The tiff started when Democratic Rep. Mike Shelton began asking questions about Republican Rep. Dennis Johnson’s bill, which increases penalties for gang recruitment and activity. Shelton was pressing Johnson about what he thought a gang member looked like — a line of questioning we’re sure was bound to produce all sorts of delightful conversation.
When Johnson began to answer, Shelton interrupted, although his microphone was off and Armes gaveled him down.
After a few more questions, Johnson pushed for a vote on the measure without further question, but before the vote opened, Inman objected and asked Armes how many people were queued up for questions.
Following some confusion about whether Inman had made a motion or point of information, Inman said it is customary for the presiding officer to divulge how many people were in the queue.
And with that, the pissing match was on.
“You want to know an exact number?” Armes asked.
“That would be great, yes,” Inman replied, setting himself up for the takedown Armes was about to deliver unto him.
“Some. Several.” Armes shot back. “It’s not the custom of the House to divulge that information.”
Armes called for the motion of the floor, and the chair’s decision was appealed by Inman and seconded by at least 15 other Democrats.
On the House floor, Inman said leadership was saying “no” just to say “no,” not because the rules said so.
“A simple ‘3, 6, 1,’ as opposed to ‘some or several’ would have sufficed. We could have answered that and then voted. That’s all I wanted to know. I just wanted you and my members to know how many people were in the queue,” Inman said. “I’m insulted, insulted when I get told ‘no, sir, you can’t know,’ as if I’m some sort of 3 year old and my parent has told me ‘I’m not going to tell you,’ and when I ask for … a reason why, it’s ‘because I said so.’ That kind of logic doesn’t fly with me, and it shouldn’t fly with you.”
The Democrats began a series of parliamentary maneuvers that went on and on, dragging the time the House considered the bill to about two hours. Around 7 p.m., the remaining House members ended up passing the bill.
And people wonder why it’s so easy to find the same vehicles parked at the Capitol during the day parked crookedly (or being stolen from) outside OKC karaoke bars after the sun goes down.