By Sen. JOSEPH SILK
We are approaching the start of the 2017 legislative session and as usual, the state has many issues to consider. Once again, we will be faced with a large budget shortfall, so we will need to continue the work of fixing our financial infrastructure so we can make certain the people of Oklahoma are served properly.
I have authored multiple bills this year spanning a wide range of topics. County roads funding, education, wildlife, gun rights, and abortion are a few of the topics. As is typical, many people are weighing in on some of my “controversial” pieces of legislation even though they are lacking knowledge of the actual purpose of the bill.
Many times they have not even read the legislation or have any background information about it.
One of these bills is Senate Joint Resolution 13, which amends Article 1, Section 1 of the Oklahoma Constitution. The bill removes the word “inseparable” from the text when describing Oklahoma’s relationship with the federal union.
Sadly, many people jumped all over this, labeling SJR 13 as a bill calling for Oklahoma to secede from the Union. However, this resolution in no way calls for secession, it merely brings the wording of the Oklahoma Constitution into line with the government ideology of our founders.
I have received many e-mails and phone calls praising this legislation from many of my constituents here in southeastern Oklahoma. Those who have been ranting about it being a secession bill must logically fall into one of two categories.
Either they have zero idea of what the legislation says, or they actual believe that we truly are inseparable from the Union no matter what happens in the future, which falls in distinct contrast to our founders’ beliefs.
Moving onto a piece of legislation that is more relevant to rural southeastern Oklahoma, Senate Bill 263 changes the funding for county roads and bridges. The bill would provide an increase in funding for counties that have more county roads and bridges.
The current funding formula takes into account many factors, but I believe with a little work we can increase the funding to benefit rural counties even more.
An additional bill that brings more local control is SB 612, which would include locals in the discussion when setting speed limits on state highways. Currently, the Department of Transportation is the agency that sets speed limits.
However, all across the five counties that I represent, people have expressed concerns with the speed limits and a lack of understanding from the Department of Transportation. The locals and the counties should have more input as to what happens regarding roads throughout the district, considering that we are the ones who pay for the roads to begin with.
This bill is a work in progress but it has gained much support, so hopefully we can bring it to fruition with a little work.
Over the next week I will detail a few more of my bills, and explain why they are needed and what implications they could have for our state. In the meantime, feel free to contact me with any issues I can help you with at 405-521-5614 or by email at [email protected].
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