Join the Democrats of Oklahoma County
in moving Oklahoma forward!
(All Democrats and friends are welcome at these events.)
Monthly Meeting: Every second Tuesday of the month the Oklahoma County Democrats hold their Planning meeting at the State Party Headquarters located at 4100 N. Lincoln Blvd. at 6pm. Check events list on the right sidebar for any changes.
Eastern Oklahoma County Monthly Meeting: Every second Thursday of the month the Eastern Oklahoma County Democrats hold their monthly meeting at the A.F.G.E. Local 916 located at 4444 S. Douglas Blvd. at 7pm. Check events list on the right sidebar for any changes.
Weekly Luncheon: Oklahoma County Democrats Friday Noon Luncheon Series, Boulevard Cafeteria, NW 11th and Dewey, OKC. Check this page for any changes. It is not required to buy a meal, just come to the room marked “Democrats.”
New Districting Maps
This is an updated list of Speakers scheduled for the Oklahoma County Democratic Party Noon Luncheons. The Noon event is at the Boulevard Cafeteria, 525 NW 11th St, Oklahoma City, OK
April 18 Trav Robertson, Executive Director, ODP
April 25 Bert Smith, Candidate for Congress 4th District
May 2 Mark Faulk, Candidate for HD 88
May 9 Mike Shelton, State Representative HD 97
Summary of House Activity April 15, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY – The state House of Representatives voted unanimously Tuesday to give Highway Patrol troopers a pay raise. The House also approved legislation pertaining to credit records of children in state custody, two tax breaks for military personnel, special insurance for travelers, licensing fireworks distributors, and oilfield theft investigators, but rejected a youth concussion proposal and a controversial jobs measure.
In addition, a troubling state fiscal report was released Tuesday, and a House member, citing a new economic study, blistered the state’s motion picture production incentive.
DPS Pay Raises
Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers will receive a pay hike under Senate Bill 232.
The bill removes the salary schedule for the Department of Public Safety, parent agency of the OHP, from state statutes. It also provides that the salaries of OHP troopers, along with DPS driver’s license examiners, Capitol Patrol officers and DPS communications personnel, will be set in accordance with the Oklahoma Total Remuneration Study of 2013.
That analysis determined that OHP trooper salaries were 14% below the average salary of troopers in other states. The trooper pay hike will cost a total of $6.17 million: $4.936 million in salaries plus $1.234 million in benefits.
The same study found that salaries of driver’s license examiners, Capitol Patrol officers and DPS dispatchers already are above the average.
SB 232 passed both the House and the Senate unopposed and will be delivered to the governor for her signature. All 101 House members signed on as co-authors of the measure.
The pay raise is badly needed for recruitment and retention of troopers, said Capt. Randy Rogers, DPS/OHP legislative liaison. Two dozen police and sheriff’s departments in Oklahoma pay entry-level salaries that are higher than what freshly minted OHP troopers receive, Rogers said. He also said the DPS has approximately 780 troopers, and about 225 of them are eligible to retire.
Military Tax Deduction Extended
The “sunset” expiration date on a state income-tax deduction that allows military personnel to deduct from their taxes 100% of their income from active military pay, will be deleted by Senate Bill 1723.
Under current law, Oklahoma residents who are members of any component of the armed services may deduct all of their active military pay (including Reserve and National Guard pay) to the extent that those wages are included in federal adjusted gross income. The deduction is set to expire Jan. 1, 2015.
SB 1723, co-authored by Rep. Chuck Hoskin, passed both the House and the Senate unopposed and will be delivered to the governor for her signature.
Active Duty Personnel Only
Senate Bill 1624 would clarify that the reduced ($15) registration fee for vehicles owned by members of the armed forces is limited to active duty personnel.
Beneficiaries of the concession include active-duty members of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force, the Reserve Corps of the Armed Forces, and the Oklahoma National Guard or their spouses assigned to duty in Oklahoma.
