“The policy of American government is to leave its citizens free, neither restraining them nor aiding them in their pursuits.” -Thomas Jefferson to M. L’Hommande, 1787
An understanding of the proper role of our unique American government is necessary when considering proposed legislation. Often while sitting on the House floor, I find myself agreeing that a piece of legislation is a “good idea” while deciding that it must be opposed because it is outside our government’s purview.
Of the 897 votes listed in my most recent “Member Voting Statistics” record, I voted against 204 measures. Most measures pass the House in spite of my Nays. Below are my reasons for voting against a few of the measures this week.
HB2365– This bill is described by many as a good idea. It helps disadvantaged, veteran, minority and woman owned businesses by allowing them to be automatically notified of opportunities to do business with the state for specific commodities. We should all want to help those among us who are disadvantaged. On a personal level, I agree with this sentiment. However, I disagree with our government dividing Oklahoma businesses into select groups for preferential treatment. If a private business would like to provide this information to customers, that’s fine. If the government gives special treatment to these businesses, it is discriminatory.
HB1882– This bill failed earlier in the week and was brought back today to be reconsidered at which time it passed. The Boys and Girls Clubs and YMCA programs are successful and appreciated by many across the state. This would create a task force to bring these organizations and others together with state agencies such as the DHS and the Department of Mental Health, common ed, higher ed, a tribal representative, and other non-profits. The purpose of the task force would be to review existing after-school programs and highlight gaps in access and equity and to identify and evaluate a set of evidence-based, evidence-informed and promising best practices to improve and increase the number of quality, affordable out-of-school programs in the state. As a general rule, I vote against all task forces. Committees and meetings have a tendency to accomplish little. The idea behind this task force would have a better chance of success if a passionate individual spearheaded the campaign.
HB2236– This bill clarifies in statute how failing to report income to an employer while receiving workers’ compensation is a felony. I do not support adding felonies to Oklahoma’s criminal statutes. There is no deficit of felonies generally! I do not support making felonies where there is no violent crime against a person. In the particular case of this bill, merely failing to report something (1) should never be a felony, and (2) should never be punishable by prison. The sole consequence for obtaining workers’ compensation to which one is not entitled must be limited to repayment of the excess. I understand that false workers’ compensation claims are felonies already; I disagree, and do not support making it easier to prosecute felonies. A felony charge should be reserved for violent crimes against another person, not a crime against the state.
HB1569– This bill is known as the “Play to Learn” bill. I believe this type of instruction is absolutely critical in the development of children, especially boys. I have seen the benefits of this over the years in my own children. Definitely a great idea but I voted against this measure. Teachers are currently using this method in classrooms across the state so why put it in statute? Supporting deregulation of teachers in classrooms is necessary. I do not support adding more regulation into the classroom that teachers must follow, even if it is a good idea. Remove regulation and most teachers, given the freedom to choose, will incorporate this method because they see its educational value.
Finally, I will end this Week 14 update with a YES vote from this week.
HB1772 known as the Snow Cone bill(a very sweet bill!) adds a provision in statute to allow snow cone stands to remain open year-round. While I dislike adding to law rather than removing law to make this possible, I voted in support of this bill because it removes the prohibition on year-round snow cones.