On August 10, the Oklahoma Supreme Court issued a ruling that declared a law creating a “fee” on tobacco purchase to be a tax and thus unconstitutional because it was passed and signed into law in the last five days of this year’s session, which ended on May 26. It also was a violation in that bills creating or increasing taxes must originate in the House, and if not passed by a 3/4th majority, which it did not, must go to a vote of the people.
It seems to me that the leadership of both houses should know the legal requirements for bills to be accepted, even though some of the members of the freshman class might not. As a result of this wayward action, we will be faced with the expense of a special session – even while the state budget is bloated beyond imagination compared to just a few decades ago. One question that should be loudly and forcefully put to them and the whole bunch is – Why can’t you bite the bullet and clean out the waste and corruption pervasive though the entire state government? You definitely are NOT doing the jobs you promised to do in campaigns and numerous speeches and interviews then and later.
In my opinion, as well as numerous others, most of them have been misled, or bought, by the far too numerous paid lobbyists that permeate the Capitol building. There have even been reports of swayable members being treated to “inspection trips” to tropical vacation locations after which the vote on the subject at hand went as desired by the hosts. Unfortunately, the nature of “major media” is such that it is most difficult for individual citizens to evaluate the performance of individual legislators. Fortunately, there is one source that a number of us have resorted to and is available to all for a modest annual subscription. That is the Oklahoma Constitution – a quarterly newspaper published in Oklahoma City.
The summer edition carries an evaluation of the individual voting record, on 10 issues, listed alphabetically, for easier searching. The 10 bills are selected by a committee and the “conservative preferred” vote (yea or no) is indicated. The session and cumulative record is then recorded, along with the vote on each issue. A favorable vote gains 10 points and the opposite a zero while they kindly allow 3 points for a vote that is missed, since it couldn’t be unfavorable.
For the past at least 5 years, it has been my practice to prepare a list, sorted from best to worst, from my standpoint, for the Republican Caucus, and it has been eye opening. Just for comparison, the list also includes the record for the Democrat member with the best record inserted for comparison. This year the resulting list was a big surprise in more than one way. The Senate Democrat ended up as number 10, out of 48 members, or top 20 percent, while the House Democrat ended up as number 15 out of 101 members or top 15 percent. In past years the best Democrat record appeared about the middle of the list, so that is some improvement.
In the Senate, there was only one 100 percent record, being my own Senator Nathan Dahm who is an announced candidate for Congress whenever U.S. Rep. Bridenstine vacates. There were two with 90 percent, one increasing the cumulative and one decreasing. In the House, there were two with 100 percent and two with 90 percent. Surprisingly, Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, also had a 100 cumulative, and a freshman member, Tommy Hardin, R-Madill, also scored 100.
In both houses the rest of the minority Party were down near the bottom of the pack, unfortunately, along with most of the Republican freshmen class. Some latitude for them can be allowed because of their newness to the scene. It is somewhat easier to identify them because their current and cumulative average numbers are the same.
In my opinion, any one with a record below 50 could reasonably be considered to be a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and subject to questions about just when he or she became registered with an “R” and subject to censure by the state party central committee.
A report was received by me some time ago about the Tennessee Party Central Committee censuring their Speaker of the House and ordering his voting affiliation deleted, ordering the media to never list him as a Republican, and ordering the election Board to not allow him to file for election as a Republican for life.
If the same were done here, perhaps we would have much better legislation each year and a much better and smaller state government.