Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb’s new “Policy and Issues Report 2012” is a brief, readable and “unwonkish” compilation of proposals covering the gamut of state government concerns.
The report summarizes the functions and duties (some constitutional, some a result of tradition, and some newly chosen by Lamb) of the constitutional office, the state’s second highest executive post.
It includes a section labeled “my vision” that details Lamb’s “views, ideas and actions that will help move Oklahoma forward.” These include further conservative-oriented policy prescriptions for workers’ compensation, income tax rate reduction, education, job creation and economic development, transportation, general government and tourism. The latter policy area is a traditional assigned are of focus for lieutenant governors.
Lamb also provide a compilation of “bullet points” listing the views of “voices from across Oklahoma,” compiled from the thousands of citizens with whom he met in town hall meetings in every county during 2012.
In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, Lamb described his reasons for preparing the report. “As you know I spent six years in the Senate where I talked about many of these same issues. The governor has asked me to be her Cabinet small business advocate, so all these issues are good fit.”
He reflected, “I visited all 77 counties when I was with Frank Keating. I visited all 77 counties when I was a candidate. And then, I visited all 77 counties during my first year as lieutenant governor. It was pretty cool. We had 92 people at a town hall meeting in Hollis. Then, 100 in Nowata, a great turnout in Poteau. We had only 10 in Seiling, but it was still a good meeting.”
Beyond his own policy vision, Lamb reflected it seemed important to him to share “the things I was hearing back from those people, our constituents.”
Prompted by this reporter, Lamb elaborated some on a decision made by Tourism and Recreation director Deby Snodgrass to trim expenses.
He commented, “There was a lot of unknown when Deby went out there and talked about turning seven of those sites over from government to the communities or the private sector. There was a lot of what I call ‘preemptive concern’ that seemed in some cases designed to prevent rather than advance discussion. There were seven facilities on the list but the idea was always to see if they could be moved into the private sector or local government control.”
Lamb observed that when he walks into some tourism sites, “it’s like you’re walking into 1962. But this is 2012. Our funding is spread too thinly and the only way to do this right is to partner with the private sector. Each of the places everybody talked about so much, all seven of them, can still be visited. They are still open.
“My favorite story on this was/is Beaver Dunes. As fate would have it, and not by design, we had our town hall meeting in Beaver the very same day the keys were handed over to the new operators, the new managers (a private and local public partnership). That was by coincidence, but it was an interesting coincidence.
“You know what? We met with people in both Beaver and Laverne. One meeting was just an hour after the formal transfer. There was no one question, not one, about the change. We talked about many of these other issues that are in my report. So, I didn’t see the complaints that came from some back here in the Capitol.”
Today, according to Tourism, “Beaver Dunes State Park is owned by Pioneer Parks and is now operated jointly by the City of Beaver and Pioneer Parks.”
In his report, Lamb’s suggested policy direction for Tourism reflected his belief: “As Oklahoma’s third highest grossing industr, it is important there are very strong public and private companies to move our state forward.” He suggested finding ways to consolidate the “branding” of Tourism and other communications efforts from state agencies.
He said, “A greater emphasis on a single brand would result in those outside of our state having a better understanding of who we are and what our great state has to offer, ultimately leading to more tourism and greater economic development opportunities.”
Lamb is Governor Mary Fallin’s designated Small Business Advocate. As he noted, many small business owners joined in the meetings he held across the state, and helped him develop the report.
Lamb prepared the document, he said, in an effort to discern, “What impedes our growth as a state?”