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Opinion

March 14, 2014

Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo and the Common Good

(Continued)

CHICKASHA —

For example House Bill 2763 by Rep. Brian Reneger of McAlester and the vote on it qualified as Good. The bill authorized custodial grandparents to claim a $5,000 income tax deduction.  In Oklahoma, 8.6% of all children are living in a grandparent’s household.  According to data taken from research published by the Population Reference Bureau and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, nationally, $45,000 is the median income for families with grandparent households responsible for grandchildren under 18.  Often those grandparents have significant health problems and many grandparents are forced to re-enter the work force or delay retirement to care for grandchildren and meet other aging related expenses.  This bill passed out of the house 91-0

The Bad was the infighting of the majority party during questions on House Bill 2540 by Rep. Terry O’Donnell, a conscientious and dedicated Freshman Republican.  Rep. O’Donnell’s bill was a reintroduction of a bill similar to Rep. Curtis McDaniels’ bill from last session to curb texting and other distracting use of mobile devices while driving.  Under siege, Rep. O’Donnell withdrew his bill before it could be voted on.  It was a worthy bill.  In 2012, there were more than 11,000 Oklahoma crashes in which distraction played a role.  That is more than one reported crash every 50 minutes in the Sooner State. Nationally, in 2011, there were 3,331 people killed in distraction related crashes.  When are the citizens of Oklahoma going to stand up and hold the legislature responsible for the fact that we do not have a law prohibiting texting while driving.

The absolute Ugly is the politicization of the School Storm Shelter and Safe Room issue.  First Rep. Joe Dorman kicked off an Initiative Petition for a vote of the people to fund a bond issue with corporate franchise taxes.  The Attorney General ruled that the language was not sufficient and the Petition process stalled.  That Petition is now tied up in Court with allegations of partisanship from both sides.  Subsequently the Governor pushed legislation to place a state question on the ballot to fund storm shelters with increased property taxes.  Once again, both sides have alleged partisan politics.  You should investigate both proposals and hold the party or parties that have politicized this issue accountable.  Being a citizen is not an easy job.  You have a duty to study the issues and know the truth.  The fact that the safety of our children is at stake makes this an ugly, disgusting and despicable escapade.

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