Rep. Jason Murphey
It’s at this time of year when the House of Representatives benefits from the inclusion of the new members: collectively known as “The Freshmen”.
This year’s freshman class is particularly large and will represent approximately 20% of the new House membership.
I enjoy the opportunity to provide these new members with my observations and the lessons learned during my time in the Legislature and my advice based on these experiences: for what it is worth.
A small subsection of my advice is as follows:
From day one, the legislator should cast votes in accordance with a clear set of consistently-applied criteria based on principle. Legislators cast 1,000 votes each year, and there’s little more frustrating to a constituent than having a legislator who does not have a consistent, principle-based voting pattern and who votes against a measure the constituent supports while voting for other similar measures. The constituent may tend to be more forgiving if they can see that their legislator votes against all similar measures out of principle. Legislators who fail to apply a consistent criteria rightfully leave themselves open to speculation that they are voting under the influence of special interest as opposed to principle.
I am personally a big fan of using a checklist of criteria through which each proposed bill must pass in order to earn my vote. I suggest that all new members develop a similar checklist, based on their principles and values, to ensure their voting remains consistent from day one.
Never trade votes and don’t change a vote after an arm-twisting session. Voting represents the foremost duty of the legislators and it’s not one which should be taken lightly. Each vote must be based on a deliberation of the merits of the proposal and not on outside factors. Those who trade votes with other legislators seriously undercut the solemnity and great honor which has been provided by their constituency.
Likewise, new legislators sometimes make the mistake of changing their vote after being subjected to arm twisting by lobbyists or members of House leadership. Those who give in to this pressure early on are likely to experience intense arm twisting as a matter of course throughout their time in the Legislature: not a fun existence. Those who can explain the reasoning behind their vote and stand up to the pressure, may earn the short-term wrath of the arm twister, but will also earn his long-term respect. Better yet, word of the legislator’s fortitude will quickly spread through the capitol and the legislator will drop to the bottom of the list when it’s time to break arms. This makes one’s tenure in the Legislature much more enjoyable.
Read the bills and avoid the nightlife! It’s hard to explain the reasoning behind a vote when the bill hasn’t been read. All too many legislators fail in this important responsibility. Freshman representatives are strongly courted by lobbyists and special interests to live the capitol city nightlife. It’s a mistake to do so. This time would be much better spent reading the next day’s bills and researching. Those freshmen who forgo the nightlife in favor of research are more strongly situated than their socializing peers. This seems counterintuitive as many place a high priority on the benefits of socialization, but in my view that type of socialization is greatly overrated and carries with it numerous liabilities.
Those who read the bills are looked up to and depended on by the other legislators as word quickly spreads that they are casting educated votes.
Next week I will continue this article and include my most important piece of advice to new office holders: for what it is worth.
Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman said Monday that the reinstatement of Oklahoma’s No Child Left Behind waiver ensures the state’s education reform efforts will continue.
“With the federal government’s politics now out of the way, Oklahoma can take the next step and develop high standards that prepare our students to compete in the new global economy. Today’s schools house the next generation of Oklahoma’s workforce. As a result, the academic standards we develop will directly impact our job market and economy for years to come. An education system that fosters student development, engages families and communities, and avoids burdensome mandates will move Oklahoma forward.”
The following is a statement from House Speaker Jeffrey W. Hickman pertaining to the United States Department of Education’s reinstatement of Oklahoma’s No Child Left Behind waiver:
“As we said when we passed House Bill 3399 last session, if the Obama administration’s immediate reaction was to take Oklahoma’s waiver from No Child Left Behind, our bill included a safety net. It required a review of our state’s current PASS standards by higher education and CareerTech to determine if they were indeed college and career ready. Once that review was complete, not only were our standards certified as college and career ready but our CareerTech and higher education leaders offered numerous suggestions on ways to strengthen our existing standards.
“Utilizing the academic expertise we have at colleges and universities across our state as well as leaders in best CareerTech system in America to improve education in our state is something which should have been done long ago. I am excited we now have all tiers of education in Oklahoma engaged in improving the educational opportunities for students in our state.
“The action by the U.S. Department of Education to reinstate the NCLB waiver restores the flexibility given to Oklahoma school districts over the expenditure of Title I funds. While some have tried to politicize this issue, since removing Common Core testing from state law, this process has played out as we thought it would which again validates that the action we took in Oklahoma under HB 3399 was about policy that is best for our next generation of Oklahomans. Despite the relief and flexibility this decision provides, I again strongly encourage the State Board of Education to continue moving forward in earnest in the creation of our new rigorous and superior education standards. This is a tall task for our state to undertake and we must not waste a single day working toward development of the standards which will guide the success of our students in classrooms across our state. If we know we can offer a better education to Oklahoma’s next generation, each year that passes under an inferior system cheats our most precious resource, our children, out of a brighter and more prosperous future.”
