Doug Cox, M.D. State Representative

As we enter the 3rd full week of the legislative session bills are making their way out of committees and on to the House floor for an up or down vote by the full body.

I voted against a bill in committee that would eliminate the requirement to spend 1.5 percent on art for state projects. This is the program that has given us the designs on the concrete retaining walls along expressways, and placed the Osage shield on new bridges. I think that looks a lot better than just plain concrete. The bill did pass out of committee.

I voted for a bill to ensure the best teachers remain in the classroom while ensuring educators’ constitutional rights are protected. Currently teachers can appeal a firing in district court, an expensive and time-consuming process for all involved. Under this bill a teacher fired by a school board could instead request a hearing from a three-member panel, whose members would be selected by the state Education Department. It was one of the few issues here that has the support of the state teacher’s association as well as education reformers.

A new grading system for schools had my support. Oklahoma’s schools would be given an annual grade of “A” to “F”. Grades will be based on progress made on end-of-instruction tests, graduation rates, and student learning gains in reading and mathematics.

A bill outlawing stem cell research received not only my “no” vote, I debated against it. There is a lot of misunderstanding about embryonic stem cells, equating them with abortion. There are over 400,000 embryos in frozen storage, most of which will be thrown away. I think research should continue on all three types of stem cells (adult, reprogrammed, and embryonic) to seek cures for genetic diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and Down’s syndrome, to name a few.

This is just a small sample of measures going through the committee process. They are a long way from becoming law, with many steps to go. I just wanted to let you know how YOUR state representative voted.

I can be reached at 405-557-7415, or dougcox@okhouse.gov.