Tuesday, April 15, 2008

by Steve Fair
I've always said that Lt. Governor Jari Askins is a gracious lady. She is friendly, cordial and always makes a point to speak when she sees me, but she's still a Dem. Yesterday she proved it. In November 2006, Oklahoma voters gave control of the State Senate to the Republicans, but because Senator Nancy "Crylee" Riley of Tulsa switched parties after her election, Democrats and Republicans have the same number of Senators (24 each). The two parties have operated the past two sessions under a power-sharing agreement that has worked amazingly well. But based on past voting trends, it's very likely Republicans will take control of the State Senate for the first time in state history in November and it will not be soon enough. Case in point:

The Lt. Governor presides over the Oklahoma State Senate and casts a vote if the Senate is tied. Lt. Governor Jari Askins has only cast a couple of votes to break ties, always siding with her fellow Democrats. While it's not surprising that Askins toes the party line, it should be of great concern to the average Oklahoman. The vote Askins cast a vote killed an amendment by Senate Judiciary Committee Co-Chairman Jim Williamson- R, Tulsa that would have required Senate confirmation of gubernatorial appointments to the Workers Compensation Court. Currently the workers comp court is stacked with anti-business, pro-trial lawyer judges who are cronies and fishing buddies of Governor Brad Henry. that's one of the reasons Oklahoma's worker comp system is one of the most costly in the nation because it still has lawyers involved in the settling of workers comp disputes. Most states use an administrative board. Williamson's amendment was a step in the right direction for Oklahoma, but Askins just showed she would rather toe the party line than move the state forward. Askins will likely run for Governor in 2010 and it's important that Oklahomans remember votes like these when making their decision on who we want to lead the state- a "vote the party line" hack or someone that has the courage to stand up to special interests.

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