Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bond Cap Legislation Passes House Floor

OKLAHOMA CITY – A measure to limit bonded debt and ensure the public’s tax dollars are spent and protected in a responsible manner passed out of the Oklahoma House today.

House Bill 2195, by Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon, would establish a cap on the nominal state bond debt to not rise above current levels. Today, outstanding tax supported bond debt is just under $2 billion. This does not include the nearly $12 billion in unfunded pension liabilities.

Under the bill, if a new bond was requested, the state debt would have to be lower than it is currently by more than the cost of the new bond in order to be obtained. Simply put, this bill means the state’s debt load can only go down, not up.

“Politicians can always come up with reasons to spend money, and we’ve seen what unchecked spending has done in Washington, D.C.,” said Speaker Shannon, R-Lawton. “As conservatives, we must ensure Oklahoma does not go down the same path. With a credit limit in place, we can be better stewards of taxpayers’ money and avoid forcing unneeded debt on future generations.”

HB 2195 now advances to the Senate.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Speaker T.W. Shannon’s Welfare Reform Bill Passes Committee

OKLAHOMA CITY – Today, the Human Services Committee overwhelmingly passed one of Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon’s major initiatives to reform social programs. 

House Bill 1909 will require able-bodied recipients ages 18 to 50, who are not disabled or raising a child, to perform at least 35 hours of work activities to receive food stamps.  Those activities include job seeking and career training, volunteer work and or education directly related to employment opportunities.

“The best social program is a hardworking, good paying job,” said Speaker Shannon, R-Lawton.  “We can break the cycle of poverty by getting rid of incentives that encourage people to stay unemployed and instead direct them down the path of opportunity.  If we reduce the number of people on government subsidies, social programs can be better directed towards those who truly need the assistance.”

HB 1909 will now move on to House Calendar Committee. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Committee Approves Oklahoma Firearms Freedom Act

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Firearms Freedom Act was approved unanimously Wednesday by the House Public Safety Committee.

House Bill 2021 would exempt guns or ammunition made in the state from federal regulations, but specifies that to qualify for the exemption the guns must be clearly marked as “Made in Oklahoma” and kept within state boundaries.

“This is a very popular idea amongst my constituents in District 27,” said Rep. Josh Cockroft, a principal author of the measure. “For too long now, the federal government has been taking more and more control of different areas – things they shouldn’t be getting into. The Second Amendment is a basic right for all Americans and extremely important to Oklahomans. The federal government should not interfere with that amendment or how a state wants to administer that right within its boundaries.”

Legislation such as this makes Oklahoma a great relocation option for gun companies in states with more restrictive gun laws. For example, the Democrat-controlled legislature in Colorado has passed restrictive gun measures that cripple companies that operate in the state. Several House members have sent a copy of this measure and a letter to MagPul Industries in Boulder, Colo., informing them of the friendlier operational environment here in Oklahoma. A potential move of a company such as this to the state could be an economic plus and bring hundreds of new jobs to Oklahoma.

“Here in Oklahoma, we believe in the Second Amendment and the position of the National Rifle Association,” said Cockroft-R, Tecumseh. “While it is unfortunate other states do not see the positives of this, it will be a positive for us, as our common-sense approach to big issues will be an attraction for companies that might be looking to get away from onerous, unneeded gun restrictions.”

Monday, February 18, 2013

Legislation Would Address Unfunded School Mandates

OKLAHOMA CITY – An education bill approved unanimously by a House budget subcommittee would address the state’s numerous unfunded mandates.

House Bill 1711, by state Rep. Todd Thomsen, would establish the School District Unfunded Mandate Relief Program to allow school districts to deregulate from unfunded or underfunded mandates. To do so, school boards would pass resolutions to deregulate from mandates and notify the state education department.

The measure would also require the state education department to publish a list of all mandates, showing the amount of funding necessary. Unfunded or underfunded mandates would be defined as mandates funded at 75 percent or below of the necessary funding level.

“State regulation of schools is a source of many local school budget problems,” said Thomsen, R-Ada. “Too often, state laws regarding education are one-size-fits-all and are especially penalizing when they are unfunded or underfunded. As a local control advocate, I believe this bill is an important first step to restoring balance to the relationship between local school boards and the state.”

