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February 2, 2013

GOP leaders wrangle with growing caucuses



“When you have passionate conservative representatives, who are more independently minded by nature, there will be great discussion, there will be great debate, but hopefully we’re setting the stage so everybody can have a voice, have input, and come up with a really great product.”
In the Senate, where Bingman presides over a smaller, 36-member GOP caucus, the divisions within the GOP are less noticeable.
“It’s not evident to me in the Senate,” said Senate Democratic Leader Sen. Sean Burrage, D-Claremore. “And if anybody can keep a coalition together, it would be Senator Brian Bingman.”
For his part, Bingman acknowledges the Senate Republican caucus has grown more conservative, but said that is a natural extension of the growth of the party in Oklahoma.
“We have a bigger tent now, and we have a lot of new people in there with new ideas and we certainly welcome that,” Bingman said. “We understand the more we elect, the more conservative our caucus is going to be. It’s my job to be listening to everybody.”
Among the ideas that already have emerged in the House and Senate are bills that make it a felony to comply with any provisions of the new federal health care law or federal gun laws, prohibiting federal regulation of guns manufactured in the state and limiting the activities of groups connected to Agenda 21, a plan developed by the United Nations to help cities and countries become more environmentally sustainable.
Rep. Lewis Moore, R-Arcadia, the chairman of the newly created House States’ Rights Committee, said the efforts are part of a movement to exert state sovereignty and push back against federal intrusion into the states.
“It’s really a full-court press,” Moore said. “We’re talking about pushing back against federal mandates, and not just mandates that came out from this new Democratic president. ... These are things we should have been doing years ago. We want to push back at every level that we can.”

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