April 23, 2009

04/23/09 | by Brian | Categories: Welcome
John Wayne once said, ?Life is tough, life is tougher when you?re stupid.? Folks, life at the Capitol is getting TOUGHER! Last year at the end of session, the legislature passed a $500 million bond issue. Over the next 20 years, we and our children will pay back not only the $500 million but $500 million in interest, as well. Today, SB 315 passed on the House floor to decrease our state income tax by one quarter percent. Guess what? We have a $900 million shortfall in revenue, and next year the Office of State Finance is expecting to double that! On top of this, SB 315 had other amendments log rolled into it: the ban on stem cell research on embryos, which makes it also a pro-life bill. They then log rolled tax exemption of livestock premiums by our 4-H and FFA exhibitors, and finally, tax exemption of $15,000 per year for surviving widows of 100% disabled veterans. Next year, this bill will cost the State $154 million. The only relief we have is the fact that this bill goes back to committee, and we will vote on it again. On a related subject, the tax cuts and incentives we have given in the past 3 to 4 years come with a price tag of $1.195 Billion. As a result, every bill that has anything to do with fees comes with a request for an increase in these fees. Let?s see, we are cutting taxes but increasing fees monumentally. The reason taxes are cut is so certain Legislators can get votes, but no one makes much out of the fee increases. Today on the House Floor I voted to sustain the Governor?s Veto of HB 1326. This bill would prohibit Stem Cell Research on embryos, which are to be discarded anyway. The research holds hope of finding cures or treatment for Parkinson, Alzheimer, Diabetes, Macular Degeneration and Spinal Cord Injuries. I have relatives, friends and clients who are afflicted by these conditions. My Mother, being the closest, who has Macular Degeneration and is slowly going blind. I want you to realize that the Republicans will paint this as a pro-life issue. I agree that this is a pro-life for those that are afflicted with these maladies. The vote on this bill went the other way by the exact vote needed. I do not believe I was sent here to vote the way the wind blows, and I voted accordingly. The Senate sustained the Governor?s veto, which is what we had hoped would happen. SB 1111 passed the House today; this bill takes the testing and evaluation of testing away from the Department of Education and creates (hence, more government) the Educational Quality and Accountability Office. I voted against this bill because at a time of budget deficit (900 million dollars), we don?t need to be creating another government agency. Folks, I am going to answer again some concerns that have been expressed from my district. I have been associated with three bills this session on which I have had meaningful input. The first bill is the 30 day grace period extension of expired driver licenses. The second is SB 275, which is an education bill. The third bill is the water language that I took from New Mexico Law, the bill that gave New Mexico its water independence from Texas. I have this language ready to put in a water shell bill that will really strengthen our water law and protect it from out-of-state interests. I have no other bills that I am pursuing. There are no bills under consideration that would in any way affect farmers or ranchers from taking care of their animals; by that, I mean the treatment of their own animals. As always, I would be happy to assist anyone with any issues here at the Capitol. Those visiting the Capitol this week: Arlene LeMaster, Brenda Nobles, and Susan Brewer of Leflore County Farm Bureau. I now have a website; please go check it out at www.brianrenegar.com. Please come by the Capitol for a visit anytime. May God Bless each of you.
 

April 16, 2009

04/16/09 | by Brian | Categories: Welcome
April 15, 2009 On April 14, 2009, The House of Representatives saluted the dispatchers of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, true unsung heroes. I was especially proud because there were two dispatchers honored from Troop D of McAlester. They were Lt. Robert Padgett and Sgt. Junel McGinnis. Also honored were members of Oklahoma?s 45th National Guard. One of the disadvantages of filing bills early is that other members can copy your bill and get the recognition. It doesn?t bother me who gets recognized as long as good bills get passed. I am happy to announce that HB 1092 by Trebilcock (R-Broken Arrow) was signed into law this week by Governor Henry. This bill gives a 30 day grace period after your Driver License expires to get a renewal without having to provide a copy of your birth certificate. I want to take my hat off to Barney Rosso of Harsthorne, who asked me to file this bill. It was one of the first bills filed in the House in January, and it was duplicated three times by other Legislators. This is a good example of how every person has a chance to make a difference. Mr. Rosso, let?s not get carried away! This week, I was honored to have John Stegall from Red Oak as my page on the House Floor. I got a chance to visit at length with John and am really impressed with this young man. I feel I need to comment on the Equine Dentistry issue that has been brought up at the Capitol. At the present time, it is legal for lay teeth floaters to work on horses? teeth if they are supervised by a licensed veterinarian. Representative Don Armes (R-Faxon) was trying to make it legal for lay teeth floaters to work on teeth without the supervision. To perform this procedure, these horses need to be sedated with prescription drugs that are both state and federally restricted. The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics is concerned about the diversion of any drugs to human use as ?Date Rape Drugs.? I was against Rep. Armes? proposal because I do not feel that these drugs should be used by lay people. Unfortunately, a lot of untrue rumors have surfaced. One of the rumors is that the Legislature was trying to keep farmers and ranchers from treating their own animals. This is totally untrue. In my practice I assist a lot of people in treating their own animals. I give free information to the general public on the best way for them to treat their animals. This is just another example of how legislators try to pass certain legislation by providing a ?fear factor? that might generate support for their agenda. This was another great week of visitors: Farris and Jennievie Jones of McAlester, Nancy Sparks of McAlester, Deidre Harris, Don Mordecai of McAlester; June Dugger, Judy Boswell, Dee Perryman and Barbara Rhodes all with Century 21 Realtors from McAlester; Kim Rose, SueAnn Deela, Samantha Curliss, Carla and Glen Brunson all with KEDDO-AAA from Wilburton. Until next week, May God Bless each of you.
 

