March 7, 2011

Pension system bills taken up in Oklahoma legislature

Joe Dorman State Representative
The Express-Star

CHICKASHA — It was a very busy week at the Capitol as discussion began before the full House of Representatives regarding the various bills dealing with pension systems.

HB 2132 was the first of these bills. This legislation advanced by the Republican leadership requires that cost-of-living-adjustments (COLA’s) must have a funding mechanism to pay for that amount before a COLA could be granted to retirees.

I had grave concerns over one provision in the bill requiring the State Board of Equalization to certify the revenue stream to be available, and essentially giving this Board the authority to kill the legislation.

In my opinion, this takes away legislative authority to discuss and possibly negotiate ideas throughout the discussion and would prevent us from doing our jobs in the future.

Supreme Court rulings have stricken down legislation with similar ideas to shift authority under the checks-and-balances of our system of government, so I fear this bill will be challenged in the court system. This bill moves on for consideration in a Senate Committee.

Another bill of interest considered this week was HB 1225 by Rep. Pat Ownbey. This bill would require that a funding source be designated for all future initiative petitions submitting changes to the Oklahoma Constitution.

I amended this bill to require the Office of State Finance to prepare an estimate of the cost to the state budget of the constitutional change if passed by the people.

This would give taxpayers and voters an idea of what the actual cost would be rather than relying on estimates by competing groups which might affect the outcome.  This bill will also move on to the Senate for consideration.

It has been a busy time of good events around our area, and we will see some great things coming up this weekend. I had a chance to attend the American Farmers and Ranchers state convention and congratulate students for winning in their speech categories and I also had the opportunity to help award checks in all three of my counties from Rural Economic Action Program (REAP) grants.

On the topic of grants, special thanks go to REC for awarding annual grants to our local fire departments in their service area.

On Friday, Comanche County legislators hosted Governor Mary Fallin at Fort Sill, which is part of my legislative district and educate her on various programs affecting our area.

On Saturday, I was pleased to attend the Elgin Cub Scouts Awards, the Fletcher Livestock Show and the Elgin 4-H Cake Auction. On Sunday, I visited with the Central High FFA at their stock show and attended the Apache Rattlesnake Hunt Association where I was drafted to work the snake pit over the weekend of April 15-17, so stop by and enjoy the show.

This upcoming weekend, I’ll attend the annual Terri Hardzog Memorial Round Robin Showmanship competition at the Comanche County Livestock Show, visiting with student groups at Comanche County Memorial Hospital and Caddo Kiowa Career Tech, along with trying to make it to the state playoffs to root for the Fort Cobb-Broxton boys and Cyril girls basketball teams.  Best of luck to both of them this weekend!

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 P.O. 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.