Senator Kyle Loveless takes note of current voter registration which shows Republicans topping Democrats for the first time in state history.
Loveless posted on Facebook:
Today for the first time in Oklahoma 100 year plus history we are now a Republican majority registration state!
Thanks to Henry Bellmon, Al Snipes, Dewey Bartlett, Denny Garrison, JC Watts, Frank Keating, Tom Cole, Don Nickles, Jim Inhofe, Mickey Edwards, Ernest Istook, James Lankford, Tom Coburn, and thousands of activists who knocked doors, made flyers, had bean suppers, pie sales and all kinds of events.
Growing up I never thought I would see the day.
Nov 23 2014 | Posted in General
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Governor Fallin tonight released the following statement regarding President Obama’s plan to grant amnesty to up to five million illegal immigrants in the United States:
“The United States is a nation of immigrants, and I am proud that people from all across the world want to come here to enjoy our freedoms and our prosperity. We are also a nation of laws. Like all nations, the U.S. has borders. Those laws and those borders must be respected, for reasons ranging from national security to economics to health.
“President Obama’s decision to circumvent a newly elected Congress and grant amnesty to 5 million illegal immigrants undermines the rule of law. It rewards people who have illegally crossed our borders and broken our laws. His decision is an insult to the millions of people around the world trying to come to the U.S. through legal means. It’s also an affront to the American people, who elected a Congress to work with the president on matters of national importance, not to be circumvented through a legally questionable power-grab.
“Finally, I have grave concerns about the president’s amnesty plan as it relates to the fiscal stability of both our federal and state governments. The president has now unilaterally granted legal status to millions of individuals who may require state-funded medical and educational services as well as other benefits enjoyed by American citizens. All of this comes with a price tag, which the president has not addressed. This decision can be added to long list of policies supported by President Obama that are driving this nation further into debt.”
Nov 20 2014 | Posted in General
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When Don Cogman called me several years ago to tell me that our longtime friend Mitch Daniels was considering a race for the Republican nomination for president, my spirits soared. He was the ideal candidate: spotless record, extremely successful as governor of Indiana, well-schooled in political hard knocks, intelligent…in short, an ideal candidate to many.
I didn’t know Mitch well; in earlier years, when he was a congressional staffer, we’d shared some cocktail hour time in Washington and I’d followed his impressive career and his eventual return to Indiana, where he won the governorship twice. But the GOP operatives grapevine, those I had learned to trust, said Mitch was the real deal. He proved it in the Reagan White House, in Indiana and now, Don and more of our old allies were encouraging Mitch to make the race.
Ultimately, to our dismay, Mitch decided against the race. Don Cogman’s new book Run Mitch, Run details how Don and seven other of Mitch’s confidants met with him and his family as he struggled through the decision-making process.
Daniels decided not to seek the presidency and he is now president of Purdue University.
The book detailing his intriguing story is now available from the suppliers listed below in hardcover and softcover.
Here are descriptions from the publishers:
In 2009, a newspaper columnist’s question prompted Mitch Daniels—perhaps the most successful Republican governor in the nation—to embark on a passionate, arduous, nearly two-year journey to make the most difficult decision of his life: whether or not to pursue the presidency of the United States.
Oklahoma native Don V. Cogman, a corporate and governmental affairs executive, shares a story that deserves to be told—the story of what it takes to run for President of the United States, the choices a potential candidate faces, and the hard decisions a candidate must
Don V. Cogman
make during the process. As he offers a compelling, chronological glimpse into Daniels’ quest to make the right decision for not only himself and his family but also his country, Cogman reveals intriguing, behind-the-scene details as Daniels, with the help of eight devoted individuals, wrestled with the pros and cons of a presidential run during a unique time in America’s history.
Run Mitch, Run shares a political leader’s journey through a major, life-changing decision as he contemplates whether or not to run for President of the United States in 2012.
