(Oklahoma City) Senate Majority Whip Sam Helton, D-Lawton, has been appointed to the state commission dedicated to protecting Oklahoma’s military installations from being downsized or closed.
Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson, D-Lexington, announced Helton’s appointment to the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission Tuesday. He replaces the late Senator Keith Leftwich on the commission.
Fort Sill in Lawton is in Helton’s Senate district.
“All of Oklahoma’s bases are absolutely essential to Oklahoma’s economy. This commission can play an important role in keeping those bases off the next federal base closure list in 2005,” Helton said.
House Bill 1396, authored by Leftwich and Rep. David Braddock, D-Altus, created the planning commission earlier this year to analyze and recommend changes in policies affecting military facilities in the state.
Oklahoma’s military bases escaped closure or downsizing in four previous rounds of federal Base Closure and Realignment in the late 1980s and 1990s. Congress has, however, approved another round of base closures for 2005.
The planning commission advises and recommends to the Legislature and to the Governor procedures which would:
* prevent Oklahoma's military facilities from being targeted for closing or downsizing;
* maximize Oklahoma's input into the federal base closing and realignment process;
* protect the interest of the communities and residents of areas located within and adjacent to such military facilities in connection with such process;
* mitigate the effect of a reduction in military personnel housed or assigned to military facilities in Oklahoma, reduction in military activity associated with those facilities or changes in either civilian or military activity which have the potential to reduce employment, business activity, personal income or other economic growth in the affected areas; and,
* encourage and facilitate the relocation of mission responsibilities and resources to Oklahoma military installations from bases outside of Oklahoma.
In addition to Helton, members of the commission include Braddock and representatives of each of the Oklahoma communities that house the state’s five military installations: Altus Air Force Base in Jackson County, Vance Air Force Base at Enid, Fort Still Army Post in Lawton, the Army Ammunition Depot in McAlester and Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City.