The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

July 12, 2013

Legislative study on NORCE approved by Speaker Shannon

Staff and wire reports
Enid News and Eagle

— A legislative study on the closure of Northern Oklahoma Resource Center of Enid is one dozens approved Friday by Oklahoma’s Speaker of the House, T.W. Shannon.

His No. 2, Speaker Pro Tem Mike Jackson, R-Enid, made the request after other legislative efforts were fruitless in stalling the projected closing in 2015.

“I think that it gives us an opportunity to take a look at what (Department of Human Services) is doing, making sure everything is being done for all the clients, look at alterations and holes in the plan, and work with individuals who have been involved in these types of issues,” Jackson said after learning the study was approved.

There is no date or location set for the study, which will be heard in the House Human Services Committee.

Jackson said he wants to hear from DHS, NORCE parents and guardians, the association representing government employees, and other legislators who have worked on the issue. According to a document Jackson submitted to the speaker earlier this year, the study also may include discussion of the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley, which is scheduled to close next year.

Jackson’s hearing and the 67 others approved Friday will be completed before the Legislature returns to Oklahoma City in February.

Members of the Oklahoma House requested a total of 134 studies in all. Last year, former House Speaker Kris Steele approved studies on 59 topics out of 89 individual requests.

Friday was the deadline for Shannon to act on the requests. The studies give lawmakers a chance to receive testimony and examine issues in depth, to decide whether to draft legislation on a topic.

Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman is deferring to the chairmen of various committees whether to approve study requests from individual senators, the Associated Press reported.

News & Eagle staff writer Dale Denwalt contributed to this Associated Press story.