Sunday, April 26, 2009

Official English Approved - The Final Month of Session

Last week marked yet another deadline by which the House of Representatives and Senate had to take action on legislation or risk having the legislation not be heard this year.

Much debate centered around whether or not the Senate would approve a bill that would allow the people to vote on making English Oklahoma's official language. Due to the insistence of the leadership of the House of Representatives, House author Representative Randy Terrill and Senate author Senator Anthony Sykes, House Resolution 1042 was approved shortly before the Senate's deadline.

It appears there was a significant amount of negotiating between the advocates of a "common English" proposal and those who wanted an "official English" distinction. In the end, the compromise proposal states that all official actions of the state shall be conducted in English, except as required by federal law. The proposal would not limit the use, study or encouragement of American Indian languages and also says that an agency cannot be sued if it cannot provide materials in a language other than English.

The Senate approved the proposal by a vote of 44-2 and it now returns to the House where the House will have the option of accepting the Senate amendments sending the proposal to a vote of the people. I would have preferred a stronger version of the bill.

The Senate also approved five House bills of which I am the author, one of which has been signed into law by the Governor, and four other bills that I will request to be assigned to a conference committee. The House approved four Senate bills that I am authoring, with one going a vote of the people and three going into the conference committee process. In the next four weeks I will be very busy working to refine and advance the seven remaining pieces of legislation.

One of the seven remaining proposals, House bill 1294, would allow Logan County road districts to fund their capital projects without using bonded indebtedness. This is a fantastic concept. I believe that all levels of government entities incur debt too often and pay millions of dollars in unnecessary interest. The savings from implementing House Bill 1294 would stay in the people’s pockets where it belongs.

Another interesting aspect about this bill is that it exposes the fact that state statutes tend to encourage public boards to issue bonded indebtedness. If the no-debt concept can be proven to work in a road district, it might be able to be expanded to cities, counties, public trusts and school boards that wish to fund capital improvements. I am excited that both the House and the Senate have approved this idea and hope to be successfull in achieving final passage.

Also, since we are entering the final phase of session, I will be closing my 2009 constituent survey. The survey is available on at I would very much appreciate your input and if you have suggestions on topics you would like to see discussed during my 2009 Town Hall meetings, please submit those suggestions with your survey responses.

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