By TERRY GROOVER
Renovations at the state Capitol have forced at least two local lawmakers to find new offices … at least for now.
State Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Yukon, each said they have been forced from their offices because of the multi-million-dollar renovation project inside the Capitol.
The two made their comments Tuesday during the Yukon Chamber of Commerce’s monthly legislative breakfast.
It was the first breakfast event since June, shortly after the legislature completed its session.
Over the summer, the lawmakers have been participating in interim study sessions as they begin formulating legislation that will be considered during the next session.
Bice pointed out that most of the work leading to the session begins now.
She also said that legislation that will be considered next year must be filed in December.
“We will meet as caucus in November to start planning for next session,” she said. “We start working on bills right now.”
One area that Bice did focus on was the creation of an office called the Legislative Office for Transparency.
The bill authorizing the office was approved last session to provide a “deep dive into where our tax dollars are going,” Bice said.
“We as a legislative body can see, somewhat, what the agency spends for each entity, but oftentimes we really don’t know what is happening,” she said.
This office, which is independent, will provide greater detail.
“We’ve seen really fantastic results with this in other states,” Bice said.
The cost is about $2 million initially, but Bice said the state anticipates a major return on investment.
New Mexico, she said, has a similar office and it has resulted in significant savings.
The executive director for that office is expected to be hired within the next few months.
Crosswhite Hader said among the field trips she made during the break was to a medical marijuana-grow facility.
“It was quite interesting,” she said. “When you go over, it is not the marijuana you are smelling. It is the plants. They pipe in pure air, they filter the water. They treat those babies well. This was a medical facility. It was not a pot shop.”
Crosswhite Hader said she has two interim studies that have been approved, including one that involves property on which the owner fails to pay taxes.
In those cases, the property reverts to the county, which then must maintain it.
“Us, the taxpayes, are paying to take care of it, and that’s not a good situation,” she said.
The other study is related to agencies and administrative rules and legislation, and who has the ultimate control.
Other officials attending the breakfast included Yukon City Manager Jim Crosby, County Commissioner Jack Stewart and a representative of Sen. Jim Inhofe’s office.