McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

February 28, 2014

From the Capitol

By Rep. Brian Renegar, DVM

McALESTER — As we wind down the fourth week of the session, we are in deadline week to get bills out of committee. I filed six substantive bills; four were heard in committees. One has passed on the House floor and is headed to the Senate.

Two of my bills were to benefit seniors. House Bill 2767 requires Home Health Agencies that provide care for Medicare patients to implement a drug testing program for their employees. HB 2763 would give a tax deduction for grandparents raising their grandchildren. Both of these bills are on a list of bills supported by the “Council of Aging.” They will be sending a “position” or letter of support for these two bills.

My third bill (HB 2766) is a bill requiring the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to license and regulate animal crematories.

HB 2765, which is a housekeeping bill for the Department of Agriculture, has already passed the House floor and is on its way to the Senate.

Another bill I filed, HB 2768, did not get a hearing in committee. This bill would have required that sex abuse prevention be taught at early childhood level.

My HB 2764 did not get a hearing in committee. This was a bill to outlaw gas chambers in Oklahoma for euthanasia of small animals. Even though this version was not heard, the Senate companion bill with the same language is making its way through the Senate, and I will be the House author of that bill. As you can see, the subject of my legislation this year is seniors, children and animals.

I attempted to revive my regional water groups’ bill from last year but could not get a hearing for it. You know I am not one who necessarily believes that you have to pass legislation to be considered successful in the Legislature. In fact, two years ago I did not file a bill. The bills I filed this year are bills that I firmly believe would be helpful and are needed in Oklahoma.

Yesterday in the States Rights Committee, the chairman, Rep. Lewis Moore (R-Arcadia), took one of his own bills and completely changed it. He changed the section of law and the subject matter. When a member of the committee questioned the germaneness of the two different subject matters, Rep. Moore ruled they were germane because they both were about Oklahoma. When a member objected, the chair failed to recognize him; when a member requested a point of order, he was not recognized. Remember the name of this committee: “States Rights.” Only in Oklahoma...

The state Capitol is very much in need of repair. The big controversy is how we go about funding it. Senate Bill 2044 proposes a $160 million bond issue to fix the Capitol building. Others want to fund it a little at a time out of the Rainy Day Fund. There are some legislators who feel a bond has to be approved by a vote of the people, rather than the Legislature. I feel it is ironic that the House spent $2.5 million on “luxury remodels” of legislators’ office spaces and meeting rooms before a master plan of improvements for the Capitol has been determined.

The Senate spent $3 million doing the same remodeling. The spectacular Senate conference room is unbelievable. There are 48 chairs in this conference room that cost approximately $675 each; the drapes for the windows cost $2,400 each; and the shutters on the windows cost $2,000 each; as well, the Senate built a kitchen off the side of this meeting room. All of this occurred while pieces of marble are falling off the exterior of this magnificent building. Only in Oklahoma....

For the next two weeks we will be very busy on the House floor. These are deadline weeks to get bills out of their Houses of origin. My next two reports will be addressing bills that are either passed or killed on the House floor.

Visiting the Capitol on Senior Day (Monday) were Ellen Young, Carla Brunson, Bonnie Moore and Kim Rose; also coming by this week were Trice Butler, Richard Peckio, Dr. Michael Auld, Dr. Doug Auld and County Commissioner Roy Alford.

Visiting on Thursday were a number of FCCLA students and teachers; from Panola we had advisor Rene Allison and students Jaylynn Holloway, Chelsey Karstens and Caleigh Taylor. This group had a booth in the fourth floor Rotunda where they were able to meet and greet other FCCLA students and many of the legislators who came by to learn of projects they have completed during the past year. It was very impressive.

From Haileyville we had advisor Kristi Lindley and students Sabrina Garvin, Skylar Garvin, Macey Petersen, Hailey Gordon, Kaylie Stephens, Christa Meyers, Joy Picotte, Autumn Mitchell, Audri Gleason, Cheyenne Lardi, Brandi Moore, Roy Clark, Kaylee Tyson, Ashton Sockey and Sydnay Wilkerson.

Juanita Sherrill also brought a group of gifted and talented sixth, seventh and eighth graders from Frink-Chambers Elementary School.

It was great having all of you come by. We welcome any and all visitors.   

The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him — Lamentations 3:25. Have a blessed week.

District 17 State Rep. Dr. Brian Renegar, DVM, of McAlester: 504 State Capitol, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105 405-557-7381