Chickashanews.com

September 13, 2013

To tell the truth for the Common Good

BY DAVID PERRYMAN
The Express-Star

CHICKASHA —

During the infancy of television, when those who had sets in their living rooms were outnumbered by those who did not, networks struggled to create programming for this new media.  Many radio soap operas and variety shows were adapted to TV, but the genre that went through the roof was the panel game show.

Through the years viewers have been entertained by shows with such names as Let’s Make a Deal, I’ve Got a Secret, Anything For Money, The Big Payoff, Dollar a Second and Deal or No Deal.

One show that gained viewers by the millions was “To Tell The Truth” which began airing in 1956, the same year that NBC adopted the 11 feathered peacock as its network trademark. The format of “To Tell the Truth” involved four panelists (remember Kitty Carlisle?) who competed to correctly choose which ONE of the three challengers was telling the truth.  The losers were stumped by the two challengers who were most proficient at misleading the panelists through lies and deceit.

Now, at the urging of special interest groups, Governor Fallen has called a special session to enact laws to replace House Bill 1603 after it was declared unconstitutional.  Hardly a day goes by that the Governor and the Speaker of the House don’t belittle, berate and blame the Oklahoma Supreme Court for doing its job. Despite the finger pointing and blame directed at the Court, the plain and simple truth is that the law was illegal when it was adopted in 2009.

I have studied the bill in depth.  It is clear why the Supreme Court determined that it violated the “single subject” rule.  The rule exists to prevent unrelated items from being “logrolled” in an attempt to make them more attractive to more legislators. If enough pork is put in a bill, anyone who is going to get a little bit of the pork will play “Let’s Make a Deal,” even if their pork is not related to someone else’s pork. The practice could be political blackmail since a legislator is required to cast a single up or down vote on a logrolled bill.

In 2009, a bill that contained a little tort reform was combined with a lot of other things and those “other things” are why the law was unconstitutional.  Now, 4 years later, special interests who will do “Anything For Money” are telling us that the law is so important that we should spend up to a quarter of a million dollars of our money to split House Bill 1603 into 30 separate bills and pass them all individually. Remember…if they had all been good bills, they would have passed individually in 2009 and not have to have been “logrolled.”  Little wonder who is getting “The Big Payoff”?

Now, the people of Oklahoma are paying way more than “A Dollar a Second” for a special session to enact laws that should have been enacted right the first time.  Some estimate it to cost around $30,000 per day. Unfortunately, the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tem of the Senate were busy playing “I’ve Got a Secret” and did not file their bills until the last business day before the session started. 

When I received those bills, I found a number of errors and submitted 9 correction bills of my own.  There were a few bills submitted by Republicans also. On Tuesday we were told that only the bills submitted by the Speaker of the House would be heard and that each member would be limited to an average of 7 or 8 seconds per bill to ask questions and that 7 or 8 seconds would also include the time that it took for the answers. Several legislators, including both Democrats and Republicans objected.  One Republican even called it “the most abusive rule” that has occurred in his 11 years as a State Representative.

I have heard Republicans say that they are just treating Democrats like the Democrats treated them for years.  I hope that is not true.  If it is, the Democrats should be ashamed.  However, at some point we have got to get past retaliation and work together for the common good of the people of Oklahoma.  Our elderly, our children and every Oklahoman deserves better.

In any event, the rules were adopted, the bills presented and questions were cut off.  I had several questions on House Bill 1009 that I was not allowed to ask.  I was, and am concerned why we could not make the bill better.  It is a bill that makes assaults by students against teachers and volunteers a misdemeanor, but does not include assaults on other students.  It also includes a provision that a prevailing party in a lawsuit filed against a school or a teacher can receive attorney fees, but does not allow a teacher or volunteer who is assaulted to recover attorney fees if they prevail in a lawsuit against a person who assaults them.

Regardless of whether art imitates life, the names of game shows should not reflect what is happening under the dome.  Sadly, instead of the Common Good, when the dust clears, it will be Deal or No Deal. 

Thank you for allowing me to serve as State Representative.  If you have questions or comments about this issue or any other matter, please contact me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.