Capital Corner

Gus Blackwell

Preparation for the 2 nd Session of the 50 th Legislature continues unabated. The filing deadline for bills will be this week on Thursday. Then the bills will be assigned to committees by the Majority Floor Leader. This session we will have one week of pre-session to begin to hear bills before the session begins. The pre-session will occur during the week of Jan 30 th to Feb 2 nd . The Session will then begin on the 6 th of February.

Many of the appropriation committees will be meeting for a couple of days the week before the pre-session week. This is to begin the process of budget preparations for session bills. They met earlier during the month to look at the needs for supplemental funding for the remainder of this fiscal year.

Because of the many grass fires that we have had in the state, there will probably be a need to provide a supplemental for the Department of Agriculture and Forestry. The Department sent the rest of the operational grant money to the rural fire departments this month. This $2,100 is sorely needed by departments throughout the state, including many in our area. Many of these departments will also need additional money to help repair equipment that has been damaged through extensive use during the recent onslaught of fires. A special thanks to those volunteer firefighters who have already been fighting fires in our area. Thanks also to those who stand ready to respond to fires whenever they appear.

The normal appropriation process also provided funds for the Department of Public Safety to increase the number of officers in this area. Six of these officers are new cadet graduates. They are Trooper Joshua O'Steen in Beaver County , Trooper Patrick Fike in Harper County and Trooper Adrian Carrilo in Cimarron County . Texas County received three of the new troopers. They are Trooper Grant Arnold, Trooper Scott Patton and Trooper Ryan Smith. Welcome to these new troopers in our area. Because of transfers within the department, the total increase of troopers to this area will be three.

This Thursday I will finish my interim studies with a look at the School Land Commission. The school land is a constitutional creation in which land was set aside in perpetuity to provide funds for schools. One inconsistency however is that about half of the school land is in this district. This land produces revenue through land, oil, and gas leases that goes into the general fund of the Commission. However, it is dispersed back to the district on a per capita basis. This is inherently unfair and continues to cause a fiscal shortfall for both county government and local schools. Both the director of the School Land Commission and the State Auditor will be attending to try to find an answer to this funding dilemma.

Remember, the proceedings of the House are on a website at At this site, one can look up pending legislation, amendments to legislation, committee membership, and see the calendar for the week. This is an invaluable tool in keeping up with legislation that is of interest to you. As always, if you have any questions or problems, contact me at the Capitol at 557-7384 or at my home in Goodwell.

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