The most recent legislative session wrapped up last week, so we should look back and see where we have come. What has been accomplished? Who is a rising star? Which legislation is a waste of paper? Which politician should switch parties?
“Biggest waste of time legislation: Usually, most “commemorative” legislation honors folks like The Flaming Lips, Sam Bradford, the Boy Scouts, Miss Oklahoma or whatever semi-celebrity short of an Ogle brother shows up at the Capitol. This commemorative legislation then has to be read, taking time from the legislative day to proceed.
This type of legislation is such an egregious waste of time, legislators primarily propose these bills early in the session when time is more flexible. However, last month we had legislation to encourage the U.S. Congress to help Iranians have access to the Internet.
“Most improved legislator/rising star: This is one that is tough to decide because of many factors, and usually an “improved” award goes to someone who had previously had a pretty bad year. But this time, it is intended to just show improvement, and I think “rising star” is a better way to describe it.
Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, has firmly and quickly grasped the reins of the powerful transportation committee. In a year of budget cuts, Shannon has kept state roads a priority, roads that for decades had not seen much improvement. Before he was elected, he was a trusted staff member for Congressmen J.C. Watts and Tom Cole.
Shannon has a law degree, and I think after Speaker Chris Benge steps down or moves on to something else, he will be primed to take that next step.
“Legislators who should switch parties: I have one for the left and one for the right on this one.
Rep. Wallace Collins, D-Norman, may be a hardened campaigner, but he should switch and become an independent. He is a left-of-center legislator in District 45, which has been called the 50-yard-line of Oklahoma politics.
On the GOP side, there’s Sen. Harry Coates, R-Seminole. From assorted blogs and rumor mills, he has tried to become the next Senate Pro Tempore by siding with the Democrats to form a coalition majority. He’s in a solidly Democratic district, so he might as well switch parties.
He was against House Bill 1804, the illegal immigration legislation, and he has railed against the way the GOP does things. He is getting the same vibe as former Sen. Nancy Riley had a few years back.
Overall, I give this legislative session a C-minus. The GOP-led House of Representatives and Senate have teamed up with Gov. Brad Henry to fix the short-term holes in the budget, and it looks as if they are just hoping things get better.
Yes, the budget shortfall is the main reason that little was accomplished this year, and essentially, punting to next year when the tax revenues are better.
Loveless, a former state Senate candidate, is the CEO of Phoenix Consulting and the business manager for Loveless Orthopedic and Custom Footwear.