The Edmond Sun

Opinion

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 jason.murphey@okhouse.gov, on Facebook at facebook.com/JasonMurphey and Twitter.com/JWMurphey.

 

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