Rep. James Lockhart’s weekly wrap
By Rep. JAMES LOCKHART
This week we started early and worked late each day. This week was a deadline to get bills heard on the floor of the house. Several bills and amendments were heard each day, some I agreed with, others I didn’t.
One major bill that was passed this week was the charter school bill by Representative Denney. This bill allows for-profit charter schools to be set up in rural Oklahoma; I along with several other representatives argued this bill would harm public schools in rural Oklahoma. I voted against this bill, in my mind it’s robbing our kids so an out of state company can turn a profit.
Another bill that passed with strong bipartisan support would put money into cancer research. Another similar bill would prevent insurance companies from denying proton therapy treatments to cancer patients. Both of these bills passed with support from both parties.
We voted on a resolution calling for an article V constitutional convention. The argument in favor of this resolution was for adopting a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. There were several arguments against it, most people against it were afraid once the constitutional convention was started it would become a runaway train, and we would lose our freedoms guaranteed in the bill of rights. Freedoms like the right to bear arms, freedom of speech, press and assembly, freedom of religion.
The author of the bill said at one point the only way the federal government could deficit spend (go into the red) would be during a time of “national emergency,” and the individual states would have to approve the deficit spending. I asked the author of the bill if he thought the states would have to approve deficit spending during a time of war, he stated ‘yes’ the individual states would have to approve deficit spending in a time of war. I disagree; State legislatures should never tie the hands of congress or the President during a time of war. Especially with all the unrest we are witnessing around the world in Ukraine, North Korea, and the Middle East. I voted no, because I believe the most important role government has is keep us safe from hostile nations and terrorists.
The Democrat Minority Leader tried to place an amendment on a revenue and taxation bill that would have delayed the implementation of the income tax reduction. Both parties were quick to jump on their respective band wagons, republicans argued “cut taxes and the economy will grow,” democrats argued the tax cut only amounts to about $40 a year for most families and the timing of the cut needed to be delayed because the state is $611 million dollars in the hole.
I pointed out how on one hand citizens are being told their taxes were being cut, but on the other hand fines, fees and tuition has increased about a billion dollars over the same time span these income tax reductions have taken place. I pointed out how this amounts to the legislature promising the voters no new taxes, but then raising fees and saying it’s not a tax! A bill was passed this week that raised a fee on death certificates. One thing is for sure- death and taxes, even after your dead.
I have become really fed up with the political posturing that has went on the last couple weeks at the Capitol. At some point legislators need to stop being politicians and start leading. Our elected officials should never play politics with national security, and we shouldn’t lie to voters about tax policy, too many people have died defending the office I and so many others hold.
Our citizens, particularly our veterans deserve real leadership. We need to pay our bills instead of putting them off and robbing Peter to pay Paul. Last year our state was 188 million dollars in the hole and the republican controlled legislature cut taxes, today we are 611 million dollars in the hole. Should we pay our bills or pass them onto our kids?
It is an honor to serve the people of LeFlore County. What we do in the State Capitol matters, it affects lives and oftentimes it changes the fabric of our society. If you ever have an issue or need help with something, my office number is 405-557-7413, my email is [email protected], my home number is 918-653-7571, or you can find me on Facebook. My door is always open and your voice is always heard.