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Sunday, July 5th, 2020Last Update: Thursday, June 25th, 2020 07:51:39 AM

2020 Oklahoma Conservative Index

By: Constitution Staff

The Oklahoma Constitution presents the 42nd annual Oklahoma Conservative Index rating our state legislators. Members of each house of the Oklahoma Legislature were rated on ten key votes. A favorable vote on these issues represents a belief in conservative principles.

After taking suggestions from conservative leaders, the staff of the Oklahoma Constitution submitted suggested bills to a vote of the membership of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC) to determine the ten key votes. The legislators were rated based on their votes on bills which included such issues as preserving secure elections, protecting privacy, protecting the right to keep and bear arms, obstructing overbearing government regulations, against subsidies, and protecting life.

RATING CALCULATION

To determine this year’s rating, 10 points were earned for each conservative vote (designated by a C), and no points were awarded for a liberal vote (indicated by an L). Each failure to vote (recorded as a Z) provides only three points. When the rating system was created in 1979, it was decided that there should be a difference between voting liberal, and missing a vote. A legislator absent for all the votes could only score 30%.

Thus, a legislator voting conservative on eight votes, liberal on one, and failing to vote on another, would receive eighty plus three, or an 83% conservative rating.

This year’s conservative rating was averaged with the legislator’s scores from any previous years of service to obtain the Cumulative Average score for all the years that legislator has been rated. With term limits, we have moved into a period when no legislator will have a cumulative score based on a period longer than twelve years. By examining this year’s score in relation to the Cumulative Average, the voting pattern of a particular legislator can be determined. While most score nearly the same, year after year, others trend upward or downward from their average. If your legislator is trending toward conservatism, please offer you encouragement and support. If your legislator is exhibiting a leftward trend, it is time to express your disappointment and suggest the need for a replacement if the trend is not reversed.

The average score this year was 62% in the House and was also 62% in the Senate. The Top Conservative and Top Liberal legislators were selected by their scores on the Index. Making the Top Conservatives list are the 50 lawmakers who scored 80% or more. On the Top Liberals list are the 22 lawmakers scoring 20% or less.

TOP CONSERVATIVES

Only one legislator, Senator Nathan Dahm of Broken Arrow, scored a perfect 100% conservative rating this year. One legislator, Senator Casey Murdock of Felt, scored 93 percent. Nine House members scored 90% including Rusty Cornwell of Vinita, Tom Gann of Inola, Mark Lepak of Claremore, Terry O’Donnell of Catoosa, Jim Olsen of Roland, Russ Todd of Cordell, David Smith of McAlester, Zack Taylor of Seminole, and Kevin West of Moore.

Three House members scored 83% including Trey Caldwell of Lawton, David Hardin of Stilwell, and Sean Roberts of Hominy.

Completing the list of Top Conservatives were 36 legislators who scored 80 percent. Senate members scoring 80% were Julie Daniels of Bartlesville, Darcy Jech of Kingfisher, James Leewright of Bristow, Joe Newhouse of Broken Arrow, Marty Quinn of Claremore, Paul Rosino of Oklahoma City, Rob Standridge of Norman, and Gary Stanislawski of Tulsa. House members scoring 80% were Rhonda Baker of Yukon, Jeff Boatman of Tulsa, Brad Boles of Marlow, Ty Burns of Morrison, Chad Caldwell of Enid, Denise Crosswhite of Yukon, Dean Davis of Broken Arrow, Sheila Dills of Tulsa, Jon Echols of Oklahoma City, Avery Frix of Muskogee, Brian Hill of Mustang, Chris Kannady of Oklahoma City, Lundy Kiger of Poteau, Charles McCall of Atoka, Kevin McDugle of Broken Arrow, Carl Newton of Cherokee, Mike Osburn of Edmond, Kenton Patzkowsky of Balko, Dustin Roberts of Durant, Lonnie Sims of Jenks, Jay Steagall of Yukon, Judd Strom of Copan, Tammy Townley of Ardmore, Mark Vancuren of Owasso, Kevin Wallace of Wellston, Josh West of Grove, Tammy West of Bethany, and Harold Wright of Weatherford.

