Monday, September 14, 2009

Open Door Policy - Sept. 1 & 8, 2009

Sept. 1, 2009
I’m sorry I missed last week’s column. It was a busy week and I did not have the chance to sit down and reflect on all which occurred. I’ll try to get everyone caught up to date.

My family lost my grandmother, Jackie Henderson, to cancer this past Friday. She lived in Jacksboro, Texas and her funeral was on Monday. It was a service she would have liked as people reflected on the good times with her and the memories which brought back laughs. It was the first time many of our cousins had been together in years and we agreed that we would try to spend more time together, especially since many of them have children the same age as when we would get together at holidays. She and my grandfather were very supportive of the grandkids and encouraged us to achieve our dreams. All eight of their grandchildren will have completed college degrees (one is in his final year). This is truly the meaning of family values when they worked to improve the lives of the next two generations of their family.

Canadian Valley Career Tech in Chickasha held a ceremony to recognize their achievement of Gold Star Honor Status. This is the highest recognition a career tech in Oklahoma can receive with the percentage of student placed into jobs and participating in various activities. Career techs in Oklahoma help students gain that extra knowledge towards working in a career and often allow them to receive professional certification at a very affordable rate. This is a huge honor for them and I was proud to attend their ceremony.

I also participated in a tax policy discussion with Rep. Randy McDaniel , R-Oklahoma City for the Ok. Society of Enrolled Tax Agents. Randy and I work well together and he is very articulate on the issues. We have a good friendship inside and outside the Capitol and this discussion focused on the changes we saw come through this past year and possible budget issues over the next year.

I also attended the 50th Anniversary of the Chickasha Elks Lodge 2125. This was a great ceremony which looked back over the membership of the lodge since its inception and the work that has been done for veterans and youth programs in the Chickasha area. This is a group of community advocates who donate time and efforts to making their home area a better place. This group, and all the civic groups from around the state, work hard to improve their communities and better people by working towards positive goals.

I have had a couple of meetings with various fire protection entities to discuss tax credits and volunteer trainings. There will be an interim study at the State Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 8 for review on this topic. If you would like more information, please contact my office for details on the meeting.

I’m looking forward to high school and college football kicking off this week. I hope to see you at some of the games. It’s important to support the local teams and provide the extra team spirit for the students to motivate them. My football schedules are printed and should be at many of the local convenience stores and at the gates of the home games in our area.

I hope everyone had a very good Labor Day weekend. I had the chance to visit with some friends from school on Saturday and Monday and watch some football games over the weekend. I’m glad all the football seasons are finally here and see the increased social activities start up in our communities with the beginning of school. I hope all the students are also safe from injury this year and want to wish Sam Bradford a speedy recovery from his injury on Saturday. He used to be a student in the Athlete’s First program, the AAU basketball team which I serve on their Board of Directors. I am working on increasing the amount of medical professionals who attend sporting events for this exact reason to make sure injuries are prevented from becoming worse during sporting events.

The anniversary of the Pledge of Allegiance was on Tuesday. I’m glad to see this is still something that is taught to our students. At church on Sunday, I heard a pre-schooler recite the Pledge back to her grandparents. It’s important for students to remember our country and what makes it great. We can share our opinions in a civil manner and not fear retribution from our government like many other nations.

On that note, I was involved in a discussion about the President’s address to students on Tuesday with two of my colleagues from Oklahoma City last week. Two of my colleagues feared the President would try to exert undue influence over our children and brainwash them. I read the speech and there was no such type of influence. It was simply a motivational speech to encourage students to do better in school and to achieve their highest potential. I am happy when political leaders take the time to encourage and motivate our students to be successful. I go to all my local schools and do a similar address on encouraging them to pay attention to government. If people do not participate in the process, they allow the process to influence their lives without their input. I hope the students are motivated to stay in school and achieve their goals from the President’s speech and the one that I annually give. It will only be through a well-educated society that we make our nation that much greater. I do not put a one-sided spin on the issues and politicians should not use the classroom to enhance their personal agendas, but it is important for the students to have the opportunity to learn about the importance of government in our daily lives and how they can make a difference, even before they gain the right to vote.

Also on Tuesday, there was a meeting held at the State Capitol on volunteer firefighter training and the tax credits they receive. This was an interim study I requested on behalf of some of my local firefighters to look at the increased mandates placed upon them by their federal training entities. There was also a concern on how the tax credits were being promoted and issued to firefighters. I feel this study allowed us to voice the concern that we cannot demand excessive training requirements, but still expect the highest level of training possible for these men and women who protect us. We also came to the conclusion different levels of tax credits should be awarded for higher levels of training achieved. I will be working on legislation for this issue in the coming session of 2010. I would appreciate any input our volunteer firefighters might have and will try to meet their needs with this bill.

On the issue of training, I had the chance to visit one of our state’s premiere firefighter training facilities last week. Eastern Oklahoma County Career Tech has expanded their role in fire protection over the past seven years and provided classes for firefighters of all levels to expand their education. I had the chance to see some local high school students from different schools go through their initial training on equipment and protective gear, along with the chance to tour the different facilities. It is great that much of this expanded from a bill I had the chance to work on several years ago to encourage more training to be “taken on the road” to fire departments, rather than the firefighters have to take their own time and money to travel to classes at different schools.

On Sunday, I had the chance to listen to Willie Franklin, a former OU football player who has become an evangelist. He spoke at the Rush Springs Church of Christ and gave a great lesson of reaching out to individuals. I was moved by this message and hope you might also have the chance to hear him speak sometime in the future. I appreciate the invitation from the Gilleland family to attend this sermon. I also want to wish Darrel and Pauline Haynes a happy 50th wedding anniversary. They celebrated in Ninnekah this past weekend with friends and family.

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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