Thursday, April 24, 2014

HAWVER: Gifts or coal for Statehouse lobbyists?

By MARTIN HAWVER, At the Rail | 12/23/2013

We folk who inhabit the Statehouse (even when there’s not much going on) are wondering what we’ll see in the post-Christmas holiday hallways of the newly refurbished State Capitol.

We’re figuring that lobbyists — who are Statehouse regulars — already are aware that they didn’t get the gift they’ve been wanting: the privilege of scooching past the security gates to save time when they whistle into the building to do their lobbying duties. They’ll stand in line like nearly everyone else to get their packages and briefcases inspected and walk through the metal detectors to go about their business.

We folk who inhabit the Statehouse (even when there’s not much going on) are wondering what we’ll see in the post-Christmas holiday hallways of the newly refurbished State Capitol.

We’re figuring that lobbyists — who are Statehouse regulars — already are aware that they didn’t get the gift they’ve been wanting: the privilege of scooching past the security gates to save time when they whistle into the building to do their lobbying duties. They’ll stand in line like nearly everyone else to get their packages and briefcases inspected and walk through the metal detectors to go about their business.

The Legislative Coordinating Council, which manages about everything that goes on in the Statehouse, didn’t go for a proposal for some special ID tag for registered lobbyists so they don’t have to stand behind the visiting third-grade class as its members are put through the security check or the delegates from the American Association of Retired Persons as they are checked.

We’re figuring, though, that many of the in-a-hurry lobbyists — the boys at least — will not grouse about delays if they are in line behind the visiting college cheerleaders as they are inspected for security breaches.

So, that’s a group that didn’t get what it wanted for Christmas ... and probably won’t until House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, takes over as Coordinating Council chairman in 2014.

We don’t know what will happen if lobbyists don’t get an express lane for clearing security in a hurry. They might not have time to take legislators to lunch ...

•••

But the Christmas surprise that most of us are waiting to observe will be the red sport coats that ultra-conservative Tea Party members are likely to get for Christmas and wear to the Statehouse.

The concept is fairly simple, as expressed at a Tea Party meeting last month: If political conservatives wear red sport coats, legislators will be looking out at the audience in committee rooms and see that if they don’t vote conservative ... those red blazer wearers are going to notice and report them back to their home districts.

The ultra-conservatives have a relatively novel idea: Make legislators know that they are being watched. We’re guessing those who get red sport coats under the holiday tree know the Christmas song: “We know when you’ve been sleeping, we know when you’re awake, we know if you’ve been bad or good, so vote conservative, for goodness sake!”

Us Statehouse folk — whose coats tend to be camel or blue or even a few wayward plaids — will be watching Christmas-fresh red sport coats to show up here when the Legislature convenes and to see which legislators tend to vote more conservatively when the room is awash with those eye-catching coats.

What we don’t know for sure and are anxious to see is whether those folks who get red sport coats for Christmas will get the red slacks to go with them.

Martin Hawver is publisher of Hawver’s Capitol Report. Visit his Web site at www.hawvernews.com

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