April 09, 2009

04/09/09 | by Brian | Categories: Welcome
BY: REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN RENEGAR DVM District 17 April 9, 2009 We are still voting on Senate Bills on the House Floor. This is deadline week to pass Senate Bills out of House Committees and House Bills out of Senate Committees. HB 1422 by Representative Eric Proctor (D-Tulsa) was a bill to provide free tuition to dependants of our Oklahoma soldiers who have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. This bill passed unanimously in the House two weeks ago. The Senate Leadership chose not to hear it; therefore, it died. I think it is a poor signal to send to our servicemen who give their lives for our freedom. SB 4, which is a bill to require a photo I.D. to be able to vote, was vetoed by Governor Henry. This bill would have restricted the elderly who no longer drive and veterans who live in Veterans Centers who do not have current I.D. from voting. I voted against this bill on the House Floor because I believe our elderly and our veterans should have the right to vote without paying for a photo I.D. This has not been a good week for veterans in the State of Oklahoma. I was scanning through some bills in Committee, and I noticed a bill coming through that will further reduce our state income tax by .25%. That means that an average worker in District 17 would receive about $42 per year. However, people that make $500,000 will receive $1,250. Remember we have a 900 million dollar deficit this year. That is not going to help us rebuild our crumbling roads and will require cuts in all areas of Government, including Education, Healthcare, and County Government. I apologize if it seems that I am putting a lot of negative spin on what is going on at the Capitol, but it is difficult to sugar-coat some of this information. I am happy to report that SB 380 by Representative Rousselot(D-Okay) passed the House today. This bill will require a drug test for those who receive state government assistance. I have received unanimous support from the people of my District on this bill. This week was 4-H week at the Capitol, and I had a great contingent of students from Pittsburg, Latimer and Leflore Counties. Also visiting the Capitol were the following: Kristi Gant, Tuskahoma; Dawn Hahler, Tuskahoma; Angela Freshour, McAlester; Roy Alford, County Commissioner Latimer County; John Medders, County Commissioner Latimer County; Charles Ennis, Superintendent at Wilburton; and Mike Bailey, Wilburton. This was a very busy week, so if I missed anyone, I apologize. If you come to Oklahoma City, please come by the Capitol. I always enjoy visiting with the people from District 17. Until next week, May God Bless each of you!
 

April 2, 2009

04/02/09 | by Brian | Categories: Welcome
BY: REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN RENEGAR DVM District 17 April 2, 2009 Activity at the Capitol has picked up dramatically this week with committee work on Senate bills. As usual, there is plenty of time for politics - besides our legislative work. My fellow colleagues hit the University of Oklahoma with a barrage of paperwork earlier this month. Resolutions were initiated to condemn OU for inviting a noted evolutionary biologist, Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins, to speak at a lecture series at the University. Even though I whole heartedly disagree with his philosophy, I will defend his right to free speech as guaranteed in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Furthermore, I feel that our universities should be a free marketplace of ideas, and to restrict these exhibits intolerance on our part. My sincere hope is that, as a nation, we are not moving in that direction. SB 1103 is a bill that passed the House unanimously and will give a pregnant woman the legal right to defend herself, as well as her unborn child, with lethal force if necessary. HB 1332, the Pet Quality Assurance Act, was heard in Senate committee and passed 15-4. The bill now goes to the Senate Floor for a vote before returning to the House. I want to thank Senator Lerblance for his support of this bill and for his effort to take care of animals that do not have a voice for themselves. HB 527 was passed and sent to the Governor?s desk. This bill will protect employees if their employers pay them with a bad check. All financial penalties suffered by the employee will be paid by the employer that paid them with the bad check. Every once in a while, we have a chance to recognize people from our Districts, and today we had that opportunity. On the House Floor, we recognized the Choctaw ?Code Talkers? from World War I and their descendants. In World War I, Choctaw Code Talkers were used to protect the lives of U.S. and allied soldiers, as well as munitions. Chief Greg Pyle of the Choctaws gave a most informational and inspirational speech about the Code Talkers. I wish each of you could have been there; it really cemented the imprint of the Choctaw on Oklahoma?s history. Assistant Chief Gary Batton was also in attendance representing the Choctaws. We had a large group of people from District 17 visiting this week. They were Donnie Condit of McAlester, Wayne Sexton of Kiowa, Chester Dennis of Wilburton, Julius and Marjorie Hass of Hartshorne, Ron Cunningham of Hartshorne; Karen Stobaugh, her son Doug, and French Exchange Student Val of McAlester; Eddie Coleman and April Murray, as well as others from the Kiamichi Technology District.
 

