State Rep. Jason Murphey praises House leadership transparency and reform proposals
One of my favorite Oklahoma state representatives is Jason Murphey, a Republican from Guthrie. If Rep. Murphey is happy about something at the State Capitol, Oklahoma citizens are likely to be pleased as well. So it was encouraging to see two posts earlier this week on his blog praising the actions of new House Speaker T. W. Shannon and his leadership team.
Murphey is one of the most consistent social and fiscal conservatives in the legislature, but he has also won fans on both sides of the aisle for his commitment to transparency and integrity in government. Prominently displayed on his website is this message:
does not accept
items of value
from lobbyist-represented entities.
Thank you for understanding.
Murphey is the sponsor of legislation to subject the legislature to the same Open Records and Open Meetings laws that apply to the rest of state and local government, and he was recently appointed to serve on the board of Freedom of Information Oklahoma.
Murphey is one of the most tech-savvy members of the House, with a background in web development. He has been a driving force behind the effort to modernize and consolidate Oklahoma state government's information technology systems, a tangle of incompatibility that had evolved over decades of procurement of proprietary systems by each agency. Murphey has pushed for the adoption of robust but inexpensive open source software, supported by a skilled team of IT professionals working for all state agencies. (See his blog entry on the progress of IT consolidation at the State Capitol and the scary security holes that have been discovered, putting Oklahomans' personal data at risk.)
All that to explain why I found these two upbeat posts from Murphey so cheering:
In a Sunday, February 10, 2013, blog entry, Murphey hailed new rules eliminating the House Speaker's absolute, unilateral power to kill legislation and establishing a bipartisan "House calendar committee" which holds open meetings with recorded votes to determine which bills will advance for a floor vote and which will not.
The previous week, Murphey applauded a series of bills introduced by one legislator: requiring work or training for work as a condition of eligibility for food stamps, funding maintenance of state-owned real property with the proceeds of the sale of unneeded land and buildings, putting a moratorium on state fee increases, repealing the state franchise tax, limiting state government debt issuance, requiring state agencies to plan for reducing their dependence on federal funding (anticipating federal budget cuts), and limiting frivolous unemployment claims. And now, here's the rest of the story:
Upon reviewing this list, based on their years of experience, most capitol insiders would likely rightly conclude that the bills are the work of a naive newcomer to the Legislature who hasn't had time to become cynical. The author appears to function under the delusion that he can make a difference and does not realize that the special interests and House leadership will likely not even allow these aggressive bills to receive a committee hearing.
In making this observation, the insiders would normally be absolutely correct.
There is however one very important mitigating factor. These bills are sponsored by House leadership. Each of these bills has been sponsored by the new Speaker of the House, TW Shannon. Shannon's legislation should send the strong message that times have changed and house members are now prepared to advance an aggressive portfolio of bills designed to fulfill our promise of truly working for limited government.
In my time participating in and observing the Legislature, I have never before observed this type of conservative governance by House leadership and I am very much looking forward to reporting to you on the progress that will be made in this session of the Legislature.
Good news indeed. Stay tuned to Jason Murphey's blog to follow the progress of these and other proposals for making Oklahoma government more efficient, transparent, and responsive to its citizens.
MORE: Oklahoma Watchdog reports on HB 1911, the bill that requires "unemployment benefit applicants to affirm, in an affidavit, that they do not meet criteria that would disqualify them from receiving the benefit." State Rep. Richard Morrissette, an Oklahoma City Democrat, said to Capitol Beat OK, "I will do everything in my power to assure [that HB 1911] dies a slow and unpleasant death."
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