House Bill 1711 was approved by the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Common Education. It is now available for a hearing by the House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Governor Fallin Announces Appointment of Larry Parman as Secretary of State

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin announced today that Larry V. Parman of Oklahoma City will be appointed secretary of state and will begin serving on March 1, 2013. Parman replaces Michelle Day, who has been acting as interim secretary of state since February 1. He will serve as a senior advisor to the governor on policy, economic and legislative issues. The appointment requires the confirmation of the Oklahoma State Senate.
 “Larry Parman is a successful and experienced businessman who knows what it takes to create jobs in this challenging economy,” said Fallin. “He will be a great asset to the state and to my office as we work to develop and implement reforms that improve our business environment and spur private sector growth.”
“My thanks also go out to both former Secretary of State Glenn Coffee and Michelle Day,” Fallin continued. “Both performed their duties enthusiastically and well. I know Larry will continue the tradition of excellence in the Office of the Secretary of State.”
 Since 1984 Parman has served as the CEO of Parman & Easterday, an Oklahoma City estate planning, elder law and business planning firm that has served over 4,000 clients throughout the Midwest.  He has also been a partner in Notch It Up Strategies LLC, a firm that offers marketing and executive development programs to business owners and C-level executives.  Parman also served as President of The Hawthorn Group, a public affairs firm in Alexandria, Virginia and President and CEO of Trencor, Incorporated, an Oklahoma-based financial holding firm.  He is the author or co-author of multiple books on estate planning, financial planning and business, including  Above the Fray: Leading Yourself, Your Business and Others During Turbulent Times, published in 2013 by Glazer-Kennedy Publishing, a New York City based publishing firm.  
“Serving on Governor Fallin’s cabinet is an honor to which I am greatly looking forward to,” said Parman. “Oklahoma is blessed to have a governor and a Legislature firmly committed to moving this state forward. I look forward to working with them both on policies and reforms that will help to build a stronger and more prosperous state.”  

Parman has served on the board of directors for a variety of civic and business related institutions, including the Oklahoma Council on Economic Development, the Research Institute for Economic Development and Junior Achievement of Oklahoma City, where he also served as chairman of the board for two terms.  He is a current member of the Oklahoma and Missouri Bar Associations and the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys.

Parman also served as a captain in the U.S. Army. He received an honorable discharge in 1978.

Parman received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia and his law degree from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.

He and his wife, Darlene, have two children, Alexandra Parman Pitts of Portland, Oregon and Scott Parman of Oklahoma City.   

Oklahoma House of Representatives Weekly Wrap

Bill to Reduce Frivolous Unemployment Claims Clears Committee

A bill aimed at preventing frivolous unemployment benefit claims passed out of the House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee this week.

House Bill 1911, by House Speaker T.W. Shannon, would modify the Employment Security Act of 1980 by requiring applicants for unemployment benefits to sign an affidavit stating the he or she does not meet any specific criteria that would disqualify the applicant from eligibility to receive benefits.

The measure also lays out a list of actions that would be “misconduct” on the part of an employee if done during the course of employment and that would disqualify a person terminated for any of those actions from receiving unemployment benefits.

Finally, the bill shifts the burden of proof from the employer to the terminated employee to show that the action that led to his or her termination was not misconduct that would disqualify him or her from receiving benefits.

HB 1911 passed the committee in an 8-4 vote. It now proceeds to the House Calendar Committee, which will determine if the measure will be heard by the full body of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Legislation Would Ask Voters to Further Limit State Spending

State Rep. Elise Hall is concerned that without a more appropriate spending limitation, Oklahoma’s public sector could grow too fast in “boom” years.

House Joint Resolution 1011 would ask voters to approve a constitutional limit on appropriations that would lower the current limit of a 12 percent increase on the previous year’s appropriations when adjusted for inflation.

The legislation has been approved 14-9 by the House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

State government growth has regularly exceeded private sector growth in Oklahoma since voters approved a 1985 spending limitation, according to Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs fiscal analyst Jonathan Small. State employment grew by 8.57 percent from 2000 to 2010 while private sector employment grew by only 6.07 percent. Government expenditures have grown 72.20 percent from 2001 to 2010 while private earnings have grown by only 40.71 percent.

Rep. Wood’s Electronic Monitoring Bill Clears House Committee

A bill that would require inmates being monitored electronically to make arrangements to pay fines and restitution easily cleared the House Public Safety Committee this week.

House Bill 1766, by state Rep. Justin Wood, would require an inmate assigned to the Electronic Monitoring Program to report within 30 days of being placed into the community to the court clerk and the district attorney of the county where the judgment and sentence resulting in incarceration arose to address the payment of any fines, costs, restitution and/or assessments owed by the inmate.