March 26, 2009

03/26/09 | by Brian | Categories: Welcome
BY: REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN RENEGAR DVM District 17 March 26, 2009 This week we did a lot of committee work, but very few bills were heard on the House floor. I believe we set a record for visitors, which I enjoyed immensely. There were many Oklahoma Education Association members from all over the state, and there was a large contingency from McAlester including Brenda Hawthorne, Brandy Watkins, James McFarland, and Aaron Watkins. Hartshorne teachers included Sharon Johnson, Kay Semeski, Shelly Wansick, Karen Jones, Sheryl Baker, and Janice Weaver. They were at the Capitol to lobby against SB 834. They did not need to lobby with me, because I am an outspoken critic of the bill. Senate Bill 834 deregulates education in Oklahoma. It removes legislative mandates, which may sound good, but one needs to know that for the last several years we have fought hard to keep money from being diverted from Public Schools to Charter Schools. The main argument we used was that Public Schools had mandates, and Charter Schools do not. Know that the leadership of the House and Senate want to remove mandates so that they can start pumping more money into Charter Schools (Private), and guess where the money is coming from? That?s right: Public Schools. When we start removing funding for Public Schools, guess what comes next? Consolidation! Senate Bill 834 removes requirements for certified teachers to teach our children, and there will be no restrictions on class size. Teachers with good performance evaluations would have no guarantee of continued employment. The pledge to the flag and minute of silence (prayer time) could be removed. Folks, when we are trying to keep our best and brightest teachers in Oklahoma and not lured to Texas for better salaries and conditions, what kind of a message are we sending them? In Oklahoma, we send most but not all money through a funding formula. This formula tries to equalize the amount of monies to all schools. It benefits schools with a low tax base. SB 834 would severely cripple the funding formula. We have already had forecasts given to us that we are on schedule to have a 1.6 billion dollar deficit in 2010. The total State budget is 6.7 billion dollars, and Common Education gets 35% of the State budget. This bill and that projected deficit would be a disaster for public education. This comes at a time when we need to bolster the education of our young people in a very competitive world. Another Senate Bill we will hear next week is SB 676, which is a bill that requires all schools in Oklahoma to have 80% of their students enrolled in a college preparatory class. If a school fails to achieve this four years consecutively, it would lose its accreditation. What do you think this is going to do to schools that have 20% special education students? I call this bill the ?Special Education Killer Bill,? another ridiculous bill that I spoke of last week. I also had other visitors from my district this week; Mr. and Mrs. Brian Knowles representing the Young Farmers and Ranchers Program with Farm Bureau; Tom Marlatt of Stigler KI BOIS and Gene Hudgens of McAlester KI BOIS; Kim Pitner of McAlester Great Expectations; a large group of Farm Bureau members from Leflore County; Sue Ann Loggains of Leflore County Boys and Girls Club. Ross Eaton, Lynn Edwards, and Greg Brown with McAlester Boys and Girls Club came by to visit and remind me of all the great things that are being accomplished. Bradley Hamilton with the Pittsburg County Conservation District came by to discuss the conservation efforts in our district. Also visiting were Stacy Lewis of Haskell County, Kim Goff of Haskell County Conservation and Greg Robertson of Kiamichi Conservation. I am almost certain that I have missed someone, because we had so many to come by. If I did miss you, I am sorry. I was very happy to see all you who came by and invite each of you to the Capitol for a visit. May God Bless each of you.
 

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Weekly update from Oklahoma City on the status of Bills in the House.

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