Here is a brief, three-hour snapshot of a typical day during the legislative session.
8 a.m. — The day starts with an hour-long meeting with a group of legislators who are working on a bill to eliminate the state income tax. I provide them with estimates of savings resulting from the House Government Modernization Committee efforts so they can factor in the potential savings as part of the tax reduction plan.
9 a.m. — Session starts, and since there are only there are only a few days left before a legislative deadline, the agenda moves quickly to bills on third reading. I will cast 50 votes on various pieces of legislation, amendments, emergency clauses and procedural issues during the course of this day. These votes take place throughout the day — even as the rest of the described events take place.
9:27 a.m. — I receive notice that a proposed amendment has been filed to a key modernization measure set for a hearing in tomorrow morning’s Government Modernization Committee meeting. The amendment is not germane to the bill and it will obviously need to be tabled or I will need to rule it not germane during the meeting. Key legislative initiatives are frequent targets of poison pill amendments.
9:30 a.m. — Other representatives start asking me about an extremely important modernization bill by Rep. David Derby which will soon be eligible for a vote by the House. According to a consultant’s report, the bill that consolidates the state’s multiple fiber networks into one would save the taxpayers $25 million over 5 years.
9:40 a.m. — I now know why I am getting the questions. The presidents of higher education institutions from all across the state have invaded the House lobby and are pulling representatives off the floor in an attempt to kill the Derby fiber consolidation bill. Higher ed controls some of the state’s fiber and they are opposed to the loss of control. Higher ed lobbyists were unable to kill the bill in our committee and now they have called out the big guns. Many legislators are very hesitant to oppose their local higher ed president.
10 a.m. — I notice that a well-known Edmond civic leader has emailed us expressing vehement opposition to the proposed open carry bill and another second amendment proposal. In part, it read, “Jesus would roll over in his grave, but of course He is not there. He will meet the wackos that vote for this kind of legislation at the pearly gates and tell them, ‘Job NOT well done.’”
10:10 a.m. — Rep. Derby asks if I can provide the documentation from the consultant’s report showing the savings from his bill. The higher ed presidents are either being very disingenuous about his proposal or they don’t know the truth, and Rep. Derby has his work cut out for him to inform legislators what the real savings are. He needs me to find the report in my files.
10:10 a.m. — The House is now considering the previously mentioned open carry legislation. I can’t get the report for Rep. Derby because I have to wait in the chamber for an amendment I have to submit in order to help the open carry bill. My amendment is fourth or fifth in line, so I have to wait through debate on the other amendments.
10:20 a.m. — I present the amendment. It passes, as does the open carry bill. I make it back to the office and pull the report that shows the savings for Rep. Derby. About this time, I ask my legislative assistant to take a picture of the lobby where the legislators are being taken off the floor and pressured. I wish everyone could see what is going on and may want to post the picture via social media. Taxpayer dollars are being paid to higher ed presidents to lobby legislators to keep wasting more taxpayer dollars despite the clear evidence of this waste.
10:52 a.m. — As I walk off the floor and back to my office, I overhear the following conversation between a legislator and a House page. The legislator says, “Are you guys learning anything? Is it scary to see how your laws are made?” Page: “Yeah, it makes me nervous.” Legislator: “Government is designed to run without adult supervision.”
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 email@example.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/JasonMurphey and Twitter.com/JWMurphey.
Here is a brief, three-hour snapshot of a typical day during the legislative session.
Don’t leave Oklahoma!
May is graduation season. As I have done every year as lieutenant governor, I have given multiple commencement speeches. Advice flows freely during this time and it usually runs the gamut. What to do, what not to do, how to do ‘x’, be sure not to do ‘y.’ Too often commencement speakers speak in big generalities. So general, the message is frequently lost or forgotten.
Last-minute funding proposals not in state’s best interest
All indications point to this being the last week of this year’s legislative session. The Legislature will go home a week early. This is good news for Oklahomans as not only will there be cost savings but all Oklahomans should breathe a sigh of relief when the Legislature stops making new laws a week ahead of schedule.
As usual, the Legislature will take a number of important votes during the last week. Some will be forced due to attempts to introduce and pass far-reaching, new policies that should have been introduced much earlier in the year.
BY THE NUMBERS: Oklahoma still needs to invest in its economy
After six months of stagnation, the Oklahoma economy finally appears to be expanding again albeit still weakly. Unfortunately, our leaders aren’t making the investments we need to give our economic prospects a boost.
Last week the Oklahoma Office of Management and Enterprise Services reported that in April state General Revenue fund collections were 5.2 percent above the estimate and 14.7 percent higher than last year’s collections. Under normal circumstances, such a report would indicate that the Oklahoma economy was very strong. But this isn’t a normal circumstance, and April isn’t a normal month.
Americans deserve the truth on Benghazi
Lately, the media has been consumed by the controversies surrounding the White House. Among these controversies is the horrific terrorist attack on the United States’ diplomatic compound in Benghazi that took place Sept. 11, 2012. As more people come forward with additional information regarding the attack on the consulate, many Americans, including myself, are still asking for the truth.
The Obama Administration and the State Department have been less than forthcoming with key information on Benghazi and recent information points toward a major cover-up.
Seizure of AP phone records insult to independent press
Distrust of government secrecy has been elevated to an exceptional level with the disclosure the Justice Department covertly examined two months of Associated Press phone records to determine who leaked details to the AP about a foiled terrorist plot.
HEY HINK: Some people just are not cut out for command
Recent headlines cause me to remember an incident that occurred on an army base some years ago. Warning here: I’m taking some liberties with names and details, but the basic outline of events is accurate.
A certain company commander, let’s call him Captain Duntz, had command of a motor pool on a large army base in the continental U.S.
We’ve become our own worst enemies
The past couple months have been marked by a seeming unprecedented number of man-made tragedies, as distinct from those caused by violent outbursts of the natural world, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis.
You don’t want to dwell too long on the negative, but we do have to take notice of horrific human events and we owe it to ourselves to respond to them in some way. We don’t always agree on those responses, however, and that usually exacerbates the problem.
Let’s reimburse higher ed for remediation costs
The good news: Oklahoma schools are teaching phonics. The bad news: It’s in college.
Students at Tulsa Community College, for example, can take a college English course called “Spelling and Phonics,” which “helps students master basic spelling literacy, principles of phonics and decoding skills.”
This sort of higher education brings to mind former Boston University president John Silber’s quip: “Higher than what?”
AGAINST THE GRAIN: Department of Commerce highlights Main Street successes
The 24th annual Oklahoma Main Street Awards Banquet was at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum last week. Oklahoma Department of Commerce Secretary Dave Lopez addressed the gathering, and spoke of how the Commerce Department works with Main Street organizations throughout the state that are working to improve their downtown areas. Lopez pointed out that the partnership between his department and those local organizations has brought new life to those communities and that the attendees would see some of that revitalization in a video presentation. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin also addressed the gathering, and said the Main Street program has resulted in more than $1 billion in investments in the state and more than 1 million volunteer hours in its 24 years of operation.
OUR VIEW: Be Edmond needs your help
BMX star and local legend Mat Hoffman knows what’s it like to fall from great heights and find yourself at one of the worst low points in life. He also knows how to climb back up and tackle life’s problems head on.
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