April 5, 2010

House sees increase of activity

The Express-Star

— We have seen a steady increase of floor activity at the House of Representatives over the past two weeks as the Oklahoma Legislature has been considering more bills at the Capitol. 

We are in the process of discussing Senate bills in the House in both committee and on the House floor.

One interesting bill we saw this week was legislation to deal with the issue of military benefits in a divorce. 

The legislation is establishing a period of ten years for a marriage before benefits can be awarded by the courts in the case of a divorce. 

I have seen many problems with the current system, and while I do not think this bill is a perfect solution,  I do think it helps prevent some of the problems we see with rushing into a marriage before a deployment and drawing career benefits after a very short marriage.

There has been action taken on some of my bills in the Senate.  Most of the pieces of legislation I have sent to the Senate have been heard in committees and are moving through the system. 

My TIF legislation and my volunteer firefighter tax credit bills both were passed out of Senate committee on Tuesday with the titles stricken, as have some of my other bills. 

Striking the title is a procedural motion used to send a bill to conference committee to keep it from passing immediately and possibly adding additional language.  I’m working close with my Senate authors to get these bills through the process prior to adjournment at the end of May, or sooner if some of the rumors hold true.

I was honored to speak to the 7th & 8th grade YMCA Youth & Government meeting at the State Capitol on Friday. 

This organization establishes a program for middle school and high school students to learn the legislative process by writing up their own bills and debating them a the State Capitol. 

I am pleased to serve on their State Board of Directors and enjoy each chance to visit with students about my experiences in government. 

I am working to get Youth and Government programs established in Lawton and Chickasha to provide this opportunity to many of our local students.

It was Ag Day at the Capitol last week and we also saw local partners with the Oklahoma Wildlife Management Association visit the Capitol. 

Both of these groups brought friends from our area to discuss issues important to agriculture and conservation programs to protect outdoors interests. 

Jag Sodhi, Pete McDaniel, Austin Green and Merlene Rust were just a few of the friends I had the chance to visit with at these events.

I also had the chance to speak at the Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day at the Capitol on Thursday. This was arranged to allow Oklahomans who are classified in this category to come to the Capitol on an organized effort to spread awareness on conditions which affect many of our citizens. 

I encouraged those present to learn more about the process, to find out who their legislators are in the state and advocate for needed changes with policy.

 It was glad to be asked to speak to the group and wish them the best in their lobbying efforts!

I had the chance to participate in a fundraiser for Leadership Murray County last week, which turned out to be a huge success. This was held as a roast of Rep. Wes Hilliard, one of my good friends from the Capitol.

I was able to relay experiences of working with Wes, which were only exaggerated slightly as it was a roast. They raised a good amount of money for their programs, so it was well worth the effort. 

I also was out of town this past weekend attending the wedding of Guy and Lisa McCune in Houston. Guy is one of my best friends from college and I was happy to see him, his bride and many good friends at their ceremony.

I wish them a happy, long marriage as they partake on this new beginning in their lives.

This was a nice, relaxing chance to catch up with friends before the hours get longer with session and the increased workload we will see on the bills going through the system.