One of my favorite parts about serving as state representative for House District 33 is connecting with my constituents through various events in the district.

Last Thursday, I was honored to attend a flag raising ceremony in Perkins. First Bank & Trust Co. recently acquired Stroud National Bank of Perkins, and they proudly fly an American flag at each of their locations.

They just completed the installation of their flag pole and held a ceremony to raise the flag, measuring 30 feet by 60 feet, for the first time. The ceremony featured the Perkins-Tryon High School band, and I was honored to be invited by Perkins Market President Denny Bond.

The patriotism and love for America was evident in the people at the ceremony, which included several veterans, and watching the massive flag being raised was truly inspiring. It’s the biggest flag in Payne County, large enough to be seen for several miles around, and it’s a great reminder of how wonderful it is to live in America.

While I enjoy attending events like these in the district, I’ve also been busy with doing the work of government at the State Capitol.

On Wednesday, I sat in on a study with the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee. It examined why and how Oklahoma schools are suffering due to not receiving their ad valorem tax proceeds from companies within the oil, gas and wind sectors. It was a very eye-opening discussion and I was glad to hear from presenters on both sides of the issue.

Rep. Ajay Pittman also recently held an interesting study on barriers people face upon leaving incarceration and reentering society. The Legislature has made significant strides in this area in recent years, including last year’s passage of House Bill 1310, named the Sarah Stitt Act to recognize our First Lady’s efforts in criminal justice reform. The bill requires the Dept. of Corrections to provide inmates leaving incarceration with certain documentation necessary to help them find employment and housing.

Businesses and nonprofits are also stepping up to help reduce barriers to reentry. In May, I attended a graduation ceremony for female inmates who had completed a special truck driver training through Central Tech in Drumright. A partnership with an Oklahoma City-based company has made jobs available for them upon their release from prison.

Other companies, like Toro, have removed from their job applications the question if the applicant has been convicted of a felony. This question often leads to former inmates being written off before even interviewing, and removing this question gives people the chance to prove themselves. I hope more companies will follow their example.

Assisting these people in finding jobs and housing will help break the generational curse we often see in these situations!

Here are some upcoming interim studies:

• IS21-010, hosted by Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, will study how longer or more frequent recess leads to better academic outcomes and less behavioral issues. This will be held before the House Common Education Committee on Oct. 5.

• IS21-021, by Rep. Josh West, will examine labor shortages in behavioral health professions and will take place before the House Public Health Committee on Oct. 5.

• IS21-022, held by Rep. Jon Echols, will consider the effects of expanding the Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act before the House Common Education Committee on Oct. 6.

The purpose of interim studies is to hear from both sides of an issue and consider any possible effects or solutions. It’s important that we get everything out on the table and discuss what is best for our kids and for the future of Oklahoma.

I hope you will listen in to some of the studies above because this is your government! As elected officials, we are here to represent the voices of our constituents.

If you do watch a study, please contact me to share your thoughts! My email is john.talley@okhouse.gov and my office phone is 405-557-7304.

Thank you for allowing me to serve House District 33!

Rep. John Talley, a Republican, serves District 33 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which covers Logan and Payne Counties.

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