The Legislature is getting close to the halfway point, and before you know it, lawmakers will be adjourning for the year. Have they fulfilled promises, or are they just playing the political version of the four-corners offense?
Most Frustrated Representative This is a tie between state Reps. Randy Terrill and Paul Wesselhöft. The two Moore Republicans have essentially been blacklisted and their bills don’t see the light of day in committee or the House floor. Terrill is smart enough to bypass this enormous roadblock and use other less-suspecting members to carry his legislation.
Most Shining Legislator State Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, is a freshman, but his experience as a White House and congressional staffer and as Mayor Cornett’s chief of staff has prepared him for the rigors of the legislative session; but more importantly, he seems to be ahead of the curve. For example, before any of us had a sense of the issue in Wisconsin, he had introduced legislation addressing unions, collective bargaining rights and public employee pension reform. He is well-connected and understands how to frame a media cycle, so watch him in coming years.
Best Speaker Candidate Republican Rep. T.W. Shannon of Lawton is one of several candidates who appear to be positioning themselves for a run to be speaker of the House next session. He seems to have bridged the gap between conservatives and moderates, a well as the urban, suburban and the rural areas of the state. He is a member of a Native American tribe, so he has that network; but more importantly, his demeanor and character are above reproach. He is not term-limited until 2018, so he can be a consistent leader the GOP caucus sorely needs.
Best Piece of Legislation That Is DOA Republican Rep. David Dank loves to talk about property-tax reform because he represents an OKC district full of folks on fixed incomes. Since he was elected to succeed his wife in the Legislature, one of his central issues has been to cap and freeze property taxes for seniors. The huge problem he faces is rural-area legislators hate this bill because their school districts and towns are funded with those property taxes, so you just have to see who has the political muscle.
Most Ironic Interest Group Press Release I am biased here, since I ran against Steve Russell a few years ago. However, his legislation on open carry has caused a lot of “politics makes for strange bedfellows” moments at the Capitol. The Oklahoma Rifle Association sent out a release last month asking House members to vote against Russell’s legislation, which would allow all citizens from 18 years of age to openly carry a firearm. One problem the association has with the legislation is that federal law mandates the age to be at least 21.
The most difficult time of session is the final month, with deadlines and amendments flying faster than lobbyists on their way to a fundraiser; however, we will have grades at the end of the session, so stay tuned.
Loveless, a 2008 Republican candidate for Senate District 45, is CEO of Phoenix Consulting, editor in chief of okpolitico. com and business manager of Loveless Orthopedic and Custom Footwear.