By Rep. JAMES LOCKHART
Last week was full speed ahead as we spent long hours in committee meetings and engaged with concerned groups, individuals and organizations that came to the Capitol to voice their support or opposition to numerous bills. The Legislature honored Oklahoma veterans and active-duty military personnel in a joint session on Wednesday.
There were a few lighter moments during the week, however, such as the swearing in of the newest member of the House of Representatives in the House chamber on Wednesday. Curtis McDaniel, D-Smithville, will represent District 1, which includes southern parts of LeFlore County beginning this fall.
At the Capitol this week we had Future Farmers of America (FFA) Recognition Day. I was proud to have many students from Wister FFA come by for a visit. I am a former FFA member and I can attribute most of what I have to my roots in agriculture and science.
Higher Education Day was also this week. Students and administrators from Carl Albert State College stopped by. I am a CASC graduate myself and I enjoyed the opportunity to visit with people from the college. Statistics clearly show as educational level increases, unemployment decreases. College graduates usually earn more over their lifetime than non graduates. As our nation develops a more technology-based economy, higher education will become more and more important.
This week we heard in committee HB 2921 by Rep. Phil Richardson, R-Minco, which creates the Pet Breeder Act of 2012. The House Agriculture Committee passed the bill to move authority for the Oklahoma Board of Commercial Pet Breeders from the auspices of the state veterinary board to the State Agriculture Department.
Richardson, who is the committee chairman and author of HB 2921, said he has received more complaints from constituents and others about the pet breeder’s board than any other issue. “They kind of used Gestapo-type activity in trying to enforce some of these things,” he said. “A big percent of these pet breeders aren’t going to apply for a license. And the ones that have got licenses … that’s the ones they get after and it’s just not fair.”
I have received many complaints from pet breeders here in LeFlore County who have experienced these “Gestapo-type” tactics. One of the most disturbing complaints I received was from a LeFlore County breeder who said the Board of Commercial Pet Breeders office in Oklahoma City told them, “they didn’t do anything but make things hard on themselves by contacting my office with their complaints”.
Needless to say, I made sure the Board of Commercial Pet Breeders had a clear understanding that I will not tolerate state agencies threatening constituents because they asked for my help. The board’s name sounds like it is made of industry representation, but the reality is the Commercial Pet Breeder Board is made up of liberal animal rights activists who place a greater value on an animal’s life than on a person’s.
It is an honor to serve the people of House District 3 in LeFlore County . It is very important to me that each of you know my door is always open and your voice is always heard. I can be reached at home 918-653-7571, or at the capitol 405-557-7413, or by email [email protected] or find me on Facebook.