Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Fourth Reading: Grading the Rank-and-File Folks

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Fourth Reading: Grading the Rank-and-File Folks

Article excerpt

For those who spend any time watching the circus that is the state Capitol, it's easy - at least after a session or two - to discover the key players.

Sure, each body has its elected leaders: speaker, president pro tempore, governor.

But it's the boots-on-the-ground guys and gals, the heads of committees and those who have survived more than one election that often wield the real power. Just like the legislative leadership, the rank-and-file folks deserve grades, too.

For example, state Rep. Jason Murphey. Murphey, R-Guthrie, has been the standard bearer of openness and transparency at the Legislature. Articulate and well-versed in technology, Murphey has, on other occasions, pushed legislation that leveraged new technology to generate openness in government.

This year Murphey dropped the ball, however. During a fight to move the Oklahoma Historical Society, OHS supporters thought they'd beaten back the effort through hard work and lots of grass-roots lobbying.

Enter Murphey.

Just hours before a committee meeting, Murphey slipped language into a bill that resurrected the OHS move. Murphey got caught and the bill failed.

Now, it's not a big deal to shuck a bill. It happens all the time. Murphey, however, has thumped his chest on more than one occasion about transparency and openness, railing against actions that he, himself, took. In the future, he should spend less time talking about openness and more time practicing the concept. This year Murphey earns a C-minus. His grade should be lower, but many times he has helped push for a more open, transparent government. Here's hoping he remembers his roots.

If you'd asked state Rep. Scott Martin, R-Norman, if he ever thought he'd serve as appropriations chairman for two different speakers of the House, he would have probably said no. Yet Martin and his co-chairman, Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, have become the Batman and Robin of the House Appropriations and Budget team. …

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