Legislators at Eggs & Issues last Friday said the proposal for a Ten Commandments monument passed the House of Representatives.
“I voted for it,” said State Representative Ben Sherrer. “I’m a big fan of the Ten Commandments.”
House bill 1330 authorizes a monument bearing the Ten Commandments to be placed in the State Capitol Park in Oklahoma City.
Sherrer added the state would be better served if everyone who supported the monument of the Ten Commandments lived by them.
Emcee Blaine Jones pointed out, “The good thing is, it passed. The bad thing is, they’ll be written in Hebrew.”
Jones commended the local representatives, saying, “They are taking care of their constituents as best they can,” even on issues with which they may not neces-
“We are well represented,” Jones said.
With two weeks left in the session, State Senator Sean Burrage said the $7 billion state budget is down this year by $900 million.
Burrage said all government agencies have taken a cut of 8 to 9 percent.
Burrage said the national stimulus package will backfuel education, health care and the Department of Human Services.
“The question is,” said Burrage, “does the stimulus package work?”
Burrage said the national economy must rebound by spring 2011, “or it will be a rough legislative year.”
A bill on rural ambulance service passed the House, said Sherrer. The duty-to-act requires services such as Mayes Emergency Services Trust Authority (MESTA) to leave its territorial boundaries if it is the closest service to people in jeopardy who have no service.
Sherrer feels the duty-to-act puts Mayes County people in jeopardy who have taxed themselves to pay for their service.
The bill will give all counties two years to get funds in place for an ambulance service. If counties do not establish their own ambulance services, the duty-to-act goes away.
“It’s going to require counties to take action,” Sherrer said.
Sherrer spoke about a bill concerning health insurance for people under 30. Sherrer said the bill allows a program to be developed under Insure Oklahoma that will lower insurance costs for young adults.
The purpose of the program is to get more people under 30 to participate in health care plans. Uninsured in Oklahoma number 600,000.
The program will put more dollars into the overall framework while lowering health care for young adults. The governor signed this health bill into law last Thursday.
State Representative Dr. Doug Cox, M.D., said the department of mental health is seeing an 8 percent decrease in funding. Cox said access to mental health is very poor in the state of Oklahoma and no stimulus funding went toward mental health. The only ones who can afford mental health insurance, said Cox, are the wealthy.
Cox said he is concerned about the economy and “where we’re headed, not just as a state, but as a nation.”
Cox said Oklahoma has always had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. In March 2009, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate rose to 5.9 percent according to Oklahoma Employment Security Commission. This figure is 2.6 percent higher than the March 2008 unemployment rate of 3.3 percent. Oklahomans currently out of work number 103,710.
The national unemployment rate is 8.5
Cox encouraged Pryor voters to vote yes on the proposed $13 million school bond. He said 22 percent of Oklahoma children drop out of high school, which creates a low education on the work force.
The school bond, said Cox, “is an investment that will reap many times its return.”
Sherrer said this session he had his first experience bucking a state agency. Sherrer stood against the wildlife department’s proposal to limit the harvest of blue catfish to one over 30 inches long.
Sherrer said he had people snickering behind his back and one person asked him, “Representative Sherrer, do you even fish?”
After being knocked down twice in the House, the blue catfish issue is in the hands of the Senate. The wildlife department is negotiating and has offered a compromise of one blue catfish over 34 inches.
Burrage said “after this session you will be able to hunt wild hogs from a
“But not at night,” he added.