State Rep. Randy Grau announced his re-election campaign for House District 81 by saying he wants to continue his record of making government more efficient to save money.
In 2010 Grau was elected to the House without opposition in the primary or general election. Grau has served on four committees, including Appropriations & Budget Subcommittee for the Judiciary, Judiciary, Public Health and Transportation.
At the top of Grau’s priority list is providing necessary funding for the Office of Chief Medical Examiner to move to Edmond.
The ME’s office lost its accreditation with the National Association of Medical Examiners in 2009 and has fired two chief medical examiners in two years. The association issued a report noting the deficiencies result from an inadequate staff due to a lack of funding. Also, the agency’s equipment and facilities are obsolete, the association’s report stated.
Grau said his goal has been to make the agency successful with regaining its accreditation, he said.
No funding mechanism exists to move the Office of the Chief Medical examiner in close proximity to the University of Central Oklahoma Forensic Science Institute, although Senate Bill 1337 was signed into law by then-Gov. Brad Henry in 2010. SB 1337 agrees to place the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in close proximity to the University of Central Oklahoma and the OSBI crime lab.
Grau was the House author of Senate Bill 671 with Senate author Clark Jolley, R-Edmond. The bill passed the Senate 45-0 in May before failing in the House 22-75.
Funding for the ME’s office was not part of SB 671. Jolley said the House refused to hear the $25 million bond for the ME’s office that had passed through the Senate Appropriations Committee.
In May Grau said the ME’s office already charges fees for certain services such as a cremation. Another $100 existing fee is for the shipment of remains out of state.
“Although they charge that fee, it is not actually in the statute,” Grau said in May. “And so we were attempting to bring the law up-to-date with what is actually the practice of the ME’s office.”
SB 671 would have set the fee ranging at $100 to $200, Grau said. Nobody griped about the fee until the last day of session, Jolley said in May.
Progress is being made in convincing lawmakers that the ME’s office needs to be funded sooner than later, Grau said last week.
“The legislation was passed two years ago that authorizes the moving of the facility. So that’s not open to debate,” Grau said.
Gov. Mary Fallin is asking the Legislature to fund more than $100 million in improvements for the state Capitol building, parts of which are crumbling, Fallin said.
“The governor is correct. That needs to be done,” Grau said. “But, is that more of a priority than the medical examiner’s office? I don’t think so.”
Former Edmond Mayor Patrice Douglas said she continues to be asked her opinion of funding for the ME’s office in her current role as corporation commissioner.
“I think you have some good representation of people still fighting for it,” Douglas said. “… It’s just a matter of the state getting the will to fund the building.”
Grau plans for legislative session
The six pieces of Grau’s legislation as primary author or the House author for the Senate were signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. Grau was second to state Rep. Aaron Stiles, R-Norman in having the most bills by a freshman representative signed into law last session.
These were bills that increased patient safety and protection or were public safety oriented in keeping track of sex offenders, said Grau, an attorney.
“I had all four of my interim study requests approved. This is the most of any freshman House member,” Grau said of 2011.
His study on common law marriage included discussions with family law attorneys to consider legality and property law to determine if any statutory changes are needed.
At the request of Oklahoma County commissioners, Grau led a feasibility study of regional jails conducted last summer in preparation for the next legislative session.
Two other studies addressed abandoned and neglected properties and local government mandatory publication notices and related costs.
Grau was one of a handful of House committee members who examined 2009 federal health care mandates and how the state will respond to them.
“That’s an important issue not just to residents of Edmond but nationally,” he said.
His interest in transportation is highlighted by his work in county government. Grau is a former assistant to Oklahoma County Commissioner Ray Vaughn, of Edmond.
“It made me aware of the road and bridge issues that we have,” Grau said.
Grau said he has worked for lawsuit reform and overhauling the workers’ compensation system.
“I have some bills this year that will continue to make the legal process streamlined and not limit access to justice. I have a pretty full plate,” Grau said.
The candidate filing period is Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, April 11-13. Candidates for federal, state and legislative offices file with the State Election Board. Candidates for county offices file with County Election Boards. The deadline for filing for a contest of candidacy is 5 p.m. April 17. The primary election is June 26.
TO LEARN MORE about state Rep. Randy Grau, visit his website at www.randygrau.com.
Editor's Note: This story has been modified.