The Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma (IIAO), the state’s largest property and casualty insurance agents association, announced today its 2013 state legislative agenda. The Legislature convenes February 4th with Republicans holding majorities of 36-12 in the state Senate and 72-29 in the House of Representatives.
“Once again workers’ compensation reform is the top issue our members have identified for the state legislature to address in 2013,” said Dan Ramsey, IIAO president and chief executive officer. “It is absolutely critical that members of the Senate and House reverse Oklahoma’s position as one of the most costly states for employers to one that assures injured workers are treated fairly and quickly while returning to work as soon as possible. Addressing the permanent partial disability (PPD) benefit and transitioning from the current court system to an administrative system are two reforms IIAO members feel must be addressed within the overall framework of workers’ compensation reform.”
The 2013 IIAO legislative agenda also includes:
Oversight of Public School Coverage Trusts – IIAO supports oversight of public school coverage trusts by the Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner related to inter-local agreements between school districts for the purchase of various types of goods and services. Over the past several years, coverage trusts have developed very competitive pricing and grown rapidly without financial or regulatory oversight. IIAO supports the installation of an oversight system.
Allowance for Electronic Filing Technology – IIAO supports the use of recent technology developments to improve efficiency and customer service within the insurance community. IIAO supports the use of new technologies, such as electronic filing of records, electronic policy delivery and electronic apps for security verification cards, be permitted through legislation or rules process.
Rep. Jason Murphey
It is a very old story that I have heard repeated many times. It seems that legislators cannot hold a budget hearing or meet with representatives of state and local government agencies without being subjected to a long and nuanced description of the agency’s great financial needs.
Government agencies don’t have to compete for business in the free market. They exist regardless of the quality of service they provide. Unlike the private businessman who knows that he must drive down costs and improve the quality of his product in order to earn more money, the government official mostly earns more money simply by convincing voters and policy makers to give it to him.
Those who are in the arena of public policy are constantly subjected to the raindrop torture of the unending refrain of, “Give us more money, or all types of armageddon-type scenarios will inevitably occur.”
Too many times the weak-minded policy maker quickly acquiesces and accepts the overstated demands at face value. Worse, many times he doesn’t just give in, but actually becomes an advocate for the very bureaucracy for which he is supposed to be the check and balance.
Those policy makers who take their responsibility seriously and don’t accept the claims of the bureaucrats at face value know that many millions of dollars are wasted by government every year.
It seems that significant waste is found almost every time a truly independent authority investigates the actual spending practices of these agencies. In the Government Modernization venue, we have seen this to be the case time and time again. We can’t turn around without running across inappropriate government spending.
The Government Modernization Committee has reviewed numerous consultants’ reports that outline the waste. Unfortunately, government is so large and spending so great that our purview has only reached a small subset of overall spend. Our efforts also frequently run up against the political power of bureaucrats who have worked the system to the point that they can use taxpayer dollars to finance an army of lobbyists who are extremely effective at protecting those bureaucracies from reforms.
Each time the State Auditor releases a performance audit, it seems that he finds these same issues. Just last week, yet another audit exposed very disturbing spending practices. Ultimately, the best way to get a handle on this spending is to take away the fuel that gives it life: your taxpayers dollars!
When Governor Mary Fallin introduces her plan to reduce income taxes in next week’s State of the State address, she will be seeking to return money into the free market where market rules will determine how the money is spent, instead of the bureaucrats and politicians who have proven so adept at wasting your money.
Those who wish to maintain the status quo will once again falsely predict that the sky will fall if government is deprived from sucking up your money. Please know that this action will actually empower those in elective office who are seeking to implement efficiencies.
After all, would it really be a bad thing if those government agencies couldn’t afford to hire their own lobbyists next year?
Former First Lady Ann Bartlett, wife of the late Governor and U. S. Senator Dewey F. Bartlett, has died at age 92.
Mrs. Bartlett, mother of Tulsa Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr., was a native of Seattle, Washington.
During her husband’s term as governor, Mrs. Bartlett was active in promoting social and civil rights.
Services are pending.
Jan 28 2013 | Posted in General
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Senator Bryce Marlatt
Taking an additional 30,000 acre-feet of water from Canton Lake would only be a temporary fix for Oklahoma City’s water woes, but the immediate and long-term impact on western Oklahoma would be devastating, with repercussions for the entire state, said Senator Bryce Marlatt, R-Woodward. He urged Oklahoma City officials to be better stewards of the resource—and better neighbors to Western Oklahoma.
The state’s largest city announced watering limits last week, but Marlatt said that move was really too little, too late. This week it was reported that the city’s water utilities department will present plans for more aggressive conservation measures, including higher prices and increased rationing, over the next few weeks.
Marlatt said those should be enacted before taking water from western Oklahoma.
“Everyone knows we are in a prolonged drought, and cutting back on outdoor watering in the dead of winter really isn’t a solution. Oklahoma City’s ultimate plan is a huge draw on Canton Lake, the main recreational lake in western Oklahoma, but this is essentially going to kill our lake,” Marlatt said. “Legally, they have the right to do it. But it doesn’t make it morally right. Oklahoma City needs to do everything it possibly can to avoid this draw down for as long as possible.”
Canton Lake is not only important to fisherman who head there for the plentiful walleye, sand bass, catfish and more—it is also the walleye hatchery for the entire state. The plan to draw an additional 30,000 acre-feet of water would end that.
“It is essentially going to kill the lake for five to 10 years. All the game fish that people come for will die out, and there will be no more walleye hatchery,” Marlatt said. “This is going to have a negative impact on lakes throughout Oklahoma.”
Although Oklahoma City has the legal rights to the water in Canton Lake, it is still a critical part of western Oklahoma’s tourism and recreation, but like the hatchery, any recreational use of the lake will become a thing of the past once the water is gone.
“Once they draw the water, recreational boating will be nonexistent. The remaining water will not reach a single boat ramp. People who come to boat and fish will stop coming and it’s going to impact local economies—restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations, and cabin rentals will see all those dollars go away,” Marlatt said. “That’s going to have a chain reaction in our local economy.”
Rep. Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, said it is critical for Oklahoma City to view taking the water from Lake Canton as a last resort to be avoided as long as possible. He also urged the metro to look at more aggressive ways to limit water use.
“The economic and environmental impact to Canton and western Oklahoma will be felt for years to come if this goes through,” Sanders said. “This is a dire situation, and the fact of the matter is, if they aren’t conserving water, then they are actually wasting water. We simply don’t have the water to waste.”
Marlatt called the situation a disaster for western Oklahoma, and a potential disaster for Oklahoma City.
“At best, this is only a temporary fix for Oklahoma City,” Marlatt said. “But once they take this water from Canton Lake, that’s it–the water will be gone and people in both parts of the state are going to pay the price for Oklahoma City not doing more to conserve this precious resource.”