Friday, July 3, 2009

Senator Gumm's "Senate Minute" for July 3-9, 2009

DURANT, Okla. – Hello again, everyone! The summer generally is a very slow time at the State Capitol.

With the legislative session complete, lawmakers return to their districts and their families. The focus of lawmakers’ work becomes constituent service and preparation for the next year’s session of the Legislature.

One of the ways in which we prepare for the next legislative session is through a series of meetings called interim studies. Lawmakers request these studies to get more information on issues; the interim gives us more time for in-depth study.

The president pro tempore of the Senate has the power to authorize or deny study requests by senators. Getting that approval is the first hurdle. The decision about whether a study is conducted – even if authorized by the president pro tempore – rests with the chair of the committee to which the study was assigned.

Sometimes, committee chairs decline to move forward with studies. The reasons can be substantive or political. The decision also can be based on a lack of information from the senator requesting the study.

One of the projects on which I am working is to develop scope of study recommendations to the chairs of committees where the seven studies I requested were assigned. I want to make certain the committee chairs have the information necessary to move forward; I hope to have that information ready for the committee chairs in the next few weeks.

I will propose to the committee chairs ambitious agendas on each of my studies. My studies – all approved by the president pro tempore – will range from health care to protecting children and senior citizens.

While preparing for the next session is critical, constituent service is just as important; there are cases where constituent service is even more important, depending on the severity of the challenge. At one time or another, many Oklahomans need assistance from state government or help contacting the federal government.

My office is staffed throughout the year to help with a variety of challenges facing my constituents, as well as comments, questions and concerns. You can always contact my office by telephone at (405) 521-5586 or (580) 924-2221. My traditional mail address is State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Oklahoma City, OK 73105.

My newly redesigned website - - has a form to contact my office, which will send the information directly to me. Along with contact forms, the website provides a way to keep up with news from my office, previous editions of this column, as well as audio and video clips.

When I am asked by school children, “What does a senator do?” my answer is always, “Help people.” Constituent service is, in many ways, the heart of service in the Legislature; it is the most direct way to “help people.” I am, and will forever be, deeply grateful for the continued opportunity to serve.

Thanks again for reading this week’s “Senate Minute.” Have a great week, and may God bless you all.

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