Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Open Door Policy - April 21, 2009

We have been arguing over contentious legislation over the past two weeks on the House floor as the committee process has concluded. The Representatives are presenting Senate bills for consideration. Each Senate bill must have a Senate author, along with a Representative that will present it while it is on other side of the building. The same happens for House bills as they must have both a House author and a Senate author. I have been busy working with Senators to attach language from my bills to House bills they are considering in hopes of reviving some of the policies I filed which were not heard by House committee chairs.
I am currently working on an amendment to a bill presented by the Speaker of the House. This will establish more performance audits to review agencies and attempt to avoid waste. The Speaker’s bill establishes a commission within the legislature to contract audits. I feel this is duplication since we actually have an elected official, the State Auditor and Inspector, who is charged with this task. I am attempting to change this where the commission must use the State Auditor to conduct the audits, and should there be too much required of this, allow the Auditor to contract out. This also maintains the checks and balances between the branches of government, but still provides transparency and accountability.
I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend. I had the opportunity to visit with the folks over in Apache on Friday at the Rattlesnake Festival. I had the opportunity to film a portion of the activities for Wild Oklahoma, a local wildlife show that is broadcast on Sunday mornings. If you get the chance, check it out on their website for the day it will air. Ron Orf put me in the snake pit once again this year and I was able to help him with one of the shows he put on for the public. I cannot begin to tell you how much fun this experience in and I appreciate the Rattlesnake Association for allowing me to participate each year. I also had the chance to promote the festival on George Plummer’s Saturday morning show on KOOL 105.5, along with a discussion about other issues at the State Capitol.
Over the weekend, I also had the chance to take my annual trip to a Jimmy Buffett concert with several folks from Chickasha , Lawton , Elgin and Apache. I appreciate them including me in on their fun and I look forward to this getaway each year to listen to some music and relax for a day. After the tense meetings we have held over the past few weeks, I needed the chance to let off some steam and enjoy some good music. I hope everyone remembers to take a little time for themselves, even if just for a few hours, to slow down and refocus. I have found it allows me the chance to clear my head, get rid of the pent-up stress and do my job better.
On Monday, I was honored to have the Southwest Oklahoma Partnership for Mental Health visit the Capitol. Each of these advocates provided valuable information on services for Oklahomans who need this type of assistance. I enjoyed taking questions from the group and spent the lunch discussing potential new laws. This is a group which needs assistance with more training to recognize symptoms, especially when law enforcement is brought into the situation. We also have an obligation to provide help for our servicemen and women, along with police officers and firefighters, as they return from active duty and display symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. In my opinion, it is the government’s obligation to provide this assistance as they have been performing a duty on behalf of the government for our citizens.
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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