Friday, January 16, 2009

The 2009 Session Approaches - Senator Jay Paul Gumm

Hello again, everyone! Members of the Legislature – and our staff – passed an important milestone on the road to the 2009 legislative session.

Thursday was the deadline by which all bills had to be introduced for consideration in this year’s legislative session. Outside of the final weeks of session, this is one of the most labor intensive times of the year.

Hundreds of phone calls and emails have been exchanged with Senate staff as we worked to ready the bills I introduced. Most of the bills I wrote came from ideas brought to me by you, the people I represent.

My bill to end the grocery sales tax has been the topic of many coffee shop conversations we have shared. Almost everyone believes the grocery tax is unfair and hurtful because the tax puts a heavier burden on those least able to afford it. If we cut any tax this year, it should be the grocery tax.

As our nation continues to fight the war on terror, many of you have told me we should do more to honor those Oklahomans who make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. A few months ago a young man who was once a Senate Page I sponsored sent me an email.

He now is a soldier on active duty in Iraq, and his idea is to honor those Oklahomans lost in the line of duty. The result is Senate Bill 712, which directs the governor to order flags fly at half-staff on the day an Oklahoma soldier is laid to rest.

Another of my bills would fix an unintended consequence of the immigration reform bill passed a few years ago. That law made it harder to renew expired driver’s licenses – even for native born Oklahomans. Senate Bill 251 would remove many of the bureaucratic barriers for citizens to renew licenses which have expired.

Other ideas shared with me by constituents have found their way into legislation. Among those are:

· A bill giving doctors new guidelines for treating patients with intractable chronic pain;
· A proposal to change income limits for senior Oklahomans getting nursing home benefits to ensure none face a future without the care they need;
· Bills to expand the sales tax exemption our 100 percent service-connected disabled veterans receive to include their surviving spouses and to ensure that exemption, earned by veterans on fields of battle, is honored by retailers.

In all, I have written 40 bills for the 2009 session of the Oklahoma Legislature. In most cases, my bills are your bills, ideas or concerns you have shared with me. Certainly, not all of them will become law; but each of them has at its core our shared desire to make Oklahoma an even better place in which to live, work and raise a family.

Thanks again for reading this week’s “Senate Minute.” Have a great week, and may God bless you all.

No comments: