Capitol Report Q&A: Terry O'Donnell
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Sunday, March 10, 2013
3/10/13 at 4:13 AM
Family: Married to Teresa 22 years; two children, ages 12 and 14.
How are you handling the long drives back and forth to the Capitol and the time away from your family?
"I stay (in Oklahoma City) Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday night and I come back Thursday afternoon, and that is difficult with kids. Unfortunately, my wife has to grade homework and handle the issues you have with two teenaged daughters. That's become a challenge. I try to stay as connected as I can by phone and text, but that has become a challenge."
What's been the biggest surprise about being in the Legislature?
"What's most amazing to me is government wanting to grow more government - agencies sponsor bills that will either expand their authority or expand their service or coverage."
That goes against the grain for you?
"Well, Thomas Jefferson said 'That government that governs least, governs best.' I truly believe that as government grows, individual freedoms and responsibilities shrink. I think government cannot take the place of personal responsibility in most instances."
Any other surprises?
"Coming into the Legislature I had never worked on a political campaign or even gone to a party meeting. I never really viewed educating children, building roads or public safety ... as partisan issues, but what you see in the Legislature is that many of those issues ... become partisan based on the personalities of the people who are sponsoring the bills. That's surprising."
"I don't believe that either party necessarily has a monopoly on good ideas. I think that sometimes we come at what government should be for people from different perspectives (but) ... the core functions of government should not be partisan issues.
I notice you didn't file any bills this year. Is there a reason?
"There is. There are about 2,300 bills filed in the state House and Senate this year, and I really feel that unless you had a heartfelt passion about a bill and have done your own research, you shouldn't contribute to that noise. We're really going to hear about 400 bills - which sounds like a lot, but compared to the number filed, it's not. I really feel like I want to shrink government, rather than grow it."
How else are you working to take care of your constituents' interests?
"The (McClellan-Kerr Navigation) channel hasn't undergone maintenance in more 40 years, since it was built. The Legislature ... is setting up a task force to study that, and I've been involved with that report ... meeting with the governor, trying to get some momentum on that issue, state or federal. ... I'm not completely Barry Goldwater. ... My interests are in fostering economic development."