23, 2007 -- By Rep Earl Sears
The first third of the Oklahoma legislative session is now complete, though
plenty of work still remains for both us in the House and the Senators on
the east side of the Capitol.
This week, we started
committee work on bills that passed in the Senate. We also came to a bipartisan
agreement with the Senate on a $6.8 billion budget for the upcoming fiscal
year, the earliest agreement since 1972. It fully funds last year's $3,000
teacher pay raise and adds another $600 annually to that. It also calls for
a further decline in the state tax. Currently at 5.65 percent, the tax will
fall to 5.5 percent next year and 5.25 percent in 2009.
Last week, the House completed
work on its own bills, voting on pieces of legislation in order to meet a
deadline to send House bills to the Senate. A total of 450 bills were passed
and are now in the Senate, where they are facing committee work there. If
they make it out of the Senate committees, then the bills will face a vote
on the Senate floor.
The House passed some
important legislation the past six weeks. I'm an advocate of a solid family
foundation, which is why I believe House Bill 1295 - which will give an extra
tax break to middle-class families - will only improve the lives of families
in this state from Guymon to Broken Bow. HB 1295 is a childcare tax credit,
which will support stay-at-home mothers and families living off of only one
income. It really should make an impact in family pocketbooks.
A bill I co-authored,
House Bill 1804, was passed and is now in the Senate for approval. That bill
is a major step in Oklahoma because it will end up saving taxpayers millions
of dollars. The bill will move toward ending taxpayer subsidies for illegal
aliens, which will lessen the strain on our social services. It will also
help to end identity theft, voter fraud, enhance law enforcement resources
and enact penalties against employers who willingly hire illegal aliens.
Several other bills that
passed the House recently will also affect on our daily lives here in Oklahoma.
House Bill 2108 is going to develop quality recreation areas through land
trusts, which will take advantage of our state's natural beauty. Meanwhile,
House Bill 1051 will prevent student-aged sex offenders from continuing to
attend the same school as their victims. Other bills, such as ones that will
raise the awareness of arts in the community and improve investments into
Oklahoma's roads and bridges are key to the state's future as well.
If I can ever assist you,
either here at the Capitol or in the district, please contact me. The best
ways to reach my office are by phone, (405) 557-7358, or by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also please feel free to call me at home, (918) 336-4855.
I will continue to keep
you updated as your 51st legislature progresses. Working together, we will
make a difference for Oklahoma.