TOP LIBERALS

Two legislators scored zero conservative this year, taking the liberal position on all ten bills included this year. Kay Floyd of Oklahoma City, the Senate Minority (Democrat) Leader, scored zero. In the House, Trish Ranson of Stillwater also scored zero. Two members of the House scored 6% this year, Jason Dunnington of Oklahoma City, and Monroe Nickols of Tulsa. Five legislators, three in the Senate and two in the House scored 10 percent. Senators scoring 10% are Carri Hicks of Oklahoma City, Julia Kirt of Oklahoma City, and Kevin Matthews of Tulsa. House members scoring 10% are Meloyde Blancett of Tulsa and Melissa Provenzano of Tulsa. Regina Goodwin of Tulsa, Ben Loring of Miami, Jacob Rosecrants of Norman, and John Waldron of Tulsa scored 13 percent. David Perryman of Chickasha scored 15 percent. Representative Jason Lowe of Oklahoma City scored 19 percent.

Finishing out the Top Liberals list are legislators who scored 20 percent. Senators scoring 20% are Michael Brooks of Oklahoma City, and George Young of Oklahoma City. House members Kelly Albright of Midwest City, Forrest Bennett of Oklahoma City, Denise Brewer of Tulsa, Andy Fugate of Oklahoma City, and Cyndi Munson of Oklahoma City also scored 20 percent.

A description of the bills used for this year’s ratings, a list of all the legislators with their vote on each of the ten bills, their score for this year, and their Cumulative Average which includes scores from any previous years served, will be found in the center section of our Summer edition.

Bills used for the 2020 Oklahoma Conservative Index

(1) Maintain Secure Elections

SB 210 by Sen. Greg Treat (R-Oklahoma City) and Rep. Charles McCall (R-Atoka)

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled on May 4 that the Oklahoma State Election Board could not require absentee voters to have their ballots notarized to verify their identity. The ruling came in response to a lawsuit by the League of Women Voters and two Oklahomans. After the ruling, the Legislature passed an amended bill to reinstate the notary requirement, but included an exception for elections held in 2020 if a State of Emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic declared by the Governor is in effect 45 days prior to, or within, a scheduled election. In that event, a voter can request an absentee ballot and attach a photocopy of a form of identification to the affidavit, in lieu of having the affidavit notarized or his or her signature witnessed by two people. The measure also establishes an alternative process for the delivery of absentee ballot applications to residents of long-term care facilities and modifies the criteria to qualify as “physically incapacitated” for purposes of requesting an absentee ballot to include COVID-19-related health issues. Absentee ballots, without verification of the voter, is an open invitation to election fraud. The measure passed the House 74-26 on May 6 and the Senate 38-9 on May 7. It was approved by the Governor on May 7. A YES vote is the conservative vote.

(2) Personal Privacy Protection

HB 3613 by Rep. Terry O’Donnell (R-Catoosa) and Sen. Kim David (R-Porter)

This bill creates the Personal Privacy Protection Act which would prevent state agencies from collecting any information that “identifies a person as a member, supporter, or volunteer of, or donor of financial or nonfinancial support to, any entity organized pursuant to Section 501(c) of the United States Internal Revenue Code.” Personal affiliation information is also exempted from the disclosure requirements of the Oklahoma Open Records Act. In recent years activist groups have used such information against contributors or supporters of such organizations. Oklahoma joins West Virginia, Mississippi, Arizona, and Utah which have enacted similar privacy protection. It passed the House 77-13 on March 5 and the Senate 43-2 on May 12. It was approved by the Governor on May 19. A YES vote is the conservative vote.

(3) Anti Red Flag Act

SB 1081 by Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) and Rep. Jay Steagall (R-Yukon)

