Archive for the ‘Speaker Chris Benge’ Category

House Fails to Overide Henry Veto of Lawsuit Reform

May 13, 2008

Excerpt from Speaker Benge’s press release:

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 12, 2008) –House Democrats voted in lock step with the trial lawyer lobby today when an attempt to override the governor’s veto of reasonable lawsuit reform failed on the House floor.

Gov. Brad Henry vetoed House Bill 2458 last week, claiming the bill is unconstitutional. The bill would require a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit for professional negligence to attach to the petition an affidavit attesting that a “reasonable interpretation of the facts supports a finding that the acts or omissions of the defendant….constituted professional negligence.”

Rep. Colby Schwartz, author of the bill, called the legislation a meaningful step in reducing frivolous lawsuits in Oklahoma and criticized House Democrats for locking up on a bill that passed the Senate unanimously in its current form.

“The governor of Oklahoma does not get to decide if legislation is constitutional; that job is left to our court system,” said Schwartz, R-Yukon. “This bill would have cleared the courts of frivolous lawsuits to make way for those with legitimate cases, but instead House Democrats voted today to keep our court system clogged with expensive lawsuits without merit.”

The House Democrats actions today reminded us of a website our readers should be familiar with that deals with legal extortionists:

A massive archive there helps you follow the major league offenders, such as Ron Motley, the Charleston-based legal pirate that Edmondson has brought in to work the poultry cases on behalf of the, ahem, taxpayers since his other buddy Dickie Scruggs has been unavoidably detained.

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

Loveless Gets Acclaim by Speaker of House and Moore Representative

April 25, 2008

Moore – Yesterday, Senate Candidate Kyle D. Loveless, (R-OKC) received a citation of acclamation from both the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and State Representative Randy Terrill (R-Moore).

“I was honored at the citation I received as part of my graduation ceremony of the Leadership Moore program”, said Kyle Loveless. He went on to say, “When I decided to run for the state Senate, I promised my future constituents that I would immerse myself in the communities that encompass the district, and I have and will continue to keep my word. Moore, Mustang, and South Oklahoma City are all growing, and the one common denominator is a true sense of community. I did not just move into the district, my roots in this district run deep. My family has been in business serving Oklahoma for 60 years. My wife and I were raised in Moore and South Oklahoma City, and that is where we are going to raise our family”.

The citation reads –
“Kyle Loveless has expanded his leadership by increasing his knowledge of Moore and the critical issues facing his community through his interaction with community leaders.”

“Kyle Loveless through his diligence in working with community leaders, has gained key organizational skills and has acquainted himself with the problems and needs of his community, and has committed to serve in a role inherent to a leader.”

“Kyle Loveless prompted by his desire to be better prepared to serve his community, has completed Leadership Moore, a program designed to identify, motivate, and place emerging leaders through development of their leadership by stimulating an interest in the quality of life in Moore and providing a common meeting ground of shared concerns among leaders throughout the community.”

Signed, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chris Benge
Signed, State Representative Randy Terrill

Benge 2007 Fundraising: 100 Percent Special Interest Money

March 4, 2008

…from the confidential OKPNS Tip Line:

Following yesterday’s post regarding questionable donations received by new Speaker of the House Chris Benge, a new analysis of Benge’s fundraising reports filed with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission appear to show that every dime the Speaker raised in 2007 came from political action committees (“PACs”), lobbyists or their clients. It does not appear that Benge had a single donor from his own district for all of last year or a donor from anywhere who did not have direct,special interests before the legislature.

OKPNS has reviewed the final 2007 fundraising reports submitted by Benge, which are available at the Oklahoma Ethics Commission website here.

Benge has raised a total of $71,800 in his current account (Benge has yet to open a 2008 campaign account and is still raising money into his 2006 account). Only a small percentage of the money he raised came from individuals. More than two-thirds,$50,950, came from PACs. House Republicans’ reliance on PAC money has come under major criticism in recent years, with some claiming a “pay for play” atmosphere has developed at the Capitol. Given his heavy reliance on PAC money, Benge’s fundraising figures will only add fuel to this fire.

But even the relatively few individual donors Benge did have in 2007 are all linked to special interests at the Capitol. As reported yesterday here on OKPNS, 43 of Benge’s individual donors were employees of the career tech system. As chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee last year, Benge advanced legislation increasing the Career Tech budget, much of which went to give pay raises to Career Tech employees. Benge only had four other individual donors for the entire year. Two of them, Rob Johnson and Tom Rogers, are registered lobbyists. Another donation came from the owner of the only Toyota distributor for the state of Oklahoma who also employs a lobbyist to advance his business interests at the Capitol. The final individual donation came from an accountant with the Department of Corrections. Acceptance of this contribution by Benge raises numerous ethical questions given that the Department of Corrections in 2007 was undergoing a year long audit which Benge helped oversee, not to mention that as House Budget Chairman Benge controlled not only the Department’s budget but even his donor’s salary.

Because of his total reliance on special interest money in 2007, Capitol observers expect that Benge’s fundraising activities this year will draw even more scrutiny, not to mention possible criticism about how those donors will be treated now that Benge is Speaker of the House.

Black on Taxes

February 15, 2008

“An interesting story ran on KTOK yesterday. Their methane gas filled dome correspondent interviewed Speaker Chris Benge about the down-turn in revenues and that there is a distinct possibility that there will be no decrease in the tax rate. But what really struck me was how the story was told.” Read more (3rd story)