HB 1766 passed the committee on a bipartisan 12-0 vote. It now proceeds to the House Calendar Committee, which will determine if the measure will be heard by the full body of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Committee Approves Aerial Hog Hunting Bill

Legislation that would allow aerial hunting of feral hogs has been approved unanimously in a House committee.

House Bill 1920, as amended by state Rep. Dustin Roberts, would allow a permit for any landowner or any person who has contracted with a landowner to engage in the management of depredating animals by use of aircraft on the land of the landowner.

House Bill 1920 was approved by a 13-0 vote by the Oklahoma House of Representatives Agriculture and Wildlife Committee. If approved by the House Calendar Committee, the measure will be available for a hearing on the House floor.

Committee Approves Abortion Reporting Bill

Legislation would add expand abortion reporting law was approved by a House committee this week.

House Bill 2015, by state Rep. Sean Roberts, would add additional questions to the Individual Abortion Form completed by the abortion provider, add additional reporting measures to the Annual Abortion Report issued by the Oklahoma State Department of Health and allow registered voters to initiate legal proceedings against an abortion provider who fails to comply with the reporting requirements.

Roberts said the intent of the bill is to update reporting requirements to reflect law passed since the Statistical Abortion Reporting Law took effect in 2010.

For example, House Bill 2015 requires that an abortion provider report whether or not they complied with the provisions of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which lawmakers overwhelmingly enacted two years ago, he said.

The Oklahoma House of Representative Public Health Committee approved the legislation by a vote of 7-3. If approved by the House Calendar Committee, the measure will be available for a hearing on the House floor.

Bill to Wind Down Questionable Welfare Program Passes Committee

The Children First Home Visitation Program is a “moribund” government program that is wasting funding that could better serve the targeted population, according to one state lawmaker.

House Bill 1063, by state Rep. Mark McCullough would disband the Children First Program, return federal Affordable Care Act funding and suspend three smaller home visitation programs until an audit could be performed.

McCullough said he is a proponent of home visitation, when done right, which intervenes in the lives of fragile and broken families.

McCullough said that the number of individuals served by the program has fallen drastically and the qualitative results of those served is marginal. Despite receiving only 11 percent less in funding than in 2001, the agency now serves 56 percent fewer individuals (a drop of approximately 4,500 individuals). Father involvement in the families served by the program decreases by 10 percent over a 6 month period when while other qualitative measures, at best, show small improvement over the control group.

McCullough said that in past two years he tried to work with the program to make changes, but his bills died in the legislative process likely due to lobbying by those associated with the program.

McCullough said critics will likely be shocked by his proposal and will argue that we are dropping a service for thousands.

Home visitation is an excellent way to send a professional into the homes of families that have multiple risk factors for child neglect and catch people early in the social service process before those risk factors balloon into full-blown crises. This program uses nurses where paraprofessionals are becoming the new standard. The health of the child and the mother are affected by multiple risk factors  that can be more effectively monitored and addressed by better, more modern interventions.”
After studying these programs for four years and at two extensive seminars, he said there are numerous new models, which would likely yield far better results.

Legislation Calls for Reducing Waste and Improving Safety in Unregulated Prescription Drug Delivery Industry

Legislators gathered at the state Capitol this week to bring attention to unnecessary waste in pharmaceutical spending and the need to evenly regulate pharmacy benefit managers.

State Rep. David Derby, R-Owasso, and state Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, introduced House 2100, to bring pharmacy benefit managers under the regulation of the Oklahoma State Board of Pharmacy.

Derby said pharmacy benefit managers have increasingly become direct deliverers of prescription drugs to patients through out-of-state mail-order systems, but have yet to be regulated in the same way as their licensed colleagues practicing in the Oklahoma retail community pharmacy setting.  To protect patients under industry confidentiality standards and to minimize wasteful prescriptions in a costly industry, House Bill 2100 would extend well-meaning regulation to this larger prescription drug delivery industry.

Research shows that patients adhere to their doctor-recommended drug regimens better when they receive their medications from a local pharmacy rather than through a mail-order system, with compliance rates much higher for life-threatening and chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension and asthma.

Bill that expunges human trafficking records passes Public Safety Committee

House Bill 1058, authored by State Rep. Sally Kern, was passed by the Public Safety Committee last week.

