... from the State Senate

Senator Sean Burrage writes:

During Governor Henry’s Inaugural Address I was filled with pride as he quoted our favorite son, Will Rogers. Rogers, Governor Henry noted in his address, once said in order to get to the fruit you have to be willing to go out on a limb. The governor also challenged us to dream big for our state and for our future.

As I listened to the words of Will Rogers being quoted by our governor, I wondered what other public servants throughout history felt compelled to quote a man that has brought so much pride to our state, and in particular to Northeastern Oklahoma. Leaning on the expertise and historical knowledge of Steve Gragert, director of the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, I have found out that not only did many of the greatest public servants in the United States quote Will Rogers in important speeches to Congress and to the American people, they also hung his quotes in picture frames on their walls and placed statues of him on their desks.

Will Rogers was the consummate statesman and a proud Oklahoman. His most famous quote, “I never met a man I didn’t like” should serve as a reminder to us all to seek the best in everyone. As I begin my first session in the Oklahoma State Senate, I will keep the words of Will Rogers close to my heart and I promise to go seek the fruit far out on the limbs for the greater good of all Oklahomans.

If you have any questions on a legislative matter, please do not hesitate to contact my Senate office at the Capitol: (405) 521-5555.

... from Washington

Congressman Dan Boren writes:

Congress gets to work on aggressive '100 hours' agenda

Congress started work this week to pass key pieces of legislation in the first 100 legislative hours of the new Congress. Implementing the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission, raising the minimum wage, allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices and lowering the interest rate on federal student loans are priorities important for the country and Oklahoma.

9/11 COMMISSION: In 2002, Congress charged a bipartisan panel with investigating where government failed leading up the 9/11 terrorist attacks and making suggestions for reforms. ... More than two years after that report was released, most of the changes proposed remain unfulfilled. I voted in support of H.R. 1, a bill to implement the 9/11 Commission recommendations. The bill improves homeland security, prevents terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction, and develops strategies for preventing the spread of Islamic terrorism.

MINIMUM WAGE: It's time wages caught up with the increases workers have seen in their expenses since Congress last raised the minimum wage in 1996. More than half of states - including Oklahoma neighbors Arkansas, Missouri and Colorado - got tired of waiting for Congress to act and passed their own wage hikes. I will vote in support of H.R. 2, a bill to increase the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour over two years.

PRESCRIPTION DRUGS: The current Medicare prescription drug law explicitly prohibits the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from using the strength of Medicare's 43 million beneficiaries to negotiate prescription drug price discounts. H.R. 4 would repeal this prohibition, giving Medicare the authority to negotiate lower drug prices for seniors. The states, corporations, the Veteran's Administration and large pharmacy chains all use their bargaining clout to obtain lower drug prices for the patients they serve. HHS should have the same ability.

STUDENT LOANS: In 2005, Congress increased interest rates on federal student loans, making it more difficult for nearly 100,000 Oklahomans to get the education necessary to compete in today's economy. Next week, I will support H.R. 5 to cut these interest rates in half over the next five years, from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent. The cost of attending college continues to skyrocket - putting college out-of-reach for an increasing number of students, especially in rural America. More than ever, the health of our economy rests on having a highly-skilled and well-educated workforce. College access is the key to remaining strong in the face of an increasingly competitive global economy.

These priorities address just a few of the challenges facing our country. Confronting the war in Iraq, rising health care costs, illegal immigration and our nation's energy needs will certainly be front and center as well. I look forward to working with Democrats and Republicans to best represent Oklahoma in the 110th Congress.

Every member of the Rogers County legislative team, Democcrat and Republican alike, has been extended the opportunity to provide Daily Progress readers weekly updates on legislation and issues. If you do not see your elected official’s comments in this newspaper, ask them, “Why not?”

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