Category Archives: Oklahoma Politics

Tort Reform Bill, a.k.a. Republican Porn

The Republican dream bill knows euphemistically as Tort Reform passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives Wednesday, March 4, 2009 — “a day that will live in infamy.”  If you take time to read the bill, it reads like Republican porn.  There are so many things in this bill that makes it easy for Big Business to screw the Regular Joe/Jane that, if signed by the governor, there will be a nasty orgy of malpractice and manufacturing defects without the prophylactic of meaningful lawsuits to keep things safe.

OK, so maybe I’m carrying this analogy a little far, but I  am absolutely furious at the sheer, unadulterated disregard by these so-called “patriots” of the individual right to redress grievances in court.

Let me just address a few of the fun things you will find in this bill.

In the case of medical malpractice, the bill bars the admission as evidence the defendant’s (physician’s) unfavorable peer review and credentialing information.  So basically, if that physician has had any disciplinary actions taken against him by a medical board, you cannot use that in court as background for your case.  If this is the case, then should we not use prior crimes against a criminal defendant to determine sentencing?

The bill imposes federal standards for the determination of liability.  What this means is if a federal agency has already approved a product, then that product becomes immune from liability lawsuits.  This probably put the pharmaceutical companies in an extremely happy mood.

The bill also caps noneconomic damages to $300,000.  Noneconomic damages are also called “pain and suffering.”  Pain and suffering can  include death.  It should make every Oklahoman proud to know that these legislators have placed a value on their lives.  Each one of you is only worth, at the maximum, $300,000.  Now, folks, there are times in my life when I have made my wife mad enough that she would tell you my life wasn’t worth a plug nickel.  However, being my wife, she has that right!

The bill also has a stipulation in it that exempts manufacturers and dealers from suits stemming from the use of firearms.  This is a touchy subject, I know, and I am a firm believer in the right to bear arms, but this provision is downright irresponsible.  The gun lobby has resisted each and every attempt to require added safety features on firearms.  In the state of Oklahoma, the gun lobby has no worries.  Also, I cannot help but wonder if a dealer would be exempt from a suit in which the dealer sold a gun to a person with a criminal record, did not follow the waiting period laws, and that firearm was used to injure or kill an innocent in the commission of a crime.

Folks, this bill is purely political.  Republican legislators have for years attempted to turn “trial lawyer” into a four-letter word.  The main reason for this is that the trial lawyer lobby has traditionally supported Democrats.  If this bill could break the financial back of trial attorneys, Democrats would get less campaign funding and, ergo, Republicans would have a greater chance of gaining and staying in power.

One thing I cannot stomach is that the author of this bill, Rep. Dan Sullivan (R-Tulsa), has stated that mandating insurance companies to cover the treatment of children with autism would be government interfering with the way a company does business.  This same legislator is now trying to interfere with the way lawyers do business.  I guess if you don’t get money from one special interest group, you’re allowed to impose mandates on them.  But if you give generously to a Republican or the Republican party, well then, you are exempt from legislative interference.

The only thing missing from the pro-tort reform arguments is the cheesy porn music.

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Filed under Economic Issues, Oklahoma Politics

Legislators! Get your hypocrisy out of my video games!

Oh, these people never cease to amaze me.

Senator Anthony Sykes (R-Moore) “…has proposed tax incentives for game developers – but only if their project is eligible for a T (13+) or lesser rating from the ESRB.” (Link)

Wait a minute!  These Republicans are such free-market champions that they are willing to offer tax incentives to boost an industry in Oklahoma only if that industry will comply with the Right’s sense of “morality” and “family values” but won’t send a mandate to insurance companies to cover autism spectrum disorder.

Wow!  So, telling insurance companies to cover austism is “Big Government,” but telling software design companies they can have a tax incentive only if they produce games that are basically G-rated is somehow not “Big Government?”

To be fair, Sen. Sykes has stated that he would rather not include the ratings restrictions, and that he only added them to get the support of other senators.  I actually feel for the good Senator Sykes.   I know what it’s like to be up against those who think that they can legislate morality.

In Oklahoma, that can be a very lonely place.

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Filed under Oklahoma Politics, Social Issues

What in the Hell Are They Thinking?

Recently, the Oklahoma legislature has shown the full extent of their ability to shock, horrify and astound me.  A House committee chaired by Rep. Dan Sullivan used sneaky tactics to shoot down a bill informally titled “Nick’s Law.”  In short, the bill would have issued a mandate requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for the early diagnosis testing and medications for the treatment of autism in children.

The bill (HB 1312) was voted on in the Economic Development and Financial Services Committee on February 3rd, 2009.  Guess what?  It failed.  Not one single Republican on the committee voted in favor of the bill.  Not one.

And to really put the “compassionate” in “compassionate conservative,” a newly enacted House rule forbids similar legislation from being introduced for two more years.  So not only did they shoot it down, but they made sure that they don’t have to hear anything like it until after the next election cycle.

These “family values” champions who voted against the bill relied upon an actuarial study (commissioned by guess who? The Republicans) that stated that the health insurance premium cost increases for the average Oklahoman would be much higher than the studies from reputable sources showing the minimal impact realized by consumers in other states where similar legislation has been enacted.  So let me get this straight.  Other states have enacted legislation like Nick’s Law and seen minimal impact(+1%)  In fact, The Oklahoma State Education Employees Group Insurance Board recently announced its own study revealed that Nick’s law would have 1% or less impact on claims.  But in Oklahoma, according to the Republicans’ self-commissioned study, the legislation magically would have seen a more dramatic increase (+7.8%-19.8%)?

