March 19th 2009

03/21/09 | by Brian | Categories: Welcome
BY: REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN RENEGAR DVM District 17 March 19, 2009 Since this is essentially a slow week, I am going to comment on a couple of bills that passed on deadline day last Thursday. If HB 1975 becomes law, any legislation that requires certain types of health coverage by insurance companies may only be introduced in odd-numbered years and voted on in even-numbered years. This is a huge windfall for insurance companies. A prime example of a health procedure that was mandated by the Legislature in years past is an annual mammogram. Just think how many women?s lives have been saved from breast cancer because of the early detection that mammography provides. This same early detection actually saves the insurance companies money by reducing radical surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy treatments. The argument was that legislators were not sent to the Capitol to raise premiums on insurance companies. The only beneficiaries from legislation like House Bill 1975 are the insurance industry and the politicians who take their contributions. Everyone else gets the short end of the stick. By the way, this was brought on by the desire of insurance companies not to have to face Autism mandates every year. I voted against this legislation. Legislators should never give the power that the people have entrusted in us to a private corporation. Another bill that I voted against was HB 2050, the Nuclear Energy Bill. This bill will allow energy companies to raise our user rates to finance millions of dollars for a study to determine if nuclear energy is good for Oklahoma. Let?s see, they don?t want people to have to pay a few dollars more a month for an insurance mandate, but they want to jack up our energy user rate? Anytime something doesn?t make sense, remember these three words ? Follow the Money. Enough of this rant! On Thursday of last week a Federal Appeals Court ruled that the City of Dallas cannot build a massive reservoir along the upper Neches River in East Texas. Instead, the land will become a huge Wildlife Reserve. The decision comes as a blow to Dallas? long term water plans. We all know where they will be looking for water. That is why I am so insistent on beefing up Oklahoma?s water law. I know you are probably tiring of hearing me hammer about my concerns for our water, but it is our future. This was State Junior Livestock Show Week. I was able to go to the Fairgrounds and visit with our local FFA Chapters on Wednesday night. I showed a pig from the Hartshorne FFA Chapter. The first pig that I was to show went into a stress syndrome, and I ended up treating it! This show was a Showmanship Event for Legislators. On Tuesday the Capitol was visited by the Republican Women of Oklahoma. I was blessed with a visit from Ms. Angie Sellmeyer from McAlester. Also visiting from McAlester was: Bobby Logsdon, Mike Cantrell, Sandra McClintic, Donna Mosco, Tony Grimes, Allie Oncale, Nathan Coburn, and Thelma Jo Clark. May God bless each of you, and if you come to the Capitol, please come by for a visit.
 

March 13, 2009

03/16/09 | by Brian | Categories: Welcome
Greetings from the Capitol March 12, 2009 Representative Brian Renegar, DVM Well, folks, this is deadline week to pass House bills off the floor to the Senate. This is a time when we see some ridiculous bills. House Bill 2082 by Representative Wesselhoft (R-Moore) is a bill that would require the Department of Education to make public all travel expenses. Representative Scott Inman (D-Del City) put an amendment on the bill to include public disclosure or all legislative travel. The Republican author then pulled the bill; evidently, what is good for the goose is not good for the gander. I guess five ranking members of the House Energy Committee who took a junket trip to Washington, D.C., last weekend did not want us to know how much they spent. I do not think the State should have paid for that trip since we have a $900 million shortfall in revenue. House Bill 2204 is a bill to remove the tax from groceries. I voted against this bill for two reasons. First, as mentioned earlier, we are down $900 million in revenue collections; the fiscal impact of this bill would be suicide for our state budget. Secondly, all of our town and cities (if they lost their sales tax revenue) would essentially be bankrupt! This is bad policy and a mere political ploy. I was reminded of the letter I received from a lady from Red Oak that said, ?Be more conservative than ever.? I want to share with you a major education bill that has passed in the Senate this week. Senate Bill 834 passed 26-21; this is the ?Deregulation of Education? bill. Any time you have a ?deregulation? bill, get ready for a cut in funds so the district can cut wherever it wants. There would be no class size limitations, no teacher quality requirements, no minimum library standards, no due process, and a loss of bargaining for contract. Plus, all teachers who are earning above the state?s minimum salary schedule could see a pay cut. Representatives Neil Brannon (D-Arkoma) and Ed Cannaday (D-Porum) who have more experience and knowledge of education than any others in the House assured me this bill is so radical it could never make it out of the Senate! Do you remember the ridiculous bills I talked about in the beginning of this article? Here?s another, for sure! Folks, I could not believe the number of bills that passed through the House that further cut taxes or give tax exemptions. With our deficit, I cannot imagine what the authors could be thinking or how the House leadership could allow the bills to be heard. We had a water rally on Tuesday at the Capitol, and Senator Jerry Ellis (D-Valiant) asked me to explain to those assembled the legislation I took from New Mexico law and put in an amendment that is going to be a part of House Bill 1483. This will strengthen Oklahoma water law against out of state water sales. This is language that gave New Mexico its independence from Texas in regard to its water law. We have to keep pushing our water protection agenda because there are people at the Capitol who really do not seem to care about our water. Visitors MaryEllen and Mike Mooney with Main Street Wilburton braved ice and sleet plus a five hour drive to Oklahoma City. People in Latimer County should be proud they send people up here who have ?true grit.? It was good to see our library friends from McAlester and from Latimer County on Library Day. Also, Chester Dennis with KEDDO spoke to our Rural Legislative Caucus. A Friday post script: I usually send my ?greetings? to the papers on Thursday afternoon, which is when I wrote the text you have already read. I guess my Republican colleagues must have ?felt the heat? about the Wesselhoft bill (2082) because they ran the bill again as the last one before deadline last night. It passed, but I remind you that we are only a third of the way through the legislative process, and I would be willing to bet that we do not see the bill again. It has been a long and tedious week in many ways. I still feel blessed to represent the good people of District 17. Do not hesitate to call me during Session at the Capitol office, 1-800-522-8502, extension 381. God bless you!
 

