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.