Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Murphey Legislative Update

Murphey Legislative Update

One of the biggest concerns District 31 residents have communicated to me is the belief that there is a need for reform in human services. I was so impressed by the heartfelt nature of these concerns that I asked to be assigned to the Human Services Committee. In my capacity as a member of that committee, I have had the opportunity to vote on several reform-minded pieces of legislation, ranging from grandparents' rights to requiring a more effective drug testing program.

I have also observed what appears to be a disturbing trend towards regionalized government. I believe this form of governance deprives Oklahomans of the ability to have an effective voice about regulations which govern various aspects of their lives. One effort deals with the interstate placement of foster children. The document that governs such placements is known as the Interstate Child Placement Compact. This compact clearly specifies a number of regulations we have to abide by regarding the placement of Oklahoma foster children into other states or the placement of foster children from other states into Oklahoma.

However, there is an attempt to void the current compact and enact a new one. The new compact does not spell out the regulations that we have agreed to follow but creates an Interstate Commission which will develop their own set of rules. The new compact provides the following description of the Commission's powers. "Rules promulgated by the Interstate Commission shall have the force and effect of statutory law and shall supersede any state law, rule or regulation to the extent of any conflict."

In effect, by approving this new agreement, the legislature is delegating their law-making ability to a super legislative body. This reduces the ability of the average person to have a voice in how the laws are made. Those making the laws will not be elected officials available and accountable to the people, but an unelected board, functioning on a nationwide level.

While this proposal applies specifically to the interstate placement of foster children, it is my concern that similiar types of agreements will become increasingly prevalent when it comes to interstate activities, and thus move us toward regionalized government.

This week marks the fourth week of the legislative session. Already I have had the opportunity to cast more than 250 votes from the floor of the House, taking into consideration the advice and concerns of House District 31 constituents. If you feel strongly about a particular issue or would like to know the status of a specific piece of legislation, please visit or call (405) 557-7350.

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