The Edmond Sun


March 4, 2013

Retiring a bunch of the ABCs

GUTHRIE — Last Thursday was the deadline for House committees to approve bills. Any bills not approved by committee before or on that day must wait a year for any additional action.

As you might imagine, this made the final Government Modernization Committee meeting last Thursday the most interesting and eventful GovMod meeting of the year.

On that day, the committee approved nearly 20 initiatives, including three that I very much enjoyed working with over the past few weeks.

Did you know that when a government refuses to follow the law and provide open records to the public, that the denied applicant has little recourse other than to file a lawsuit? And then, to add insult to injury, the government entity can use the services of a taxpayer-funded lawyer to fight any effort to make them follow the law, perpetrating the ultimate insult to the victim whose own taxpayer dollars are being used against him. The average citizen simply does not have the resources to take on a government entity that has access to a bottomless pit of other people’s money.

The failure of Oklahoma statutes to provide an administrative appeals process for the aggrieved person has caused our state to receive low grades in a key transparency index. On Thursday, our committee approved House Bill 1450, which would allow citizens the right to appeal such a refusal without hiring an attorney or going to court.

My viewpoint on this area was forever shaped when Logan County Commissioner Mark Sharpton put in an open records request at a local government entity whose legally recognized beneficiary was the county government. Sharpton’s request sought access to clearly open records, but that didn’t stop the government entity from refusing to provide them. As I recall, that entity spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on a high-priced attorney to fight the clear rendering of the law. If a government entity would do this to another government official who was only trying to hold them accountable, you can only imagine how easily they would do the same to the average citizen who held no elective office.

I also enjoyed the opportunity to present House Bill 1910 to our committee on behalf of House Speaker T.W. Shannon. Shannon’s proposal has been mentioned in my past articles and would continue the process of identifying and privatizing underutilized government-owned properties and using that money to meet deferred maintenance needs of other assets, such as the Capitol building. This proposal is designed to allow state government to avoid the costly practice of issuing debt. Shannon has shown tremendous courage in consistently standing up to the many powerful forces who have an unhealthy and strange fascination with issuing debt.

I have been privileged to author legislation to enact Gov. Fallin’s Executive Branch Reorganization Plan. Her plan would eliminate a significant number of unnecessary government boards and commissions and consolidate various boards and agencies. Guidance for the proposal has been provided by the governor’s cabinet secretaries who have done an amazing job identifying much needed eliminations and consolidations. The cost savings from these proposals is expected to amount to several hundred thousand dollars each year. If we are successful, the official publication that tracks the number of state agencies, boards and commissions (the ABC book), will become significantly smaller.

Winning approval for these proposals hasn’t been easy. We were opposed on all these transparency and cost-saving reforms by an outspoken member of the minority party who aggressively protested each proposal. Toward the end of the meeting, as we won approval for these and other proposals, in an outburst of frustration he dropped a large number of papers on the committee table and later left the room without cleaning up his mess.

After everyone had left, I stayed behind and helped a House employee pick up the papers. As I reflected on the fact that so much paper had been wasted, I took satisfaction in the realization that the reduced size of future ABC books would more than make up for that particularly wasteful display.

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, on Facebook at and


Text Only
  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

  • OTHER VIEW: Newsday: Lapses on deadly diseases demand explanation

    When we heard that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had created a potentially lethal safety risk by improperly sending deadly pathogens — like anthrax — to other laboratories around the country, our first reaction was disbelief.

    July 22, 2014


The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
     View Results