Editor’s Notebook: legislators study health mandates, Lamb’s a treasurer, Dorman’s melons

 Senate President Brian Bingman of Sapulpa and Speaker of the House Kris Steele have named members of a joint committee on Federal Health Care Law, “to ensure Oklahoma properly addresses the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

Co-chairmen of the panel will be state Sen. Gary Stanislawski and state Rep. Glen Mulready, both Tulsa Republicans. The pair plan a series of public meetings in the Sooner State’s two largest cities. 
Deliberations will commence on September 14 in Oklahoma City. A total of five meetings will be held through November, according to a press release send to CapitolBeatOK. 
Sen. Stansilawski said, “Having suitable health care options in Oklahoma is an issue the Legislature takes very seriously and intends to proactively protect and address through this committee.
“Oklahoma patients, taxpayers, businesses, health practitioners, insurers and others all have wide-ranging questions and concerns about this largely unwanted new federal law. The law will affect all Oklahomans, some in significant ways, so this committee will seek to address all relevant questions and concerns for the benefit of all Oklahomans.”
Today’s release identified these topics for the joint committee’s study: “the state of health care in Oklahoma, logistics and ramifications of implementing the federal health care law, implementation timelines, responses to the law and the costs local governments and businesses may face as a result of the law. The committee will also explore the implications Oklahoma’s lawsuit challenging the law’s constitutionality may have on the law’s implementation here.”
Rep. Mulready reflected, “Clearly, most Oklahomans oppose this law. While we have taken steps to guard against harmful portions of the law, we would be remiss if we did not continue reviewing it so we can do our best to protect a choice-based, free-market health care system for Oklahomans. 
“Simply put, the committee will show Oklahoma what to expect from this law, how we can continue to protect Oklahoma’s interests and how we can make sure we are best prepared as a state.”
Both men have private sector experience that fits the upcoming deliberations. Stansilawski is a certified financial planner, Mulready has worked in the insurance industry for nearly three decades. 
The joint committee is expected to hear from policymakers, private sector businesses, agents, brokers, legal analysts and representatives of the health care industry, among others. 
Bingman said he wants to assure “health care choices, not mandates.” In today’s statement, he characterized the upcoming hearings as “an opportunity for Oklahoma to assert our state’s rights and I’m confident all stakeholders will rise to the challenge so we can avoid dangerous federal mandates wherever possible.”
Steele said, “The committee will explore all possibilities for putting forth Oklahoma solutions that support a free market health care system. 
“Not everything is clear about this law, and most of us don’t like it, but what we do know is Oklahoma cannot afford to be caught flat-footed, unprepared and unprotected if it takes effect. As much as anything else, this committee ensures Oklahoma is prepared.”
In addition to the co-chairmen, members include Republican Sens. Cliff Aldridge of Oklahoma City, Bill Brown of Broken Arrow, and Brian Crain of Tulsa, as well as Democratic Sens. Sean Burrage of Claremore and John Sparks of Norman.
House members on the panel include Republicans Doug Cox of Grove, Randy Grau of Edmond, and Jason Nelson of Oklahoma City; and Democrats Jeannie McDaniel of Tulsa and Danny Morgan of Prague.
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Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb was elected to a one-year stint as executive committee treasurer at the recent annual conference of the National Lieutenant Governors’ Association.  In comments sent to CapitolBeatOK, he said he would work to implement “a vision of growth that moves our state forward and gives us recognition nationwide.” 
Lamb previously announced the group’s 2013 national conference will be held in Oklahoma City.
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Wednesday, August 3, Democratic state Rep. Joe Dorman is hosted his annual celebration of all things connected with watermelons and his home town of Rush Springs. Joining the festivities will be Watermelon Queen Amanda Bewley and the Rush Springs Lions Club.
What Dorman deems “The Capitol Watermelon Feed” takes place every year around this time, several days before the town’s annual Watermelon Festival. Dorman says, “Watermelon will be available for Capitol visitors, employees and members of the news media. The watermelon was provided by Joel Tumblson of Rush Springs, a local grower.”

The festival is set for Jeff Davis Park in Rush Springs on August 13. The event gathers an estimated 30,000 visitors each year.