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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73105

For Immediate Release: May 1, 2012

Sen. Ellis says House changes to water legislation give citizens input; urges Senate approval

State Sen. Jerry Ellis said Tuesday the House of Representatives got it right when they amended a Senate Bill dealing with water policy in Oklahoma. The House voted last Thursday to amend a section of the Senate Bill 1327 dealing with the creation of regional water groups. He’s urging the Senate to accept those changes.

“In the Senate version of the bill, politicians in Oklahoma City would decide who they wanted to serve on those regional boards. The House amended that section so local voters from each region would choose,” said Ellis, D-Valliant. “This is called democracy, and it would mean the interests and needs of local communities would have representation in the decision making process.”

Ellis, an outspoken advocate for water rights in southeastern Oklahoma, said letting politicians pick the local water region representatives would create another layer of bureaucracy while ignoring the concerns of local communities. He said critics of the proposed regional planning groups argue it would create division and rivalries. Ellis contends voicing different opinions is simply part of the democratic process.

“With members elected by the local citizens of each region, the advisory water planning groups would be able to provide valuable information so that good policy decisions can be made,” Ellis said. “This is our most valuable natural resource, so people need to ask themselves why the rich and powerful are afraid to let local citizens have a say in these decisions.”

Ellis noted legislation introduced at the beginning of the session to allow Oklahomans to vote before their water could be sold out of state was never even given a hearing. He said rejecting the House amendment would be another attempt to exclude local citizens from the process.

“The citizens of our state know the importance of water and are willing to serve on these regional boards with little or no compensation, just like our local school boards,” Ellis said. “If there is any cost, it would be a drop in the bucket compared to the $16 million spent on the statewide water plan.”

For more information, contact:
Sen. Ellis: (405) 521-5614

Inon: Horizontal Blue Band

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