Weekly Opinion Editorial
MAN, BEAST, PROPERTY NOT SAFE!
The Oklahoma legislature ended filing of bills for this session on Thursday. The 48 member Senate filed a total of 1,116 bills and 18 Senate Joint Resolutions. That is an average of 23.25 bills per senator.
The 101 member Oklahoma House of Representatives filed 1,901 bills( up 419 from last year) and 44 House Joint Resolutions. That is an average of 19 bills per representative. All told, state lawmakers will be considering over 3,000 bills this year. In 2022, 416 bills became law.
Legislative rules allow for appropriation bills to be filed throughout the session and rest assured, there will be several. The rules also allow for the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House to initiate legislation at any time.
The Oklahoma Constitution sets the date for the legislature to meet. This year, it will convene on Monday February 6th and adjourn by May 26th. If taxpayers want to research legislation, they can go to www.okhouse.gov or www.oksenate.gov.
One bill certain to be controversial is a school choice proposal by Sen. Julie Daniels, (R--Bartlesville and Sen. Shane Jett, (R-Shawnee) that would allow parents the option of tapping a portion of their children’s education dollars to pay for a variety of education services, including tuition. That bill number is SB#822.
After meeting with a group of public school educators on Wednesday, Sen. Adam Pugh, (R-Edmond), the Chair of the Senate Education committee, released a four point public education agenda, detailing his support of public school teachers. President Pro Tempore Sen. Greg Treat, (R-Edmond) praised Pugh’s agenda in a press release. Often when leadership opposes a bill, it never gets to the floor for a vote. SB#822 faces an uphill battle.
Rep. Josh West refilled HB#1030, which would require a consumer’s consent for their personal data to be collected. West’s bill passed the House last year, but did not get a vote in the Senate. "Major technology companies track our every conversation, our spending records, our movements and so much more and then sell that information so it can be used to socially engineer us through marketing manipulation," West said. Three observations::
First, lawmakers need to major on the majors. Appropriations, revenue, taxation bills should be at the forefront. Money bills should be paramount, but inevitably they are pushed to the back of the line and considered last. Often the fiscal year budget is the last bill to pass in a legislative session.
Oklahoma tax payers deserve meaningful tax cuts in 2023. State government is flush in money and lawmakers have generously handed out raises to state employees, teachers, and others. It’s time to give the taxpayer back some of their money and it should be a significant/consequential amount, not some negligible token tossed to taxpayers like they were a beggar on the street.
Second, taxpayers/voters/citizens should pay attention. Legislators seldom hear from constituents until a citizen is angry. Careful, deliberate, continual monitoring of what is going on at the legislature will result in more accountability. People often do what is ‘inspected’ more than what is ‘expected.’ The web sites mentioned above are a place to start. When you communicate with your legislator, be clear, concise, and respectful. Expressing your opinion in a constructive effectual manner can often result in their being better informed. A good legislator will welcome the input because it will keep them in tune with what their district and state want and need.
Third, there are too many bills. House bills filed were up +22% vs last year, Senate bills up +18.8%. Many of these bills are repetitious/redundant and unnecessary. Lawmakers wrongly believe they must get bills passed into law in order to be effective. The truth is legislators are sent to the Capitol to ‘represent’ their constituents/district and to ‘vet’ legislation.
. Filing bills on controversial issues to call attention to themselves is not a part of their job description. These 3,000 bills have to be organized and considered, with there being only a 13% chance of one making it on the books. A great deal of taxpayer funded time and money is being wasted for legislators to grandstand.
Back in the 1930s, when the Oklahoma legislature was in Democrat control, the late Will Rogers said when they were in session, ‘neither man, beast or property’ was safe. Sadly, not much has changed in the past century. Oklahoma taxpayers/voters/citizens better pay close attention to what is happening at 23rd and Lincoln(State Capitol) in 2023.