Hello again, everyone! Spring Break is always a special week at the Oklahoma Senate.
The laughter of children fills the Capitol as many legislators bring their families to the week’s session. My wife, Deena, and son, Jacob, joined me this week making for a special time.
Jacob has been a part of the Senate since his birth. At only seven weeks of age, he was in my arms as I gaveled the 2006 session to order. Today, he is a precocious three-year-old who charms just about everyone he meets, and who reached for the microphone as I introduced him again on the Senate floor.
It was also a special week for me as I was given the honor of hosting the Senate Chaplain. Each week, the Senate hosts a minister to open each day’s session with a prayer and give us a short devotional as the Thursday session begins.
Pastor James Robinson of the First Baptist Church in Durant accepted my invitation to serve as Senate Chaplain. Each of his prayers was a blessing to my colleagues and me, and his devotional on Thursday was both inspirational and thoughtful. I know he had a positive impact on the Senate and helped prepare us for the remainder of the session.
Our area of Oklahoma also got some very good news from the U.S. Census Bureau this week. The bureau released a study that showed the five counties I represent have all grown since 2000. In rural Oklahoma, there are two kinds of communities – those that are growing and those that are dying. The growth we have enjoyed has not occurred by accident.
This study clearly shows policies enacted over the past seven years have given new hope and opportunity to the Oklahomans I am honored to represent. We have protected our water resources, encouraged historic tourism expansions, and created state policies that encourage job creation in rural Oklahoma. All were necessary to keep rural Oklahoma moving forward.
Job creation is a lot like rowing a boat upstream, to stop rowing is to go backward. As the rest of the nation endures the most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, our area is faring extraordinarily well. Creating new jobs and making the most of the resources we have been given is even more important in difficult economic times.
Our nation will emerge from this economic crisis. Until it does, we must protect the economic strength southern Oklahoma has built over the past seven years. When the nation does emerge from the economic downturn, we must be prepared to make the most of the new opportunities for prosperity a strengthening economy will bring.
That is our challenge right now. As we continue the 2009 session of the Legislature, I will continue to fight for policies that encourage rural economic growth and lay the foundation for even greater prosperity in the years ahead.
Thanks again for reading this week’s “Senate Minute.” Have a great week, and may God bless you all.