Archive for the ‘Sen. Gumm’ Category

Sen. Gumm: Editorial Support Building for "Nick’s Law"

May 20, 2008

By Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant

Yogi Berra’s words – “It ain’t over until it’s over” – still has a slim chance of ringing true for families fighting for autism insurance, according to the bill’s sponsor.

Monday (May 19), two newspapers – both in predominantly Republican communities – published editorials in support of “Nick’s Law,” a measure by Senator Jay Paul Gumm that would require health insurance policies cover diagnosis and treatment for autistic children.

The Edmond Sun and The Enid News & Eagle both published editorials supportive of the proposal. The plan passed the Oklahoma Senate on four separate occasions only to be buried in the House of Representatives each time.

“Republicans, Democrats and independent voters across the state overwhelmingly support “Nick’s Law’,” said Gumm, D-Durant. “Supportive editorials in newspapers serving ‘rock-ribbed Republican’ communities further illustrate how amazingly out of step those are who will not even allow a vote on the bill.”

The Enid newspaper acknowledged the effort by families with autistic children, relating the families “have not been deterred in trying to make lawmakers see the light.” Further, the newspaper wrote it believes “this situation deserves more consideration and that families of autistic children need consideration by insurance companies.”

In the Edmond paper, which serves the hometown of 10-year-old Nicholas Rohde, the Nick of “Nick’s Law,” editorial writers noted, “Bearing the cost of autism alone is hurting these Oklahoma families.” Read more…

Last Week of the Session?

May 20, 2008

It looks like insurance mandates and ‘insurance companies behaving badly’ issues will remain on the front burner in what could be the last week of the legislative session.

Already this session we exposed a plan by greedy life insurance companies to screw old people and charities out of the freedom to sell their life policies in arrangements called “life settlements.” After further media exposure, the life companies and their lobbyist Frank Keating were forced to remove many of the more outrageous aspects of the bill, such as turning senior citizens into felons if they did not receive 50% of the face value of the policy. A ‘trailer’ bill is in the works that would remove the last outrageous aspect: Kim Holland, the toady insurance commissioner owned by Keating’s association. Current statutes would allow Holland to harass companies that buy the policies from seniors to such an extent that few would want to do business in Oklahoma. Even Democrats know the commissioner needs to be put into a position where she can do no harm as they regard her as “intellectually-challenged” on most insurance issues, so a trailer bill stands a good chance at passing.

We’ll keep watching this one.

And the Oklahoman is attempting a last minute feeble effort to rescue Rep. Ron Peterson as his clumsy handling of the insurance mandates for autism treatments keeps the issue alive for yet another week. Peterson also was an advocate of the shameful anti-senior life settlement bill. Yesterday, the increasingly irrelevant paper slams Sen. J. Paul Gumm, who is for the mandates but has outflanked and out-maneuvered Peterson from the beginning. As Jim Bowie is aid to have told Col. Travis at the Alamo, “It’s not what you say Travis that bothers me, it’s how you say it.”

Communicating public issues as often more important than the issue itself, something Peterson and the paper need to improve: did you catch the strange reference to global warming? Regardless, insurance issues appear to be ready to explode into the news yet again this week, meaning the press corps will screw it up, so we’ll be cleaning up that mess. Stay tuned!

Senator Gumm: Peterson Shows "Lack of Understanding" About Autism Crisis

May 16, 2008

OKLAHOMA CITY – An analysis by Rep. Ron Peterson of an actuarial study on “Nick’s Law” shows the representative’s “serious lack of understanding” about the autism crisis, according to Senator Jay Paul Gumm.

“Rep. Peterson may know his former profession – insurance – but his analysis of the actuarial study we provided to him shows he simply does not understand the autism crisis,” said Gumm, a Democrat from Durant who has fought for passage of autism insurance.

“Every autistic child is different with different needs. To suggest that every autistic child presents the same exposure to the insurance industry is flat wrong and not borne out by the experience in other states – or the experience of parents of autistic children.”

The key premise of Peterson’s news release was that the study, provided by Gumm to House leaders earlier this week, did not reflect that every autistic child would take the maximum benefit allowed under “Nick’s Law.”

Peterson’s estimate of a 5.22 percent increase in rates has not happened in any state with an autism insurance law. Further, the fiscal impact statement on state employees’ insurance – touted by Peterson as justification for killing “Nick’s Law” – did not reflect anything more than a 1 percent impact on claim payouts. Read more…

Peterson Opens Mouth, Inserts Foot…..Again

May 14, 2008

Fresh on the heels of speculation that a powerhouse patient advocacy organization is being planned, State Rep. Ron Peterson is jumping right back into dangerous water with advocates for autistic children.