The bill passed the Public Safety Committee on a 10-0 vote. The bill would allow those kidnapped and forced into human sex trafficking who have had a charge or conviction of prostitution filed against them to have their record expunged from law enforcement and court records.

House Bill 1058 will now move to the House for approval.

Native American Caucus Elects New Co-Chairs

The Native American Caucus has elected the co-chairs of the caucus and the caucus secretary for the 54th Legislature.

The purpose of the caucus is to identify and address state policy that affects Oklahoma’s 39 federally-recognized tribes, and to facilitate state-tribal communications and policy processes pertaining to sovereignty.

The caucus was established in 2006 through the foresight of state Rep. Lisa Billy and former state Rep. Shane Jett. The National Council of Native American Legislators was formed in the 1980s and was reformed as the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators in 1992.

Billy said Oklahoma is unique because it is home to so many tribes.

As a bipartisan caucus, members elect a Republican and Democratic co-chair to head the caucus. State Rep. Dan Kirby was re-elected to serve as the Republican co-chair. State Rep. Anastasia A. Pittman was elected to serve as the Democratic co-chair.

State Rep. Seneca Scott was elected to serve as secretary of the caucus.

Kirby, an enrolled member of the Creek Nation, said he is committed to ensuring tribes have a strong voice at the Oklahoma Legislature. Kirby currently serves as the chair of the House Insurance Committee.

Pittman, an enrolled member of the Seminole Nation, previously served as secretary of the caucus for most of its existence. She said she looks forward to serving the caucus as a co-chair. She is currently the vice chair of the House Human Services Committee and the chair of Health and Human Services committee for the National Caucus of Native American State Legislators.

Scott is a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma and also secretary of the National Conference of State Legislatures Native American Caucus.

Scott said he was honored to serve the caucus as secretary.

Pittman said the caucus also serves brings national Native American issues to the Oklahoma Legislature.

Legislation Would Ask Voters to Further Limit State Spending

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Elise Hall is concerned that without a more appropriate spending limitation, Oklahoma’s public sector could grow too fast in “boom” years.

House Joint Resolution 1011 would ask voters to approve a constitutional limit on appropriations that would lower the current limit of a 12 percent increase on the previous year’s appropriations when adjusted for inflation.

The legislation has been approved 14-9 by the House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

“When lawmakers make large appropriations in revenue growth years, this leads to drastic cuts in revenue shortfall years, as we’ve witnessed firsthand in the last few years,” Hall, R-Oklahoma City, said. “I think the current spending limitation that restricts the annual growth of the state budget to 12 percent should be lowered to 7 percent to further restrict public sector growth.”

State government growth has regularly exceeded private sector growth in Oklahoma since voters approved a 1985 spending limitation, according to Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs fiscal analyst Jonathan Small. State employment grew by 8.57 percent from 2000 to 2010 while private sector employment grew by only 6.07 percent. Government expenditures have grown 72.20 percent from 2001 to 2010 while private earnings have grown by only 40.71 percent.

“Oklahomans overwhelmingly support the idea of shrinking state government, so I think it is especially appropriate to limit growth,” Hall said. “It is better to save surplus revenue for shortfall periods than to overcommit the state to expenditures that it cannot sustain.”

Monday, February 11, 2013

"A busy week" - Cockroft Column, February 12, 2013

The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted to adopt House rules, which will govern the legislative process on the House side. The most striking new rule was one that will allow a committee rather than the majority floor leader to decide what will be heard on the House floor. The floor leader will still schedule when measures will be heard, though the committee can also vote to determine that a measure will be heard at a particular time.

We have also learned the details of Governor Mary Fallin’s “Open Range” plan. The proposal seeks to place more money in K-12 classrooms by allowing school districts to take advantage of the savings from the state’s recent consolidation of information technology resources. The consolidation is already set to save Oklahoma state agencies approximately $40 million each year.

Lawmakers are also targeting antiquated laws still in Oklahoma statute. For example, a committee has approved two bills that would remove a misdemeanor for blasphemy and a prohibition against county commissioners who own railroad stock. The committee also voted to remove language regarding a fire an research and management committee, the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Act, the Oklahoma Military Base Closure Prevention Task Force and an Oklahoma Office of Volunteerism, all of which are mentioned in law but for all intensive purposes no longer exist.

