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April 7, 2011

05/06/11 | by Brian | Categories: Welcome

This week we had a lot of visitors at the Capitol. We had the Women of Oklahoma Farm Bureau who brought home cooked food to the whole Capitol staff. We also had Farm Bureau members from throughout the State, as well as from my district.

As most of you know, every ten years we take a census, and then the year after, the State changes each of our districts. Prior to 2010, each Representative represented 34,165 people; after the 2010 census, we now represent 37,142 ? an increase of almost 3,000 population. Most of the increase in population occurred in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, but there was a pretty good increase in Durant also. I have been told that my district will move into McAlester. I also have been told that I will pick up northern Atoka County and northeast Coal County. I may lose the three southern precincts in Haskell County, but keep all of Latimer County, western Leflore, and eastern and southern Pittsburg County. I won?t know for sure for a couple of weeks, but the people who decide, who are above my pay grade, will let all of us know. The Legislature must vote approval of the redistricting plan before the end of Session on May 27.

There seems to be turmoil in the Tourism Department here in Oklahoma. The new Tourism Director Debbie Snodgrass announced recently that she is closing seven state parks in the eastern part of the state, which is ironic because tourism is our third largest industry in the state, and these closings will decrease tourism dollars spent in those counties. Today in the Economic Development Committee, a bill passed that would allow the State Tourism Department to sell $10 million in bonds for capital improvements in State Parks. There is a feeling around the Capitol that we are sprucing up these State Parks for future sales. Two years ago the Department sold Lake Texoma State Park to Chesapeake Corporation. Debbie Snodgrass, our new director, is a former employee of Chesapeake Corporation. Interesting, huh?

There are no concrete budget terms out yet, but preliminary reports are that Public Education, Public Safety and Human Services will be cut 3%; Higher Ed 5%, Career Tech, 5 %, and all other agencies 5 to 7%.

Congratulations are in order for the 2011 recipient of the Donna Nigh Award. The award is named for the former First Lady and recognizes an individual whose volunteer work in government, business or media has dramatically improved the quality of life for fellow Oklahomans. The state recipient this year is McAlester resident, Larry Ivey. Congratulations and kudos to Larry!

Last week I was busy in committee meetings, and as I was cleaning my desk off this week, I found a note that I missed Marilyn Turvey, Susie Hass and Paige Shoupe from Kiamichi Tech.

Visitors this week included Tim Wynn, Jerry Banker, Larry Ivey, Mike Ward and several residents from Oklahomans for Independent Living. McAlester Day at the Capitol was Tuesday; it?s always a highlight when the McAlester Chamber showcases our hospitality to the Legislature and to the Capitol staff.

Proverbs 1:7.


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