Really?  You guys can’t beat the bill on its merits, so you rely on some trumped up study (a.k.a. LIE)?  And why do I call it a lie?  Well, the study commissioned by the Republican leadership was created with the express instructions to perform the analysis based upon an annual cap that was $25,000 HIGHER than the cap actually cited in the bill.  Oh, I get it.  You don’t like the answers you will get from an honest study, so you just change the parameters to suit your needs.  Cute.  Really cute.

And damned shameful.

I believe that deep down, my fellow Oklahomans are big-hearted, giving people.  However when ideology clouds the judgment, that compassion goes right out the window like a bottle of whiskey when the preacher comes to visit.

Nick’s Law is named after Nick Rohde, 11 years old, who is autistic.  Nick’s father Wayne spoke recently with members of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee.  He was told that parents of autistic children should band together to do fundraising to help each other out.  (I wonder if their families would do that if they were stricken with cancer and insurance did not cover that.)

One brainiac actually said that the costly behavioral therapy involved was unnecessary because of some “cream” that could be placed on an autistic child’s temples.  (If there are any snake-oil salesman out there, you might want to look up this person, because apparently he or she will buy anything!)

And the most “compassionate” of these conservatives actually suggested that Wayne move his family to another state where a mandate exists.  Yeah, that’s a good idea.  And make sure you take your tax dollars with you!  Because Lord knows we don’t need any in the Great State of Oklahoma.

Folks, I can honestly say that I did NOT vote for these guys.  I voted for one Republican on my ballot and he was not in this committee.  I  have friends who are Republicans and who are legislators.  This, however, has left a very bad taste in my mouth.  Just the other day, I was called by the House Republicans for a donation.  Not only was their script highly insulting, but I am averse to giving money to those who loudly proclaim to be good Christians and the height of family values and virtue, yet cannot see fit to help out those who cannot help themselves.

Nick’s Law was authored by Rep. Mike Brown (D-Tahlequah) and Sen. Jay Paul Gumm (D-Durant).  These two are TRUE champions for what is right.  As a citizen of the Great State of Oklahoma, I am proud of them and their efforts.

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Filed under Economic Issues, Oklahoma Politics, Social Issues

What Does the New Oklahoma Legislature Hold in Store?

With the election of November 4, 2008, Republicans took control of the Oklahoma Legislature for the first time in the state’s history. So what does this mean?

Personally, I think it means that Governor Henry is going to be a busy man. He is going to see bills crossing his desk for tort reform, criminalization of abortion, irresponsible tax cuts, faith-based initiatives, Kernesque anti-gay legislation above and beyond what the people already voted in, and who knows what else.

However, Oklahoma is full of Republicans and bi-polar Democrats who just love the conservative Republican “God, Guns and Gays” platform.  Now is their chance to see some of it enacted.  Think of it as another Great Experiment.  How long will they approve of its outcome?  That remains to be seen.

Some less conservative people like myself have expressed a desire to leave the state.  I however refuse to do so.  I hope to enact change from within the state, to bring it forward or at least more towards the center.

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Filed under Oklahoma Politics

McCain Does NOT Support the Farmer

McClatchy newspapers yesterday released a news story detailing the record of John McCain which shows that he does not approve of federal subsidies for American farmers.  In 2006, Sen. McCain sought to remove a $74 million grant program that would help states promote sales of locally-grown fruits and vegetables.  Thankfully, he was defeated by some of his own party and a then-new senator named Barack Obama.

The American farmer is a staple of our society and extremely worthy of admiration for anyone who sits down at his dinner table.  True, the federal government should reform its current system of subsidies, but a simple veto as would likely happen under a McCain administration is not the way to go about it.

The McClatchy Story

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Filed under Economic Issues, Oklahoma Politics, United States Politics

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

This is actually a sad day for me.

Throughout my voting history I have consistently voted democrat with one exception: Mary Fallin (R-OK).

I have spoken to her face-to-face on a number of occasions. As Lieutenant Governor she pushed initiatives that were extremely beneficial to the Great State of Oklahoma. I have always had great respect and admiration for Congresswoman Fallin.

Until yesterday.

She is a member of Sarah Palin’s “Truth Squad” which is anything but. Twice yesterday I heard her speak about the “lipstick on a pig” load of bull that the McCain-Palin campaign initiated. She said that “the people” thought that Sen. Obama was talking about Palin, but would not, even when pressed, say that she herself thought that.

Her main response to all of this was, basically, “Well, the Democrats did it first.”

Mary, oh Mary, DON’T HAND ME THAT CROCK!!! You are, in short, insulting the intellect of the great people of the Great State of Oklahoma. We know better! You should be ashamed of yourself for feeding this lie. I, for sure, am ashamed of you.

My vote and my support will be seriously reconsidered during your next election. I’ve met you, I’ve looked into your eyes, and I am certain that you, of all people, are above this.  I’m begging you, please prove me right

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Filed under Oklahoma Politics, United States Politics