Conservative lawmaker Rep. Paul Wesselhoft has teemed up with the ACLU of Oklahoma to advance three bills aimed at protect the privacy rights of Oklahomans in the face of rapidly advancing technology. House Bill 1559 would prohibit the installation of Radio Frequency Identification tracking technology in a driver’s license or state-issued identification card. House Bill 1557 would require law enforcement to obtain a warrant before they access the geolocation data stored by a cell phone user’s cellular provider. House Bill 1556 would requre law enforcement to obtain a warrant before using drones for surveillance purposes. The legislation also prohibits the use of drones carrying weapons.

Please provide any feedback and thoughts that you may have on policy. I hope to count on your support as we make our state government leaner and more efficient. Please never hesitate to contact me at (405) 788-9160 or Follow me on Twitter: @VoteCockroft27 and on Facebook: Representative Josh Cockroft.

Lawmaker Highlights Importance of Marriage

OKLAHOMA CITY – Lawmakers should not ignore the positive effect of marriage on health, education, public safety and the economy, according to one state lawmaker.

“A growing body of research suggests that marriage is good for you. It improves your health, wealth and longevity. The research also overwhelmingly shows the dramatic positive effects that intact families have on children,” said state Rep. Mark McCullough, about today’s press conference in recognition of National Marriage Week at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Mike Jestes, representing Marriage Network Oklahoma, spoke at the conference about, how as the son of a single mother and brother of two men who have spent time in prison, he knows firsthand what happens when children are born out of wedlock.

“Marriage matters to kids. Every child deserves to have a mother and a father in the home that contribute differently and to the success of that child,” he said.

Over the last few years, McCullough has held three legislative studies on family fragmentation and divorce and has brought several of the recommendations coming out of those studies to the Oklahoma Legislature. The studies found that children from broken homes are 12 times more likely to be incarcerated. Meanwhile, state spending on the criminal justice system has grown 510 percent since 1982 and Oklahoma has one of the highest incarceration rates. Those same children are also three times more likely to be expelled and to receive lower grades. “The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing” conservatively estimates the resulting taxpayer cost of divorce (largely through public assistance programs), at $112 billion per year nationally and $430 million annually in Oklahoma. It shows family fragmentation is at the epicenter of much of what state government is paying for.

“Even while we celebrate marriage, sadly the reality in our culture is that 40 percent of all first-time marriages end in divorce and 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce. As policymakers and as citizens we should be very aware of the negative outcomes created by our trend towards failed marriages. Similarly, unwed childbearing is on the rise, leaving mothers and children in poverty. I believe it is imperative that we emphasize the importance and benefits of marriage.”

Clarence Hill Jr., executive director of Eye to Eye Marriage Enrichment Community, said the increasing failure of marriages is an unrecognized crisis and that “big family equals small government.”

“A lot don’t see the level of crisis we are in right now, but we are in a crisis even though it doesn’t look like it,” Hill said.

Compared to married people, unmarried individuals have higher rates of mortality – about 50 percent higher among women and 250 percent higher among men, according to “The Impact of the Family on Health: Decade in Review” in the Journal of Marriage and the Family.

The biggest gap between married and unmarried mortality rates occurs in early middle age among adults 35-45 years of age. Married men are less likely to take part in risky and self-destructive behaviors, especially alcohol abuse, and married women reduce their smoking, drinking and drug use, according to studies. Studies have also shown that unmarried couples that move in toghether did not motivate young men and women to reduce unhealthy behaviors.

Married men and women report less depression, less anxiety and lower levels of psychological distress than those who are singled, divorced or widowed, according to Social Causes of Psychological Distress. Divorce is especially damaging to a women’s mental health. Surveys have shown divorcing women  are more likely to suffer from depression, low self-esteem and less personal growth.

“We have been talking about the mental health issues we deal with at the state level and it seems like marriage ties into them also,” McCullough said. “I think we have to talk about working on mental health issues at their source, rather than at the back end.”

Other studies have shown that marriage leads to greater wealth. For those raising children, married families accumulate the most money while single mothers and cohabiting couples had the lowest media wealth. Married couples in their fifties and sixties had a median net worth of more than $132,000 while those who  were divorced had a median net worth of $33,670 and those who had never been married had a net worth of $35,000.

“Marriage is not just an emotional relationship, but also an economic relationship,” said McCullough. “The rise of the welfare state is very closely tied to the breakdown of marriage. I support efforts such as the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative, which incentivizes a little marriage counseling for couples who are tying the knot and other policy ideas that promote marriage. Marriage really is the stepping stone to a better life.”