March 5th, 2009

03/16/09 | by Brian | Categories: Welcome
CAPITOL GREETINGS BY: REPRESENTATIVE BRIAN RENEGAR DVM District 17 March 5, 2009 HB 1332 which is the Pet Quality Assurance Act was called up to the house floor Wednesday afternoon. This is the infamous ?Puppy Mill Bill.? One of the major concerns by opposing views was that this bill might violate our 4th Amendment rights dealing with Search and Seizure. Representative Ryan Kiesel, an Attorney from Seminole, the biggest defender of the 4th Amendment, debated in favor of the bill. I also debated in favor of the bill, which passed 74-26. It now goes to the Senate. This bill generated more e-mails than any other bill thus far. There were tremendous numbers of e-mails from out of state. I was quite surprised by the number of falsehoods about this bill that were generated on the internet. We call it the blog phenomenon. I was equally surprised at the people, including legislators, who took these falsehoods as true facts. I had more than a passing interest in this bill because I actually see results of animals raised in inhumane conditions on a continual basis in my veterinary practice. I have to be a voice for these animals that can?t speak for themselves. I actually took an oath to do so. To the folks that made threatening remarks to me, my response is, ?I am more interested in our next generation than the next election.? As a side note, the number of animals that qualify for a license was raised from 25 to 35. HB 1297 passed the house 84-13; this measure adds school supplies to the list of goods that qualify for the ?Back to School Sales Tax Holiday.? This Bill would have been a good bill if we had the money to absorb the loss in revenue, but the State of Oklahoma has a 900 million dollar deficit. This will add another 5.1 million to that deficit. That is the reason I voted against this bill. I wonder what road project or State Agency is going to absorb this loss? Another school mandate that passed the House was HB 1826. This bill will require schools to notify each parent about school sponsored clubs or organizations via a school handbook and the internet. It gives the parents the opportunity to notify schools that he or she withholds permission for their children to join these clubs. I have prepared an amendment to add to the first water bill that comes on the House floor. This amendment was taken from a New Mexico State Law, which would prevent any sale of water out of state until all water needs within the State have been satisfied. This is the legislation that gave New Mexico its water independence from Texas. It has withstood a Federal Court test in El Paso, TX. Myself, Representative Dennis Bailey, D-Broken Bow, Representative Terry Harrison, D-McAlester have authored a Resolution to require our Attorney General and the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to NOT SETTLE our Out of State Water Sales Lawsuit that is presently in Federal Court. I have had a lot of visitors, to name a few: Wilburton Mayor Stephen Brinlee, Jodie White and the National Tech Honor Society Students from Talihina, Warna Gibson, April Murray and Keli Cantrell and the National Tech Honor Society Students from McAlester and Dr. Stephen Smith, President of Eastern Oklahoma State College. If you come to the Capitol, please come by my office for a visit. May God Bless each and every one of you.
 

