There's something peculiar going on with the Oklahoma Legislature - something that should give pause to those who insist they want "less government," but continue voting for candidates who give them more.
With a session that lasts less than four months, the Legislature can put forth an astonishing number of bills, which the governor - in this case, Kevin Stitt - dutifully signs into law. Oklahoma politicians are also compensated comparatively more than their counterparts in most other states, given the time they spend on the job, which could explain why some of them feel the need to pass so many laws. They want to give us our money's worth, as taxpayers.
But never mind that. Everyone with any good sense knows even the most draconian laws are, to quote a former sheriff and police chief, deemed "fine and smooth" - as long as those measures are pushed through by the political party of the person rendering the opinion.
The Legislature has put forth several decent laws this session, as the Press and other newspapers have tried to report - although we can barely keep up. That in itself is what should give Oklahoma voters pause. If the media can't even keep up with bills enough to analyze them, then how can the general public be expected to do it?
There are signs, though, that some laws are either redundant, or perhaps unnecessary. Although it's bipartisan in nature, why must we spend time assuring lack of discrimination for lactating school employees? Are they really under attack to the same degree as, say, people of color or the LGBTQ community? That's one thing, but some laws seem to be precursors to things to come that will take this state down a dark path. When we're passing laws ensuring that people can't protest or express their opinions at meetings of any public body, we're watching the First Amendment crumble before our very eyes.
Other than the loss of free speech and the right to redress grievance, the most frightening measures usually have to do with funding public education. Although polls are unreliable when it comes to presidential politics, they're usually spot-on when it comes to state matters. The vast majority of Oklahomans support public education - and a free education is guaranteed to all children by the state's constitution. Yet some lawmakers try to unravel the system at almost every opportunity.
This isn't a matter of partisan politics. Sen. Dewayne Pemberton and Rep. Bob Ed Culver, both Republicans, also call themselves staunch advocates of public education - typically seen as a Democratic plank. And though Culver hasn't been in office long enough yet to have a solid record, Pemberton certainly has. In fact, attacks on public education are attempts by certain statehouse stooges to polish their noses on the backsides of well-heeled constituents who want taxpayers to fund their own children's elite private school educations. Or about certain religious elements that want to dip their hands into the collective till.
Oklahoma voters owe it to themselves to keep their eyes peeled. Otherwise, they'll lose everything they hold dear before they know it.