Calling the latest press conference by Senate Republicans nothing but chest pounding and political cover, Democratic Leader Charlie Laster said Oklahomans should be outraged with the outcome of the GOP’s first 50 days.
“The first 50 days of the Senate Republican’s majority has been consumed with stories about tax scandals and a whole lot of love being shown to the powerful insurance industry,” Laster said. “For the past month even newspapers across the state have editorialized about the politics of payback and retaliation that we have seen from the Senate GOP and have mentioned very little, if anything at all, about policies that will help make health care more affordable for Oklahoma families.”
Laster, (D-Shawnee) pointed to the following specific legislation and unprecedented rule changes in the Senate as proof Senate Republicans have been focused solely on protecting insurance companies and engaging in the politics of retaliation instead of focusing on the needs of Oklahoma families.
- A rule change that specifically protects insurance companies in the Senate by requiring Senators to jump through bureaucratic red tape to have a bill heard that would reform the insurance industry.
- Removing Senator Tom Ivester, an Afghan War Veteran, from a task force that studies the education needs of Oklahoma military families days after Coffee called Ivester an “alarmist” for speaking out about possible public prison closings in his district.
- Removing veteran Senators Kenneth Corn, Richard Lerblance and Tom Adelson off committees which they previously chaired, calling them “obstructionists.”
- Refusing to hear legislation that would require insurance companies to cover the diagnosis and treatment of autism, routine medical care for Oklahomans who choose to participate in life-saving clinical trials, the right for injured workers to choose their own doctor and putting doctors, not insurance company executives in charge of patient’s health care needs, giving the Insurance Commissioner the ability to investigate arbitrary rate hikes by insurance companies, and legislation that would have allowed Oklahomans to sue insurance companies for arbitrarily raising insurance rates.
- Failure to meet the “Fund Education First” April 1 deadline, leaving thousands of Oklahoma teachers to wonder if they will have a job next school year.
- Legislation that protects insurance companies and giant corporations by making Oklahomans travel out-of-state to seek justice for negligent acts that caused harm to them.
- Passing legislation that would bring divisive Washington DC style politics into Oklahoma by requiring Worker’s Compensation Judges to be confirmed by the State Senate.
Laster said he is also concerned that with only three weeks left in this legislative session and no budget agreement, a special session could be right around the corner.
“Clearly Senator Coffee has been distracted which has left much of the crucial work of the State Senate still on the table,” Laster said. “It is clear Senate Republicans have very little to crow about this session and are simply pounding their chest to make themselves feel better. I hope for the sake of all Oklahomans, they get serious about governing and find some real solutions for Oklahoma families who desperately need our help, and stop this game of protecting insurance companies and petty partisan retaliation which seems to be the crux of the Senate GOP legislative agenda.”