McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

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Opinion

March 2, 2014

Sen. Boggs at the Capitol

McALESTER — I grew up with a school day that began with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Unfortunately these things have fallen out of favor in recent years. I believe our children, our schools, our communities and our nation are worse off because these things are no longer a part of our daily routine. Instead, they’re seen as politically incorrect.

That’s part of the reasons why I filed Senate Bill 1143 this session. It simply says the Pledge should be recited every Monday in every Oklahoma public school and it should also be posted somewhere on the school property. However, no one student would be forced to say the Pledge.

I am a senate co-author on House Bill 2422 with Representative John Bennett, the “Religious Viewpoints Anti-discrimination Act,” allowing students to express their religious viewpoints. We’ve had many emails and phone calls supporting this legislation. It passed in the House and I am working hard to get it heard in the Senate Education Committee and on to a vote in the Senate. Your prayers here will help.

Another bill I authored addresses the problem many rural Oklahomans have faced with state income tax refunds. It used to be you could get your refund by check, but they changed to either debt cards or automatic deposit a few years ago, saying it would save the state money. However in rural areas we have trouble finding an ATM servicer that honors those cards and once you use them you have to know how much is left on the card to use it again! Not to mention the fees can eat away at their refunds. With automatic deposits you have to provide private information and access to your personal bank account which some find unappealing. My legislation, Senate Bill 1631, would give taxpayers other options to choose from for getting their income tax refunds. It’s your money — you shouldn’t have to jump through hoops or pay extra fees to get it. I believe each of these bills will be of benefit to the people of my district.

I’ve also been working on several projects in District 7 to help our citizens. I recently met with Stone Plus, a Florida company that will be opening a yard at the Panola rail yard. This company will be buying local decorative stone and shipping it to Florida via the railroad. They should be up and running by this summer, employing 10 workers around the site, including truck drivers.

Another issue of particular concern to District 7 is the eradication of red cedar trees. These are not native to our state, but they are having an extremely negative impact on our water and land; they also add to the danger of wildfires because they are highly flammable. Every year the red cedar tree causes the loss of tens of thousands of acres of land and over 600 homes per year. I am working on some idea with folks to bring a business to this area to pelletize these trees for use in wood stoves. The way I see it, two problems solved; get rid of the red cedars and bring jobs to District 7. A win, win for everyone.

Monday was Senior Citizens Day at the Capitol and a large number of constituents were up here, including several from KEDDO who stopped by the office. Tuesday was Dental Day; dentists Doug and Michael Auld from McAlester stopped in and the Dental Association had a legislative reception that evening. Wednesday was Emergency Management Day with displays in the rotunda explaining the importance of what they do in times of disaster, including weather emergencies. I was also pleased to get a chance to visit with four National Technical Honor Society students from McAlester Kiamichi Tech, along with their teachers/sponsors as guests at the Capitol. Just proves how well our teachers and students are doing. Congratulations to you all! Thursday was FCCLA Day and Panola teacher Renee Allison brought three Panola students who displayed “Panola in Pink” for breast cancer awareness in honor of one of their former teachers who succumbed to breast cancer as their chosen FCCLA project. They were successful in raising $500 for cancer research. Keota’s FCCLA instructor Claudia Burris brought four students with her. Their project was geared toward guiding children to eating healthy, exercise and dental care.  Both groups did an outstanding job and I am proud of all of them.

To contact me at the Capitol, please write to Senator Larry Boggs, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 522-B, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105, email me at boggs@oksenate.gov, or call 405-521-5604.

Larry Boggs, R-Red Oak, is the senator for Oklahoma’s District 7.

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