SB 1624 clarifies that persons ineligible for the lower registration fee include retired members of the armed forces, inactive members of the Reserve Corps, inactive members of the Oklahoma National Guard, “and other members and former members of the armed forces of the United States who are not on active duty.”
The bill passed the House, 83-1, and was returned to the Senate for consideration of an amendment.
Safeguarding Children’s Credit
The state Department of Human Services would be required by Senate Bill 1937 to provide an annual credit report for every child in its custody.
Further, the agency would be instructed to inform the court having jurisdiction over each youth, about any inaccuracies in his/her credit report that provide “evidence of identity theft” or any other fraudulent activity.
Children in foster care “are three times more likely to have their information stolen than members of the general public are,” said Rep. Ben Sherrer, House sponsor of SB 1937. “This occurs because of the number of agencies and individuals who may have access to their personal information, but also because sometimes the biological parents from whom the children have been removed use that information improperly.”
Many children in DHS custody for a lengthy period “have aged-out of the system, only to discover they already have bad credit, through no fault of their own,” Sherrer continued.
SB 1937 “seeks to ensure that if there is credit activity using the Social Security number of a child in DHS custody, it is caught as early as possible,” the lawmaker explained.
The DHS had more than 11,400 children in its custody on April 10, an agency spokesperson reported.
The bill, which was co-authored by Rep. Anastasia Pittman, passed both the House and the Senate with no opposition and will be delivered to the governor for her consideration.
Fireworks License Required
A distributor, wholesaler or retailer who sells fireworks may purchase his/her merchandise in Oklahoma or another state, so long as the supplier has a legal license to conduct business in this state, Senate Bill 1826 stipulates. The intent of the legislation is to ensure that the State Fire Marshal can certify that fireworks sold in Oklahoma are safe for use.
The bill passed both the House and the Senate and will be transmitted to the governor.
Senate Bill 2018 allows travel retailers to offer travel insurance as a limited-lines insurance producer.
Travel insurance coverage specified in the legislation includes “personal risks incident to” travel, including interruption or cancellation of a trip or event, loss of baggage or personal effects, damages to accommodations or rental vehicles, or sickness, accident, disability or death occurring travel.
Travel insurance does not include major medical plans that provide comprehensive medical protections for travelers with trips lasting six months or longer, including expatriates working overseas or military personnel deployed overseas.
The bill defines a travel retailer as a business entity that “makes, arranges or offers travel services and may offer and disseminate travel insurance as a service to its customers…”
SB 2018 passed both the House and the Senate unopposed and will be transmitted to the governor for her signature.
Oilfield Posse Proposed
As many as 20 “special officers” could be appointed from private industry to assist agents of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and/or officers of the Department of Public Safety in investigations of oil, gas, or oilfield equipment thefts, under Senate Bill 2019.
The number of oilfield-related thefts in Oklahoma has more than doubled of late: from 164 reported incidents in 2010 to 376 in 2012, according to OSBI Public Information Officer Jessica Brown. The thefts ranged from crude oil in the field to pumps and various mechanical instruments employed in the field, she said.
The proposed “special officers” would not receive any paycheck or expense reimbursement from the State of Oklahoma, but “at all times” they would be “subject to the orders and directions” of the agency that retained them, SB 2019 stipulates. Each of them also would be required to post a $500,000 indemnity bond. However, SB 2019 contains no requirement that the “special officers” have any law enforcement training.
The investigators would be empowered to enter “at all times” any property where oil is being reclaimed, “in order to inspect, gauge, or take samples from pipelines, tank farms, pump stations, and any and all other facilities used for the reclamation of oil.”
They would have the authority to stop any vehicle transporting “or appearing to transport” any oil, gas or saltwater, “for the purpose of inspecting, measuring, and taking samples of the cargo and inspecting load tickets” to ensure that the vehicle is not transporting “unlawful gas or unlawful oil.”
The special officers could stop any vehicle hauling oilfield equipment, to inspect the cargo and to examine bills of lading to ensure that the vehicle is not transporting stolen oilfield equipment.