This bill, titled the “Anti-Red Flag Act,” would preempt all current or future proposed red flag laws coming from Washington D.C. and make them null, void, and of no effect in the State of Oklahoma. Red flag laws allow an individual’s firearms to be confiscated following nothing more than an anonymous accusation from either a family member or a law enforcement officer, directly violating at least four amendments to the Constitution. Such laws have already been passed in 17 states and Washington, D.C. “The Second Amendment is abundantly clear that it is an individual right to keep and bear arms. And it is necessary to keep a free state. Oklahoma has a responsibility to protect our citizens’ rights from anyone who would try to infringe upon them,” said Sen. Nathan Dahm, the Senate author. Dahm noted that in Oklahoma there are legal processes for those who are adjudicated as a threat to themselves or others . “In America, we learn from an early age that we are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. We have due process protections enshrined in our Constitution. Red flag laws violate all these principles, violate numerous constitutionally protected rights, and set a dangerous precedent.” The bill also would prohibit any state or local entities from accepting federal funds that would entice those entities into implementing infringements on Oklahoma citizens’ Constitutional rights. The bill passed the Senate 34-9 on March 12 and the House 77-14 on May 15. It was approved by the Governor on May 19. A YES vote is the conservative vote.

(4) Diversion of Road Funds

HB 2743 by Rep. Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston) and Sen. Roger Thompson (R-Okemah)

This legislation diverted $180 Million of the amount that would ordinarily go to the Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety (ROADS) Fund of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to instead be apportioned to the Education Reform Revolving Fund of the State Department of Education for the fiscal years beginning in 2020 and 2021. Other legislation authorizes the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to issue lease revenue bonds in the amount of $200 Million to fund the agency’s construction plan to replace the diverted funds. This is a brazen end-run around the state’s balanced budget law requirements, by shifting funds to an entity that is covered by the law’s budget restrictions (education), by taking from another entity (capital improvements like roads) that are allowed to float bonds, and incur indebtedness. The measure was approved by the House 89-10 on May 5 and the Senate 43-4 on May 7. It was vetoed by the Governor on May 13, but the veto was overridden on May 13. A NO vote, opposing the diversion, is the conservative vote.

(5) Pro-Israel, Anti-BDS

HB 3967 by Rep. Mark McBride (R-Moore) and Sen. Darrell Weaver (R-Moore)

This legislation recognizes Israel as one of Oklahoma’s top trade partners and the Nation’s greatest ally in the Middle East. It specifies that unless exempted by the Secretary of State, the state of Oklahoma will not enter into contracts with companies that advocate “boycotts, divestments or sanctions” (BDS) against Israel. The state also will not adopt a procurement, investment or other policies that has the effect of inducing or requiring a person to boycott the government of Israel or those doing business in or with Israel or territories under its jurisdiction. Rep. Mark McBride, the House author, said Oklahoma exported almost $104 million of commodities to Israel in 2019, up from almost $61 million in 2017. Contracting with companies that refuse to deal with U.S. trade partners, such as Israel, or that make discriminatory decisions on the basis of national origin is risky and unsound trade practice. The bill is modeled after legislation adopted by 28 other states. It passed the House by a vote of 75-20 on March 3 and the Senate 36-7 on May 15. It was approved by the Governor on May 21. A YES vote is the conservative vote.

(6) Nondiscrimination in Healthcare

HB2587 by Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy) and Sen. Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville)

The Nondiscrimination in Health Care Coverage Act prohibits state agencies from developing or employing the use of Quality-Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) as a measure of whether a health-care service should be covered by insurance or other health reimbursement. Under a QALY system, the lives of persons with disabilities are deemed less valuable, and therefore less worthy of health care, than the lives of nondisabled persons, and thus they are vulnerable to denial of health-care coverage. This legislation is a gallant attempt to halt the discrimination now used in other nations with socialized and other forms of government-funded health care, to cut costs by not giving equal medical treatment to disabled person. Additionally, state agencies proposing new utilization management measures must post for public comment both the proposed measure and the rationale behind the proposed measure. State agencies must consult with organizations advocating for individuals with disabilities and older adults before implementing health coverage changes. The law, first of its kind in the nation, was drafted by National Right to Life. It passed the House 69-21 on March 10 and the Senate 38-6 on May 15. It was approved by the Governor on May 21. A YES vote is the conservative vote.

