Friday, May 13, 2011

Hamilton Says Chamber Wrong; Chamber Disagrees

Rep. Rebecca Hamilton
The State Chamber’s recent report card on legislative votes is not just misleading, but flat wrong, Rep. Rebecca Hamilton says.

The Chamber incorrectly lists several of Hamilton’s votes in its report, she said.

But The Chamber's Jennifer Monies says they got it right.

“Apparently, the State Chamber has a hard time telling the difference between a ‘yes’ and a ‘no’ vote,” said Hamilton, D-Oklahoma City.

The State Chamber has launched a web site that labels Hamilton as one of the 10 most “anti-business” legislators at the Capitol.

However, Hamilton said, the group posted false information on several of Hamilton’s votes.

For example, Hamilton supported House Bill 1381, creating the Supplemental Hospital Offset Payment Program (SHOPP) Act. In fact, she said, she has supported the hospital assessment for seven years, "which current State Chamber President Fred Morgan didn’t do as a lawmaker." Morgan was a member of the House in 2005 when Democrats tried to force a vote on the provider fee issue.

“Former Representative Fred Morgan was silent on the issue when he was an influential member of the House – chair of the Judiciary Committee and former Republican leader – while I joined with other Democrats to fight for it,” Hamilton said. “If he had used his considerable influence with the Republican Party either then or when he was in his high-paid job in the Senate, he might have helped pass this bill long ago.

“Why did it take the State Chamber director so long to become ‘pro business’ himself, and why is the chamber inaccurately attacking people who’ve supported this measure for seven years?”

Said Monies: "We did not have her vote wrong. We never put that she opposed HB 1381. She made it on our target list even though she voted for that bill. If you go to the site, you can click on the vote in the votes tab and see who all voted against it. If you go to the repeat offenders tab you can click on her picture and see HB 1381 isn't listed as one of the bills she opposed."  

Hamilton said the State Chamber report card also hides its opposition to pro-life measures. The Chamber openly worked with pro-abortion advocates in April 2009 to kill a bill by state Rep Mike Reynolds that would have banned embryonic stem cell research in Oklahoma.

When House lawmakers voted earlier this year to make it illegal to conduct research involving the production of unborn children for use in destructive research, the bill was bottled up in senate committee.

“I’ve been told that the bill wasn’t allowed to come to a vote because it’s ‘anti-business,’” said Hamilton. “When a legislator says something is ‘anti-business’ they always mean the State Chamber.

“The fact that The State Chamber of Commerce used its power to defeat pro-life measures that would protect the unborn tells you where their priorities lie,” Hamilton continued. “The research targeted by these bills requires creating unborn children in order to kill them and harvest their bodies for cells to use in research. The State Chamber’s opposition to bills that would stop this suggests they are morally compromised.”

In past sessions, Hamilton noted, The State Chamber opposed a bill she authored to allow rape victims to go to court to testify without fear of being fired. The group also opposed legislation that would not allow state contracts to be awarded to businesses that have shut down plants in the United States then shipped jobs overseas and then do not abide by OSHA standards and minimum wage laws while they are there.

“American workers should not be forced to compete against slave labor,” Hamilton said. “We need American industry here in America, employing Americans.”

She said The State Chamber did manage to list some of her votes correctly.

“I opposed special interest bills to give additional tax cuts to big oil companies. We have a huge budget deficit. We’re cutting people’s retirement, talking about reducing OLAP scholarships and reducing senior nutrition centers – all for lack of money,” Hamilton said. “This isn’t the time for a group of billionaires to be sticking their hands out, demanding a chunk of the state treasury.”

Hamilton also opposed legislation to limit the ability of ordinary people and small business owners to seek justice in the courts. Four of the five Southwest Oklahoma City legislators – two Democrats and two Republicans – were on the State Chamber’s hit list.

“This hit list, with its almost universal attack on Southside legislators of both parties, is an attack on the independent voice of South Oklahoma City,” Hamilton said. “What the four of us have in common is that we’re Southsiders; we think for ourselves, and we stand for something. It appears the Chamber wants legislators who are puppets it can control.

“Despite its inaccuracies, I don’t mind having my name on this hit list. I view it as an acknowledgement that I represent the people of District 89 and not the wealthy special interests who want to prey on them. I am proud of my unyielding support for the rights of working people. I only hope that someday The State Chamber will join me in standing for American jobs for Americans, mom and pop business owners, working people, and the sanctity of human life.”

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