If you have been keeping up with the news, the petition for creating a $500 million bond issue to help local schools build storm shelters was officially filed. We have 90 days from September 18th to complete the task of getting a minimum of 160,000 registered Oklahoma voters to sign this petition to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot to allow for this program to occur. The legislature has twice refused to discuss this issue, so I am hoping we will be able to get this to a vote and passed by the people. If you would like more information on this program, go to their website and read more about the program, or please email a request for signature sheets and help us get the petition signed with the emails provided on the site. You can learn more on Facebook by searching for Take Shelter Oklahoma for their page, or going to: www.takeshelterok.com
It was a busy week with more than storm shelters to be discussed. I held an interim study on the possible effects of pension reform in Oklahoma. Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-OKC and I both had persons in to look at the positives and negatives of changing the current seven retirement systems by consolidating them into one and also by changing the programs from Defined Benefits to Defined Contributions. I am very much opposed to consolidating the systems and I do not think it is in the best interest to modify the plans. State employees have not seen a pay raise in almost a decade, along with school teachers, so the retirement system is one of the few benefits they receive which keeps good employees in state service. This will affect public employees, teachers, firefighters, law enforcement and elected officials with any potential changes. I see this as a part of their annual salary which they receive, with this portion delayed until they retire and can draw those benefits.