I receive a number of suggestions for bills each year and I carefully sort through these ideas to establish a legislative agenda for the next year. I try to balance my portfolio with aggressive bills that call for reform and easier-to-achieve bills with necessary, smaller changes in law that are requested from my district.
Last week I wrote about the success of House Bill 1294 which would allow rural Logan County road districts to pave roads without issuing long term debt. I introduced the bill in 2008 and 2009 after receiving a request from a Logan County constituent and although the bill was defeated in 2008, it was approved this year. I believe this bill could serve as a starting point for allowing local government entities to conduct capital projects without issuing debt. I am also pleased to report that two other bills requested from Logan County were also recently signed by Governor Henry.
This year, I served as the House author for Senate Bill 794 which was authored by Senator Clark Jolly. SB 794 establishes a Human Services accountability tool and was requested by the Peppers Ranch organization. Located west of Guthrie, Peppers Ranch provides foster care services and they requested the law because they witnessed children being returned to the foster system after going through an unsuccessful adoption process. They wanted to put in place a system to publicly document how many failed adoptions were occurring. They suggested that the Department of Human Services report the number of unsuccessful adoptions each year because it is very difficult to analyze the current efficiency level of the placement process without a basic accountability tool.
Being able to understand why adoptions are unsuccessful may make it possible to analyze what is working and what is not working in the state's foster care system.
Late last year, as I was going door to door as part of the 2008 campaign cycle, I visited a constituent who works for one of the state commissions in charge of professional licensing. She described to me how professional license holders had discovered a loophole in the law that allowed them to ignore the requirement to correct any outstanding state tax liabilities prior to renewing their license.
My biggest resource to provide valuable insight into what is occurring regarding government bureaucracy is the feedback from the state employees in my constituent base. State employees have a firsthand point of view of changes that need to occur, and I enjoy the opportunity to benefit from their experience.
In this case, the state employee asked if I could sponsor legislation to close the tax loophole. With Sen. Jolly's help as the Senate author of House Bill 1295, we were able to receive legislative approval for the reform.
Over the next few months, I will put in place my 2010 legislative agenda. I need your help in developing the bills for which I will advocate. Should you have suggestions or ideas that you would like to see advocated in the legislature next year, please let me know.