Lawmakers announced last week they are forming a joint House and Senate Veterans’ Caucus. A number of legislators are veterans of various branches of the military, and it is something needed in our state for a long time.

The caucus will meet once a month to address future legislation and funding issues surrounding veterans’ programs.

State employees are set to benefit from a comprehensive transformation of the state’s human resource management system.

The new system will provide the state with a real-time view of the state’s human capital resources, allow for better strategic planning, and enable employees to easily identify and promote to positions within state government; even though the open positions are within the purview of another agency.

The new unified system is expected to be in place by January 2018. The initiative is a byproduct of the ongoing effort to bring state agencies together to modernize and share resources.

Afghan Ambassador Dr. Hamdullah Mohib spoke to lawmakers this week thanking them for the troops, veterans, and family members deployed to Afghanistan. Since 2003, nearly 6,000 Oklahomans have served in Afghanistan, not including active service members who have served there.

Dr. Mohib said Oklahoma contributed the highest number of troops per capita in the U.S. He was invited by Jane Horton, wife of Army Spc. Christopher Horton who was killed in Afghanistan. They were accompanied by Capt. Austin Bond, an Oklahoma Guardsman who served with her husband.

Governor Fallin announced the National Governors Association (NGA) has chosen Oklahoma as one of five states and territories to participate in a learning lab focused on alternatives to incarceration for justice-involved youth.

Oklahoma joins Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, and the Virgin Islands is participating in the opportunity to learn about each other’s successful and innovative solution to specific problems in this area.

Teams will study Virginia’s recent reform efforts and investigate alternatives to simply incarcerating juveniles. Some strategies will include limiting involvement of low-risk youth in the juvenile justice system, reducing unnecessary out-of-home placement, closing large residential facilities, implementing developmentally appropriate approaches, and expanding community-based alternatives to out-of-home placement.

GrowOK will debut this spring in Ada. The program is a curriculum designed for rural communities and Native American businesses. It is an innovative step in diversifying the state’s economy in rural areas as well as its urban centers. It will challenge rural and Native American entrepreneurs to identify their customers and determine whether their concept solves a true market need.

A company called i2E, Inc., a nonprofit that assists Oklahoma’s emerging small businesses, is joined by seven state partners and a $200,000 matching grant to bring the popular venture assessment program to Oklahoma.

Rep. Will Fourkiller (D- District 86) represents the 86th district in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. He can be reached at‬‬‬‬ or at 405-557-7394.