Occasionally, I hear comments about how legislators only work four months out of the year. I have to laugh at this a little and respond that I wish someone would tell me which eight months I have off. Though the session meets from the first Monday in February and must conclude by the final Friday in May, there is plenty of work to keep legislators busy if they treat the job as a full-time position. Many legislators will hold down other employment, such as insurance or real estate agents, attorneys or a possible career from prior to their election. I do not disparage that choice, but I am glad I chose to do this position full-time and I hope I have done the service for the district as they have expected.
One benefit to this choice is the ability to work on legislative issues year-round. On Monday, I met with law enforcement officers to look at modifications to some laws which have allowed criminals to swindle certain systems. I will go into this further when the bill filing period gets closer. Needless to say, there are many people out there who find ways to cheat the system of laws which have been created rather than earn an honest living. I feel it is our job to constantly be working on ideas to improve our state.
Along those lines, serving as a full-time legislator allows time to research upcoming interim studies. I have seven studies which will be heard in the months ahead. So far, three of the studies have been set with times and locations. Here is the current update:
*13-060 – Community Poultry & Garden Exchange – Agriculture Committee, room 432a - 9/17/13 – 1:30 p.m.;
*13-081 – School Storm Shelters – Common Education Committee – no date set yet;
*13-084 – State Agency Reserve Funds – States Rights Committee – no date set yet;
*13-085 – Runaway Alert System – Human Services Committee, room 412c – 9/24/13 – 9:00 a.m.;
*13-086 – Review of Positive Tomorrows – Human Services Committee, room 412c – 9/24/13 – 10:00 a.m.;
*13-087 – State employee/educator pay & benefits compared to private sector jobs – Appropriations & Budget, room 432a – no date set yet;
*13-090 – Structure & management of state retirement systems – Economic Development Committee – no date set yet.
I will keep you informed on any updates to these studies. If you have an interest in attending one or more, please let me know and I will have you added to that specific interim study distribution list.
I am also blessed to have the opportunity to work with many worthy groups. I serve on several boards for youth programs, including the YMCA Youth in Government program, 4-H and the Oklahoma Intercollegiate Legislature. All these programs are starting back up for the school year, so let me know if you would like more information on them. I also have the chance to support programs specifically in our area, such as the back to school event held last week for local students, which was organized by Chickasha teachers. Rep. David Perryman and I were pleased to distribute books to students provided by Feed the Children and the Oklahoma Education Association. Later that week, I attended the Elgin FFA back-to-school ice cream social and even brought some homemade ice cream. Both were great evenings!
To conclude this week, I received sad news about the death of a former colleague. Rep. Odelia Dank passed away Saturday after a long battle with cancer. Odelia’s husband, David, was elected to her seat following retirement due to term limits. I met them both at my first Speaker’s Ball back in 1995. I had the chance to sit with them and enjoyed the evening’s discussion. Odelia was responsible for originally authoring many of the education policy changes we currently see in the law, though most did not pass until after her service. She stood by her convictions on what she felt was important. I enjoyed the opportunity to work with her as a staff member and to later serve with her as a legislator. I send my condolences to David and their family.