Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKC Council Plots Lobbying Priorities

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKC Council Plots Lobbying Priorities

Article excerpt

City council members need to be more personally involved in lobbying for legislative issues, Oklahoma City Councilman Pete White said Tuesday.

The council unanimously agreed to adopt a slate of concerns to be pressed at the state and federal levels in 2011. Those programs, which were defined in early October during public hearings of the Council Legislative Committee, include funding completion of the Interstate 40 relocation and initiative issues such as changing state law to allow special events in city rights of way.

At the federal level, the first item on the city's lobbying list is the enactment of the Main Street Fairness Act meant to respond to the loss of tax revenues from online sales. Councilman Gary Marrs said some of the issues are repeated from last year's agenda because they remained unaddressed. Items to the list can be added at nearly any time, he said.

"We may be asking the counsel to become more involved in the process," White told his council peers after meeting with consultants. "The contacts that council members have with legislators ... could be invaluable to us moving forward.

"One of the things that's been a constant kind of a concern is that there really isn't an Oklahoma City caucus in the Legislature," he said. "There's a rural caucus and a liberty caucus. I mean there's a caucus for every special interest you can think of. ... So one of the things we thought we might try is to try more personal interface between people who sit around this horseshoe and legislators, to try to make sure they have a better understanding of why we need certain things that we are asking for."

The Council Legislative Committee might ask council members to identify which members of the Senate and House of Representatives that they know personally, White said.

"A lot of times we don't get our program done because our legislators don't understand the importance to the city," he said.

Oklahoma City spends $96,000 annually on federal legislative lobbying and an equal amount at the state Legislature, Finance Director Laura Johnson said. The city has hired John Montgomery as its federal legislative consultant for more than two decades. …

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