(7) Affordable Housing Tax Credit

HB 2760 by Rep. Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston) and Sen. Roger Thompson (R-Okemah)

This measure lowers the annual cap of credits awarded through the Affordable Housing Tax Credit, reducing the cap from $4,000,000 to $2,000,000. The purpose of Oklahoma’s affordable housing income tax credit program is to expand the supply of new and affordable rental units and rehabilitate existing rental housing . A taxpayer owning an interest in an investment in a qualified project is allowed to take a state tax credit if the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency (OHFA) issues an eligibility statement for that project. The reduction of the cap passed the House 59-41 on May 7 and the Senate 25-20 on May 12. It was vetoed by the Governor on May 18. A YES vote is the conservative vote.

(8) Homemade Food Freedom Act

SB 1714 by Sen. Adam Pugh (R-Edmond) and Rep. Garry Mize (R-Edmond)

Home-based bakeries and other types of food businesses could continue growing their small business without having to rent or buy a commercial property under this bill. Sen. Adam Pugh authored Senate Bill 1714 to allow these types of small business owners the freedom to decide when they are ready to move into a larger commercial location rather than the state forcing them. “Current law unfairly hurts these home-based businesses by requiring them to move into a commercial location once their gross income reaches $20,000 a year. After expenses, that is not enough money to support a commercial business,” Pugh said. The legislation would remove the arbitrary $20,000 annual gross sales limit, and requires ingredient labeling and a notice that the product was made in a home kitchen. The bill passed the Senate 41-5 on March 3. It was Amended and approved by the House 69-13 on May 15. It was returned to the Senate for consideration of House amendments, but was not acted on before the end of the legislative session. A YES vote is the conservative vote.

(9) Seat Belt Law Expansion

HB 2791 by Rep. Ross Ford (R-Broken Arrow) and Sen. Darrell Weaver (R-Moore)

House Bill 2791 would require every person under the age of 18 to wear a seat belt when riding in the back seat of a passenger vehicle in Oklahoma. Currently, state law requires only youth ages 8 or younger to wear a seatbelt while riding in the backseat of a moving vehicle. Other than that, only the driver and front-seat passenger are required to be belted. The bill passed the House 78-18 on March 10 and moved to the state Senate where it failed to get a vote. A NO vote is the conservative vote.

SB 1303 by Sen. Roland Pederson (R-Burlington) and Rep. Ross Ford (R-Broken Arrow)

Senate Bill 1303 would require passengers age 17 and under riding in the rear passenger compartment to wear a seat belt while riding in the back seat of a vehicle. Current Oklahoma law only requires children under the age of eight and passengers in the front seat to buckle up. The measure passed the Senate 25-22 on February 24 and moved to the House where it failed to get a vote. A NO vote is the conservative vote.

(10) Stopping Abortion

HB 1182 by Rep. Jim Olsen (R-Roland) and Sen. Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville)

The House passed legislation directing the Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision and the State Board of Osteopathic Examiners to revoke the licenses of physicians who perform abortions. House Bill 1182 would revoke the license for one year. An amendment filed prior to the vote clarified the life of the mother exception. “Every single human life, born and unborn, has value. It’s our obligation as a civilized people to defend and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves,” said Rep. Jim Olsen, the House author of the bill. It passed the House 71-21on February 2. It moved to the Senate where it died in committee. A YES vote is the conservative vote.

SB 13 by Sen. Joe Silk (R-Broken Bow)

This legislation would effectively end abortions in the state. The bill says: “It is the intent of the Legislature to provide to unborn children the equal protection of the laws of this state; to establish that a living human child, from the moment of fertilization upon the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum, is entitled to the same rights, powers, privileges, justice and protections as are secured or granted by the laws of this state to any other human person; and to treat as void and of no effect any and all federal statutes, regulations, executive orders and court rulings, which would deprive an unborn child of the right to life.” The bill was “double assigned” to Health and Human Services Committee and to the Appropriations Committee to make it more difficult to reach the Senate floor for a vote. Neither committee considered the bill. On March 11, Senator Silk moved that SB 13be withdrawn from committee and placed on General Order so it could be considered on the Senate floor. Many senators claiming to be pro-life were willing to short-circuit a strong bill to protect the life of the unborn. Because the bill was not even going to be considered, as is, or even modified by an amendment, a motion by Silk was made to let the full Senate consider the bill. Unfortunately, a motion was made to table (kill) the Silk motion, which tabling motion was declared adopted by a vote of 38-4. The NO votes, against the tabling motion, is the conservative vote.

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