U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe spoke briefly Friday at the last Ardmore Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon of the year at the Ardmore Convention Center. In addition, state Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield, who will be leaving office later this year, was cited for his years of public service.


U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe spoke briefly Friday at the last Ardmore Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon of the year at the Ardmore Convention Center. In addition, state Sen. Johnnie Crutchfield, who will be leaving office later this year, was cited for his years of public service.

 

“There are a lot of people who don’t like the ethanol (as a gasoline additive) mandate,” Inhofe said. “Right now this is an option in Oklahoma, but it won’t be in a few short months.”

 

Inhofe said he plans to introduce a bill in the Senate to allow Oklahoma to opt out of the mandate. The senator also spoke about efforts to eliminate the federal estate tax, an effort that he supports. He also voiced his support for Gen. David Petraeus, the man who will now lead the war effort in Afghanistan.

 

“This is the one person who can do the job,” he said.

 

Ardmore Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Wes Stucky recognized Crutchfield for his years of public service, both as a member of the Ardmore city commission and as a state senator for 12 years.

 

Crutchfield and state Rep. Pat Ownbey spoke about some of the highlights of the most recent legislative session and some of the challenges the Legislature will face next year.

 

Ownbey said he asked to be appointed to two House interim studies. One would look at drug offenders in the state’s prison system. And the second, which will also include Rep. Wes Hilliard, will examine ways to help school districts such as Ardmore and Wynnewood receive their ad valorem tax reimbursements in a timely fashion.

 

“The (Ad Valorem Reimbursement) fund regularly ends up with a shortfall and is farther behind in paying back reimbursements each year,” Ownbey said. “This is unacceptable.”

 

Crutchfield warned that the state will likely have budget challenges again next year and the consequences could be far-reaching.

 

“Understand that smaller government means less services, longer waits and less quality in lots of areas,” he said.

 

He also chided his fellow legislators for sending what may be a record number of state questions to the voters in November.

 

“We didn’t have the guts to face these issues ourselves,” he said.

 

Despite the number of challenges it faces, Crutchfield is positive about the state’s future.

 

“We have a great state, a great workforce and great people,” he said. “Oklahoma has a lot of potential. It really has been a pleasure to serve you for 12 years.”