingstodoinhochatown.com” announces upcoming live music shows, nightlife and area attractions happening across the region this summer. Thingstodoinhochatown.com is a tourism website free for travelers to use as an activity guide when visiting the popular Broken Bow and Hochatown areas in McCurtain County, Oklahoma. The site also features a Facebook companion with links to pages for restaurants, museums, cabin rentals, outdoor activities and popular destinations. All information on the group’s Facebook page is free to the public as well. The dates and locations for live musical performances and vivacious nightlife events can be discovered with Thingstodoinhochatown.com for tourists who are seeking fresh forms of fun and locals looking for a new experience in their hometown. Continue Reading →

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Child Advocacy Group Awards Grants to Fight Adverse Childhood Experiences

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) awarded a pair of $2,500 grants to two 501(c)3 organizations addressing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The grants were awarded to the Early Childhood Coalition of Payne County for its “HealthySteps” program and Sunbeam Family Services for its “Nurturing Connection through Touch” program. The Early Childhood Coalition of Payne County’s HealthySteps program served 2,524 families in 2020. Of the diverse array of families served, 45% were Medicaid recipients, 71% were non-Hispanic or Latino, 19% unknown, 7% were Hispanic and Latino, and 2% declined to specify. The grant funds will pay for direct services to families enrolled in the program. Continue Reading →

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Arkansas House of Representatives Update 7-30-21

Members are scheduled to return to the House Chamber next week. 

On Tuesday, August 3, we will convene as a Committee of the Whole to address the Governor’s recent state of emergency proclamation. Citing an increase in infections and hospitalizations due to the Delta Variant of COVID-19, the Governor declared a statewide public health emergency on July 29. 

Legislation passed in the 2021 Regular Session now requires the General Assembly to convene. Under Act 403, if the Governor declares a statewide state of disaster emergency related to public health, the House of Representatives and the Senate shall each convene as a committee of the whole within eight business days of the declaration to vote upon and debate any concurrent resolution to terminate the declaration. 

Act 403 states the emergency shall not continue for longer than 60 days unless renewed by the Governor, so long as the Legislative Council does not vote to deny the request for renewal. 

The act provides that if the Governor notifies the Legislative Council of his desire to renew a statewide state of disaster emergency related to public health, he may also request the renewal of an executive order or proclamation issued to meet or mitigate dangers to the people and property of the state presented or threatened by a statewide state of disaster emergency related to public health. 

The Governor also announced he is calling for a special session to make changes to Act 1002. Act 1002 passed during the 2021 Regular Session. It ends mandatory face-covering requirements not imposed by a private business or state-owned or state-controlled healthcare facility and prohibits a state agency or entity, political subdivision of the state, or a state or local official from mandating a face mask, face shield, or other face covering. Continue Reading →

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Texas Historical Commission Approves Plans for Exhibition Hall and Collections Building

Groundbreaking Slated for August 17th

SAN ANTONIO, TX. July 28, 2021 — The Alamo crossed a milestone in its efforts to improve the visitor experience and expand its exhibition facilities with the Texas Historical Commission’s approval of its new Exhibition Hall and Collections Building this week. This approval will expand exhibition space for documents and objects in the Alamo’s comprehensive collection by 500%. The Alamo will break ground on the new 24,000-square-foot building on August 17, 2021. The Alamo Plan encompasses both restoration of historic buildings and new construction projects, all with the goals of fostering reverence and dignity at one of the most important sites in Texas history. Continue Reading →

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Arkansas House of Representatives Update 7-26-2021

This week, a subcommittee of Arkansas Legislative Council that provides oversight for Arkansas Game and Fish and Arkansas State Police heard from Arkansas State Police Director Col. Bill Bryant regarding recent successes and challenges facing state troopers. His testimony alerted us to some startling statistics regarding an increase in aggressive driving and fatal accidents in our state. In 2018, the Arkansas State Police Highway Patrol Division conducted 520 crash investigations involving fatal injuries. In 2019, the number was 505. Continue Reading →

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Arkansas House of Representatives Update 7-16-2021

This week, we want to remind you about the upcoming Arkansas Sales Tax holiday. This year, the event will begin at 12:01 am on Saturday, August 7, and end at 11:59 pm on Sunday, August 8. This is now the 10th year that Arkansans can take advantage of this break from state and local sales tax on certain purchases. 

Act 757 of 2011 provides for a sales tax holiday in Arkansas during the first weekend of August each year. A sales tax holiday is a temporary period when state and local sales taxes are not collected or paid on the purchase of certain products. 

Clothing less than $100 per item is exempt during the weekend, as well as clothing accessories less than $50 per item. Clothing accessories include handbags, cosmetics, jewelry, umbrellas, and more. Continue Reading →

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TWU to Resume Late Fees and Disconnections August 1

Texarkana Water Utilities (TWU) will resume late fees and disconnections on August 1, 2021, according to Pamela White, the Administrative Coordinator for TWU. Questions or concerns may be directed to (903) 798 3800. TWU also wishes to remind customers that online services may be used. Payment Options and Pay Online are available on our website athttps://twu.txkusa.org. Continue Reading →

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