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House Speaker Calls for Civility

(OKLAHOMA CITY) - Democratic House Speaker Larry Adair called for civility among Democrats and Republicans Thursday as his top lieutenant accused Republicans of using “Gestapo tactics” to accomplish their goals.

The House's top Republican, Minority Leader Fred Morgan, R-Oklahoma City, echoed Adair's call for bipartisan good will but condemned the comments of Majority Floor Leader Danny Hilliard, D-Sulphur, who made reference to the state secret police force of Nazi Germany.

“The use of the term 'Gestapo' in 21st century Oklahoma is offensive to a broad range of people,” Morgan said. “It shows a lack of civility.”

Adair's call for civility followed another day of rancor on the House floor in which Democrats and Republicans bitterly challenged each other's legislation.

“There needs to be more civility,” said Adair, D-Stilwell. “We don't need to be out here grandstanding and put on a show.”

Hilliard complained that GOP House members had traded roles in attempting to amend Democrat-sponsored bills, with one member carrying a formal written request to the House clerk and another member making the oral motion to amend.

“It's hard to prepare for those kinds of Gestapo tactics,” said Hilliard, adding that House leaders are not accustomed to the procedure.

Morgan referred to the comments as “sad and pathetic.”

“We have been, I think, very businesslike,” Morgan said. “We are disciplined.”

He said it makes no difference whether one House member carries a written amendment to the clerk and makes the oral motion to amend or whether two do it in tandem.

“So what? Who cares?”

Hilliard attributed much of the animosity to election-year politicking.

“I'm sure that politics plays a part in this,” Morgan said.

House Republicans, who comprise 48 members of the 101-member House, have successfully amended Democratic legislation to suit the GOP's agenda.

One Wednesday, Republicans amended a Democratic bill to pay teacher health insurance premiums by removing a provision that made the payments contingent on finding a funding source.

“We're having some successes,” Morgan said. “They're just not used to compromising.

“The debates on policy are good. That is the sound of democracy. It sounds to me like they're sore about losing those policy issues.”

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