Small crowd meets state representative, senator with big concerns

State Senator Owen Laughlin and Representative Gus Blackwell met with about a dozen concerned county citizens on Friday.

Laughlin spoke extensively on Tort reform and his opinion that the Oklahoma courts, insurance companies and Worker's compensation need relief from large jury-settlements.

Laughlin told the group that the bill now proposed has been endorsed by both labor unions, chambers-of-commerce; and is opposed by trial attorneys.

Both Laughlin and Blackwell agreed that the lack of lawsuit reform was hurting the state because of companies refusing to bring in new businesses. He specifically mentioned the loss of a potential Boeing Aircraft Plant in Tulsa.

“Education is a big winner when we get businesses to move to Oklahoma,” Laughlin said.

Observer Janice Smith voiced her concerns about the state's Long-Term health Care Task Force and some of their mandates, like the education of nurses aides at sites down state.

“Many of them are single moms. The cost will just make them quit,” Smith said.

“I was very distressed when I saw that,” Smith said

“Just keep in mind, this isn't law yet,” Laughlin said.

“Have these people ever been in a nursing home? Smith wanted to know.

It's problem both law makers agreed on; rural health.

“I want to try video-conferencing,” Blackwell said.

“We have gotta get rural hospitals more money,' Blackwell added. Senator Laughlin has a bill on that.”

Laughlin pointed at the crowd, “It's hard to run a business as a doctor when insurance companies can tell you what doctor you can see; what procedure he can use.”

Laughlin then called the state's Health Care Authority, “...an agency out of control. We get less dollars back than we pay in. We need a plan to reward those hospital districts who are willing to tax themselves,” Laughlin said.

Phyllis Randolph of the Cimarron Chamber of Commerce and the Heritage Center thanked the two men for their support of Oklahoma Arts Council and told of plans for Gateways on the proposed Port-to-Plains corridor to entice tourists to visit the county.

The two men also spoke of their support of limited-liability laws for landowners so that landowners could see profit from hunting and birdwatching.

Bobby Apple asked about competitive bidding on school land, and his concerns that the state made it too attractive to outside businesses.

“Two-thirds of my land is leased, if I lost the bid it would put me out of business,” Apple explained. “Cimarron county is getting very little of the proceeds, it's going downstate,” he added.

“The guys in Tulsa would like to see all this land sold,” Laughlin said.

Blackwell said his answer would be to sell the land with first chance going to the operators on site, with state financed loans at six-percent. It was a recommendation not welcomed by Apple.

Apple then voiced concern that the local office of Department of Human Services might close.

“They have committed to keeping this office open,” Laughlin said.

“I'd like to see some public health out here,” Smith added.

“Our senior citizens have lost grants. Their nutrition programs are suffering,” she added.

Peggy Sparkman asked about truckers registration laws.

“Our laws are fine; what happens is people are trying to circumvent them,” Blackwell said. “The trucking companies must have a realistic presence,” he added. “If they want to place a shipping hub here, I think that makes sense. I would encourage Boise City to recruit trucking firms. But they must obey the written law as well as the spirit of the law,” Blackwell explained.