Conservative Index Add
pagetitle

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018Last Update: Tuesday, October 30th, 2018 07:58:08 PM

Vote Walking

By: Rep. Jason Murphey

Each year, members of the Legislature cast votes impacting almost every aspect of life: from public safety to education to the expenditure of billions of your taxpayer dollars. These votes occur in two-minute segments during which time the lawmaker must make up his mind: will he vote yes, or no?

If the pressure on the lawmaker is too much, there is an antiquated system that allows the lawmaker to duck the vote completely.

He simply walks out of the chamber and refuses to vote at all. It's called "walking the vote," a bad legislative policy that needs to be fixed because it deprives the constituents from holding their legislator accountable.

There should never be a reason for a lawmaker not to vote, especially when the lawmaker is in the Capitol building.

A few years ago, I watched this abuse occur as the House considered a bill which removed the statutory salary cap of several agency directors.

This was obviously a bad proposal. It allowed the boards of various bureaucracies to potentially grant very large salary increases to the agency directors.

These caps serve as an important check and balance on state agencies and should always remain on the books. If a cap is too low, it may be appropriate for the Legislature to increase it, but the salary cap should never be eliminated.

As the House vote was ongoing, several of the agency officials who would potentially receive raises watched from the enclosed gallery above the east wall of the House.

During the vote, one of the legislators who aggressively campaigned as an opponent to measures such as this, slowly walked back to the voting box only to react with apparent feigned disgust when the vote was closed before he could register his vote. Right after he missed the vote, he looked up to the east gallery where one of the agency heads directly acknowledged his "missed vote" with an exaggerated and enthusiastic gesture of appreciation.

Observing moments like these are probably the hardest part of this job.

That legislator's constituents likely reacted in horror when they read of the massive raises given out to the state's agency directors. But, not one of that legislator's constituents probably knew what he did that day or the role he played in enabling these types of raises. He was never held to account by those who put their trust in him to guard their taxpayer dollars from these abuses. The official vote shows him as "excused" without having taken a position on the bill.

A review of voting tally sheets will show there are several lawmakers who are "excused" on many if not most votes.

Sometimes this is for valid reasons, but even then constituents are still deprived of their representation.

The Legislature should utilize a modernized system that registers and forces lawmakers' votes regardless of arbitrary time limits or location. With today's technology, there is rarely a good reason for a lawmaker to miss a vote. And there is never a good reason why all of those votes should not be recorded and published for all to see.

Technology has advanced to the point where policy makers could easily vote wherever they are, those votes could be immediately published in an open and transparent manner, and never again could a politician duck a vote by claiming he didn't get to his voting box in time or wasn't able to be at work.

About Rep. Jason Murphey

State Representative Jason Murphey (R-Guthrie) represents House District 31. He is Chairman of the Government Modernization Committee. He may be reached via e-mail at: Jason.Murphey@hd31.org

Other Articles By Rep. Jason Murphey

My Criteria for Voting on Legislative Proposals

Consider the following statement one might hear if they stay around the capitol very long: If...

The Need to Transform the Legislative Process

It is the time of year when legislators file legislation for the next session. Every so often I feel...

The New Ideology of the Legislature

I will detail here the chain of events that transformed what I initially believed could be the best...

Big Government Groundhog Day

State officials are continuing to consider an array of tax and fee increases. I instinctively know...

No to Gas Tax Increase

You may have recently seen news stories describing the impending introduction of a gas tax increase....

Giving Away Absolute Power For One Year

Many taxpayers believe the Legislature operates as described in American Government class. They...

Vote Walking

Each year, members of the Legislature cast votes impacting almost every aspect of life: from public...

Other Constitution Columnists

Andrew K. Boyle

Meekness in Exchange for the Exhausting Burden of Winning.
Politics is a strange pursuit. Granted, self government is one of the highest and most burdensome...

David Deming

Conservative Christians Unwelcome at OU
The nation was transfixed by the smear campaign launched against judge Brett Kavanaugh. In a...

John Michener

Pharaoh, Pro-Life Politician
When should we abolish abortion, now or later? Pro-life politicians tell us we must support...

Richard Engle

Schoolyard Bullies Want Your Lunch Money
In the recent GOP primaries and runoffs we heard much about teachers, apples, school kids and all...

Tim Bakamjian

Stitt vs. Edmondson: A Comparison of Candidates
Oklahomas two main gubernatorial candidates are sharply different in background and approach to...

Charlie Meadows

YES on State Questions 793, 794 and NO on 798, 800 and 801
Here is my evaluation of the five State Questions that will be on the November 6 General Election...

Theodore King

THE FEDERAL PAGE for Fall 2018
November 2nd Feast Day of All Souls,Happy Birthday to Paddy Joe and My DadHappy 80th birthday to...

Steve Byas

Teacher Certification
The teacher strike of last spring has brought the issue of public education to the forefront in...

In The News

Constitution Staff

Congressional Seats Up for Election
The U.S. Congress is composed of two chambers. Senators serve six-year terms with only a third of...

Constitution Staff

Races for Statewide Secondary Offices
In addition to the governors office, a host of secondary statewide offices, and one seat for the...

Constitution Staff

The Race for Governor
Mary Fallin was prohibited by term-limits from seeking a third four-year term in 2018. With the seat...

Constitution Staff

Five State Questions on Ballot
Voters will find five state questions on the November ballot. Measures can reach the ballot by...

Constitution Staff

Record State Budget Projected
The next Oklahoma Legislature will have a record number of new members. This is a result of term...

Constitution Columnists

Andrew K. Boyle

Meekness in Exchange for the Exhausting Burden of Winning.
Politics is a strange pursuit. Granted, self government is one of the highest and most burdensome...

David Deming

Conservative Christians Unwelcome at OU
The nation was transfixed by the smear campaign launched against judge Brett Kavanaugh. In a...

John Michener

Pharaoh, Pro-Life Politician
When should we abolish abortion, now or later? Pro-life politicians tell us we must support...

© 2001 - 2009 The Oklahoma Constitution, all rights reserved.
Contact the Oklahoma Constitution by calling 405-366-1125 or emailing okconsti@aol.com
Content Management System (CMS) provided by WebTeks CMS.