Representative Lee Denney, Senator Jim Halligan and City Manager Steve Spears answered questions at the Legislative Luncheon held on Friday.

Spears was given the floor first to give an update on ‘what’s going on in Cushing.’ He received a groan from an understanding audience when he said the city is currently undergoing a computer program change, “We’ve been working in a DOS program for the past ten years.” He said the change they are implementing right now has little effect on citizens, but next month they would be changing over utility billing and that would require the utility office to be closed a few days -in the afternoon only.

“It will be after the 15th of the month and we’ll be sure to give the public good notice of the dates and times,” Spears said. He went on to say they are also running both programs at the same time until the kinks are worked out.

Spears also wanted to remind city homeowners of a sidewalk replacement program currently in place. “Homeowners are responsible for their sidewalks,” Spears said. “Right now, if your sidewalk is needing repaired or replaced, you can contact City Hall and we will furnish the labor. You [homeowners] only have to buy the supplies.”

Before Lee Denney took the floor, local businessman Jim Wasson suggested to Spears that the council “revisit” the responsibility of homeowners when it comes to the clean up of drainage ditches on their property.

Wasson gave a particular instance where had they not had help, the clean up requirement would have been and extreme hardship on the homeowner.

“With the economy the way it is,” Wasson said, “I think the council should definitely revisit the liability of the homeowner.”

Spears said he would pass the concern on to the council.

Next on the agenda – Lee Denney. Denney started out by saying the session so far has been “a whirlwind. She noted that since the constituency has been given the option of emailing legislators, that she’s been “blown away at the number of emails” received everyday.

“I’m suggesting people call me instead,” Denney chuckled.

She went on to stress that with the current economy and a $900 million shortfall, she and other members of the House are looking for ways to trim any fat from the budget.

Denney also spoke of what is known to most as the “puppy mill bill” that she has been trying to get through.

“This has been a very eye-opening experience,’ Denney said. “Puppy mills are a huge problem in our state. We have gone 100 years without any kind of regulation.”

Denney admitted that working on this bill has been tough. “I really don’t know how it will turn out,” she said. “I think it’s a good bill – but not perfect.”

Another more controversial bill near and dear to Denney is Juli’s Law. According to Denney the bill would require those arrested for “really bad felony crimes” to be swabbed for DNA. “It only indicated whether or not their DNA matches the crime scene,” she said.

(For more information on Juli’s Law, go to DNAsaves.com)

First time Senator Jim Halligan said that his experience so far has been “phenomonal” but admitted it has also been an “enormous learning curve.”

“The stimulus bill has frozen things,” Halligan said. “We are trying to figure it out. We want Oklahoma to get its share, but we have to be very careful.”

Denney agreed there was a need for concern.

“We don’t want to be filling holes with stimulus money and then not be able to continue later,” Denney said.

“These are unparalleled times,” Halligan told the group, “but we are a God-fearing, God-loving, capitalistic society and we’re going to make it through.”

The next Legislative Affairs Luncheon will be held the last Friday in March.

***