Carl’s Capitol Comment: Soap box

Being from a small town in Northwest Oklahoma, one thing for which I’m extremely grateful is the fairness of our local news outlets. Reporters in our district are very considerate of getting all points of view on an issue. Our local papers and airwaves are not filled with one-sided propaganda.

That is not always the case at the state Capitol. We pass numerous bills meant to improve the lives of Oklahomans. But the Capitol news pool is often only interested in catching the comments that may display controversy to show on the 6 O’clock news.

My office at the Capitol is on the fifth floor, which is where all of the Democrat representatives also have their offices. There are not enough Democrats to fill the entire floor, so I and several other Republicans have offices on this floor as well. I see more news cameras on this floor than I ever see on the three floors below me that are filled with Republican lawmakers. In examining why, I was told by a former journalist it is because controversy leads. If you have 82 people going one way, you look for the one person going the other way. I get that, but you shouldn’t only interview the one person going the opposite way. It’s also beneficial to ask one or two of the majority to explain why they are going the other way.

Like I said, I am very appreciative of my local media, including the ones that run this column each week. I’m thankful for their interest in reporting facts and keeping our area residents informed. But I am very concerned for the rest of the state, particularly those in urban areas. I’m afraid the public in those areas are not getting the whole truth, but often news focused on sensationalism.

OK, I’ll get off that soapbox.

In other news, we had several very long committee meetings at the Capitol this week, including a Public Health Committee meeting that ran about 3 ½ hours. Bills have to pass in committee before they can be heard on the House floor, so floor work has been fairly slow. It will pick up these next few weeks.

I am excited that I was able to pass Senate Bill 140 on the House floor. It now sits on the governor’s desk waiting to be signed into law. I’ve discussed this bill in several previous columns, but to give a brief recap, it expands the age to 25 for participants in the Delayed Sentencing Program for Young Adults in our local prisons. This program helps these young adults get free from addictions and gives them education and skills to help them secure jobs once they are released. This keeps many of them from returning to prison. I’m glad to see this bill so close to becoming law.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. You may reach me by email at carl.newton@okhouse.gov, or phone me at 405-557-7339.  May God Bless you and the State of Oklahoma.

Leave a Comment