What does not happen in politics can be as important as what does happen. This was the case when my friend Mitch Daniels, then Indiana’s much-admired governor, decided against seeking the Republicans’ 2012 presidential nomination. This book is a fascinating look at the interplay of the personal and the political, a story of one of modern history’s might-have-beens. ~ George Will, Syndicated Columnist
This is a fascinating history of the eight people who worked tirelessly to bring to life a 2012 presidential candidacy on behalf of Governor Mitch Daniels. Highly competent, accomplished, visionary and with an extraordinary common touch but lacking an ego driven ambition- the perfect “anti-Obama”- Daniels could have been a game changing candidate had he chosen to run. Reading this story, it is hard not to conclude that the country would have been the real beneficiary of a Daniels candidacy. ~ Patrick H. Caddell, Fox News Contributor, Pollster and Political Strategist
The increasingly pernicious nature of our political campaigns and media coverage of candidates is driving some of our most talented people out of the process. ‘Run Mitch, Run’ takes readers behind the scenes on just one such case, and why then-Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, one of the most qualified people to lead our country, decided that his love of family took precedence over his willingness to seek the presidency and serve the country. ~ Charlie Cook Editor and Publisher, The Cook Political Report, Political Analyst, National Journal and NBC News
Any American , Republican or Democrat, will enjoy this book, but I guarantee you it will also break your heart . You’ll read why a qualified, experienced, successful public servant who is a good, good man, decided he just could not run for President of the United States. And, just at a time when both parties need leaders like Gov. Mitch Daniels to offer themselves for service in high office. ~ Erskine Bowles President Emeritus, University of North Carolina, Former White House Chief of Staff
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/run-mitch-run-don-v-cogman/1120745291?ean=9781491751060
Nov 20 2014 | Posted in General
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Attorney General Scott Pruitt said tonight he will file a lawsuit against President Obama and his immigration plan:
“Tonight, the Administration proved once again that it is willing to mislead the American people about the effects and legality of their policy agenda. As they have admitted with respect to the Affordable Care Act, they think the American people are stupid. The American people are not stupid, and can see right through this blatantly political power grab on the part of the President.
“The President can tell the American people that he is taking this action because of his deep personal convictions about this immigration issue. But if that were true, he would have taken this action as soon as possible, rather than waiting until after the elections, so as to avoid the inevitable backlash from the voters.
“The President can tell the American people that he is simply taking the same kind of executive action that presidents before him have taken. But if that were true, his Office of Legal Counsel would not have needed to spend months preparing lengthy legal memorandums exploring the legality of this unprecedented executive action.
“The President can tell the American people that he has the power to take this action, but if that were true, he wouldn’t have told the American people in 2008 while campaigning for president that, ‘there are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.’
“The President can tell the American people that this action will only be available to those who have been in the country for years. But for that to be true, the federal government would have to possess the power to ascertain when these illegals entered our country – entries that by definition occurred undetected and unbeknownst to the federal government.
“The executive action that the President proposed tonight is ill-advised, unworkable, unlawful, and brazenly political. The administration will be held accountable.”
Nov 20 2014 | Posted in General
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A group of 35 state legislators released an open letter Thursday voicing concerns about the possibility that many tax relief measures passed in Oklahoma over the past decade could be overturned, should the state Supreme Court rule that tax reductions must meet the guidelines of State Question 640.
Passed on a statewide ballot by voters in 1992 as an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution, SQ 640 was intended to make it more difficult for the state Legislature to increase taxes. According to the provision, all proposals increasing state taxes must either be sent to a vote of the people or receive three-fourths approval in both houses of the Legislature. Such measures also cannot be approved in the final five days of the legislative session.
At question is the fate of Senate Bill 1246, an income tax reduction measure passed by the Legislature during the 2014 session. The new statute’s constitutionality has been challenged in a lawsuit, filed with the state Supreme Court, on the grounds that it did not meet the standards of SQ 640. The Court heard arguments on the suit last month.
The 35 lawmakers who endorsed the letter hail from all four quadrants of the state. The two legislators who carried SB 1246 in the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively – state Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, and state Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang – endorsed the letter.
In the letter, the lawmakers make the case that it was not the aim of Oklahoma voters in 1992 to make it more difficult for the Legislature to reduce taxes. Rather, the intent was to make it harder to increase taxes.
If the Court were to rule against SB 1246 on the grounds that tax relief measures must meet the standards of SQ 640, numerous previous tax reductions could be overturned, including: income tax reductions, estate tax repeal, increases in the standard deduction, gross production tax rate reductions, manufacturing exemptions, and tax relief for retirees, military veterans and disabled veterans.
Senator Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) issued an ominous warning Wednesday, warning violence could break out after President Barack Obama announces executive action on immigration Thursday.
“The country’s going to go nuts, because they’re going to see it as a move outside the authority of the president, and it’s going to be a very serious situation,” Coburn said on USA Today’s “Capital Download” program. “You’re going to see — hopefully not — but you could see instances of anarchy. … You could see violence.”
Obama will announce that he intends to take executive action on immigration during a primetime address to the nation from the White House Thursday evening.
Coburn said Obama’s decision to take unilateral action resembled “an autocratic leader that’s going to disregard what the Constitution and make law anyway,” in his interview with “Capital Download.”
He accused the president of failing to work with Congress to come to an agreement.
“Instead of having the rule of law handling in our country today, now we’re starting to have the rule of rulers, and that’s the total antithesis of what this country was founded on,” Coburn explained. “Here’s how people think: Well, if the law doesn’t apply to the president … then why should it apply to me?”