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27 Oklahoma Republican Representatives Flip Flop in One Day on Hard Caps

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In passing House Bill 2128 via Amendment, the Oklahoma House of Representatives and its leadership have shown via undisputable evidence that they are indeed conservatives in name only and will simply do the bidding of special interests. They have shown that instead of voting their conscience, they are willing to sacrifice their integrity in favor of being a lifelong politicians and/or future high paying jobs through special interests that wanted the Amendment passed.

As a background, House Bill 2128 created a cap on non-economic damages of $350,000.00. However, that cap could be lifted in cases where a person lost a limb, suffered disfigurement, was unable to work again et. al. In other words, it created an exception to the cap for those grievously injured. Oklahoma House Speaker Kris Steele even wrote an op-ed supporting the bill. In that op-ed he stated

The proposal is aimed at establishing fairness in the civil justice setting by striking a balance in protecting the rights of victims and guarding against abuse of runaway juries.

Apparently, Speaker Steele had a change of heart on “fairness” and instead wants the scales of justice tilted away from his constituents. He filed an Amendment to House Bill 2128 which does away with safegaurds designed to allow the seriously injured to not be impacted by the cap. Yesterday, his Amendment was resoundingly defeated by a bipartisan vote of 68 to 32. In other words people of both parties voted their conscience and felt the original House Bill was the appropriate avenue to address non economic damages.

Today, after apparently much coddling by special interests, the Speaker and Dan Sullivan decided to file a Motion to Reconsider on the bill and have everyone vote again. This time, 57 people voted for the Amendment while 40 voted against it. Interestingly, 27 Republicans changed their votes overnight. After speaking with friends at the Capitol, there was apparently a barrage last night and today of special interests at the capitol. Apparently, the Capitol lobby was full of people from the State Chamber, the Oklahoma State Medical Society, State Farm, Oklahoma Farm Bureau and other insurance industry lobbyists. What they promised these politicians remains unknown but it must have been pretty enticing given 27 changed their minds overnight.

Oklahomans this is what is going on at your Capitol. Insurance special interests are essentially buying votes at your expense. They are spreading lies and misinformation in the hopes of lining their pockets at your expense. We have a Governor, a Senate Leadership and a House Leadership that cares more about power than they do serving the people of Oklahoma. This legislation is simply politicians trying to control our lives for the betterment of their careers and pocketbooks.

Two things in particular strike me as hypocritical in all these shenanigans by the Oklahoma Republican leadership. First, the author of this bill, Speaker Kris Steele, has a nice tidy trust fund he received as a child from a personal injury. According to reddirtreport.com

It would appear that way in light of a court document from January 1989 showing that the Speaker from Shawnee, then a minor from Carter County, won a tidy sum following an accident involving a Daisy rifle purchased at an Otasco store. In his teens, Steele was reportedly shot in the head and injured by one of these rifles, as confirmed by the Speaker’s press secretary Lisa Liebl…Steele was awarded almost $400,000 in non-economic damages when adjusted for inflation.

Oklahomans for Liberty David Tackett is quoted in the article as saying

It’s appalling to know that Speaker Steele received almost $50,000 more in non-economic damages than the floor amendment he is proposing for House Bill 2128. Apparently, what was good for him isn’t good for the rest of Oklahoma.

Now to the second hypocritical factor. How can 27 Republicans change their minds overnight on a bill such as this? I surmise one of two things. They either simply caved to pressure from leadership and/or were promised the world by special interests noted above who control that leadership. A wise politician once told a colleague that “every man should vote his conscience, the question is whether you will compromise yours” after that colleague went back on their word. So ask these flip flopping politicians, what caused you to compromise your conscience? Let them know that you are severely disappointed in them not only for their stance on hard caps, bur for their last minute, back-room, back-handed tactics which led to this surprise 180-degree turn. You elect them. They owe you this explanation.

So who are these flip flopping John Kerry Representatives? I will detail them below and encourage every Oklahoman to call these Representatives and let them know your displeasure and that they will be held accountable come the next election. You can find their contact information at okhouse.gov.

  1. Gus Blackwell
  2. David Brumbaugh
  3. Dennis Casey
  4. Josh Cockroft
  5. Marian Cooksey
  6. Lee Denny
  7. David Derby
  8. John Enns
  9. George Faught
  10. Elise Hall
  11. Corey Holland
  12. Mike Jackson
  13. Charlie Joyner
  14. Sallie Kern
  15. Dan Kerby
  16. Skye McNiel
  17. Glen Mulready
  18. Tom Newell
  19. Jadine Nollan
  20. Charles Ortega
  21. Pat Ownbey
  22. Marty Quinn
  23. Todd Russ
  24. Mike Sanders
  25. Todd Thomsen
  26. T.W. Shannon
  27. Steve Vaughan