Saturday, December 31, 2011

My 2011 State Capitol Top Ten

These are a few of the top stories of 2011 from the State Capitol:
1. Mary Fallin becomes first female governor of Oklahoma

2. Republicans take control of state government:
  • Republicans sworn in to every statewide office for the first time
  • The Governor’s Office, State House and State Senate are controlled by Republicans for the first time

    3. Pension reforms, led by Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-OKC, passed during the legislative session and have reduced the state’s unfunded pension liabilities by billions of dollars

    4. DHS in the headlines:
    • The deaths of several children in state custody leads to changes at the DHS Commission including the creation of a committee to study child deaths
    • A district attorney calls for an OSBI investigation of DHS over allegations workers at the agency withheld information from the DA
    • A settlement agreement appears very likely in the 2008 Children’s Rights class action lawsuit against the OKDHS child welfare program avoiding trial early next year

    5. Attorney General Scott Pruitt files a lawsuit on behalf of the State challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare

      6. Changes in education:
      • State Supt. Janet Barresi and State Board of Education battle during her first board meeting and subsequent changes to the board
      • Several historic education reform measures were signed into law such as the repeal of trial de novo, a new A-F grading system for schools and the tax credit scholarship program Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act
      • State Supt. Janet Barresi selects former OEA lobbyist Joel Robinson as new Chief of Staff

      7. Two school districts sue parents of special needs children establishing a troubling new precedent of intimidation of parents by administrators and school boards

      8. The untimely deaths of friends hurts and reminds me of what's important:
      • Rep. Rusty Farley, R-Haworth, the first Republican elected to a state office from McCurtain County, died July 4 during his first year as a freshman State Representative
      • Sen. David Myers, R-Ponca City, Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee died November 11
      • Judy Copeland, a long time friend and General Counsel to Governors Fallin and Keating, died November 6 at 42

      9. The number and scope of studies during the interim kept legislators and the press busy during the summer and fall months

      10. The Capitol facade began crumbling this summer requiring the area near the front of the Capitol to be roped off until repairs are made

      This is not an exhaustive list but it does represent some of the topics, events or issues I was involved in, find interesting or that personally had an impact on me this year.
      Happy New Year!

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