McCullough is the author of House Bill 1548, which would reintroduce limited fault into divorce law. Previously, he has authored “covenant marriage” legislation that would have required pre-marital counseling into the marriage process.

“Ironically, most Oklahomans value traditional marriage derived from our strong, Biblical heritage. I reach out to the faith community to redouble their efforts on strengthening and preserving the families in their own walls and communities.”

Other speakers who participated in the event include Keith Burkhart, family minister director of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma; Carol Gordan of Heartmenders; Kendy Cox, director of service delivery for the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative; Jack Myrick, project manager of the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative Service Delivery System; and the Rev. Dr. David Kimmell with the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative.

Moore Seeks Attorney General’s Opinion

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Chairman of the House of Representatives’ States’ Right Committee, Rep. Lewis Moore has transmitted a request for an opinion from the state Attorney General regarding the legislature’s ability to prevent enforcement of federal laws deemed unconstitutional.

“During the past few years, our constituencies have flooded us with correspondence expressing fear, helplessness and concern regarding the ever more aggressive encroachment of federal laws, regulation and rules,” Moore, R-Arcadia, explained. “They desperately want state officials to stand up and put an end to the overreach.”

Moore asked the Attorney General to provide instruction regarding various assertions that state government has the ability to nullify federal laws, rules and regulations that the state deems in excess of existing constitutional provision.

The Legislature is expected to take up several states’ rights pieces of legislation during the upcoming session including several measures designed to counteract recent federal actions. Moore believes the Attorney General’s opinion could provide needed direction to policymakers as his committee considers the measures over the next two years.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cockroft Column, February 4, 2013

Listening to Gov. Mary Fallin’s State of the State address this year, I was pleased with her focus on right-sizing state government, and I join her in making sure this State makes responsible decisions with taxpayers dollars. At the same time, I am hesitant to spend the savings and revenue growth we have accrued over the past several years. We have been blessed recently in coming out of a recession, but we must continue to have a responsible and cautious attitude when looking at our funds.

Gov. Fallin made it clear that there will be no push for bond issues to pay for Capitol repairs. Her speech called for $10 million in appropriations to began work on Capitol repairs and House Speaker T.W. Shannon has said he will be working on a long-term plan to pay for repairs as we go rather than through a bond issue. I think this is the right way to approach state asset management. Passing a bond simply shows that we are not truly passing a balanced budget. This is an issue that we must address this year.

I do not agree with every priority made in her executive budget, but I do think it is a starting point for us this session. I would like to see more cuts in non-essential programs, although I support efforts to increase education funding and other core services. We must start cutting small, non-essential services in order to ensure we fully fund the most important services provided by the state.

There seems to be more consensus this year among the Senate, House and Governor’s office on tax cuts and that bolds well for passage of tax cut legislation. I am looking forward to having many discussions and finding the correct answers for this issue. There is also a strong consensus on workers’ compensation reform and the governor’s decision to reject a Medicaid expansion. This is also an issue that we must address this year.

All and all, it was a good start to the 2013 legislative session.

Please provide any feedback and thoughts that you may have on policy. I hope to count on your support as we make our state government leaner and more efficient. Please never hesitate to contact me at (405) 788-9160 or Follow me on Twitter: @VoteCockroft27 and on Facebook: Representative Josh Cockroft.

Speaker T.W. Shannon Comments on State of the State Address

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) issued the following statement today in response to Gov. Mary Fallin’s State-of-the-State Address:

“I stand firmly with Gov. Fallin in her commitment to conservative policies and her willingness to further create opportunity and prosperity for Oklahomans.
“We must continue to fight together against overreach from the federal government into our state sovereignty. I am committed to working with Gov. Fallin on any initiative that protects our citizens’ inherent rights and pushes back against the ever-expanding federal debt and uncertainty in Washington, D.C.

“In addition, I am pleased with the governor’s commitment to making sure Oklahoma is producing the kind of highly skilled, highly educated workforce that can attract and retain high paying jobs.

“Gov. Fallin also expressed the need to eliminate underused state assets and repair neglected infrastructure. I look forward to working with Gov. Fallin and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman to create a system which will ensure better stewardship of state structures. For too long the model has been to neglect infrastructure until it is finally decaying around us. We must institute a system that is efficient and shows we are good stewards of taxpayers’ money because our state’s assets truly belong to them.”

For more media announcements please follow us on Twitter: @SpeakerTWOK