Pryor Daily Times editor, Kathy Parker, recently wrote about inconsistencies in how the urban press looks at professions in the legislature. Parker noted that large litigation law firms were often carefully reviewed, scrutinized, sometimes to excess, but that at least their clients were a matter of public record.
Not so, however, for other citizen legislators in the House and Senate. For example, no one knows who the clients are of insurance agents who are members of the legislature. The same can be said of accountants, realtors, and legislators who participate in multilevel marketing schemes.
There is no record of who contributes to those legislators who work for non-profits or that are engaged in other business activities.
It is important that Oklahoma has citizen legislators. It keeps them from becoming professional politicians and makes them keep a foot in the real world. It is also, however, important that not just one profession, litigation law firms, be scrutinized while others are completely ignored.
Perhaps the better approach would be that all professions have to publicly list their clients. This would allow the public to make its own decision about what is and is not permissible while leveling the playing field for all. Let’s see if the legislature is willing to consider such a proposal.
BURRAGE IS RIGHT
Parker said it best when she wrote in a follow-up editorial this week:
“Sen. Sean Burrage was elected by voters in Mayes and Rogers counties.
He promised if he was elected he would be the voice of those voters in Oklahoma City. That’s exactly what he did.
Many of those who elected Burrage, ... derive all or part of their income from agriculture or agriculture-related pursuits. Their voice, what they would expect him to say, is they are in favor of a bill that declares manure not hazardous waste.
Burrage was not elected by anyone in Tulsa County, the editors or cartoonists of the Tulsa World. If those citizens disagree with his position on issues, they should speak to their legislators who are hired to be their voice. Maybe those non-contituents expected “so much more" from Burrage, but his own could not have expected anything more.
The common sense fact that anyone with a basic knowledge of biology knows manure is not hazardous waste should be enough to justify Burrage’s vote to advance a bill declaring it so, but his vote is more important than that. What’s most important is that he was chosen to speak for his constituents, to protect their interests and he voted accordingly. That’s his job. That’s why voters sent him to Oklahoma City.
Coming under fire from people who are not his constituents is uncomfortable for Burrage, but really not important. The point is he is doing what those who elected him expected him to do - be their voice.
There was no conflict of interest or ulterior motive to Burrage’s vote to pass the non-hazardous waste bill on to the full house. He was doing his job. His own constituents would have expected nothing less.