Look Before You Leap

Look Before You Leap - June 23, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

Within our great state are a number of locations named “Lovers Leap”.  Mostly the sites are bluffs overlooking a river or lake and are associated with an Indian legend about an Indian maiden and her lover whose circumstances forbid them from being wed.

As their stories go, they either jumped to their mutual deaths or one or the other jumped because they could not bear the pain of living life without the other.  Stories like those are what legends are made of, but beyond romanticism, seem like a tragic waste of precious human life.

Another adage that we grew up with, “Think before you speak,” has been adulterated by various advertising agencies and become, “Think before you drink…and drive.” Or more recently, “Think before you ink,” by groups that urge those considering tattoos to consider their permanency.

Regardless of the phrase, the lesson is similar; issues should be non-emotionally considered before undertaking change.  In a legislative context, interim studies provide the arena in which to consider issues, gather facts and analyze solutions.

This session, a number of interim studies have been requested by Representatives across the state.  One study that I have requested is on the respective cost and benefit of requiring new residential construction in Oklahoma to meet tornado resistant standards.

Oklahoma has a statewide building code that is based on national codes that require construction to be hurricane resistant.  Some experts say that for an additional $500 to $1000 for the average residence, many homes that are currently destroyed by tornados would incur much less damage from such storms. It seems illogical to use simple hurricane force winds as the standard in Oklahoma.

Another study that I have sought is to look at the current level of state funding available to meet the needs of Senior Nutrition Centers and Mobile Meals programs and other programs benefiting senior Oklahomans.

In light of Congress’ inability to approve a farm program that contains a substantial part of the funding for senior nutrition centers, we must be ready to preserve this critical service.  Senior programs are critical not only for nutrition, but also the niche that they fill in keeping seniors involved with social contacts and often mobile meals programs are the only daily personal contact that the elderly receive.

I have also asked for a study concerning the feasibility and cost of passenger rail service along the I-44 corridor from Tulsa to Oklahoma City to Lawton.  Factors such as ridership potential as well as traffic congestion, road maintenance savings and escalating fuel costs need to be reviewed.

While this corridor would not initially serve the entire state, it would serve as a backbone for a future statewide passenger/light rail network.  Oklahoma is a donor state when it comes to mass transit, sending more transit dollars out of state than it receives.  If we are ever going to have mass transit in Oklahoma we have to start planning sometime.  The sooner we capture those dollars, the better.

Other issues that I have requested reviews on deal with Rural Fire Protection funding, Assisted Living Facilities as an alternative to Nursing Homes, Health Insurance options in light of the elimination of Insure Oklahoma, funding for county and municipal roads, bridges, streets and alleys, andthe cost and benefit of an expanded year-round academic calendar for public schools.

I hope to be able to focus on these issues and others and help next session’s legislature to have more legislation that has been thoroughly considered and less that is emotionally charged and hurriedly proposed.  As the legislature of the State of Oklahoma, we should look before we leap and think before we act.  Otherwise, our leap may be a waste of resources and plunge our government into financial ruin.

You may review these studies and those requested by other legislators at www.okhouse.gov.

I appreciate the opportunity to serve in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.  I look forward to hearing from you at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.