The Edmond Sun

Opinion

December 16, 2013

The most unscrupulous lobbying technique

GUTHRIE — Last week I described the abuse by which various area government entities have been designing construction specifications so as to limit competition and award a specific vendor. This drives up the cost to you the taxpayer. You may read that article at http://tinyurl.com/paaqa2y.

Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, and I sponsored Senate Bill 630 in an attempt to slow or end this abuse. You will be happy to know that the bill rapidly advanced through the Legislature and was signed by Gov. Mary Fallin on May 7. Jolley and I had to win at least three votes in committee, two votes on the floor of the Senate and one vote on the floor of the House to pass the bill. Remarkably, I can only recall one vote against the bill throughout this entire process.

This should have been the end of the story. After all, the bill was signed by the governor and only one person in the entire Legislature voted against the bill.

But something was wrong. Passing this bill was much too easy. The ease with which the bill passed almost made me second guess the need for the bill. Surely all of those who are making money off this terrible practice should have desperately fought us at every turn. Why was it so easy?

I would soon find out.

Apparently the lobbyists and the special interests who were making money off this practice and their lobbyists had fallen asleep at the switch and had completely missed the bill. This is a testament to the fact that Jolley and I had not issued any showy press release or launched a PR campaign to pass the bill. We had done nothing to unnecessarily bring attention to our effort.

Not long after the governor signed the bill the special interests realized what had happened. They immediately responded by asking their high-powered lobbyists to pass another bill to undo our bill and restore their ability to write the tight specifications that eliminate competition and drive up prices.

Fortunately, there were only a few days left in the legislative session. And, since new bills must be filed at the start of the session they couldn’t simply file a new bill. They had to find a way to take over/co-opt an already existing bill. Worse still, they couldn’t take over just any bill. They had to find a bill that shared the same subject matter as their proposal. Also problematic, by that late in the year the number of bills that are still alive and viable has greatly dwindled. Even worse, it was going to be extremely hard for them to explain and justify what they were trying to do. What type of legislator would want to allow this type of corrupt, parasitic proposal into his bill?

At first the lobbyists experienced no success. Legislators simply weren’t willing to give up a bill to them. Watching legislators hold strong against this onslaught reminded me of why I have a generally optimistic outlook about the integrity of many of Oklahoma’s currently elected state officials.

Then, with just five days left in the session, things changed. The Moore tornado struck. Unbelievably, as the disaster workers were still combing through the ruins, they floated the story that their proposal was necessary to help with the Moore tornado recovery. This has, of course, turned out to not be true and has to be the single most unscrupulous and disgusting technique I have ever witnessed in an attempt to pass legislation. It wouldn’t be their last unscrupulous strategy however and next week I will tell you the final chapter of this story.

REP. JASON MURPHEY, R-Guthrie, represents House District 31, which encompasses all of Logan County and a portion of northern Edmond. He may be reached via email at jason.murphey@okhouse.gov.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014

  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

  • The pessimist’s guide to grizzly bears and Earth Day

    This coming Friday, to “celebrate Earth Day,” the Walt Disney Co. will release one of those cutesy, fun-for-all-ages, nature documentaries. “Bears” is about grizzly bears.
    The trailer says, “From DisneyNature comes a story that all parents share. About the love, the joy, the struggle and the strength it takes to raise a family.”
    Talk about your misguided “Hollywood values.” I previously have acknowledged a morbid, unreasonable fear of grizzly bears, stemming from a youth misspent reading grisly grizzly-attack articles in Readers Digest. This fear is only morbid and unreasonable because I live about 1,500 miles from the nearest wild grizzly bear. Still. ...

    April 16, 2014

  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results