In January, the Republican majority caucus in the Oklahoma House of Representatives announced a legislative agenda aimed at helping grow our state’s economy, prosper our citizens and protect our rights.
On the first day of the session, Gov. Mary Fallin outlined a similar plan in her annual “State-of-the-State Address,” and I am pleased to see that, for the most part, we are on the same page. I am hopeful that we can work together to find success on good, conservative policies during the next four months.
House Republicans have made income tax reduction, major workers’ compensation and public pension system reform and education funding the key cogs of our 2013 agenda.
Letting families keep more of the hard-earned money so they can put food on the table and gas in the tank is just as much of a moral issue as an economic one. It is simply the right thing to do.
Reforming our expensive, inefficient workers’ compensation system will lower costs for business, ensure that workers get proper medical care and get back on the job faster and incentivize new companies to relocate to our state. When business owners can put more of their money back into their businesses, they can innovate, expand and hire new employees.
House Republicans also want to return more control over education decisions back to the local communities and push back against federal education mandates that inhibit our ability to implement commonsense reforms. Our focus should always be on our children, and the best way to improve outcomes is by raising the bar for our students, schools and teachers.
I was also pleased to see the governor call on the legislature to take a hard look at our state assets and reduce inefficiencies. House Speaker T.W. Shannon has proposed a policy that would consolidate the six existing asset boards into a single board authorized to evaluate state assets’ based upon their most urgent needs. The board would have the ability to liquidate the state’s most underutilized assets. The state would then take those revenues and combine it with a permanent pay-as-you-go funding stream, rather than issuing bonds, to repair and maintain our most important assets, such as the state Capitol building.
Finally, the House recently passed new rules for the 2013 session that will help make our chamber the most transparent it has ever been. Two years ago, the House required conference committees to actually meet, provide notice to the public and record votes, which was a seismic shift in practice after more than 100 years of backroom deals. This year, the House voted to change the process for determining which bills are heard on the House floor.
Previously, the House Majority Floor Leader had absolute discretion regarding which bills to place on the calendar for consideration. This year, we have created a House Calendar Committee made up of both Democrats and Republicans to determine which bills will get placed on the calendar.
It is not a perfect solution, but it brings more voices to the table, more fairness to the process and more accountability to the citizens.
Thank you for letting me serve as your state representative! As always, feel free to contact me at (405) 557-7379. God Bless, Oklahoma!