State Senate Democrat Floor Leader Charles Laster attacked Republicans in an after-business-hours news release late Friday, criticizing GOP senators for votes on several bills related to health insurance.
Senate Republican Floor Leader Owen Laughlin responded, saying one criticism in particular made him chuckle.
“Senator Laster criticized Republicans for defeating a bill that would have recreated the State Board for Property and Casualty Rates, insinuating that bringing back this government bureaucracy would somehow reduce insurance costs,” said Laughlin, R-Woodward.
“That’s pretty funny because in 2006 Senator Laster actually authored the bill that repealed this board from state law. I guess he was against it before he was for it,” he said.
In 2006 Laster was the author of House Bill 2905, the bill that repealed the State Board for Property and Casualty Rates and reassigned the board’s duties to the Insurance Commissioner. In 2005 Laster also co-authored SB 1X, a workers compensation bill that rendered the board obsolete.
“Senate Democrats have done more to increase the cost of health insurance than anyone at the Capitol,” said Laughlin. “They’ve opposed lawsuit reform, they’ve pushed for more government-run health care, and they’ve pushed for expensive mandates that have increased the cost of health insurance policies.”
“More government regulation has never lowered the cost of anything,” Laughlin stated. “Republicans believe increased competition makes insurance more affordable.”
Laughlin is disappointed by Laster’s attack because both parties have worked well together this year in the evenly divided Senate.
“Senate Republicans have worked very hard to extend the hand of bipartisanship this session, so it will be very disappointing if Senator Laster’s negative news release is a harbinger of things to come,” said Laughlin. “But Senate Republicans won’t let these attacks interfere with our dedication to doing the business of the citizens and taxpayers of Oklahoma.”
Laughlin also noted the irony of a Senate Democrat complaining about bills dying in a committee.
“It is ironic that Senate Democrats would criticize anyone for killing legislation in a committee considering they have bottled up Republican-authored pro-life bills and lawsuit reform for years,” he said.
The Senate is currently tied with 24 Republicans and 24 Democrats. The State Senate operates under a power-sharing agreement between the two parties.