Looking at 2014 Legislation

On February 3, the Oklahoma Legislature kicked on its 2014 session with Gov. Mary Fallin’s State of the State address. If it sounded like a broken record, well it was: a 0.25 percent tax cut that won’t up most people’s cars with gas and a five percent cut in state agency budgets, continuing a trend to the bottom that the Republicans have been following since they seized control of state government in 2010.

The next day came more Revelations: House Speaker T.W. Shannon announced he was stepping down to concentrate on his race for the U.S. Senate to replace Tom Coburn. Yesterday, the Republicans elected Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, as Shannon’s replacement and he doesn’t seem like a half bad guy.

But the people’s business still has to get done and so now the Oklahoma Legislature is busy pouring over hundreds of bills in both houses to decide what changes need to happen in our state laws. Some of those bills actually get introduced and voted on by Democrats, including Rep. Cory Williams, the House Democrat who represents most of Stillwater.

On Thursday, February 13 at 7 p.m., our second monthly meeting of the year will feature a discussion of pending legislation, including one of the bills Rep. Williams has introduced, House Bill 2605, the “Oklahoma Renewable Energy Standards Act.” Local citizens who helped Rep. Williams craft this legislation will be on hand to outline what it does and how you can help move it forward into law.

I’ll also offer some suggestions for tracking legislation using smartphone apps and the web, including the Oklahoma Policy Institute’s new billtracker site and OpenStates, a non-profit foundation that tracks legislation in all 50 states. If you don’t know what they’re proposing down there in Oklahoma City, you can’t be for or against it in an intelligent way.

In addition to our regular monthly business, students from Stillwater High School will talk about Stillwater Makes A Change week,  the school’s community-wide fundraising week that runs from March 31 to April 4. The school hopes to raise $40,000 to donate to Turning Point Ranch, a therapeutic horse ranch that provides services to the disabled around the community and, coincidentally, for which Jack and Billie Hesser provide facilities.

No matter what the weather does, we’ll have a great presentation and we hope to see you here on Thursday…