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Okla. Lawmaker Decries State Parks Plan (Jul 13, 2011)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A southeastern Oklahoma lawmaker is criticizing Republican leaders in the Legislature for studying the possibility of privatizing state parks and golf courses.

Democratic state Rep. James Lockhart of Heavener has been a vocal critic of the Department of Tourism and Recreation's decision earlier this year to close seven state parks as the agency grapples with ongoing budget cuts.

House Speaker Kris Steele has denied a request by Lockhart for an interim study to examine the economic and social impact of closing the parks. Meanwhile, a separate request to study the "potential privatization" of Oklahoma's state parks and golf courses was approved.

Lockhart says he's concerned lawmakers have a "deliberate agenda of privatizing our state parks to the benefit of private developers."

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