By Rep. RICK WEST
As the Legislature works to create a balanced budget for Fiscal Year 2018, there are a lot of things going across our minds. For me, one of the hardest things to swallow is the Central Purchasing Act.
At its face, this policy makes sense. It’s supposed to keep agencies accountable in their spending by requiring those agencies go out to bid. We enter a tricky situation though when the bidder who wins is an out-of-state company.
I’ve talked to folks at the Department of Transportation who say the agency is spending two-three times more money on things because the department is contracted with an out-of-state business. They could, for example, purchase items much cheaper at a local store, but this Central Purchasing Act requires the agency to abide by the original winning bid.
The good news is that there is a workaround. An agency can request an exemption in certain circumstances, and I believe saving money would be a worthwhile exemption. The trouble is that it places yet another step upon those agencies in order to receive that exemption. As we talk about agencies going broke, we ought to find ways to streamline this process for the state and its agencies.
I know several agencies have requested supplemental money. Specifically, I want to make sure the Legislature takes seriously the Department of Human Service’s request. DHS has asked lawmakers for an additional $42 million. Agency members have explained a big portion of that money would be used to keep the Aging and Developmental Disabilities Medicaid programs up and running through June 30.
This is an important issue for our seniors in LeFlore County, and I’m really fighting to make sure we do all we can.
Last week I passed a bill through the House that would ensure the Wildlife Department stays true to its word. People with lifetime hunting licenses and folks who don’t have to pay license fees would be exempt from purchasing bear tags under House Bill 2001. The bill faced a lot of questions, but in the end, most lawmakers saw the importance of righting this wrong by the Wildlife Department. It now moves to the Senate side, where they’ll vote on the issue.
A bill I coauthored also made it through floor last week too. HB 2177 by Rep. John Bennett would allow, but not mandate, the display of the Ten Commandments alongside other historically significant founding documents like the U.S. or Oklahoma Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights or the Magna Carta. The Ten Commandments played a significant role in the founding of our nation, and I’m glad we’re taking steps to honor that.
Remember I’m at the LeFlore County GOP Office at 1301 S. Broadway on Fridays from 9 a.m. until noon, and I’m on KPRV Friday mornings at 7:35 as well. If you want to reach me at the Capitol, please call my office at (405) 557-7413 or email me at [email protected]. Thanks, and God bless.
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