In addition, the special officers could “arrest or cause the arrest of” anyone when “reasonable grounds exist to believe” that the individual is in possession of stolen oil, gas or oilfield equipment.
SB 2019 passed the Senate in a split vote but coasted through the House. However, the House sponsor, Rep. Aaron Stiles, indicated the bill is destined for a House/Senate conference committee to iron out a few wrinkles.
Job Proposal Spurned
The House turned thumbs down Tuesday on Senate Bill 1639, the Quality Workforce Act.
The bill passed the Senate, 45-1, but failed in the House on a 39-49 vote. The House sponsor, Rep. Elise Hall, served notice that she may bring it back up later for reconsideration.
SB 1639 would authorize rebates to be paid to qualifying establishments for “workforce investments” for eligible employees in “critical occupations.”
It would help match Oklahomans with jobs identified by the state Department of Commerce as high-need occupations. The bill would incentivize Oklahoma companies to pay for employees to acquire an associate’s degree or industry certificate in high-need job areas.
“We are fortunate in Oklahoma to have a low unemployment rate, but we do have jobs sitting unfilled because we don’t have enough skilled applicants available,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, principal author of the bill.
Some of the features of SB 1639 include:
- Companies would pay the cost of tuition and materials for a current or potential employee to earn a certificate or degree. After completion, and with documentation from an accredited organization of both the certificate/degree and proof of payment, the business would be eligible for a rebate equal to 105% of the amount of tuition and materials paid on behalf of an eligible employee.
- Only firms that met the thresholds to qualify for Quality Jobs would be eligible. This would include factors such as industry classification, average wage and insurance.
- Qualifying companies would be eligible for a rebate not to exceed 5% of the average wage of their employees on an annual basis. For example, if the average wage is $50,000, then the company could receive a rebate of $2,500 per certificate/degree completed.
- To incentivize companies to actively recruit and invest in specific cohorts, a premium could be applied to the rebate amount. For instance, a 10% premium could be added if the certificate/degree is earned by someone previously on Soonercare. An additional 5% could be added if the person is a veteran. These costs would be offset by the reduction of public assistance that may have previously been needed.
- To assist companies in identifying and recruiting potential candidates, www.okjobmatch.com would be expanded to provide a jobseeker database of the specific industry jobs.
Representative Hall said the proposal would be fiscally neutral because the newly certified employees would have increased production capacity, earn higher wages and contribute taxes to the economy.
Rep. Mike Reynolds noted that the reimbursement to employers would come from state income taxes, at a time when the state budget has a $188 million hole and the governor is pressing for another income-tax cut. In response, Hall maintained that the bill would have “a positive net benefit within two to three years.”
Rep. David Dank argued that the bill is “open-ended,” with no limits on potential rebates. And Rep. Earl Sears pointed out that the bill does not have a “sunset” provision that would specify a date on which the proposed tax break would expire.
Disturbing State Budget Report
General Revenue Fund collections last month dipped 9.1% below the official revenue estimate upon which the Fiscal Year 2014 appropriated state budget is based.
As the state government’s principal operating fund, the GRF is the key indicator of the government’s fiscal status “and the predominant funding source for the annual state budget,” said Preston Doerflinger, director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services.
Oklahoma’s economy still shows growth and momentum that has total tax collections continuing to hit historic all-time highs, Doerflinger said. “The catch is a variety of totally non-economic government policy factors are preventing those collections from being used for state budget purposes,” he said.
“These revenue issue are the creation of government, not the economy. Off-the-top apportionments, corporate income tax declines, tax credits and other tax and budgeting choices that in some cases date back decades are the reason this situation exists.”
GRF collections during the first three quarters of Fiscal Year 2014 came in $215.4 million below the official estimate. “The official estimate certified annually by the Board of Equalization is important because it is used by the Legislature to determine spending authority and sets the framework for the state’s constitutionally required balanced budget,” Doerflinger related.
