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January 16, 2014

Okla. legislators speak to young professionals at annual luncheon

NORMAN — Norman NEXT connected young professionals this week with area legislators at its annual legislative luncheon and forum.

Sens. John Sparks and Rob Standridge, along with Reps. Scott Martin and Aaron Stiles, attended the luncheon and panel discussion. Rep. Emily Virgin was unable to attend.

Martin, R-Norman, is chair of the Appropriations and Budget committee and is a University of Oklahoma graduate. He said the Board of Equalization overestimated growth this year and revenue is running behind state budget predictions.

Collections are 6.7 percent behind the budget now midway through the fiscal year.

“My hope is that we would get to a flat budget,” he said.

Martin would like to see pension reforms, education policies and judicial reforms this session. He said the bill proposing a unicameral legislature won’t get any traction.

“I’m in the middle of my fourth term (in office),” Martin said. “It’s gone by really quick.”

Standridge, R-Norman, is a businessman and entrepreneur in the pharmacy field.

The senator is working to reduce prescription drug abuse. He said there is a misconception that prescription drug abuse is somehow safer than abuse of other drugs but that’s not true.

“That’s a serious problem and may be a leading cause for this epidemic,” he said.

He wants to track drugs going through nursing homes and pain management clinics more closely.

Standridge said he was also struck by a case where a man got off after murdering his pregnant girlfriend by pleading “innocent by reason of insanity.”

Standridge said that verdict is a slap in the face to the families of victims, and while he can’t control the judicial system, he can change verbiage. He wants the verdict in the future to be “guilty but insane.”

He also wants to raise the bar on requirements for foster families.

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