Claremore Daily Progress

June 8, 2013

Only in the Oklahoma Legislature...

Ben Sherrer
Staff Reporter

OKLAHOMA CITY —

A common question of me these days has been, “How did you cast the 2nd most number of ‘no’ votes in the whole Oklahoma legislature this year?” Well, let me put it this way... 
Only in the Oklahoma legislature do we consolidate agencies in the name of “rightsizing government” only to have the consolidated singular agency cost more money.
Only in the Oklahoma legislature does it make sense to spend money on public service announcements in support of marriage because marriage is a “bridge out of poverty” and television ads will somehow save/encourage marriage (in the midst of programming that really values marriage - HA!)
Only in the Oklahoma Legislature does it make sense to burden District Attorneys with the supervision of defendants  - in effect making the DA’s office raise money to operate (and this is the legislature’s fault for putting the DA’s in this terrible conflict that distracts from their core function).
Only in the Oklahoma Legislature to we make people feel good and pat ourselves on the back by cutting taxes (at some point in the future) while raising fees (effective this year).
Only in the Oklahoma Legislature do we cap bonded indebtedness at 5% of our budget, when it is presently about 3.5% (and the highest in State history was about 4.4%).  Sounds like justification for more borrowing.
Only in the Oklahoma Legislature do we demand educational accountability through increased testing only to have the Department of Education pick the high bidder ($27 Million) to administer the testing abyss and the system crash and fail miserably — resulting in terror for students and teachers across the state.
These, and hundreds more, are how I piled up 584 no votes this year.
When first apprised about the number of ‘no’ votes I had cast I was a bit surprised.  But the more I thought about it I realized that nearly every day I was frustrated by bills that were bad for working Oklahomans, not helpful for people with disabilities and seniors, burdensome on business, ignoring our state’s public safety and healthcare needs, poor policy in criminal justice, demoralizing for our public servants, disincentivizing for educators, and discouraging for students.  
Now that I think about it, maybe I’m surprised I didn’t vote ‘no’ a few more times.
It is a great honor to carry your vote at the State Capitol.  It is a responsibility I take very seriously and with each vote I try to push political expediency out of my mind and cast a vote that will be intellectually honest in the pursuit of good government of, by, and for the people of Oklahoma.
In the interim I can be reached at my Pryor office at (918) 825-8989, through the State Capitol at (800) 522-8502, or via email at bensherrer@okhouse.gov. Until next time, God bless you.