OK Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb hosts colleagues at national conference

OKLAHOMA CITY – This week, Oklahoma Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb is hosting the 2013 national conference for his peers, and not surprisingly the conservative Republican has given a pro-business orientation to some discussions on tap at the historic Skirvin Hilton Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City.

Lamb became active in the National Lieutenant Governors Association in November 2010, shortly after his election as the Sooner State’s number two executive officer – actually a few weeks before taking the formal oath of office. He said the group’s meetings have been useful for information sharing on “best practices” in school safety, homeland security and many other issues.

From the git-go, he worked to bring the meeting to Oklahoma. While the substantive policy discussions are important, he told CapitolBeatOK the personal interaction and relationships in the group have been memorable. Seven of his colleagues telephoned after destructive spring storms hit Oklahoma this year, offering resources and counsel as Lamb served on the state’s emergency response team.

Lamb reflected that “at a time of so much frustration and dysfunction at the national level, I’ve been encouraged to be part of a group of diverse people who work well together, and who are dedicated to the best interests of the citizens in our varied states.”

Presently, 30 of the nation’s 45 lieutenant governors are Republican. In the remaining five states, second highest-ranking executives are legislative leaders or attorneys general. Lamb said it is a “big deal that they are all coming to Oklahoma.”  

Lamb’s influence as incoming chairman is shown in the opening day’s agenda items, including Tuesday’s panel on “Fueling the Future,” where Eva Peza and Steve Adams, both of Devon Energy, addressing technologies used in modern oil and gas exploration, drilling and hydraulic fracturing.  Lamb will moderate this panel.

Another panel, will highlight the complex relations between federal, state and tribal governments. Forty-seven of the 50 states are home to tribal and Native communities, creating issues touching virtually all areas of governance, including commerce, law enforcement, education, health and welfare, sovereignty, self-determination, culture and the arts, and more.

Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby and Choctaw National legislative advocate Brian McCain will present this panel, after introductory remarks from Lamb.

Garrett King, agricultural liaison for U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne, will join Oklahoma Agriculture Secretary Jim Reese for a presentation on the federal farm bill. Current legislation is scheduled to sunset on September 30, and participating lieutenant governors at the Oklahoma conference are scheduled to submit written statements on the legislation.

Wednesday’s sessions will include health care reform, with contrasting perspectives from Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer of Kansas, a Republican elected in 2010 as running-mate of Gov. Sam Brownback., and Elizabeth Roberts of Rhode Island. Roberts, present chairman of the lieutenant governor’s group, is a Democratic advocate of the Affordable Care Act.

While most conference sessions are open to reporters, some will be held behind closed doors.  Wednesday, Lamb will speak at a closed discussion on emergency preparedness, featuring Oklahoman Albert Ashwood, widely applauded for his handling of the aftermath of May tornadoes in Moore, and Connecticut Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman. Lamb led a bipartisan task force on Oklahoma school safety in the aftermath of the school shootings in Connecticut.

In the balance of the week, the lieutenant governors will consider health care reform challenges and other issues, and discuss resolutions touching federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gas emission standards, immigration reform, military veterans policy, school nutrition programs and technical issues such as the use of the title “lieutenant governor” in state executive succession laws. Thursday, the group will also visit the Oklahoma City National Memorial for an off-the-record presentation on national infrastructure.

Friday’s last round of meetings will include a session on energy and power in the year 2025, moderated by Lt. Gov. Yvonne Prettner Solon of Minnesota, and a keynote address from retired four-star Gen. Tommy Franks. The last day will close with a visit to the Devon Tower, Oklahoma’s tallest building and the highest “skyscraper” completed in recent U.S. history. 

Democratic and Republican members of the group will meet at separate locations Tuesday, with registration and commencing on Wednesday morning (July 17). As one of the last items of business, Friday (July 19), Roberts will hand the presiding gavel to Lamb. 

Lamb will assume the top post in the association a few weeks before Mary Fallin, Oklahoma’s chief executive, assumes the chairman’s post of the National Governor’s Association. That situation was not coordinated, Lamb told CapitolBeatOK. 

Lamb said the gathering will not cost Oklahoma state taxpayers, with expenses covered by Corporate Associate Partners, among others including Oklahoma’s Devon Energy Corporation, Chesapeake Energy, the Chickasaw Nation, the Choctaw Nation and the Oklahoma Business Roundtable.

You may contact Patrick B. McGuigan at Patrick@capitolbeatok.com and follow us on Twitter: @capitolbeatok.