Sen. Nathan Dahm tops OC Conservative Index

According to a conservative index ranking by the Oklahoma Constitution newspaper, State Sen. Nathan Dahm is once again one of the top conservatives in the Oklahoma Legislature.

Dahm is a declared candidate for First District Congress, a seat held by U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine, who will not run for a fourth term in 2018.

Three legislators, two in the House and one in the Senate, scored a perfect 100 percent conservative rating this year. House members scoring 100 percent were Tommy Hardin, R-Madill, and Jason Murphy. R-Guthrie. Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, also scored 100 percent.

The next highest scores were 90 percent made by Representatives Kevin Calvey, R-Oklahoma City, and Chuck Strohm, R-Jenks. Also scoring 90 percent were Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, and Anthony Sykes R-Moore, of the Senate.

Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, scored 83 percent, completing the list of Top Conservatives.

It was, however, a banner year for Republicans who claim to be conservative to cast votes that are judged to be liberal.

While no legislators scored zero conservative this year, the number of legislators with scores placing them on the Top Liberals list is the largest in the 39 year history of the index. Almost a third of the legislators earned this distinction.

A few legislators did not cast a single conservative vote on the index. The only points they garnered are the points assigned when they missed a vote. House members in this category were Jon Enns of Enid (6 percent), Mark McBride (9 percent), and Tess Teague of Choctaw (9 percent). In the Senate, Ervin Yen of Oklahoma City scored 3 percent, the lowest score in the entire Legislature. Yen is a registered Republican.

Bills for the 2017 Oklahoma Conservative Index

(1) Healthy Food Financing

SB 506 by Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. John Pfeiffer, R-Orlando

This measure, the Healthy Food Financing Act, will provide financing (loans, grants and forgivable loans) for grocery stores and small food retailers (new or existing) in “underserved communities.” This is part of an initiative promoted by First Lady Michelle Obama who used her White House platform to introduce the concept of “food deserts” of America. The Oklahoma bill passed the Senate 31-11 on March 22 and the House 71-7 on April 18. It was signed by Gov. Fallin on April 25. A “No” vote is conservative.

(2) Smoking Cessation Fee

SB 845 by Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, and Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang

Throughout the session, legislators attempted to pass a cigarette tax, but were never able to get the constitutionally required three-quarter super-majority to approve a new “tax.” After failing to pass the $1.50 per pack increase as a “tax,” it was proposed as a “smoking cessation fee.”  It was approved by the House 51-43 on May 26 and the Senate 28-18 on May 24. It was signed by Gov. Fallin on May 31. A “No” vote is conservative.

(3) Tourism Tax Credits

HB 2131 by Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City

The Oklahoma Economic Development Act of 2017 resurrects a previous program which had sunset. It provides for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department to offer inducements in the form of sales tax credits to companies for creating or expanding tourism attractions in the state.

After the experience with tax credit programs such as Great Plains Airlines and wind farms, it is surprising that lawmakers would establish yet another program. The new tax credit program was approved by the House 84-5 on March 21 and the Senate 35-8 on April 26. It was signed by Gov. Fallin on May 3. A “No” vote is conservative.

(4) Real ID Compliance

HB 1845 by Rep. Charles McCall, R-Atoka, and Sen. Tem Mike Schulz, R-Altus

Civil libertarians say the REAL ID Act is a further intrusion of the federal government into citizens’ lives, and raise the specter of a nationwide database of personal information. They are particularly concerned about the provision requiring the state IDs to include high-resolution photos and fingerprints for potential biometric identification. The bill creates a two-tiered system of Oklahoma ID cards and driver’s licenses – one card that complies with the Real ID Act and one that doesn’t. Oklahomans may choose a non-compliant license, but a Real ID-compliant card may be needed to board commercial aircraft as early as 2018. The cost of all ID cards and licenses, including noncompliant versions, is increased by $5. A common driver’s license, known as a Class D license, will now cost $38.50. It was approved by the House 78-18 on February 16 and the Senate 35-11 on February 28. Gov. Fallin signed the bill on March 2. A “No” vote is conservative.

(5) Pointing of Firearms

SB 40 by Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, and Rep. Bobby Cleveland, R-Slaughterville

This measure allows armed security guards or armed private investigators licensed by the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) pursuant to the Oklahoma Security Guard and Private Investigator Act to point their weapons in the performance of their duties. The measure also provides that other persons pointing a weapon at a perpetrator in self-defense or in order to thwart, stop or deter a forcible felony or attempted forcible felony shall not be deemed guilty of committing a criminal act. The bill passed the House 82-8 on April 25 and the Senate 34-8 on May 8. Gov. Fallin signed the bill on May 15. A “Yes” vote is conservative.

