Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cockroft Column: Rep. Cockroft Announces Legislative Agenda

 Lawmakers have filed their bills for the 2013 legislative session. I have decided to push for school board election reform, open record request accessibility, voter ID and bills supporting our Second Amendment rights. Below is a description of each of my bills.

My legislation, House Bill 1887, would change all school board election dates to correspond to a regular November election cycle in odd-numbered years. It would also make school board member terms four years. The intent is to increase voter participation, accountability and input into school board elections. I also filed House Bill 1891, which  would require voters to prove their citizenship and the verification of signatures for individuals requesting an absentee ballot.

I have filed House Bill 1888 to improve the process of complying with open record requests. This bill authorizes the chief information officer to consolidate the process to one website where open record requests for any state agency or board can be made.

House Bill 1889 would change current ethic rules to allow a county party to contribute to a candidate or candidate committee independently. Currently, state and county parties act as one entity when it comes to campaign contributions.

House Bill 1895 would reduce appropriations to the Oklahoma Arts Council. This saves the state $4 million annually, which can be redirected to core services. It will also ensure the state is not competing with the private sector in the art industry.

I filed the following bills at the request of constituents and other organizations:

House Bill 1890 would modify the sex offender “zone of safety” by increasing the age of children they must avoid and prohibit them from entering a state park. I filed this legislation at the request of the Pottawatomie County sheriff’s department and the Oklahoma Department of Tourism and Recreation.

House Bill 1892 is a constituent request bill that will allow employees to object to receiving a vaccination against influenza.

House Bill 1893 would modify the manner in which handguns may be transported on certain public properties. This bill was requested by the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, which includes members of my district. The organization also requested House Bill 1894, which allows firearm training and qualification course providers to determine the course fee and allows for immunity against civil liability in certain instances. House Bill 2012 makes firearms, ammunition and other items exempt from federal law and regulation when it is made and sold within the borders of Oklahoma.

Beginning in 2014, House Bill 1896 requires high students to earn a career and technology education credential to graduate. This is a workforce development bill requested by the Career Tech Association. The organization also requested House Bill 1898, which allows the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program to include certain career technology courses.

House Bill 1897 was requested by Pottawatomie County Commissioner Eddie Stackhouse. It designates the Sergeant Bret Daniel Isenhower Memorial Highway on a portion of Highway 59 in honor of his sacrifice.

My constituents are frustrated with the current system for electing county officials. If two Republican candidates run for a county office and no Democrat files, than no Democrat can vote in the election. Making county offices non-partisan will allow everyone to vote, regardless of who files for what is really not a partisan office. I have filed House Bill 1899 and House Bill 1900 with the intent of making county races non-partisan. HB1899 has the support of the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association and would specifically target county sheriff races.

I will continue to keep you informed of the developments at the Capitol as the legislative session convenes.

Once again, I am here for the people of my district. I am in a position of service and want to help in any way that I can. Please never hesitate to contact me at (405) 788-9160 or Josh.Cockroft@okhouse.gov. Follow me on Twitter: @VoteCockroft27 and on Facebook: Representative Josh Cockroft.


  1. "Insure that the state is not competing with the private sector in the arts..."

    This makes little sense. Do you think the state could successfully "crowd out" the private sector in the arts, leaving the private sector without enough artists for its needs? Even if this were a possibility these days, the consequences would be that the demand for artists would rise, causing them to make more money! Oh no! ;)

    The arts are an essential part of our nation and state's culture. Both education in the arts and exposure to the arts are sorely needed. We cannot rely solely on the private sector to adequately provide arts exposure to all our citizens anymore than we can rely on the private sector to adequately provide enough math exposure to school-age children.

    By defunding the the Oklahoma Arts Council, you will be taking away arts exposure from Oklahoma citizens who will have no other way of getting it. And you will also be reducing the state's number of resident artists who strive to make Oklahoma a more interesting place - a key element of our state's quality of life and something that businesses may consider closely when considering where they want to locate.

    You will also be making the arts that remain more expensive for Oklahomans, creating a more class-based arts environment.

    I ask you to please reconsider. Thanks for your time! Steven Stark

  2. Label the Arts (painters, sculptors, weavers, carvers, potters, photographers, jewelers, hair and makeup artists, film producers, animators, law enforcement sketch artists, poets, singers, church choir members, instrumentalists, ballet dancers, belly dancers, actors & thespians alike, producers, writers, hobos playing harmonica on a cold January night, karaoke performers, exotic dancers, drunk guys singing along to "Take My Breath Away", landscapers, architects, comedians, glass blowers & metal workers) as manufacturers, and they can get in on that $1.78 billion in state business incentives.

  3. Mr. Cockroft.....are you aware that a couple of your very generous campaign contributors are staunch patrons of the arts?

    Your legislation to defund arts education in Oklahoma makes absolutely no sense. You might want to contact your contributors to see what they think.

  4. Hmm kill OAC? It is a $4mil investment that brings back $29mil to the state? Not to mention lost services? Shame on you for throwing your own people you represent under the bus.

  5. You need to seriously reconsider Bill 1895.
    It is an ABSURD notion that we don't need the arts to be funded. I would ask that you do some SERIOUS research before you try to pull the funding to figure out how much money they've BROUGHT INTO this state. Look at the Paseo district, look at how many galleries have popped up, look at how much tourism they bring into the area. Furthermore, it "will also ensure the state is not competing with the private sector in the art industry" is a ridiculous notion. Competition is a fantastic motivator. Let's move FORWARD and not BACKWARD.
    Art is an undeniable necessity in our lives, whether you want to acknowledge it or not. It teaches us to be critical thinkers and problem solvers, it pushes us to think outside of the box, to come up with new - inventive ideas. How are you going to oppose something like that? Shame on you.
    - An-out-of-work-art-teacher-because-the-arts-are-already-under-funded-in-this-state

  6. Please withdraw HB1895. All citizens benefit from the arts. They are part of the fabric of our lives. This bill will effect the financial well being of a number of your own constituants and their small business enterprises. This bill is certainly not well considered. It was tried in Kansas and the political blowback caused their legislature to reverse their course and reinstate the funding. Who do you think made that sculpture that sits atop our Capitol building? It was an artist. Who painted those portraits that adorn the hallways of the Capitol? Artists, that's who. If the arts is good enough to embelish the building where you work then you should reconsider what you are trying to do.

    Walker Lane