Rep. Peterson’s tone deaf handling of the situation regarding mandated insurance coverage for autism treatments was just the kind of red meat the liberal press corps thoroughly enjoys. On Tuesday, Peterson issued a press release that suggests studies by autism advocates cannot be trusted. That may be true, but as Charlie Brown says, “Good Grief.”

Several pundits have weighed in on behalf of Rep. Peterson’s reasons for slowing down this legislation, and we at OKPNS agree. But Sen. Gumm is thrashing Rep. Peterson with the public and the press, and ill-conceived press releases just make matters worse. The message may be legitimate, but the messenger’s errors are obscuring that message.

Beginning with last year’s ethics problems, Republicans have shown indifference to good communication skills and strategies. This indifference has cost them dearly.

The capitol press corps dislikes conservatives, and the weak get eaten. Like wildebeests crossing the river, the crocs have eaten their share this past year, but the R’s just keep on inviting the crocs to take a bite. Peterson just waded in the deep end again.

When will they ever learn?

"Bumper Sticker Politics" Create Bad Voter ID Bill

May 14, 2008

By Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant

Hello again, everybody! Previously, I have written about “bumper sticker politics,” where extremely complex issues are made to fit on a bumper sticker.

A measure I helped defeat last week is a perfect example of bumper sticker politics at its worst. The issue was euphemistically called “Voter ID.” The perception of a “Voter ID” bill is positive; it simply requires anyone to show identification before voting. That sounds reasonable.

The devil, as they say, is in the details Read more…

Senator Gumm Asks Speaker for Solution on Autism

May 6, 2008

Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, has sent House Speaker Chris Benge a letter asking for a proposal from the Speaker to help families struggling to provide services to children with autism.

Gumm is the primary author of “Nick’s Law,” a measure that would require health insurance policies to cover autism diagnosis and treatment. Last week, Speaker Benge announced he would not allow the bill to be considered by the House of Representatives.

Text of Senator Gumm’s letter, hand delivered to Benge’s Capitol office Tuesday, follows:

May 6, 2008

The Honorable Chris Benge
Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives
State Capitol, Room 401
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Mr. Speaker:

I was deeply disappointed to learn of the decision by you and your leadership team to deny even a hearing to “Nick’s Law,” the proposal to require health insurance coverage of autism diagnosis and treatment. Despite passing the Senate on bipartisan votes on four different occasions, the consistent answer from the House of Representatives has been “No.”

From the beginning of this struggle, those of us who support “Nick’s Law” have never believed our solution was the only answer. We have been – and continue to be – open to other potential solutions. You have given your answer to “Nick’s Law”; and it is “No.” My question, Mr. Speaker, is: What is your solution? We have placed ours on the table time and again only to be denied even a chance to present it in what is supposed to be “The People’s House.” Read more…


House Speaker Responds to Nick’s Law Letter

Gumm Says "Come Home to Oklahoma" Proposal Means Higher Taxes for Current Oklahomans

April 14, 2008

A rural leader with a successful background in economic development says a tax break for newcomers is a “backwards way” to grow rural Oklahoma.

Senator Jay Paul Gumm (D-Durant), said proposed amendments to the bill intended to help bring the Seattle SuperSonics to Oklahoma City would create a “grossly unfair” tax scheme in which current residents of the state pay more income tax than newcomers.

The proposal, advocated by some rural legislators, is called the “Come Home to Oklahoma” bill, and would give a five-year income tax exemption to people who move into some rural areas from another state and buy or build a home there. Under the proposal, individuals who already live in Oklahoma would continue to pay their full income tax bills:

I do not know how any leader can look his or her constituents in the eye and tell them they should pay more tax than someone who just arrived in Oklahoma. We ought to call this the ‘Oklahomans Pay More Taxes’ bill. It is unfair, potentially unconstitutional, and nothing short of a ‘deal-breaker’ for me.

Gumm is the former executive director of the Durant chamber of commerce. According to records from the last five years, Durant has attracted a higher percentage of new jobs than any community in Oklahoma. The experience of his hometown, he said, shows the newcomers’ tax break does not make sense from an economic development standpoint. He added:

While we need an adequate workforce to attract business and industry, jobs rarely follow people; people follow jobs. If we attract residents to these areas before there are jobs for them, then the problem this idea attempts to solve is made even worse.

