The Pryor Times

Opinion

March 6, 2013

Bills target low income Oklahomans

No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow. ~Proverb

Not too long ago on Groundhog Day, we were told spring was right around the corner. This seemed impossible last Monday morning as the state braced for a winter storm. The capitol was spared the brunt of the weather, as though Mother Nature knew the legislature had a full plate in the coming days and not a minute to spare as the House wrapped up committee work during our first deadline week.

You can tell quite a bit about what is going on in districts by the bills their representatives bring to the House. We often ask each other as we discuss and debate legislation on the floor where the bill’s author got the idea for it. Many times, bills are constituent requests; after all, our constituents’ concerns are our highest priority. Other times, members are turning campaign promises into law or personal beliefs into legislation.

With the cold snap this week, however, members were thinking not only of their own districts and legislative victories, but also of the people around the state working to dig out from the blizzard and trying to keep warm. As we prepare to vote on bills making it to the House floor, it seems that too many of my colleagues do not seem as concerned In fact, it seems like many would prefer to make things harder on Oklahomans, even as much as they talk about family values and putting money back in Oklahomans’ pockets. The following bills are just a sample of those targeting low-income and vulnerable Oklahomans:

HB 1063 would repeal the Children First program, which provides home visitation services for mothers expecting their first child; the Speaker formed a “working group” to assess the efficiency of the program.

HB 1908 uses money from the federal program Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, to create public service announcements rather than the intended purpose of helping families in need.

HB 2218 would kill funding for OETA.

HB 1395 changes language in the law to cut full-day kindergarten in public schools.

HB 1721 lowers the income cap on the Oklahoma’s Promise scholarship, effectively reducing the number of low-income children that will qualify for OHLAP and access to a college education.

HB 2200 would permit state agencies to contract with collection agencies that can collect up to 35 percent in additional fees.

HB 2017 originally required a $5 copayment for Sooner Care Services, now requires that SNAP disqualify anybody with $5,000 in liquid assets discouraging low-income individuals from saving for emergencies.

It is my privilege to serve the people of Oklahoma in the House of Representatives. Please contact me with any questions or concerns. You may reach me by calling 1-800-522-8502, emailing to chuck.hoskin@okhouse.gov; or writing to me at Representative Chuck Hoskin, P.O. Box 941, Vinita, OK 74301.

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