Monday, January 19, 2009

Open Door Policy - January 19, 2009

I had the opportunity to file my bills last week as the deadline fell to turn in ideas for legislation for the 2009 Legislative Session. There were 1,269 bills, 46 joint resolutions and six concurrent resolutions filed in the House of Representatives. I expect things will go along normal lines and most bills will be killed early in the committee process. The issue of having less money from the previous session of more than $300 million will also prevent many of the ideas from being considered due to cost restraints. Most of my bills have limited fiscal impact, so I hope I will be able to work with the various chairs to get hearings and passage on them.

Two ideas I've worked with Lieutenant Governor Askins on this interim will be in legislation this session. One creates an incentive for investors to look at local grocery stores and pharmacies to help build and develop businesses in our state and also to work with a "children's cabinet" as an issue-sharing board to review ideas provide accountability in the agencies that work with our younger Oklahomans. I appreciate her efforts in both these areas and hope I will be able to bring about some advances through policy.

The committee process has unofficially begun as members meet to go through ideas where a committee chair might not be sure of an idea and decide to give it consideration before the session begins. Also, many ideas, such as government modernization, have begun to be heard. I compliment my colleague, Rep. Jason Murphey from Guthrie, for undertaking this challenge and I look forward to working with him to upgrade our systems for modern technology as a cost-savings effort for tax dollars. I have authored performance audit legislation in the past and hope we will see more accountability come about with many state agency budgets through this effort.

I am looking forward to the Anadarko and Elgin Chambers of Commerce Banquets this week. The Apache Chamber Banquet was a huge success last week and Senator Tom Ivester gave a great speech on politics and how spiritual faith can influence ones decisions. I also was able to spend Saturday evening with Roy and Charlotte Young of Apache at my Rotary Club's banquet and honor some great Oklahoma students and coaches for their athletic successes, along with Bob Carpenter (Bill Teegins Award Winner) and C.C. Sabathia (Warren Spahn Award Winner). I will be the luncheon speaker at the Lawton Rotary Club on Thursday, so I look forward to visiting with them about our great state and District 65.

I will also be hosting Keri Dennis from Congressman Tom Cole's office at Lions Club in Rush Springs on Tuesday. Congratulations are extended to him on his appointment to the Appropriations Committee, which will be a huge benefit to Oklahoma, as well as Congresswoman Fallin for joining Congressman Boren on the Armed Services Committee. Also, Congressman Lucas becomes the ranking member of the Agriculture Committee this session, so this will also help with many policies which could benefit Oklahoma.

On a final note, please try to attend the chili cookoff that I will be hosting on Friday, January 30th at Fletcher prior to their basketball games. The proceeds will go to all our local fire departments for upgrades in equipment for disaster preparedness. I will also be filing a request with FEMA this year to create a program to regionally locate generators to prepare for emergency power outages and I am requesting help from the State Fire Marshall's office and ASCOG on grant applications to get additional equipment for each community in my district.

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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