The Edmond Sun


January 10, 2014

Rep. Grau champions new ME’s office for Edmond

EDMOND — State Rep. Randy Grau will continue to emphasize government efficiency and accountability when he kicks off his third-term re-election campaign in two weeks to speak for District 81, he said.

Progress in bringing the Office of Chief Medical Examiner to the campus of the University of Central Oklahoma will be a priority, said Grau, R-Edmond.

The state Supreme Court in September ruled to allow plans to proceed, clearing the final legal hurdle for $38 million in bonds to be released with the Master Lease Program during a 30-year period.

“Now that we have all the green lights, we need to make sure we do not lose the momentum of actually getting the building built,” said Grau, assistant majority floor leader in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

The ME’s office lost its accreditation with the National Association of Medical Examiners in 2009 and 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.

“Unfortunately because of the delay with legal challenges, I do not think the bond rates are as good now as they were,” said Grau, 38. “And, so there may be some need to go back and analyze the cost to see if we do need to supplement the funding.”

Work at the medical examiner’s office continues as best as it can in the current facility, located on the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center campus at 901 N. Stonewall in Oklahoma City, Grau said. A groundbreaking time for construction at UCO has not been set as legislators from all across the state are motivated to proceed, Grau said.

“They hear from their constituents just like I hear from mine about how difficult it is for the medical examiner’s office to do their job in the current facility,” Grau said. There are aspects of grieving families with procedural delays and the integrity of criminal justice to consider.

“It’s a state-wide issue and I think the legislators recognize that,” Grau said. “The legislative will is there to finally get this thing done.”

Grau’s goal has been to get things done at the state Capitol since he was first elected. Gov. Mary Fallin has signed 25 of his bills since voters first elected him to office in 2010.

Among his reforms, Grau has helped to streamline duplicative boards and commissions in county government, the judicial branch and agencies as a whole, he said. Grau sponsored one of the main pieces of the state’s overhaul of Workers Compensation this past session. He has been a supporter of improving the state’s roads and bridges, he added.

Grau has worked to repeal a lot of unnecessary and outdated laws as a member of the Administrative Rules, Government Oversight and Repealer Committee.

“I enjoy that because again I’m looking at analyzing, approving administrative rules to ensure that our agencies aren’t making up their own legislation,” Grau said.

Grau is married to Dr. Renee Grau, a dermatologist. They have two sons, ages 5 and 2.

TO LEARN more about state Rep. Randy Grau, go to

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  • Candidates disagree with White House’s minimum wage

    Gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, said the state needs to have serious growth in high-paying living wage jobs that will provide for Oklahomans.
    Dorman cautioned that while Oklahoma’s jobless rate improved in June, the state’s rankings for the well-being of children has dropped from 36th to 39th place, for one of the largest declines in the U.S., according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s KIDS COUNT Project.
    The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, Gov. Mary Fallin said this week.
    The state’s unemployment rate was more than 7 percent when Fallin was elected during the brink of the Great Depression. Alex Weintz, communications director for Fallin, pointed out that per capita income in Oklahoma was second in the nation from 2011 to 2013.
    The non partisan Congressional Budget office reported in February that raising the minimum wage could kill a half-million jobs in the United States.
    According to The Washington Times, CBO analysts reported, “Once the other changes in income were taken into account, families whose income would be below six times the poverty threshold under current law would see a small increase in income, on net, and families whose income would be higher under current law would see reductions in income, on net.”
    President Barack Obama in February signed an executive order to raise the minimum wage for federal contract workers to $10.10 an hour.
    Weintz said the governor believes tax cuts have enabled families to keep more of their money.
    No one is talking about the under-employment rate of families working minimum wage jobs, Dorman said.
    “It’s all fine and good when you have fast-food jobs that don’t cover the bills and that counts toward your unemployment rate.”
    Oklahoma’s minimum wage reflects the federal minimum wage set at $7.25 an hour, a standard set in 2009.
    Fallin signed legislation this year to prohibit municipalities from raising their local minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.
    “If the minimum wage goes up to $15 in Oklahoma City, all of the sudden you would drive retail, business, service industry locations outside of the city limits and that would be detrimental to the economy, consumers and to businesses,” Weintz said.
    Fallin has said that she opposes raising the minimum wage in Oklahoma because it would stifle job growth for small business and lay off workers. A lot of people earning the $7.25 minimum wage are part-time workers and many of them are students, Weintz said.
    “We believe raising the minimum wage is not a good way to address poverty,” Weintz said. “A lot of people earning the minimum wage are actually people living with their parents or other people who are employed full time, and in many cases they are middle class families. So it’s not a good tool to reduce poverty.”
    Dorman said he does not necessarily support the proposed $10.10 an hour minimum federal minimum wage that is being discussed by Congress.
    “I think we need to have a living wage in Oklahoma that is reflective of our economy,” Dorman said.
    About 102,300 jobs have been added in Oklahoma since Fallin took office in January 2011, according to her office.
    The cost of living in the national economy tends to be higher in some other states, Dorman said.
    So a minimum wage increase should be tied to economic gains so that families can pay their bills and afford to care for their children, Dorman said.
    Independent candidates for governor include Richard Prawdzienski of Edmond, Joe Sills of Oklahoma City and Kimberly Willis of Oklahoma City.

    July 24, 2014

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