Danny Morgan outlines priorities for House Democrats
By Patrick B. McGuigan
State Rep. Danny Morgan of Prague, leader of Democrats in the House, says there are three priorities for his caucus in the 2010 legislative session.
In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, Morgan said, “We will work to see that education is funded to the maximum extent possible. That is the number one issue in the minds of our people. They equate it with economic development, and tie it to prosperity and to the future for our children.”
Morgan continued, “The next priority is to see that public safety is funded, to keep the roads safe and to assure that our correctional facilities are staffed adequately. To educate and protect our people, that seems to us two core functions of government.”
Third, he said, is “take care of seniors. As Democrats we really want to watch out for our most vulnerable populations. We will work to keep money for Medicare and for the senior nutrition sites. Those are important not only to the nutrition but also to the social life of many of our retired elderly people. It seems to me obvious that a priority for government must be protect the most vulnerable of our citizens, children and those who are in the twilight of their life. That really is the crux of all the issues for us.”
In addition to leadership functions, Rep. Morgan works on a variety of measures he has stressed in past sessions. With Republican Rep. Sue Tibbs of Tulsa, he is backing
House Bill 3250, which would prohibit texting or emailing while operating a motor vehicle: “This would build on what we did a couple of years back, the graduated driver’s license. That has really had an impact. Fatalities are off.”
Morgan reflects, “Some make an argument that you shouldn’t have to pass a law to stop people from violating common sense, but I believe people are less apt to text and drive, or email and drive, if it’s actually against the law to do it.”
Another proposal he is advancing is House Bill 2907. As he explains it, the measure would “allow pregnant women in third trimesters to apply for a temporary handicapped sticker with a doctor’s recommendation. I began to work on this after seeing a very pregnant woman driving around on one of those snow days. She couldn’t find a regular parking spot, but drove past about 14 of those blue parking spots.”
The proposal “could be limited to four, five or six months and/or to women having troubled pregnancies. It might require a doctor’s prescription to the effect that they need to have this accommodation. The intent of it is that pregnant women who need this additional help would get it.”
Morgan also said he is seeking better coordination of agencies when it comes to people facing an unattended death. It would create an affirmative duty for municipal employees to report instances when they think there is someone facing danger when they’re living alone; it would require municipal employees to be reporting agencies.”
Rep. Morgan’s House Bill 2908 would “require disclosure to patients by medical professionals for any instance where they prescribe or make a referral for physical care or treatment.” In a gentle nudge to the majority Republicans, Morgan said, “My friends on the other side of the aisle say they’re for transparency, so I’m giving them a chance to be transparent.” Another Morgan bill, H.B. 2910, would give preference to Oklahoma contractors in state contracts.
Morgan is also continuing his work to support the state’s burgeoning wine industry, and told CBOK he anticipated further positive developments to boost Oklahoma wineries and producers this year.
Looking ahead, Morgan said he is seeking reelection, “and hope to finish my terms, through 2014.” He consciously chose to give time for another leader (Scott Inman of Oklahoma City) to be groomed and learn the ropes of leadership. He told CapitolBeatOK, “When I leave public office it is my intention to return full time to oil field service work.”
Rep. Morgan reflected, “I am concerned about the effect of term limits on development of legislative leadership. It used to be someone would be a committee chairman for 6-8 years, but now they come and go every session, it seems. It took me about six years to really understand what was going on around here, so I’m sincerely concerned about the matter.”
Morgan said, “Upon reflection, I realize that the governor is really the only one in a leadership position now who was even here the last time we faced a real budget crunch, in 2003. Truth is, a lot of our members in the House don’t have a clue on how to handle something like this. That’s another aspect of the loss of seniority and the impact of term limits.”
Morgan concluded, “About the time you get this figured out, it’s time to go home. That leaves the bureaucrats and the lobbyists in charge of everything. It undermines the legitimate role of leadership.”