By Ryan Horton
The Harrah Chamber of Commerce hosted their annual Legislative Luncheon Aug. 16 at St. Teresa Catholic Church.
In attendance to speak was Governor Kevin Stitt, Congresswoman Stephanie Bice, State Senator Shane Jett, Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan, Estela Hernandez – Field Representative for Senator James Lankford, and Harrah Mayor Danny Trent.
Gov. Stitt reflected on where Oklahoma was when he first filed to run for office, and discussed where the state is now.
“When I ran for Governor in 2018 there was a very different feeling in Oklahoma. If you renumber, we had little savings to work with, there were teacher walkouts going on, and we had billion-dollar budget cuts happening with state agencies losing funding. I got inspired to run for Governor knowing we needed a fresh set of eyes that could run this state more like a business,” said Stitt.
“I’m proud to announce today that we have the largest savings account now in our state’s history, over $2.8 billion. We also have the lowest unemployment in our state’s history and some of the lowest energy costs in the entire country. So, there’s just amazing things happening.”
Stitt noted that despite how far the state has come, recent changes at the federal level have caused complications for many Oklahomans.
“Biden has done a masterful job increasing prices on Oklahomans and Americans around the country. Regarding energy policies, they need to take some advice from the common sense we use in Oklahoma,” said Stitt. “Since 1973 all presidents have had an energy independence policy. They always wanted to meet the needs of the American people with our own resources, until this administration. When you choke off supply and demand stay the same, prices are going to go up.”
Stitt says Oklahoma is crucial to the success of the nation as a leader of energy production, including renewable energy.
“I’ll remind people, we’re No. 6 in oil production, No. 4 in natural gas production and something some people don’t realize is we’re No. 2 in wind energy production,” said Stitt. “We have some of the cleanest water and air in the country. We have more electric vehicle charging stations, per capita, than any other state,” said Stitt. “We can all work together. To bury your head and say we don’t need oil and gas to maintain our power grid is nonsense. Buying oil from Russia or countries that might not like us much is not a solution.”
Stitt touched on improving infrastructure, reducing taxes especially on lower income residents and improving education.
“There’s 2,200 new homes going into Harrah right now,” said Stitt. “They drove me by the new hotel, and there’s a lot going on. A lot of that is thanks to improvements to state infrastructure. We spend about 44 percent of our state budget on education. I’ve put more money into education than any other governor in state history, and I’ll continue to do that.”
Representative Bice spoke about her recent work in Washington D.C.
“Americans shouldn’t have to choose between driving to work and putting food on the table. The ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ I didn’t support for many reasons. I voted against tax increases. It provided $80 billion to the IRS to hire 87,000 new agents. Audits are more likely to be done on lower and middle-class citizens. This is part of the green new deal agenda,” said Bice. “According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, the plan will hike taxes by $16.7 billion for those earning less than $200,000, and by $14.1 billion for taxpayers earning between $200,000 to $500,000. The last thing the American people need is new taxes during a recession, increased manufacturing costs during a supply chain crisis, and more spending which will further record high inflation.”
Bice was proud of recent accomplishments for the military.
“I had 23 amendments included in the final version of the National Defense Authorization Act,” said Bice. “I’m proud to fight for our military services, and was able to get some funding that will be used at Tinker Air Force Base.”
Sen. Jett discussed changes to his district following this year’s redistricting.
“Fortunately, I got to keep Harrah and Newalla. I lost Choctaw, Nicoma Park and Luther, but thankfully got to keep the Harrah and Newalla area of eastern Oklahoma County,” said Jett. “The more local the chamber is the better they reflect the views of that local community.”
Jett noted that local government officials can best represent community interests, and he plans to represent and protect his constituents.
“I don’t represent large companies. I want them to prosper, but I represent the people. All of those companies have lobbyists, and they’re paid very well,” said Jett. “Who remembers the weaponization of the IRS in 2013? They started targeting conservative nonprofits. It’s coming back and they have 87,000 more agents. There are 790 billionaires nationwide, and they have 87,000 agents. That’s how you know they’re not going after billionaires. They won’t eve touch the billionaires. They have lawyers to protect them so they’re coming after us. I want to protect this community from that type authoritarianism and I’ll be running legislation to do so.”
Mayor Trent thanked those in attendance and also those elected officials that have taken note Harrah’s recent developments.
“Harrah has good things happening,” said Trent. “Things are changing and they’re changing for the better.”
Members of the Harrah Chamber of Commerce, McLoud Chamber of Commerce and the Choctaw Area Chamber of Commerce were in attendance.
Tosha Inman CPA was this year’s event sponsor and Harps Food Stores provided lunch for those in attendance.
“What an amazing day in Harrah, Oklahoma as we had some very special guests for our annual legislative luncheon sponsored by Tosha Inman CPA,” said Harrah Chamber of Commerce Director Brandy McKay. “We’re just honored that our elected officials cared enough to come out and spend the day with us. There are big things coming to Harrah, and it’s an honor to be recognized by these county and state officials.”
For more about the Harrah Chamber of Commerce contact the chamber at 405-454-2190 or visit the office at 1971 Church Ave.