Who's the best state legislator in the country?
State Senator Paul Muegge of Oklahoma, according to a respected, national trade publication which covers federal, state and municipal governments across the country.
Senator Muegge has been tabbed "Public Official of the Year" by Governing magazine, making him the first Oklahoman ever to win the honor.
"This is really a great honor, not just for me, but for all of the people in my district. Without their support, this would not have been possible. This award is a tribute to all my hard-working constituents who have worked so diligently to make Oklahoma a better place," said Senator Muegge.
Each year Governing magazine searches the country for the best public servants, researching the careers and accomplishments of thousands of office holders.
While the Governing honor is awarded for the achievements of an entire career, it was the hog and chicken legislation pushed through by Senator Muegge this year that originally drew the organization's attention. Muegge authored the laws that placed tough new regulations on the corporate swine and poultry industries in Oklahoma.
"The hog and chicken issue was the toughest thing I've tackled in my legislative career. It may also be the most important. For us to maintain the high quality of life we enjoy in Oklahoma, we have to have clean water and clean air - a protected environment. That's what the legislation was all about," said Senator Muegge.
The Tonkawa lawmaker was the only state legislator in the country to be honored by Governing this year. He's also the first Oklahoman to receive the award and the first "front line" legislator to be chosen. Previous recipients were the leaders of their respective house of the Legislature.
"It's nice when the 'little guy' gets recognition for doing the right thing. Sometimes the people who are fighting it out in the trenches get forgotten," said Senator Muegge.
According to Governing, it's top public officials are a select group.
"When we choose Governing's Public Officials of the Year, we are on the lookout for success stories -- leaders who have mastered an office or an organization, brought it to a level of outstanding performance and kept it there.
And yet, some public officials demonstrate excellence not so much by winning as by the character they display in difficult circumstances... With the example they set, they give the notion of public excellence a whole new meaning."
Senator Muegge has been invited to accept the national award at a special ceremony in Washington, DC in November.
"I'm going to accept the award on behalf of all the people in my district and across the state of Oklahoma because they are the ones who deserve the credit for any successes I've had. Getting a national award like this is a nice honor, but really the best reward I can receive is the knowledge that I'm doing a good job for the people I represent," said Senator Muegge.
"Awards are wonderful, but thereÕs nothing better than a pat on the back from a fellow citizen."