Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Open Door Policy - Oct. 25, 2009

I am writing my column this week after a day of meetings in Dresden , Germany . We are six hours ahead due to their daylight savings time, so I have been trying to adjust to the different time zone for my meetings. I will be in this community with meetings, and then will have the opportunity to visit with some of the newly-elected German leadership in their centrist party over the next few days in Berlin . I will also have the chance to discuss policies in the United States as a nation and specifically some of the tax policy we have seen in the State of Oklahoma . I’m looking forward to these meetings and hope to represent our state the best way I can. I will return home on Sunday, Nov. 1, but I’m still addressing issues by email while overseas and Pam has been taking care of existing issues in the office up at the State Capitol while I am away for this trip. I appreciate you allowing me the chance to represent the United States for this week. All the costs of this trip are being covered by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, except a few incidentals for which I am paying the cost.
Before I left for the trip, I had a busy week. On Friday, I had the opportunity to sit in on the Fort Sill & Southwest Oklahoma Community Partnership Council. This group, established several months ago, is preparing for the growth we will see due to BRAC issues in our area. They are attempting to bring together the best and brightest minds in our region of the state to work together in a regional setting, rather than what we have seen in years past of simply focusing on local and community issues. I have great hope this will succeed and feel good about the process after participating in several of the meetings. The new commanding general of Fort Sill , Major General David Halverson, has taken a strong role in this, along with Garrison Commander Col. Raymond Lacey, Mayor Becky Skinner of Apache and MG David Ralston, Ret., who is serving as the group chair. If you have any interest in these meetings, please contact Marilyn Feaver with the Southwest Oklahoma Impact Coalition at (405) 574-1368. We have representation from almost every community and organization from House District 65 and I would very much like for us to have a say in the future policies of this group.
On Thursday, I participated in an interim study looking at ways to reduce the amount of released inmates who return to a life of crime. Rep. Kris Steele, R – Shawnee, and I held a joint study on ways to create reintegration programs which will help keep these ex-convicts out of prison and hopefully leading a productive life upon their parole or release. We looked at current policies, private/public partnerships and ways to include faith-based programs, along with other aids which will provide these persons with a chance to make it. There are many problems, but we have to find a way to truly “correct” behavior of the inmates as they are released from the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.
I also had a chance to attend Cyril’s homecoming and watched an exciting win by the team that evening. Congratulations go out to the team and coaches, and best of luck to all the teams as they finish up their season. I’m in the process of collecting team info to get my local basketball schedules printed prior to the season. I hope to have those out in a few weeks. I also visited with Oklahoma Horizon about an upcoming show they will dedicate to immunizations.
On another note, I visited with News Channel 9 about a problem many of our service men and women are facing with the GI Bill. There have been delays on processing the checks and many of our veterans have been paying for their tuition, books and other costs by credit card or by taking out loans. If you know someone who is experiencing a problem, have them visit with the Veterans Coordinator at the local campus and they will assist them with this where they will not have to pay up front. As long as there is a guarantee on the paperwork on the GI Bill, the schools will delay payment and work with our veterans. If there are further problems, have them contact their local Congressional office for assistance.
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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