By Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant
Hello again, everybody! The 2008 session of the Oklahoma Legislature has begun.
My colleagues and I made our way to the Capitol – as required by the Constitution – to begin doing the people’s business for the year. This, of course, is the first session of the Legislature in Oklahoma’s second century. As such, the responsibility falls to us to begin shaping Oklahoma’s next 100 years.
The first order of business was Governor Henry’s “State of the State” address. This is the governor’s sixth “State of the State,” and it was a very positive speech. One of the things I have always admired about this governor is that he believes in our state and is always positive about the possibilities the future will bring; that has not always been the case with governors.
I have never understood those who seek public office only to use their position as a platform to run down our state, and by extension its people. Oklahoma is not perfect; no institution created by mere mortals is. The reason, however, we have annual sessions is to create a “more perfect” society – to constantly improve.
Much of our nation’s symbolism comes from the fact that this great experiment in democracy will never be complete. The opening of this session of the Legislature marks another new beginning in our quest to become a more perfect state.
The governor hit on many important issues that will improve Oklahomans’ lives. Health care, education, public safety, and keeping our economy strong were all issues mentioned by the governor. Those are priorities I share.
The legislation I have announced over the past few months fit in each of the governor’s subject matters. We must dream big as Oklahomans to create the future our children deserve.
In health care, I will continue to push for creation of a public umbilical cord blood bank to fight diseases that steal life and destroy hope. I will work to ensure that those families living in the shadow of autism can depend on their health insurance for the help they expect and deserve.
In education, I will continue our struggle to empower parents and pay teachers better. To boost our economy, I will continue my fight to remove the sales tax on groceries and resist those tax cuts that do not help families who need it most.
In public safety, I will work to ensure that our prisons have the resources they need to keep behind bars those who would prey on our families.
Those are our biggest challenges this year, and others may present themselves as the four-month session wears on. We can create a better state, a more perfect state. With your help, and God’s, I have great confidence in our future and the opportunities that lie ahead.