Senator Holt’s Bethany Tribune Column

Below is Senator David Holt’s column this week for the Bethany Tribune.

State Capitol Report

By Senator David Holt

March 18, 2011

Greetings, Tribune reader!   It is time again to provide you an occasional update as to what is happening at your State Capitol.

When last I wrote, the 53rd Legislature had just begun.    Since then, we have spent the time hearing bills in committees and considering them on the floors of our respective chambers.  As you read this, the Legislature has completed much of that work, and now bills that have survived this far will make the journey across the building to the opposite chamber for consideration there.

The House and Senate have each tackled many of the same issues, and those priorities largely reflect the agenda set out by Governor Fallin in her State of the State address that began this session.  That agenda focused on education reform and pro-business initiatives.

In education, the Legislature has moved ahead with reconsideration of some long-held bureaucratic and labor assumptions.   In the area of encouraging economic growth, the Legislature has advanced milestone lawsuit reform and workers compensation reform.  

In addition, both chambers have continued their mutual work on a fiscal year 2012 budget, which will require some tough choices to address a half-billion dollar gap.  Both chambers have also been meeting together in a special task force to consider immigration legislation.   Individually, the House and Senate have also considered pro-life bills, pro-Second Amendment bills, pension reform, property and income tax relief, and government modernization.

Though every legislator plays a role in the development of the legislation considered in their committees and in each chamber, the members of your Tribune delegation are particularly engaged in their own legislation.

Senator Cliff Branan has been focused on energy and transportation legislation, plus bills to encourage use of natural gas by utility companies, and to create a task force to study the potential privatization of the state’s golf courses.

Rep. Charles Key has been focused on insurance legislation, plus bills to increase access to the ballot for third parties, and to increase the teaching of our founding documents.

Rep. Sally Kern has been focused on pro-life and education legislation, plus bills to increase the consequences for child pornographers, to strengthen safeguards against the use of foreign law in Oklahoma courts, and increase access to long-term care counseling.

Rep. Elise Hall has been focused on education legislation, plus bills to limit government growth and publicly-funded art.

For my part, I’ve been focused on legislation to put the taxpayers back in charge of local spending decisions that are now being made by unaccountable arbitrators, plus bills to lower the state income tax, to simplify the prosecution of registered sex offenders, to make grand prix races possible, to reschedule our presidential primary to comply with new national party rules, to name the Interstate 44 bridge over the Red River after President George W. Bush, and to increase the preference for Oklahoma products when state agencies make acquisitions.   I will also be spending a great deal of time in the coming weeks considering our new Senate district lines, as I am the Vice Chair of the Redistricting Committee, responsible for Central Oklahoma.

Just over two months remain in the 2011 legislative session, and as always, I encourage you to express your thoughts to myself and the rest of your Tribune delegation.   You can find our contact information at www.oksenate.gov or www.okhouse.gov.   We are honored to serve you.

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