Unless GRF collections this month exceed the estimate, minor appropriation reductions to all agencies may be necessary for the remainder of the year, he said.
Factors driving the GRF’s decline include:
ongoing increases in off-the-top apportionments away from the General Revenue Fund to other sources;
major declines in corporate income-tax collections (31.7% below prior year collections and 30.7% below the estimate);
recent increases in tax credits claimed by businesses; and
gross production tax revenue losses related to horizontal drilling incentives and deferred rebates.
Concussion Measure Blocked
Legislation intended to prevent concussions among Oklahoma youths who participate in athletic events was knocked out of bounds Tuesday by the House. Senate Bill 1790 failed on a 39-46 vote.
If a youngster practicing or competing in an interscholastic athletic event “exhibits signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with having sustained a concussion or head injury,” the athlete must be benched by a licensed trainer, the child’s coach, or the referee, SB 1790 would mandate.
Furthermore, the youth would not be allowed to return to the field or the court that day until/unless the child were evaluated by a licensed health care provider “trained in the evaluation and management of concussion” and received written permission to return to the competition.
At least one opponent of the bill, Rep. Brian Renegar, objected to the measure’s penalty provisions. A first-time violation of the proposed law would result in a one-month suspension “from involvement in any athletic activity…” For a second violation, the suspension would be for the remainder of the season. A third violation would result in permanent suspension from involvement in any athletic activity whatsoever, the bill provides.
Renegar and several other Representatives disliked the bill’s training requirement.
Paid and volunteer coaches, referees, and the staff of youth sports organizations, all would be required by SB 1790 to complete annual concussion training provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “or a comparable program identified by the state which produces a completion certificate.”
At least one House opponent contended that requirement might discourage volunteers from donating their time to youth sports, while other opponents objected to imposing another expense on schools already coping with lean budgets.
And Renegar noted that Oklahoma has 517 public school districts and 25 public charter schools. “Somebody from the CDC or the state would be doing nothing but concussion training year-round,” he said.
Further, all youth sports organizations, public and private alike, would be directed by SB 1790 to provide the parents/guardians of all children who participate in an athletic activity a concussion and head injury information sheet created by the State Health Department. This document would include “pertinent information” about the signs and symptoms of concussion and the risks of continuing to practice or compete in a game or practice session after sustaining a concussion or head injury.
“If we were to pass this bill, we’d be just as guilty of over-reach as the federal government is,” Renegar said later.
Celluloid Incentive Criticized
Pointing to a recent economic report, Rep. David Dank held a news conference Tuesday to rail against House Bill 2580, which extended the film tax rebate for another 10 years with the governor’s recent signature.
The state incentive via the “Compete with Canada Film Act” is a 35% rebate of specific documented expenditures, such as salaries of actors who are Oklahoma residents, film editing, construction costs, wardrobe and accessories, photography, sound and lighting. The statute caps the reimbursement payments at $5 million in any single fiscal year.
The principal author of HB 2580, Rep. Todd Thomsen, said the film tax concession provides a 3-to-1 economic benefit to Oklahoma. Dank, though, branded the tax credit as “a waste of taxpayer dollars.”
Jill Simpson, director of the Oklahoma Film and Music Office, previously said 46 states offer a tax rebate or credit for film production. However, Dank said Kansas eliminated its film tax credit in 2012 and Missouri “has yet to renew theirs, which expired in 2013.” And Texas’s rebate is “much lower” than Oklahoma’s, Dank said. “In fact, we have the most generous such tax credit in our region.”
The production company associated with the film “August: Osage County” spent $15.3 million in Oklahoma. Of that sum, $12.5 million qualified for the Oklahoma film incentive so the company received a rebate of $4.64 million, or 37% of the qualifying expenditure, Dank said.
“What did we get in return?” he asked, then answered his own question: An economic impact study prepared by the state Commerce Department and released recently “estimates a total of $415,000 in state tax revenue” from the film. “That means we lost $4.2 million underwriting one movie.”
