Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Open Door Policy - May 6, 2008

It has been an interesting two weeks at the Capitol with the legislature passing a standstill budget for agencies. This will essentially fund the various portions of state government at the same level they received the previous year. There will be some exceptions to this as some of the agencies will need additional funds to make it through the year with the added costs of utilities and other requirements. There are also very few one-time projects that were funded from previous years.

In order to fund some of those programs, such as conservation projects and the rural fire truck account, there has been talk about a bond issue. This is a bill that could easily develop into a larger-than-anticipated idea if too many pet projects are inserted. I expect there will be some programs, such as higher education and transportation, which will request several million dollars in this bill. It will be interesting to see what negotiations go on between the House, Senate and the Governor before a final agreement is reached. I will do my best to keep this fiscally responsible for the future payments that will be required.

There was some discussion last week about unintended consequences regarding a Senate bill which I authored in the House. An amendment was inserted to allow the Norman/Purcell area to qualify for a foreign trade zone to improve opportunities for trade, but there was worry this would open opportunities for a "super corridor" for transporting goods. We recalled the bill to fix any potential problems after some attorneys discovered this possibility. The Senate author and I both agreed we would allow no chance to harm any landowners with language with this bill.

I will be a guest on OETA's show, "The People's Business" on Wednesday night if you have the chance to watch. This will begin at 7 p.m. and is a live call-in show. If you get the chance, please watch myself and Rep. Ron Peter's discuss the budget and other bills.

I have to finish up this week with a reminder to visit Crawds 'n Rods in Elgin on Saturday afternoon. Proceeds from this event go to assist their local fire department. I also want to thank Lance Hill for doing a great job as an office aide for me at the Capitol this week. Finally, congratulations go out to the Fort Cobb-Broxton baseball team for winning state and to Sterling's baseball and softball teams for making the state tournament!

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 home number for work is 1-580-476-2626. 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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