(6) Sheriff Qualifications

SB314 by Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan, and Rep. Scott Biggs, R-Chickasha

Oklahoma’s constitution has been revised several times through the years, but the constitutional provisions establishing the Office of Sheriff remains the same as it was in 1907. This measure would have dramatically increased county sheriff candidate qualifications by requiring that all candidates have served as a duly certified peace officer in a full-time capacity for at least four years prior to the date of filing. The measure also removes a population threshold that affected counties with populations of 500,000 or more that required a person seeking election to be a current certified peace officer in good standing.

It passed the Senate 32-7 on March 23 and the House 80-13 on April 19. However, it was amended in the House and was then sent to a conference committee where it died. The “No” votes are conservative.

(7) Vehicle Tax Increase

HB 2433 by Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, and Sen. Kim David, R-Porter

This measure adds a 1.25 percent sales tax on the sale of new and used motor vehicles. The new tax is in addition to the 3.25 percent excise tax already in place. It is estimated to take an additional $123 million from taxpayers each year. This bill was advanced inside of the five day end of session window for consideration of revenue measures, which is a violation of the State Constitution. It was approved by the House 52-47 on May 24 and the Senate 25-18 on May 26. It was signed by Gov. Fallin on May 31. A “No” vote is conservative.

(8) Income Tax Cut Trigger

SB 170 by Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, and Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville

A 2014 law linked cuts in state income tax rates to revenue growth so that as Oklahoma brought in more tax revenue, the tax rate would automatically fall. The next and final trigger would have lowered the tax rate to 4.85 percent for single-filers’ taxable income over $8,700 and joint filers’ income over $15,000. But, with this measure, when state revenue does increase, the top tax rate will remain at 5 percent. Blocking the income tax cut passed the House 75-12 on April 19 and the Senate 32-9 on May 8. Gov. Fallin signed on May 15. A “No” vote is conservative.

(9) Mining Fee Increase

HB 1844 by Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, and Sen. Eddie Fields, R-Wynona

This bill raised the fee for non-coal mine operators a quarter penny to 1.25 cents per ton. It makes Oklahoma producers, who export 15 to 25 million tons per year, less competitive with suppliers in other states. It passed the House 62-33 on March 7 and the Senate 31-11 on April 24. It was signed by Gov. Fallin on May 1. The “No” votes are conservative.

(10) Tanning for Minors

SB 765 by Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Katie Henke, R-Tulsa

This bill prohibits the use of indoor tanning facilities by minors. This bill is essentially the definition of “nanny state,” with the government taking over the role of a parent. While there are risks involved in tanning in tanning beds, there are also risks involved in the alternative. Will lawmakers next ban minors from going outdoors where they will be exposed to the sun? It passed the Senate 25-16 on March 22 and the House 57-35 on April 25. It was signed by Gov. Fallin on May 2. The “No” votes are conservative.

A list of all the legislators with their vote on each of the ten bills, their total score for this year, and their Cumulative Average including scores from previous years, are found in the PDF files below. The Conservative Index for prior years are also available below.

Tulsa Area Scores

2017/Cumulative Average
100/98 Sen. Nathan Dahm R-Broken Arrow
90/95 Rep. Chuck Strohm R-Jenks
83/86 Rep. Mike Ritze R-Broken Arrow
76/85 Rep. Travis Dunlap R-Bartlesville
70/70 Rep. Tom Gann R-Inola
60/60 Sen. Joe Newhouse R-Tulsa
59/79 Sen. Bill Brown R-Broken Arrow
59/67 Sen. Marty Quinn R-Claremore
50/55 Sen. J.J. Dossett D-Sperry
50/53 Rep. Eric Proctor D-Tulsa
50/50 Sen. Julie Daniels R-Bartlesville
43/43 Rep. Kevin McDugle R-Broken Arrow
40/40 Rep. Monroe Nichols D-Tulsa
36/61 Sen. Dan Newberry R-Tulsa
36/53 Rep. Michael Rogers R-Broken Arrow
33/33 Rep. Dale Derby R-Owasso
33/33 Rep. Mark Lawson R-Sapulpa
30/66 Sen. Gary Stanislawski R-Tulsa
29/57 Sen. Kim David R-Porter
23/38 Rep. Regina Goodwin D-Tulsa
23/33 Sen. Kevin Matthews D-Tulsa
23/23 Rep. Meloyde Blancett D-Tulsa
20/61 Rep. Glen Mulready R-Tulsa
20/48 Rep. Mark Lepak R-Claremore
20/20 Rep. Scott Fetgatter R-Okmulgee
16/55 Rep. Terry O’Donnell R-Catoosa
16/51 Rep. Weldon Watson R-Tulsa
16/42 Rep. Katie Henke R-Tulsa
13/52 Rep. Jadine Nollan R-Sand Springs
13/13 Rep. Carol Bush R-Tulsa
10/10 Sen. Dave Rader R-Tulsa
10/10 Rep. Scott McEachin R-Tulsa
10/10 Rep. Avery Frix R-Muskogee