I want to start off by wishing congratulations to all those graduating seniors, both in high school and college. I know it has been a long struggle, but it will be worth it to have that diploma. Good luck with your summer plans and with whatever lies before you. I want to give a special congratulations to Wyatt Mindemann for making it through Southwestern, Kelsey Walters for finally getting out of OSU and my cousin, Shawn McKay, for graduating from Rush Springs High School. I'm proud of each of you for your successes.
This past weekend was quite busy around the area. On Friday, I attended the wedding of Dale and Ann Williams, two friends from state government work. Congratulations to both of them also! I regret that I had to miss the Elgin Relay for Life that night, but I did make it over for a great day with the Crawds 'n Rods event benefiting the local fire department. Sunday was dedicated to Mom, so happy belated Mother's Day to all of you out there.
The session is winding down to the conclusion as the Constitutional deadline of the last Friday in May approaches. I still have two pieces of legislation that I've been working through the system and they both look like they will make it through the process to the Governor. One bill deals with fire protections. This creates a controlled burn fund to allow for an insurance policy if a controlled burn on private property gets out of control and allows for assistance in creating a burn plan. This bill also incorporates the language from my previous legislation to assist our rural fire departments.
The other is a bill I assisted Senator Barrington with that will allow for right turns to be made from the shoulders on highways. This will allow those in the rural areas to essentially use the shoulder as a turn lane as a person approaches a turn they need to make to not back up traffic.
Though I've seen these successes, I have also seen some disappointments. We were working on language with several of the Ag groups to amend a previously-passed bill that would allow persons to retrieve their pet off private property should it get away. This was a highly-controversial bill that passed and we thought there was a good compromise with some new language, but the Senate author on this bill refused to hear the language. This effectively killed this idea for the rest of the year. If a pet should get away, you now have to contact the landowner before retrieving the pet or suffer the chance of prosecution for trespassing. This sounds like common sense, but so does running down a dog or cat that ran off by getting spooked. It's a shame that these things can't get resolved where everyone is in agreement.
One happy note is the fact the Governor and the Legislature finally agreed upon a state budget, so it looks like we will finish on schedule this year. The new budget accommodates much of what the Governor and House Democrats sought, so this was truly an agreement that all parties can live with. There will be much work to be done this summer though, as I have requested additional reviews of state agencies over the interim.
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 http://us.f501.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?Toemail@example.com at work. My mailing address is PO Box 559, Rush Springs, OK 73082 and my website is http://www.joedorman.com/ on the Internet. Thank you for taking time to read this column and I look forward to seeing you soon.