This past week, I had the opportunity to speak at the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma (ACCO) fall conference. I’ve had the great opportunity to work with outstanding county elected officials from all 77 counties over the past few years while I served as chair of the County & Municipal Government Committee in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
I was very surprised and honored when ACCO Executive Director Chris Schroder presented me with the “ACCO Rock Star Award” at their general session while introducing me as their guest speaker. In his remarks, Chris said I was the third legislator to receive this award in the past nine years, and he mentioned that I had served as the House author for nine county government bills that have been signed into law in the last three years.
I’ve learned so much from many of these county government leaders over the past few years. Many of the bills we wrote were inspired by the solutions they brought to me from their valuable experiences in county government, and their insights are always very much appreciated.
Additionally, without the support of the majority of my colleagues in the House and Senate, these bills wouldn’t have made it through the legislative process and onto the Governor’s desk. I want to thank my colleagues and the Governor for supporting these county government reform bills.
While there is always more work to be done, I do feel that we have moved the needle in a positive direction that will benefit Oklahomans across the state.
In order for us to be a strong state, we must have 77 efficient and effective county governments throughout our state. To be successful, our state needs leaders in all levels of government—local, city, county, state and federal—to work together for the betterment of our constituents. I’ve enjoyed working with my local county elected officials in Stephens, Grady and McClain Counties and they know that they can call me anytime if there is anything I can do to help them at the state level, which in return helps our constituents we mutually serve.
Our counties and our county leaders should be empowered by our state governments. Our Oklahoma state statutes specifically outline the duties of county governments, so the Legislature works hand-in-hand with ACCO and county officials to ensure Oklahomans’ needs are met.
Many of the nine county government bills I’ve recently passed into law have focused on modernizing the county elected officials’ salary formula and cap, which were outdated. The bills also set clear guidelines and definitions for counties to follow with more checks and balances in place that better protect taxpayers and the county elected officials.
We also passed HB3271 to modernize the county government bidding laws and allow counties to use online bidding procedures similar to what some state agencies use. Those online bidding procedures have been proven to increase competition and lower the cost of bids awarded and the cost to manage the bidding process compared to traditional bidding programs.
We also passed laws increasing audit requirements for county circuit engineering districts, as well as streamlining the county purchasing process in Title 19 to be much more efficient.
This year, my role has changed in the House as I’ve transitioned from the chair of the County & Municipal Government Committee to now chair of the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, which means I will be focusing more on energy-related policies. However, I am thankful to still serve on the County & Municipal Government Committee and will be engaged in these issues as I feel they are very important to our state and all Oklahomans.
It truly is an honor and privilege to represent House District 51. As always, I hope you continue to contact me about any questions or concerns that you may have at the state level. God bless!