By Rep. RICK WEST
While I was campaigning last year, I frequently told folks that House District 3 needed someone who would be willing to sit at the table, someone who made himself available to the people in charge, someone who was willing to stand up for his district. You agreed. And last week, I got my first chance to really sit at the table.
I had breakfast with Gov. Mary Fallin and a handful of other lawmakers and state officials on March 27. We had a wide-ranging conversation, including issues concerning House District 3. I shared my concerns about the purchasing limitations placed on the Department of Transportation and Lake Wister State Park. She listened and said she’d check into that.
Please be assured I stood up for my constituents during that breakfast meeting. Fallin argued it was important to raise taxes to create new recurring revenue for the state, and I just couldn’t agree. Specifically, Fallin brought up the cigarette tax, saying that raising taxes by $1.50 per pack could generate $160 million. My constituents have told me time and time again that you’re against these tax hikes, and I shared that information with her. There are simply too many other ways to raise revenues.
She warned we’d be facing some tough votes ahead. And I agree with her there. Being at the Capitol can be a doozy, but I’ve committed to representing House District 3. Every tough vote I cast, I cast for you. Fallin seemed to respect that. But I want to work to earn your respect, not hers. So I’ll continue to fight for y’all and I’ll lobby to advance bills that better our district.
I also enjoyed having a seat at the Department of Environmental Quality’s table last week. Folks from the DEQ stopped by my office to talk about prison water quality among other issues facing LeFlore County.
As an update, the House last week approved a $34 million supplemental appropriation to the Department of Human Services. This money is a crucial step in funding core government and helping take care of our elderly, and I’m glad it passed with a unanimous vote.
I want to recognize Brent Stout, who paged for House District 3. House pages run messages to legislators while they are in the chamber debating policy and voting on measures. They also participate in a mock session, where they learn legislative procedure and how to write bills. Brent was elected Lt. Gov. for the week as well, which is a great honor. I’ve known his family all my life, and I really enjoyed showing him around.
As always, my office number is (405) 557-7413 or you can email me at Rick.West@okhouse.gov. I’m on KPRV every Friday at 7:35 a.m. to talk about life at the Capitol. If you’re ever free Friday from 9 a.m. until noon, stop by the LeFlore County GOP Office at 1301 S Broadway in Poteau and say hi. You can call that office at (918) 647-9489. God bless.
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