Just checking in with a quick legislative update. One of the new initiatives I’m most excited about is a push by House leadership to have more representatives attend agency and commission board meetings to increase legislative oversight and transparency.

Oklahomans elect people to represent their interests at the state Capitol. These representatives in turn are responsible for appropriating taxpayer dollars to pay for programs and services that are part of our core government mission. But too often in the past, once that money was turned over to state agencies or commissions, the Legislature lost sight of exactly how that money was spent. This is a problem we have been rectifying the past several years with several different accountability measures. This new initiative furthers that work. By asking our committee chairs and vice chairs to assign various committee members to attend more agency and commission board meetings, including executive sessions if necessary, we will be better able to report to our constituents how their dollars are being spent and the value of the programs and services offered.

Also during the past several months, House committees have been hearing interim studies by various lawmakers. Many of these have been well attended. We’ve focused on education issues, healthcare, transportation, public safety and much more. These studies give lawmakers more time to examine specific issues in greater depth before they proceed with potential legislation. Studies wrap up Nov. 22.

House and Senate members met numerous times this fall in a joint working group to discuss the many facets of healthcare in our state – from patient access, provider reimbursements, insurance, elder care and much more. I expect several pieces of legislation to come from these meetings, and I will provide more details in future columns.

In the meantime, our Appropriation and Budget Subcommittees have begun hearing budget requests from our various state agencies for the next fiscal year. We will hear from the five agencies that receive the most in state appropriations in open meetings in January.

I want to wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope you are able to take time over the upcoming holiday season to spend time with family and those you love.

As always, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve as your Oklahoma House State Representative. I appreciate all of your emails and phone calls. Please continue to share with me your concerns, questions, and suggestions for how I may better serve you. I also encourage you to follow my personal blog, thewestreport.com and my facebook page,  https://www.facebook.com/TammyWestHouse84 .

God bless,
Representative Tammy West