canaday cnhi

With schools back in session, it has been great to get back into some of the classrooms doing the We the People workshops.

I have students doing an island simulation where they end up on a deserted island and have to form their own government with rules and rights for their fellow islanders. After completing these activities, the class will receive a free set of civics books written at elementary, middle and high school levels.

I enjoy doing these because it reinforces my knowledge that our students are the greatest asset that we have in our district.

Continuing with education, the Common Education Committee conducted an interim study on “Due Process in State Public Schools.” Lawyers from both the Oklahoma Education Association and Oklahoma State School Board Association presented opposing arguments for having the state courts conduct a “Trial De Nova” or new trial after the local school board has made their ruling on non-renewal or dismissal of a career, certified teacher.

I had requested this study not to minimize the due process protections, but to limit the recent excesses by the courts in over-riding local school boards’ decisions. I will propose a compromise that the role of the state courts in this matter will be of an appellate nature.

That is to say, the teacher can appeal the findings of the board to the state courts that will be restricted to determine if the board followed due process laws in their decision to non-renew or dismiss the career teacher. This step would modify the courts role to findings of points of law, not facts. When the latter is included, the courts become a “super school board.”

During this last week I had a 2 1/2-hour meeting with the director of the Department of Mines and her staff. While the outcome of the meeting may not be measurable at this time, I am confident they are aware that District 15 is disproportionately impacted by their decisions as compared to the rest of the state. I found that on dimensional or decorative rock mining, our district has mined over 94 percent of all of this material in the state.

In tonnage last year our district’s mining operations have produced almost 700,000 tons while the rest of the state’s mining operations produced only 45,000 tons. Haskell County alone produced 610,500 tons last year. While I appreciate the economic impact this has on our area, I am aware that this activity will have a limited life since it is a non-replaceable natural mineral resource.

I must raise the question as to how will we fund the repair our county and district roads and infrastructure when these operations are reduced.

We currently have a very limited means of financial recovery from the impact of this activity. It is for that reason I am working on a proposal to assign a gross production tax on this depleting natural resource like we do on coal, oil and natural gas.

This must, however, be earmarked for the specific areas impacted by the operation.

There were many other things that came out of the meeting. I am considering presenting legislation that will not allow rock mining under an “exemption” rather than a permit. Such permits should have a notification requirement to all contiguous property owners of the proposed site of possible hearings for a permit. This would hopefully balance the rights and concerns of both property owners and mining operators.

Contact Ed Cannaday, the state representative for District 15, at 484-5701, 448-5702 or to e-mail him Click Here

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