The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

4 October 2005

The first volley of 2008?

Something styling itself "Citizens Against Corporate Welfare" slipped a flyer onto my door today which castigated Rep. Trebor Worthen of District 87, where I live, for voting for two bills they considered particularly heinous.

Chesapeake Energy spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last election buying elected officials. They gave Trebor Worthen $3,000. Once the election was over, it was payback time! Representative Worthen paid back. He voted for legislation that would give over $100 million of your tax dollars in Corporate Welfare to Chesapeake at a time when their profits are obscene. Since 2003, CEO salaries at oil companies have increased by 109%.

With the possible exception of 42nd and Treadmill, CEO salaries are bloated just about everywhere in the nation. I'm assuming (since CACW didn't bother to spell it out) that this was HB 1588, which provided exemptions from the state Gross Production Tax for really deep drilling (12,500 feet and beyond). (Text of the enrolled version in RTF format here.) This bill passed the House 79-19 on its way to being approved by the Governor; I don't remember taking a position on it myself, but historically there are only two occasions when oil and gas producers are looking for incentives:

  1. When prices are low;
  2. When prices are high.

Then there's SB 484 (enrolled version in RTF format here), of which CACW said:

SB 484 was a bill that prevents counties and cities from regulating the over application of animal waste (they call it fertilizer) to land. Why would [Worthen] take away the ability of cities and counties to protect us from chicken waste in our water?

Well, actually, what 484 does is to take away the ability of cities and counties to regulate any fertilizer products of any sort. I complained about it myself in Vent #434:

Senate Bill 484, by Daisy Lawler (D-Comanche), would (what a surprise) give the Legislature more turf: it puts fertilizer under state, rather than local, regulations. The Oklahoma Municipal League opposed it for that reason alone, and sought amendments.

Says lobbyist Keith Smith: "Our fertilizer laws in Oklahoma are so weak that just about anything can be defined as fertilizer if it contains enough Nitrogen, Phosphorus or Potassium to qualify as beneficial to plants. There is no required labeling for heavy metals (lead, arsenic, etc.), dioxin or pathogens. By our law's definition, a "guaranteed analysis" of fertilizer only discloses its N-P-K content."

Emphasis in the original. I looked at the actual bill, and Smith's right: so long as you specify N-P-K correctly, you can dump just about anything else in the mix and still call it "fertilizer" under SB 484. At the very least, the bill should be amended to require more comprehensive labeling.

Today's Legislative Lesson: A chickenshit bill doesn't necessarily have anything to do with literal chicken shit.

If anyone outside District 87 got a flyer from "Citizens Against Corporate Welfare," I'd like to hear about it.

Posted at 6:15 PM to Political Science Fiction , Soonerland

Trebor is the one who goes to vote on the floor, but I think everyone should realize that his dad, ROBERT Worthen, is still the guy calling the shots. Money and a name buys elections and Trebor's election was a prime example.

Posted by: Mike Swi... at 6:42 PM on 4 October 2005

And Bob, of course, ran up against dem ol' debbil term limits.

No doubt someone will notice that I didn't mention Worthen's party affiliation. (He's a Republican.) Then again, neither did the flyer.

Posted by: CGHill at 6:57 PM on 4 October 2005

I agree CEO salaries are "bloated," but "increased 109%" "since 2003" is a different ballpark. More than doubled in under two years? Yowza.

Posted by: Matt at 10:55 PM on 4 October 2005

Lies, damned lies, and statistics. I wonder how many of these numbers would stand up to real scrutiny?

Posted by: Dan at 11:56 PM on 4 October 2005

Trebor signed up for life's deluxe nepotism package and now he's getting the results of the fine print ... the good and the bad.

Reminds me of the Stones song .... "You don't always get what you want ..."

But you do "Get what you need". Ah ... such sweet schadenfreud I feel.

Posted by: Ron at 7:44 AM on 5 October 2005