(Oklahoma City) -- Senate Majority Whip Keith Leftwich has been appointed to a new commission dedicated to protecting Oklahoma’s military installations from being downsized or closed.
Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson, D-Lexington, announced Leftwich’s appointment to the Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission Thursday.
“All of Oklahoma’s bases are absolutely essential to our state’s economy. We want to do all we can to make sure we keep them,” said Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City.
House Bill 1396, authored by Leftwich and Rep. David Braddock, D-Altus, created the planning commission to analyze policies affecting military facilities currently in use in this state and will examine methods for improving the potential private sector market value or potential for such military facilities.
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 will advise and recommend 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 Leftwich and Braddock who will represent the Senate and House, the commission will include five members appointed by the Governor with one member representing each community that houses a military installation, including 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.
Leftwich said that the commission can accomplish a dual purpose by protecting Oklahoma’s bases and the jobs of thousands of Oklahomans.
“Oklahoma’s productive workforce has been and should continue to be a vital part of our national defense,” Leftwich said.