Ritze appointed as vice chair to Appropriations Subcommittee
CapitolBeatOK Staff Report
Oklahoma House Speaker-elect Kris Steele has appointed state Rep. Mike Ritze as vice-chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety for the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions.
“I am honored by this appointment, which gives me a larger role in ensuring the proper use of taxpayer dollars in the budget,” Ritze, a Broken Arrow Republican, said. “I think that public safety is a core function of government, and am glad to be part of the conversation on how it is funded.”
The committee chairs will be active in advancing legislation arising from the House Republican caucus agenda while also dealing with the thousands of other bills filed each year.
“Given the significant challenges we face as a state, it is important to appropriately utilize the talents and skills of all 101 members of this chamber,” said Steele, a Shawnee Republican. “I am confident that we have assembled a team of experienced leaders to serve as
committee chairs who will develop and advance conservative, pro-growth policies that move Oklahoma forward.”
Ritze will serve alongside the committee’s chairman, state Rep. Lisa Billy (R-Purcell).
Dr. Ritze is a board-certified family practice physician and surgeon. He also holds a master’s degree in Forensic Science Administration. Ritze said that because of his background, he has also been asked to facilitate the oversight of the state medical examiner’s office.
“Speaker Steele has asked me to use my knowledge of forensic science administration to play a role in the oversight of the medical examiner’s office,” Ritze said. “The office has been plagued with
problems, but I think with a number of changes that have been made and with continued scrutiny, we will see improvement.”
During his legislative tenure, Dr. Ritze has been a leading advocate of conservative public policy. Ritze is a Second Amendment pro-gun stalwart.
He pressed to safeguard the prerogatives of Oklahomans against the new federal health care law, forging a bipartisan committee majority for his proposal to allow citizens in the Sooner State to “opt-out” of the new federal strictures. As a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Ritze was a prominent critic of Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson’s position of neutrality on the federal law.
Ritze was an architect of the successful House override of Governor Brad Henry’s veto of one vehicle utilized to register Oklahoma’s opposition to the federal law. He supported a constitutional provision sponsored by then-Rep. Mike Thompson and Sen. Dan Newberry to assure protections against federal mandates requiring purchase of health insurance.
Immediately after the November election, Rep. Ritze was widely quoted defending the decision of Oklahoma voters to endorse the state constitutional “out-out” provision. Today (Monday, December 13), the controversial mandate requirement was struck down by a federal judge in Virginia.
NOTE: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.