capital greetings Feb. 26, 2009

03/11/09 | by Brian | Categories: Welcome
This week is deadline for getting House Bills out of committee, which means no more bills will be heard in committees. My Water basin Bill (HB 1439) which was laid over last week was not called up this week. Another water bill by Representative Dale Dewitt (R-Braman), was called up instead. His bill has very little new law; the Republican and Democrat game came into play, and again the People of Oklahoma were the losers! That?s okay; I have an amendment ready and when his bill comes onto the House Floor, I will amend it. On Wednesday, the House passed HB 1595 prohibiting the performance of an abortion solely on account of the sex of the unborn child. This bill created a statistical reporting of abortions to the State Health Department. I voted for this Bill, which passed 93 to 4. We are getting ready for some major legislation that is your typical ?bait and switch? legislation, except this time it is a ?triple switch.? I will explain: The author calls it tort reform which, they say, limits an attorney from practicing his profession. We all dislike attorney?s - right? (Except when we need one.) Well, in reality, this will affect you and me because it limits our legal recourse (there is the ?bait and switch?). Now for the ?triple switch.? Who will benefit? The large corporations; they will not have to be responsible for their products and services. At the Capitol, we call this the Corporate Immunity Bill. I believe it is now time for me to comment on HB 1332, which is the Quality Pet Assurance Bill. Others chose to call this the puppy mill bill. Whatever you chose to call this, it is important to know that this bill originated with the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association. It is not a perfect bill, but it is a perfect start! Opposition has been mounted by a tremendous volume of falsehoods passed on the Internet as facts. In the last 2 weeks, I have spent a large portion of my time explaining this bill to people who call or e-mail me. At the present time, it is still being worked on by the author, Dr. Lee Denney, and the Department of Agriculture. As soon as it is returned in the final form, I will share it with you and give my comments. Representative Harrison and I were blessed with two groups of students from Will Rogers and their teachers, Peggy Defrange, Jan Jackson and others. We also hosted Peggy McBeath, whom we recognized on the House Floor as the Oklahoma Star of Teaching Award winner for Oklahoma. Others who dropped by my office were: Larry Morgan, Wilburton, OK with KEDDO; Ms. Caroline Echelle, McAlester, OK with American Cancer Society. If you come to the Capitol, please drop by my office, Room 504. Until next week, may God Bless each and every one of you.
 

capital greetings Feb. 19,2009

03/11/09 | by Brian | Categories: Welcome
Did you make a new year?s resolution? Are you keeping it? Do you remember what it was? Well, guess what, here at the Oklahoma Capitol we make resolutions also! What happens to our resolutions after they are passed? I do not know where they go, probably in a book of resolutions that we as taxpayers pay for. I asked several veteran lawmakers where these resolutions go. The only response, besides I don?t know, was ?in the records.? Some resolutions are to honorably salute an individual, and others are political statements. I support the individual resolutions, but I totally disagree with the resolutions that are mere political statements. The political resolutions usually spur debate and questions, which could burn more than an hour of our ?floor? time. A lawmaker told me when I was first elected that the taxpayers spend about $25,000 per hour with salaries, travel expenses and per diem, plus their support staff. Do you see where I am going with this story? So much for my rant! House Bill 1439 was called up on the Agriculture Committee Calendar. This is my ?Water Basin of Origin Protection Act? that gives local control of water basin to the people who live in these basins. For the first time in Oklahoma State history, this bill puts a ?severance fee? or price on water! As you can imagine, it is like trying to force a cattle bolus down a baby. It also sends a percentage of money collected back to that basin for water infrastructure and economic development. Unfortunately, we have a few members who don?t have a good grasp on our water challenges in Oklahoma. After forty minutes of fielding questions, a motion was made to table my bill until next week, because it was getting late. It was 7:30 p.m.; I guess some don?t believe in working until you get the job done. I wouldn?t normally go into such great detail but, folks, this is a very important subject for the State of Oklahoma and the future of Oklahoma. The following came by the Capitol this week: From the McAlester Child Advocacy, Cecelia Miers; and Girl Scouts of Eastern OK and Oklahoma Women?s Coalition Vickie Williams and Dorothy Kennedy. I appreciate their visits, and I urge yours! God Bless each and everyone of you!
 

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

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