Editor’s Notebook: Holt’s new national leadership post, Morrissette’s push for a “right-to-try”

OKLAHOMA CITY – From an editor’s notebook, an Oklahoma state Senator gains a national leadership post, and a south Oklahoma City Democrat presses a “right-to-try” program and state agency accountability.

State Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, has joined the board of legislative advisors for GOPAC, a group that methodically grooms young state legislators to run for higher political offices.

Roll Call, a newspaper that specializes in developments on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.,
quoted GOPAC Chairman David Avella (who assumed the group’s top job after the 
November elections saying, ““The members of our 2015 Legislative Leaders Advisory Board will have an important role in educating and electing a new generation of Republican leaders.”

Sen. Holt, now in his second term at the Capitol in Oklahoma City, is part of the largest group of newly-elected Republicans in charge of state legislative bodies in modern history. Other GOP leaders joining to GOPAC board include Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, West Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Cole,
Arizona state Speaker David Gowan, North Carolina state Speaker Tim Moore, and Mississippi state Speaker Philip Gunn.

Recent GOPAC “stars” include new U.S. Senators Joni Ernst of Iowa and Cory Gardner of Colorado.

Holt has emerged as a Republican leader in the Senate, where he has advocated government transparency, limits on labor union power and conservative fiscal policies. He is also leading efforts to create a strong financial base for the Ralph Ellison Foundation, honoring the memory of the African-American author of 
“Invisible Man,” considered the greatest American novel of the Twentieth Century.

This winter, Senate President Pro Temp named Holt chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Select Agencies.

Oklahoma has a long history of close ties to GOPAC. Former Gov. Frank Keating and former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Norman, each ran the organization for a term. 

Both men are now top lobbyists in the nation’s capital, but Keating is expected to return home before his retirement.

Other past chairmen include former Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont and former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

State Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, has introduced House Bill 1074 to allow Oklahoma to join states in the “right-to-try” movement that authorizes use of experimental medicines before completion of the long process of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. In a release sent to CapitolBeatOK, Morrissette said, “The Goldwater Institute, a conservative non-profit that defends states’ rights, created model legislation in Colorado, and I have used that model to draft my legislation.”

Morrissette, who has led state efforts to combat hunger through innovative legislation and creative private sector programs, said, “I am especially concerned for our children diagnosed with terminal illness, who for want of a drug may be stuck in some trial for a decade, when a second chance at life might be possible. 

This is a pro-life issue and it seems we have all waited long enough for the process of clinical trials to improve without any relief. It is the system that’s terminal.”

The Pew Charitable Trust reports, Morrissette’s recent release said, :critics of the years-long federal Food and Drug Administration drug approval process, with its requirement for multiple clinical trials, contend that it is much longer than it should be.” This keeps promising drugs out of hands of people who could gain relief from their pain and illness.

In other news, Rep. Morrissette recently co-chaired a hearing that focused on state agency governance, including what he says are abuses of power by some members of the State Medical Licensure & Supervision board.

In a push for accountability for Board actions against a Tulsa physician, Morrissette challenged state news organizations for not giving the issue more scrutiny.

The southside Oklahoma City Democrat asked, rhetorically, “If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is around to hear it, did it actually make a sound?”

On a recent News9 segment, the weekend “Your Vote Counts,” state Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, sympathized with her Democratic colleague’s contentions, saying, “We should never be afraid to have a light shown on state agencies.”

NOTE: McGuigan is editor of CapitolBeatOK.com and publisher of The City Sentinel newspaper. In 1987-88, he served as deputy political director for Pete du Pont’s presidential campaign.