3,000-Plus Ideas Submitted Before Deadline

Monday, November 19th 2007, 5:03 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Scrapping public education and imposing stiff penalties for officials caught lying those are among the thousands of ideas posted with the 100 Ideas Initiative launched by House Speaker Lance Cargill.

Last Friday, Statehood Day, was the deadline for posting ideas to be included in a book that would outline a vision for the state's second century.

By Monday, more than 3,400 ideas for improving Oklahoma had been logged onto the Web site of the nonprofit group that has been soliciting citizen recommendations since January.

Now the group's advisory board will finish sifting through the recommendations to pare the list of ideas to 100.

Cargill, R-Harrah, traveled across the state, attending several of 31 ``IdeaRaisers,'' forums where citizens presented their policy suggestions.

``This initiative has brought together a bipartisan group, from teachers, lawyers and farmers to businessmen and citizens from every walk of life throughout this great state,'' said Thad Balkman, ex-House member from Norman who is executive director of the project.

One of the ideas posted on the day of the deadline called for requiring political candidates and businesses to pay a tax to erect a sign. Anyone putting up a sign without a tax stamp attached would face a hefty fine.

Another late proposal by Jimmie Martin of Newcastle would do away with public education, in favor of private voucher schools.

Other proposals called for making divorce illegal, setting up light rail systems, installing wind turbines to power the Capitol and other government buildings and requiring large trucks to pay a mileage tax of 10 cents per mile to travel through Oklahoma.

A law against public officials lying was proposed. Anyone caught would ``lose their job, their retirement and can never hold any political office again.''

Ed Hart of Blanchard also proposed a fine for anyone who does not vote. After three years of nonvoting, people would lose their citizenship. ``They don't have to leave the country, but must apply for a green card each year,'' Hart suggested.

Another proposal would bar officials from accepting ``any kind of gratuity'' from a lobbyist. Anyone who did would face a felony, impeachment and a prison sentence.

Brooks Rountree of Owasso said too much emphasis is being placed on a college education and proposed doing away with the state's college scholarship program, calling it ``pure socialism.''

``I would be a half million dollars ahead if I had taken welding in high school and skipped college,'' Rountree wrote.

Cargill was chairman of the group. Listed as honorary co-chairmen were three former governors George Nigh, Frank Keating and David Boren, now University of Oklahoma president.

``We plan to have the Oklahoma's 100 Ideas book completed by the beginning of the next legislative session to serve as a blueprint for the Legislature and Oklahoma's future,'' Balkman said.

Among the latest contributions to the effort, he said, were Corrections Corporation of America, $5,000; T-Mobile, $5,000; OG&E, $5,000; Hillcrest HealthCare/Ardent Health Services, $5,000; Wal-Mart, $4,000; and Oklahomans for Safe Roads and Bridges, $2,354.28.

Other previously announced corporate and community sponsors include AT&T, Chesapeake Energy, Chickasaw Enterprises, Cox Communications, Lamar Outdoor, The Tulsa World and Thomson West.

Balkman said the organization has spent approximately $300,000 for paid advertising, public relations and advertising services, administrative and staff services, and Web site and video production services.