BY JOE DORMAN
I want to start off this week by thanking students from Walters Elementary and Fort Cobb-Broxton for decorating Christmas trees at the State Capitol last week. They did an excellent job with their work. Fort Cobb-Broxton has a tree on the first floor of the Capitol, and Walters decorated the tree on my hallway on the fifth floor of the building. This is a perfect time to visit as you can see the different decorations prepared by students from all over the state.
I also am preparing my ideas for legislation for the upcoming session. The bill filing deadline for ideas is next week, so I am submitting several and continuing my work on further details. I visited with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs about possibly maintaining a database of cell phone numbers for police officers. This database would be voluntary for participation and would allow the police officer to receive a photo and information regarding children reported missing. Currently, we see over 800,000 kids reported missing, with about 200,000 of those proven to be abductions by a family member and almost 60,000 of abductions done by a person with no relation to the child. Amber Alerts have many restrictions, so we are looking at what level this should be filtered for distribution to increase the number of reports which go to law enforcement. I am hoping this will also help with OBNDD's efforts to curb sex-trafficking.
Another bill I will work on is the legislation to create a Blanket Primary system for voting in Oklahoma. Right now, if only candidates from one political party run for an office, no voters from other political parties are allowed to vote in that race. I would like to open up the race for that specific office in a district or a county for all voters in that area to ultimately decide who will serve. I do not think it is right for one party to determine who serves everyone. This provides Independent registered voters a greater voice and it gives all voters guaranteed the right to vote for elected officials the chance to submit their vote for who represents them in that particular office.
It was an honor to attend several holiday events over the past few days. I was happy to win one of the categories at a political chili cook-off this past weekend and see several friends, including former Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins, Calvin Rees from Oklahoma City (happy early birthday!) and Jason Bebo from Fletcher. On Monday, I attended the Grady County Home & Community Education awards luncheon and helped honor the ladies who work hard for this program. It was great to see newly-elected officials present, so many thanks to Sheriff Jim Weir and Representative David Perryman, along with regular attendees County Clerk Sharon Shoemake, District Attorney Jason Hicks and Commissioner Jack Porter who all helped support these clubs. I also attended the Oklahoma City Retired Firefighters' Christmas Party that night. Both of these events were well-attended and I deeply appreciate the mission that both of these groups undertake to preserve their particular goals for Oklahoma.
I will be out of town for a few days next week as I attend a reunion with some political friends from my college days, then go to Washington, D.C. to see some former colleagues and visit with some of our federal officials. I look forward to discussing with them how things look for the potential "fiscal cliff" we have seen and heard so much about in the news and learn more about the direct impact to Oklahoma. I will certainly write about their expectations and what we need to do here in the state to prepare for potential budget cuts. I also plan on carrying the message to remember programs such as our senior nutrition sites, which are in danger of losing over $120,000 in each of the ten regions of Oklahoma. A cut like this could have devastating effects on many of our rural centers.