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