December 28, 2010

Expect more cutbacks in '11

CHICKASHA — I hope everyone had an excellent Christmas weekend.

I was fortunate to be able to spend the holiday with my sisters, their families and my mother for lunch, and I also visited several friends both Christmas Eve and Christmas Night.

I've been recovering from a cold I caught on the plane home last week, so I hope I'm on the tail-end of the coughing and sneezing.

I am also happy to report we had over 500 Christmas cards turned in for the soldiers recovering at Reynolds Army Hospital at Fort Sill for the card program we administer. 

Thank you to all who sent cards, especially the school groups who participated!

The offices have been changing at the State Capitol over the past few weeks. I will now be in room 507 should you stop in for a tour or for assistance. We are also in the deadline week for providing substantive language for the bills each legislator has requested. 

I fully expect we will have a busy session dealing with many issues of significance, especially with a budget which will require cutbacks.

The outlook appears to be improving, but we are still expecting a shortfall on overall tax collections to impact the budget. We will know more as dollars are certified early in 2011.

I am honored to serve on four committees again this year. I will once again serve on the full Appropriations & Budget (A&B) Committee and the Rules Committee, and I was assigned to serve on the Insurance Committee and the A&B Subcommittee on Public Safety. I have a great interest in the Rules and Budget situation we face, and I also look forward to the challenges Insurance will provide with the many federal mandates and challenges we will face.

There is quite a bit of discussion on changes to rules and policy on how the House is run.

I expect we will see more transparency with how decisions are made and also how much time is provided for members to read bills at the end of session and ask questions. 

The final two weeks have always been chaotic and things tend to be "snuck" into bills. I think enough of us have been elected now that we can force changes into the system to allow for more study on what is included in legislation.

I will file several amendments to the rules to open the system to more scrutiny and also provide adequate time to study bills before a vote occurs.

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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