Let’s get to my end-of-session grades:
—State Senate Pro Tem Brian Bingman (Republican leader): B-plus. It is hard to steer entire pieces of legislation and issues when you are one third of the process (House, Senate and governor), but Sen. Bingman held true to his convictions. Despite going against House Speaker Kris Steele and Gov. Mary Fallin, Bingman knew that if they accepted the $54 million that came attached to the Obama health care exchange, the GOP base would not only flock in opposition, but would probably bring torches and pitchforks!
—Republican House Speaker Kris Steele: C. Speaker Steele is a nice gentleman and a good person, but during last autumn he mentioned to The Oklahoman that he was not going to mess with issues that were “distractions” (my quotes), namely gun control, abortion and other red-meat conservative issues that are vitally important to some members. Speaker Steele then had to reprimand two Republican members for their behavior, one on the floor (Rep. Mike Reynolds for interrupting opening prayer) and another for allegedly berating another member off the floor (Rep. Randy Terrill).
—Redistricting chairmen: A. Senate Chairman Clark Jolley and House Chairman Dale DeWitt took a different approach to how they went about it, and there are going to be some rumblings about districts being different, and lines being gerrymandered, but remember back to 10 years ago. Then you had every representative and senator trying to draw a congressional district just for them. On top of that, you had it go to trial and the new lines were not publicly known until right before the elections. Sen. Jolley and Rep. DeWitt got their work done ahead of schedule.
—State Treasurer Ken Miller: D.
Sure, he is doing his job admirably and by all accounts doing the job well. However, he needs to learn the meaning of being part of a team and when to keep his press releases from going out. Miller had a seat at the table the last session, and now that he does not, he seems to bemoan the process he was part of for years.
—Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb: A. Lt. Gov. Lamb has surrounded himself with a very knowledgeable staff that knows the state well, and he is traveling all over the state, not making waves, but trying to bring more businesses here and working within the framework and boards with Gov. Fallin.
—Gov. Fallin: A. Gov. Fallin had a very good first year, and considering the budget shortfall, it was not a matter of what she wanted to get done — it was what needed to get done. Adding education reform and several other businessfriendly measures, the only thing keeping her from an A-plus are the shortcomings on the bond projects that failed in the state Senate at the end of session.
For the first time in Oklahoma history, the GOP controlled all the major offices down at the Capitol. Was it a slam dunk or major shift in the direction of Oklahoma? Probably not, but I think it was a step in the right direction. The tough decisions will come when the budget shortfall is not so bad next year.
Loveless, a former state Senate candidate, is owner of Phoenix Consulting and the business manager for Loveless Orthopedic Footwear.