Serving as Vice Chair of County, Municipal Government Committee
Submitted by State Representative Rick West
I recently was named vice chair of the House County and Municipal Government Committee for the next two sessions of the Oklahoma Legislature. This is a great committee as it takes a look at legislation pertaining to the governing structures that are closest to the people legislators serve in their districts. If there’s a city or county law that’s too restrictive, for instance, or something that would help our towns and counties serve their people better, that will flow through this committee.
I’ll receive my other committee assignments this week and report those in a future column.
I wanted to touch on the process of redistricting for legislative and congressional districts that is happening this year. We are constitutionally required to do this every 10 years after U.S. Census results are reported to the states. Committees from both the Oklahoma House and Senate redraw the districts accounting for population shifts. The goal is for each representative, senator or member of Congress to represent roughly the same number of people. As more people move from rural areas to bigger cities, this can result in big districts for our rural lawmakers. We will likely see some changes to our districts here in Southeast Oklahoma because of population shifts. We’ve had several meetings to allow for public input into this process, one in McAlester and one in Tahlequah, along with others in other parts of the state. The committees and the House and Senate redistricting offices will be using all of this input to help us when we get to the part of remapping our districts this summer. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.
I want to say a big thank you to Karen Wages, the Executive Director of the Poteau Chamber of Commerce, and to her staff for all their hard work in opening the Reynolds Center for the LeFlore County Health Department’s COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic held Jan. 7. I was told they were able to vaccinate about 800 people during that one day. They plan to host the clinic each Thursday. I very much appreciate the great work the health care employees are doing to help our people during this pandemic.
For more information or to register to get the vaccine, you can go to this website: https://oklahoma.gov/covid19.html.
Also last week, I attended Organizational Day at the state Capitol. This day is constitutionally required to take place every two years after a statewide election is held. We accepted our state election results as delivered by the Oklahoma Election Board. House and Senate members then formally were seated, and we elected our leadership for the coming two years. House members also adopted House rules to govern how we do business in our chamber. We got through the day will little trouble.
In my next column, I’ll give some details about the legislation I will be filing this session as well as some news from the district. Until then, stay safe and sound.
Rick West represents District 3 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes part of LeFlore County.