Monday, April 23, 2007

Open Door Policy - 4/23/07

Open Door Policy - 4/23/07
The shooting at Virginia Tech last week has encouraged the Governor and members of the legislature to prepare for the worst in Oklahoma. Governor Henry established a task force to review school safety and individual universities have begun to look at ways to inform students in regards to harmful situations on campus. I have visited with Sandy Garrett to encourage schools to pool resources and purchase new security cameras and equipment in groups to cut down on costs and get better deals. Nothing is more important than preparing in every possible way to ensure the safety of students and teachers. This is a disturbing trend in our society and we even saw incidents locally that reflect this. Students need to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activities. Even joking around about harming fellow students and teachers will be punished severely in this modern society. My prayers go out to all those suffering right now over these incidents.
The House met at the Capitol this past weekend, which did not go as well as planned. On Saturday, the power outage in Oklahoma City kept the computer systems from working and required the members to operate similar to the days of statehood. We addressed three pieces of legislation where the clerk had to read the entire bill to us and mandated a roll call rather than using the electronic voting machines. This slowed things down significantly and left little accomplished. Less than 100 citizens showed up to watch the proceedings, but they at least watched some of the activity that did occur.
I want to thank several of the folks back home for voicing their concerns over bills that have been considered recently. Homer Thompson, Pete McDaniel and Dwight Woodward have been very good about keeping informed with the problems in SB 507, the legislation dealing with tort reform. This bill would significantly limit the rights of mineral owners to file class action lawsuits over problems with oil companies. This is but one of the problems with this bill and I appreciate them and others voicing their views. I am encouraging the Governor to veto this bill.
Another issue that was considered was funding for the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program. Legislators voted to place a grade point cumulative on this bill that would have eliminated 31% of the students from the area I represent. While I agree there do need to be increased standards for retention of this scholarship, I felt this was too high and would have prevented too many students the opportunity to succeed in college. I myself had the chance to go to college on the Oklahoma Tuition Aid Grant and I will never deprive students the same chances I had.
Though we worked Saturday, I had several chances to see friends on Sunday. The Fletcher Fire Department had a successful fundraiser at their station and the Apache Rattlesnake Hunt was once again a huge success. There was a tremendous crowd at the festival all weekend and this provided a great boost to the local economy. I'm happy to participate in this event each year and have quite a bit of fun working with the guys in the snake pit. Another event coming up soon to watch for is the Crawds n' Rods fundraiser in Elgin on May 12 which benefits their local fire department.
It is an honor to represent your views at the State Capitol. If you wish to contact me and discuss one of these or another issue, I can be reached at my office in Oklahoma City toll-free at 1-800-522-8502, or directly at 1-405-557-7305. My e-mail address is at work. My mailing address is PO Box 559, Rush Springs, OK 73082 and my website is on the Internet. Thank you for taking time to read this column and I look forward to seeing you soon.

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