BY JOE DORMAN
RUSH SPRINGS —
It was a sad week as two dear friends of mine passed away. Jackie Mitchell, the longtime tag agent in Elgin died after a long struggle with illness. Jackie was a strong community leader and was working on establishing a block party in Elgin to help unite the community in a social event, but was unable to complete the task with declining health. Jackie's funeral was attended by many friends, family and community leaders and it was a wonderful tribute to her life. Oklahoma also lost one of the great public servants with the passing of retired Supreme Court Justice Ralph Hodges. I first became acquainted with Justice Hodges at our weekly lunch at Edna's in Oklahoma City when I was a young staff member. About 20 older politicos would meet at this time and the stories I heard were entertaining, informative and often encouraging. The membership diminished over the years, and it changed to a breakfast group, which I still attended during session after I was elected, and even a fantasy football league for fun for a period of time. We have lost several of the group in recent years, including longtime state finance official Jay Casey, retired assistant Attorney General David Hudson, retired Transportation Secretary Delmas Ford and . I learned a lot from these gentlemen over the years and owe a lot of my dedication to public service to them. I was honored that they allowed a youngster to join them and learn from them.
The bill filing deadline is complete and 1,259 bills were filed in the House of Representatives, along with 1,119 submitted in the State Senate.
My bills are as follows:
HB 2227 - Establishes a system in the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics to help find runaways and abductees; HB 2228 - Creates the Protect Against Pedophiles Act to allow schools the ability to do enhanced background checks through the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations; HB 2229 - Amends the state school aid formula to modernize amounts for increased school transportation costs; HB 2230 - Updates the Bridge to Literacy program to allow for Positive Tomorrows, a school for children who are homeless, to qualify for state funding; HB 2231 - Establishes a web portal for state emergency management to provide updates during disasters for people by county or region; HB 2232 - Creates the Constitutional Challenge Litigation Fund to allow for private individuals or groups to help pay for state challenges to lawsuits regarding legislation from the state or federal levels of government; HB 2233 - Currently reserved to address issues and awareness with Oklahoma gun laws regarding rights of our citizens and reciprocity with other states; HJR 1043 - Provides for a state constitutional amendment to allow local schools to adopt a bond to provide for enhanced school security and hire school resource officers.
I also filed about six other bills which I am trying to find another legislator to assume the primary duties of carrying the bill. Some of these deal with Oklahoma lien laws, adverse possession and teachers' retirement issues. I also have a bill reserved already for next year to create a constitutional amendment for blanket primaries in Oklahoma.
I had the pleasure of serving on a panel on Monday where several legislators discussed school consolidation issues, hosted by the Professional Educators of Oklahoma. I also toured a drug rehabilitation facility at the request of a local judge to look at innovative ways to treat drug abuse rather than simply send those to jail who might have a chance to clean up their lives. While we need to be cautious with treatment versus jail time, I feel we need to look at situations on a case-by-case basis. I appreciate the work our judges and District Attorneys do with drug courts in Oklahoma.