Movie producers are “hit-and-run tax credit recipients,” Dank charged. “They come in from Hollywood, reap the benefits of our generous tax rebate system, and then go home again.”
During the past five years, 20 movies have been filmed partially or entirely in Oklahoma, records of the Oklahoma Film and Music Office show; of those productions, 15 utilized the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program, OFMO Executive Assistant Hannah Marchant said.
The film industry “can have an economic impact on the state, but it is not an industry in which the state has a competitive advantage – nor does it move Oklahoma toward the governor’s stated objective of creating wealth,” reported the Research and Economic Analysis Services section of the state Commerce Department.
Dank indicated that since HB 2580 has been signed into law, the Legislature should find a new vehicle to ensure that film production tax rebates and other incentives genuinely benefit Oklahoma. “We’ve got to get a handle on these giveaways,” he asserted.
On December 14, 2013, I announced my candidacy for the U S House of Representatives from Oklahoma’s Fourth District. I am among three candidates seeking the nomination of the Democratic Party in a June 24th primary election. The winner will most probably face a 12 year incumbent, Tom Cole, who has given no indication he will vacate the office any time soon. Term limits are apparently great for Oklahoma, but not for Oklahoma’s Federal Representatives?
As many of you know, I consider myself a Populist, Yellow Dog Democrat, from a 90 year tradition of Populist Democrats dating back to my great-grandfather, who served as the Chairman of Payne County Democrats soon after statehood. I believe government exists to solve problems which can’t be addressed effectively by individuals, and to make life better for all members of society.
In Vietnam, I flew in combat for an air cavalry squadron that, like Army Rangers and Navy Seals, refused to leave anyone behind. Until recently, our America was leaving 45 million Americans behind when it came to sharing that part of the American Dream called quality health care. I think the Affordable Care Act is correct and proper law and will commit to defend and improve it at every opportunity that comes to light.
The Fourth Congressional District stretches from my home in Moore to four counties on the Red River, and from Davidson and Tipton in the West, to Allen and Stonewall in the East. As might be expected, a $50 tank of gas is required to get to near the Red River, campaign for a day, …and get back again. PLEASE HELP OUR CAMPAIGN! If you are a US Citizen, not a felon, and over 18, you can donate up to $2400 in private, not corporate, funds, to our campaign.
Our website is www.BertSmith4Congress.com. Please consider it more like a “newspaper” than a “billboard”, as we will add information regularly, in an attempt to address current events and national issues, as they arise.
Please support our campaign, as you can!
This is an updated list of Speakers scheduled for the Oklahoma County Democratic Party Noon Luncheons. The Noon event is at the Boulevard Cafeteria, 525 NW 11th St,
February 7 Wilfredo Santos-Rivera, Community Activist
February 14 James Lynch, US Senate candidate for Inhofe seat
February 21 Jason Dunnington, Candidate SD 40
February 28 Donna Anderson, Candidate for Superintendent of Public Education
March 7 Mary Sosa, Candidate for HD 89
March 14 Marilyn Rainwater, Candidate for Congressional District 5
March 21 Virginia Poindexter, HD 89 candidate
March 28 Matt Silverstein, US Senate candidate for Inhofe
April 4 Claudia Griffith, Candidate for SD 45
February 8th, 2014
7:00 pm Dinner/Program
“The Centre” 4325 N.W. 50th (NW 50th and Meridian Ave)
It’s that time!!! February 8th, 2014
2014 Oklahoma County Democrats annual Medallion Dinner!
Theme? “Loving Oklahoma County Democrats”
When? February 8th 2014
For Ticket Information call 405-601-1250
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Joe Dorman connected with more than 16,000 Oklahomans during a telephone “town hall” meeting he hosted Thursday night as he gauges public sentiment toward his proposed gubernatorial campaign.
Representative Dorman addressed a variety of topics during the hour-long event, including storm shelters for public schools, the state of public education in Oklahoma today, and concerns of senior citizens and military veterans.
