Oklahoma House Ag Committee Chair Phil Richardson Announces He Won't Run for Reelection This FallTue, 03 Apr 2012 05:40:58 CDT
State Rep. Phil Richardson announced on Monday his plans to retire from the Oklahoma House of Representatives after this legislative session.
"It has been an honor to serve the people of House District 56 and I look forward to seeing them around the district as friends and neighbors," said Richardson (R-Minco). "I turned 70 this year and decided it was time to return to my farming and cattle operations and let someone else step up to represent the district." (the photo of Richardson is at the 2011 Oklahoma Youth Expo during the State Legislature Celebrity Show)
House Speaker Kris Steele commented on Richardson's announcement.
"The Legislature has been blessed to have a man of Representative Richardson's character and wisdom serving alongside us these past few years. He will be sorely missed, but he will leave an incredibly positive legacy through the policies he has helped enact and through his humble, dependable personality. We all wish him the very best in the future and thank him for his years of outstanding public service," said Steele (R-Shawnee).
Quick to praise Richardson's service to rural Oklahoma was Roy Lee Lindsey, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Pork Council. "Rep. Richardson has done an outstanding job representing his constituents and all of rural Oklahoma during his 8 years in the legislature," said Lindsey. "As a livestock producer, farmer, and a veterinarian, Dr. Richardson brought a unique perspective to the legislature that will be hard to replace. He has been an excellent chairman for the House Agriculture, Environment, and Wildlife Committee and co-chair of the Joint Water Committee."
"His experience and understanding of agriculture and rural Oklahoma will be missed. We wish Dr. Richardson all the best as returns to Minco and his farming operation."
Richardson was first elected in 2004, when Republicans became the majority in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Since then, the legislative process has become more transparent and more inclusive, he said.
"We've used technology and rule changes to allow the public more access to what goes on here," Richardson said. "They can now know how their state representatives voted in conference committee and lawmakers have been given more time to examine bills. In many of the things we've worked on, like redistricting, we've tried to include the minority party and keep things very fair."
During his tenure at the Legislature, Richardson has focused on rural issues. He authored bills that created the Feral Swine Control Act, preserved the Oklahoma Wildlife Diversity Program, lowered the cost of hunting licenses for minors, strengthened trespassing laws, banned computer-assisted remote hunting and permitted individuals to protect their property and livestock from wildlife.
Richardson currently serves as chairman of the House Agriculture, Wildlife and Environment Committee and served as co-chair of the Joint Legislative Water Committee that has worked on legislation to ensure Oklahoma properly manages its water resources. This year, he has a bill that would set up planning councils to seek regional input on a state water plan and allow voters to increase infrastructure funding for local water and wastewater projects.
"Water is a very important issue to rural Oklahoma," Richardson said. "It is critical to agriculture and smaller communities often struggle to continually modernize their water and wastewater systems. I think the Legislature is taking an important first step this year in preparing the state for better water management."
Although he is ready to return to life a non-legislator, Richardson said he will miss many of his colleagues.
"It has been an honor to serve with so many well-meaning and thoughtful individuals. They are a joy to work with, even when we disagree," Richardson said.
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