The Pryor Times


March 26, 2013

Guns, guns and more guns

It was busy last week at the Capitol with all of the House bills being heard before the deadline. Any bill that did not get heard is dead for this session, which is one of the reasons we can start with more than two thousand bills and end up with less than 25 percent becoming law.

While not a proponent of arming teachers in school, I did vote for a bill that would allow CLEET-certified school personnel to act as special reserve school resource officers. These volunteers from the schools would have a special, sworn law-enforcement status and would serve as armed security in their local schools and at school events. The local school boards will make the decision on whether or not to participate and who the volunteers would be. The certification would require a minimum of 120 hours of training at the law enforcement academy. I think it is a sad commentary that we have evolved to a society that has to spend precious education dollars on law enforcement in our schools. I voted for the bill because it is optional and each school board decides whether or not they want to participate. I am a fan of local control rather than the state dictating such matters. The issue now moves to the Senate for their consideration.

A measure making it possible to renew a license to carry a firearm online passed the House. The bill is intended to make the application and renewal of the license created by the Oklahoma Self Defense Act more convenient. The measure passed 90-3 and advances to the Senate.

While I am a strong proponent of our Second Amendment right to bear arms, I voted against the so-called “Firearms Freedom Act.” The legislation, which passed, would allow firearms that were manufactured and remain in the state of Oklahoma to be free of any federal laws, taxation or regulation. My “no” vote was because the author of this measure could not tell me if purchasers of these weapons would still be subject to the current background and mental health screening, which I support. In spite of my no vote, the measure passed 79-12 and moves to the Senate.

Legislation also is out of the House and headed to the Senate that would give private schools the ability to set policy in regard to firearms. The author said private schools would be able to arm teachers to defend the school if they so choose. As you can see, there are a lot of bills out here that are a knee-jerk reaction to the school shooting tragedy that occurred in Connecticut last December.

A measure lowering the state income tax from a maximum of 5.25 percent to 5 percent passed the House. The bill is a work in progress. While I voted for this preliminary measure, I have advised the governor’s office that I cannot support an income tax cut unless we can also give a pay raise to our state employees, who haven’t had one in more than six years, and our teachers, who are some of the lowest paid in the nation. The tax cut would amount to less than $9 per month for most families. We will see what happens with this issue between now and the end of May, when the Legislature adjourns.

Finally, I enthusiastically voted for a measure that would require welfare recipients between the ages 18 to 50, who are not disabled or raising a child, to perform at least 20 hours of work activities as a condition of receiving food stamps. The measure passed overwhelmingly and is now in the Senate.

It is an honor and a privilege

to serve as your state representative.

I can be reached at dougcox@ or (405) 557-7415.

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