When asked about issues facing public schools, Representative Dorman said that Gov. Mary Fallin and State Supt. of Education Janet Barresi “need to get out of the business of telling teachers how to do their jobs, and just let teachers do their jobs.”
The Rush Springs Democrat plans to conduct a series of live, interactive telephone town halls across the state in the days and weeks ahead. “I want to listen to – and be a leader for – all Oklahomans, not just a select few,” Representative Dorman said. “By listening to you, I can better understand the concerns and challenges that Oklahomans face every day.”
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Joe Dorman today announced the formation of a gubernatorial campaign exploratory committee.
“After talking with my family, and listening to hundreds of Oklahomans express their desire to see me run for Governor, I have decided to take this initial step of forming an exploratory committee to raise the resources and build the campaign organization needed to pursue the highest office in our state,” the Rush Springs Democrat said.
Representative Dorman, accompanied by a long-time political supporter and friend, retired U.S. Army Maj. Ed Pulido, filed the requisite paperwork at 10 a.m. today with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.
Representative Dorman pledged that he would be a Governor for all Oklahomans and provide leadership on critical issues such as the construction of school storm shelters, education, economic opportunity, public safety and infrastructure. “I look forward to continuing my conversations throughout the state, listening to Oklahomans tell me about their challenges and how they need – and want – leadership.”
In announcing formation of the exploratory committee, Major Pulido, the committee chairman, said his support for Representative Dorman is based on numerous positions the state lawmaker has taken over the years. “He has been a common-sense lawmaker and leader who has worked across partisan lines to develop policies that benefit all Oklahomans, from individuals to businesses, from rural counties to suburban and urban interests,” Major Pulido said.
One issue of importance to the retired military officer has been Representative Dorman’s commitment to those, past and present, in the armed forces. “Joe is committed to supporting our veterans. He will not leave any Oklahoman behind, veterans and citizens alike,” Major Pulido said. Representative Dorman’s legislative district includes the Fort Sill area, the major noted.
Representative Dorman, 43, will hold a series of listening sessions and live, interactive “telephone town halls” across the state. His first telephone town hall meeting will be this Thursday, Dec. 19.
OKLAHOMA CITY – A community leader and advocate for Latino Americans announced today that she is running for the Oklahoma House of Representatives in House District 89.
“I am running because I believe our children are our future, that working Oklahomans are the backbone bone of our economy, and that families were meant to be protected, not torn apart,” said Mary Sosa. “It’s time for us to work together and elect leaders that have a plan to protect families in our community.”
Sosa is a retired city employee for the City of Oklahoma City. Mary has lived in the district for 33 years and has raised her children and grandchildren there. She is the former president of the College Hill Neighborhood Association. Sosa serves as a volunteer with countless organizations including the American Red Cross, the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the Neighborhood Alliance. Mary is an active member of Capitol Hill Church of Christ in South Oklahoma City.
“In the 33 years I’ve lived in House District 89, I’ve had the opportunity to work with people from every walk of life and see the problems our community faces firsthand. I have raised my children here and am lucky to have grandchildren growing up here too. I have decided to step up to do my part to make sure our community gets the representation it deserves at the State Capitol,” said Sosa.
House District 89 is located in South Oklahoma City. It is currently represented by Representative Rebecca Hamilton who will term out in November of 2014.
Learn more about Mary and her campaign at http://www.marysosa.com.
Oklahoma State NAACP
The Oklahoma State Conference in collaboration with the National Headquarters will be responsible for assisting with the reorganization of the Tulsa branch effectively immediately, pursuant to the direction of the National NAACP. An interim committee has recently been appointed for the purpose of reorganization of the Tulsa Branch with the goals of rebuilding of membership, ensuring that the Executive Committee, and General Membership meetings are conducted, and Standing Committees are functioning in accordance with NAACP policy.
