Houchen says Sen. Ellis Presents SB1327 as Something It Is NOT

Also available in The McCarville Report: http://mccarvillereport.com/archives/5490

SB1327 is a bad bill for SE Oklahoma and does little to nothing to ensure we have a voice.
 
05 May 2012 (Hugo, OK) — Oklahoma Senate District 5 challenger, Howard Houchen, states:  “Senator Ellis says he wants to strengthen local control but in advocating for passage of SB1327, he is doing exactly the opposite!”

Sen. Ellis has made a hearty endorsement of the House amendment to Senate Bill 1327 but the changes made to this bill can hardly be thought of as an amendment.   SB1327 was actually gutted and replaced l with the language of another measure, HB2914.  HB2914, the “Regional Water Planning Act” was a highly problematic bill intended to create nine regional councils to manage Oklahoma’s water planning which would add another layer of government onto the already profoundly complex issue of water rights and water management.  The amended SB1327 now mandates the establishment of nine Regional Councils to manage our water.

Sen. Ellis is particularly pleased with the alteration to SB1327 that would require the members of these new Regional Councils be elected rather than appointed and to Sen. Ellis’ credit, if we are going to add yet another authority to manage our water resources, then indeed, some representation is better than none.  But this does not mean, as Sen. Ellis says, “the interests and needs of local communities would have representation in the decision making process.”  Source: The McCarville Report May 2, 2012
Oklahomans should know that SB1327 stipulates that the role of the Regional Council is advisory only.  They have no regulatory authority or any other authority.    This means that the Regional Councils do not have the power necessary to represent the people in any real sense.
“I believe Ellis’ intentions are good”, says Houchen,  “but he is totally missing the fact that regional management of our water resources will inevitably make the decision making process less local, not more.”

The powerless Regional Councils do have a mandate to fulfill, however.  This bill, supported by Ellis, requires the Regional Councils adhere to the ever evolving Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan as a guide for their recommendations on the water management of the nine regions, as has been predetermined by the Oklahoma Water Resources Board.

This is a terrible trade off according to Howard Houchen who explains that his campaign is invested in carefully examining the water issues that face Oklahoma .  “Right now our cities and counties have quite a bit of power when it comes to the water policy decision making process.   I am worried that by establishing these Regional Councils our local governments will end up being mere administrators of the OWRB’s plans and that is not representative government.”

The entire reason for the creation of these Regional Councils comes directly from the 2012 Update to the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan which recommended that the Legislature authorize the creation of regional planning groups.    No matter how the Council members are chosen, elected or otherwise, the constraints remain the same.  The Regional Councils will follow the dictates of the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan, a plan that has been soundly criticized by many including Sen. Ellis himself.
Sen. Ellis is to be applauded for his concern for adequate representation of the citizen however, dividing the state into nine new political voting regions is not the answer. Do we really need to be so hasty to enact such a drastic alteration of our traditional government structure?

If Sen. Ellis has so little faith in the statewide plan why would he support a measure that will create a mandate that effectively binds water management throughout the state to the plan?  This does not provide the constituents of SD5 or any Oklahomans with the representation that they need and deserve.
It is clear that If we continue on the path that Sen.  Ellis is endorsing, Oklahomans can expect to have less control over their natural resources, not more.   

  
Howard Houchen
OK State Senate D5 – Candidate
P.O. Box 353
Hugo, Oklahoma 74743

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