Sunday, 14 February 2021 14:40

Rep. Rick West Column February 14, 2021 Featured

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Hailing a Local Hero

By State Rep. Rick West

Each week the Legislature is in session, we recognize a Veteran of the Week on the House floor. We generally have a citation read detailing the veteran’s service and a bit about their life, which is then presented to them. We also present them with a flag that has been flown over the state Capitol in their honor.

My opportunity to recognize a local hero comes in April, but I want to go ahead and tell a little about him now. Retired Army Staff Sgt. John Wilson, from Heavener, served from June 1967 to June 1968 in Vietnam. I don’t know how many are familiar with Vietnam, but the year of 1968 was one of the most brutal of that whole war. I don’t have all of the right words to express to Staff Sgt. Wilson my appreciation for his service and sacrifice, but to say it is heartfelt and deep and that I look forward to having him up to the Capitol to recognize him for all he’s done for our nation is about the best I can do.

This week at the Capitol, my bill to prohibit state parks from charging admission or parking fees to anyone who lives in the same county as the park passed the House Tourism Committee 6-0. I filed House Bill 1117 on behalf of local residents who visit Wister Lake. I just don’t think people should have to pay to enjoy a lake they’ve visited for free their whole lives. But I do understand that upkeep on facilities requires money. Under HB 1117, fees collected from nonresidents will benefit the park where the admission fee is collected.

Also this week, the governor signed an executive order directing the Department of Public Safety to expedite renewals or replacements of valid driver licenses and identification and waiving some restrictions for tag agents. This should help reduce the lengthy wait times many Oklahomans have faced since the onset of the COVID pandemic and since the state tried to update technology to issue REAL IDs. The governor’s order will allow Oklahomans to obtain a downgraded license, if necessary, and allow third parties to administer driver’s license examinations. The Legislature meanwhile is working on several pieces of legislation to address this problem.

I’m the House author of Senate Bill 560, which passed the Senate Public Safety Committee. I’m thankful to Sen. Nathan Dahm for having the confidence in me to run this important bill in the House. This bill would provide criminal and civil protections for drivers who feel threatened by riots or crowds of people circling a vehicle and who make a reasonable effort to escape. The bill is in response to the 2020 riots, where protesters were witnessed numerous times surrounding vehicles, rendering them unable to move without possible injury. Peaceful protests are one thing, but people must have the right to protect themselves and their property.

Reminder to listen to me on KPRV Radio each Thursday morning during the legislative session.

If I can help you with anything, feel free to call my Capitol office at (405) 557-7413 or email me at rick.west@okhouse.gov.

David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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