The following individuals has agreed to volunteered their skills, talent, time and expertise to carry out our mission of the NAACP as it relates to growing our membership, Committee Chair Pleas A. Thompson, Bennie Ross, Cortez Johnson, Faye Mannie, Clifton Webster, and Jonathan Townsend, Committee Chairman of Oklahoma State Conference NAACP, Youth and College Division “(Young Adults/Young Professionals)”.
“We encourage people from throughout the metro area to become members. This is no longer a predominately African-American organization; we want Caucasians, Latinos, everyone, to be members of this great organization. “We have a lot of issues at hand, when it comes to human rights, and civil rights this is what we are focusing on. Times have changed, and we are changing with the times, said Anthony R. Douglas, President Oklahoma State Conference NAACP.
Anthony R. Douglas, President
Oklahoma State Conference NAACP
P.O. Box 11024
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73136
Phone: 405.427.8000 / Fax: 405.720.5951
I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend! I had a great time with my family on Thanksgiving. I was certainly thankful for Samantha, my niece, as she hosted our family dinner with almost twenty-five people present. It was nice to be able to spend time with the family and catch up with each other as it does not happen enough.
The weekend also included shopping for great deals on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. Between those two events, along with Cyber Monday and the online shopping promotions, this was expected to pick up our sluggish economy somewhat in Oklahoma. Our state’s economy has been lagging in recent months and the anticipation for a revenue shortfall in the upcoming session has many concerned. It is imperative that the legislature and governor properly fund core services, such as education, transportation, healthcare concerns and correctional/public safety issue, so this discussion must begin soon.
Thursday will be an especially busy day with two very important meetings. First, I will meet with an expert on pension issues to discuss the proposed plans by some elected officials to consolidate pension systems and change defined benefits for employees to more of a style based on what the federal officials tried to do to Social Security a decade ago. I am not in favor of changing these programs, especially since recent bipartisan reforms have been working well to improve the systems.
I will also be attending an interim study that afternoon on using technology to meet the needs of healthcare access in Oklahoma. This study, requested by one of my colleagues, will follow up on many of the issues we discussed last year on telemedicine issues in the study which I held. Oklahoma has some of the brightest stars in their respective fields in the medical arena providing health care through non-traditional means. This will allow a person to be scanned by devices in rural Oklahoma and the experts will be able to diagnose the patient using technology from their hospitals in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and even outside the state. These advancements need investments for their infrastructure and I certainly hope Governor Fallin will not continue to block federal dollars for our rural hospitals in this time of need.
On Thursday evening, I will host an event to help collect signatures for Take Shelter Oklahoma. The organization has put together a storm shelter fair for persons to learn more about how important it is to have one in not only your school, but also your home or at work. Several vendors will be present to answer questions about storm shelters. Each will be competing in a chili cook-off, so you will also be able to get a great bowl of chili on what is expected to be a cold night, and there will also be plenty of entertainment with a live band and karaoke on the breaks. The event will be at the OKC Farmer’s Market at 311 S Klein Ave in Oklahoma City from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. You will also be able to register to vote if you are not signed up as only registered voters are allowed to sign the petition. If you have not had the opportunity to sign the petition, this will be a great time to stop by and help us get to our goal before the deadline in two weeks. If you have sheets and need to get them back to us, you can drop them off that evening, or you can mail them to P.O. Box 2299 in Oklahoma City, OK 73101.
Recently, I had the pleasure to address the retirement dinner for the Lawton Firefighters, along with their graduation for the newest class of recruits. This class includes the very first female professional firefighter in their ranks. Both Apache and Anadarko are excelling in high school football and I want to wish these teams from our area a safe and successful remainder of the playoffs, along with the players for the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University as they face each other this weekend in Bedlam. I am also looking forward to a Lupus Awareness event on Saturday night.
It is an honor to represent your views at the State Capitol. If you wish to contact me to discuss this issue, call my office in Oklahoma City toll-free at 1-800-522-8502, or directly at 1-405-557-7305. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. My mailing address is PO Box 559, Rush Springs, OK 73082, and my website is www.joedorman.com. Thank you for taking the time to read this column, and I look forward to seeing you soon.