To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

New Observercast

Walking The Walk

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BY ARNOLD HAMILTON

As promised, House Democrats returned to their seats today, a day after walking out en masse to protest what they viewed as heavy-handedness by the Republican majority.

Dems had hoped to revive “Nick’s Law” that would require insurance companies to cover treatment for autism. But the GOP – with Rep. Don Armes of Faxon ruling from the speaker’s chair – thwarted the parliamentary maneuver.

It’s hardly unprecedented in state history that the House majority arbitrarily and capriciously applies its rules – a variation of situational ethics.

This episode was so egregious, however, that even normally mild-mannered Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, came unhinged, likening the ruling to “totalitarian government.”

What shouldn’t be overlooked is this fact: Legislative opposition to Nick’s Law reflects not the will of the people, but the financial power of the insurance industry.

The GOP majority isn’t about to cross one of its chief underwriters. Instead, it hopes to bamboozle a majority of Oklahoma voters into thinking it is seriously addressing the autism problem [by approving SB 135].

It’s certainly reasonable to help train more doctors to diagnose and treat autism, but what good does it do if rank-and-file Oklahomans can’t afford to be diagnosed or treated?

For the record: three Democrats remained in their seats on the House floor during the walkout – Reps. Ryan McMullen of Burns Flat, Wade Rousselot of Wagoner and Jerry Shoemake of Morris.

McMullen says he declined to participate because “I fervently disagree with walking out when you don’t get your way. Even as the minority, we have an arsenal of procedural moves at our disposal to get our point across. Procedural moves, not the walkout, will be what allow us to have a modicum of fairness on the House floor. In my opinion, walkouts are not effective, and certainly don’t play well to the general public.”

Eventually, eight Democrats joined 57 Republicans in supporting the window-dressing measure.

This fight is far from over. Can you imagine the fun in the next election cycle? The legislative majority is OK that insurers cover Viagra – but not children with autism?

Maybe it’s time to resurrect Bob Dole and his little blue friend.

Arnold Hamilton is editor of The Oklahoma Observer

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4 COMMENTS

  1. What a travesty the Oklahoma Republicans are committing. The real unfortunate truth for them is that what goes around comes around–same for the insurance companies and the insurance lobbyists. The real truth for families of autistic children is the promise from God that whoever cares for those that cannot care for themselves is the same as though it was done for HIM. We must never give up, but THE WRITING IS ON THE WALL–OH, IT IS BETTER THAN THAT–IT IS IN THE BIBLE! Gail Logan, Grandmother of autistic grandson.

  2. Thank you for a wonderful article. As the mommy to Nick, I have thought more than once of leaving this state, but we always try to find a way to stay and keep fighting, just like we fight for our son. We will never give up on him and we will never give up on Nick’s Law.

    Also, Mr. Hamilton, I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve used some of the quotes in your article. I’ve been writing to the national news organizations and papers hoping we can get some national coverage.

    What is happening in my home state is shameful. Keeping up with the insane, greedy, selfish manner in which the Oklahoma GOP is treating our children is physically and mentally draining..all the while trying to hold down a full time job and pay for our son’s therapies.

    Thank you again.
    Robyne Rohde

  3. I challenge all our elected officials to visit any elementary school and observe/discuss the challenges our teachers are having with children on the Spectrum (ADD, ADHD, PDD-NOS, Aspergers, & Autism) Remember, without treatment, you will be spending more money in our Public Schools. As this epidemic continues to grow, imagine the cost of your decision to Oklahoma. I’m voting with my heart! These are difficult times. But HIS glory will show up on this issue. We reap what we sow! Thank you for those who support helping our children.
    James in Broken Arrow
    Father of a child with Autism (is treatable)

Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.