Claremore Daily Progress

March 9, 2014

Focusing on county government reform

Marty Quinn
State Representative


House lawmakers have finished the first leg of their legislative work, which was the committee vetting of House bills. There have been a number of good bills advanced in the process and I wanted to let you know about what your state legislature is working on.
Part of my focus has been on some county government reforms. I have three bills that met the deadline and were advanced in the committee process. 
These bills are aimed at ensuring county officials are accredited with a basic level of training on open meeting laws and other necessary skills in order to better serve residents. 
Training is already offered to county officials, but these bills would open up that training to all residents and ensure that officials are tested on their knowledge. County officials would be ineligible for reelection if they fail to receive accreditation. 
These bills were introduced to improve the efficiency of county government.
Interesting reform legislation may eventually reach the ballot for you to vote on. The House Rules committee unanimously approved a measure that would substantially change the way the Legislature operates. 
House Joint Resolution 1003 would place a state question on the November ballot that, if approved, would make the Legislature focus only on budget issues every odd-numbered year and on only non-budget issues during even-numbered year. This will allow for camera footage to be more transparent.  I have a great respect for these troopers and this bill will be beneficial for not only Oklahoma Highway Patrol but also for the citizens of Oklahoma.
Another bill meant to add some common sense into current law regarding underage “sexting” was also approved. If this bill becomes law, teens will only face a fine and possibly a course on the consequences of “sexting,” but will no longer face felony charges.
A number of educators and parents have been concerned about the Reading Sufficiency Act, a law that will force schools to hold back third grade students who fail a reading exam or alternative assessment. 
We voted to leave that decision to a team comprised of the parent or guardian, a teacher, the school principal and a certified reading specialist. 
I am an advocate for local control and was glad to see this bill receive overwhelming support.
The House of Representative also approved a tax cut proposal this week. The legislation would require state revenue to reach a certain point, before a tax cut would take effect. 
That cut would not take place in the upcoming budget year, but when it does take effect would reduce the top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent.
Budget discussions are in very early stages, so I will tell you more about those issues in a future column. As always, It is my pleasure to serve you as Oklahoma State Representative of House District 9. If you any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact me at my Capitol office at (405) 557-7380.
Marty Quinn is state representative for District 9.