Gumm said a better way to encourage rural legislators to support the “Sonics” bill is to make a significant investment in rural Oklahoma’s infrastructure. One way to do that would be through the Rural Economic Action Program, which provides grant money to small communities for economic development and infrastructure improvements:

It is woefully under funded at only $15 million annually. Pumping an additional $20 or $30 million into REAP, spread across the state to deserving communities, stands a better chance of growing small town economies.

It doesn’t matter how many people move to rural Oklahoma if the infrastructure is not adequate and there are no jobs. Build the infrastructure, create the jobs and the people will come.

In a recent edition of Gumm’s regular column to his constituents, the lawmaker wrote the idea behind the “Come Home to Oklahoma Act” was noble, but that proposal is “as patently unfair” as any bill he has ever seen. Gumm

Tax policy says who we are and who we value. This wrong-headed proposal says we value newcomers more than we do the people who have already invested in our state. I cannot and will not support any plan to puts lesser value and higher taxes on the people I represent.

Also see: Come Home to Oklahoma (Please? We’ll Give you a Tax Break)

The Nobler Mission

March 26, 2008

By Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant

Hello again, everybody! The word “bipartisan” often is tossed around in politics to suggest if something has bipartisan support, then it is a good thing.

That is not necessarily the case. A perfect example of a bill with bipartisan support that I believe is bad policy was one relating to education that passed the Senate and was sent to the House of Representatives a couple of weeks ago.

The argument used by supporters of this voucher scheme is that these public schools are so irreparably broken that we have to provide an escape route for a lucky few. For us, however, to abandon the rest of the kids in such a school is social Darwinism at its most perverse. Only the strong – or lucky – will survive under this scheme.

This is the easy answer; this bill encourages the “cherry picking” of a few kids, lifting them out of a poor school, and leaving behind hundreds of others. The harder mission – and the far nobler one – is to improve the school for every kid. It is not beyond our ability to do so; it just will be more difficult.

Nevertheless, the mission of public education is a difficult one. Unlike private schools, public schools have a responsibility to educate every child. Every Oklahoman – even those families who put their children in private schools or philanthropists who give to a voucher scheme like this one – benefits because we offer a free public education to every child. Read more…

Sen. Gumm: Parents Rally for "Nick’s Law"

February 29, 2008

From the OK Legislator’s Blog:

On Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008, Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, conducted a State Capitol news conference on “Nick’s Law.” The proposal would mandate that health insurance cover early diagnosis and treatment of autism. This package is coverage of the news conference aired that day on the Oklahoma News Report – the only statewide news broadcast.

OK Legislator’s Blog

February 20, 2008

By Rep. Jason Murphey

Can you imagine a situation in the private business world where one part of the business was allowed to issue millions of dollars of debt without approval from the board of directors? Certainly it would not be long before that business would simply cease to exist. No doubt it would be driven into bankruptcy by out-of-control employees who spend without check or balance.

Yet that is exactly what is occurring in state government. The Regents for Higher Education are issuing millions of dollars of bond projects without the approval of the legislature. The projects not only indebt state government to paying off the principal of the debt, but the unnecessary interest as well.

In fact, it appears that in the last 8 years, more than 250 million dollars have been issued by the Regents in debt. Currently, around 180 million of this is still waiting to be paid back. The money has been requested for use on projects as varied as athletic score boards to golf course maintenance equipment.

Recently, a courageous member of the Council of Bond Oversight asked his board to seek an Attorney General’s opinion on the constitutionality of the Regents to issue this kind of debt. Unfortunately, not enough members of his board voted to support his effort, and it failed. Read more…

By Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant

Hello again, everybody! Legislative committees in both the Senate and House of Representatives continue consideration of the hundreds of bills filed for 2008.

One of the worst proposals on the table this year is a measure that would begin to “sunset,” or systematically end, many of our state’s tax exemptions. The result would be a systematic tax increase for a broad spectrum of Oklahoma business activities. In fact, if enacted as presented, it would by far be the largest tax increase in Oklahoma’s history

Proponents of ending those exemptions have been clear: they want to raise taxes so they can cut taxes – primarily for the wealthiest among us. I know; it does not make sense to me, either. This proposal would be a “tax shift” that is potentially devastating for many Oklahoma businesses and jobs. It could drive up food prices for you and me, but more on that in a moment.

This notion of “tax shifting” – from an economic development standpoint – troubles me greatly. In essence, ending these exemptions would be breaking a promise we made to businesses that have invested in our state and our people.

Businesses relocate or expand into a state based on a set of promises. New and existing businesses that make new investments and create new jobs do not deserve to have the rug pulled out from under them by eliminating exemptions on which they depend. Read more…