The 2015 Oklahoma Conservative Index
The Oklahoma Constitution presents the 37th 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 limited government, individual liberty, free enterprise, constitutional government, and traditional standards.
After taking suggestions from conservatives leaders, the staff of the Oklahoma Constitution submitted bills to a vote of the membership of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC) for recommendations of the ten key votes.
To determine this year’s rating, 10 points were earned for each conservative vote (designated by a C), and no points are 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%, which is our recommended score for seeking a replacement.
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 previous years to obtain the Cumulative Average score for all the years that a legislator has been rated. With term limits, we have moved into a period where no legislator will have a cumulative score based on a period longer than twelve years. However, a few former legislators with service prior to the term limits law were later elected to their current positions. The scores of legislators with previous service are included in their cumulative average.
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 your 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 in the House was 64%, compared to 52% last year. The Senate also averaged 64% conservative this year, compared to 52% last year, like the House. Seventy-one legislators scored 70, or better, compared to only 38 who scored 70%, or better, last year. We suggest you commend all of these lawmakers.
Readers should consider replacing those who scored 30%, or less, while giving close scrutiny to those who scored between 30 and 70.
The Top Conservative and Top Liberal legislators were selected by their scores on the Index. Making the Top Conservatives list were those lawmakers who scored 80%, or better. On the Top Liberals list were those who made 20%, or less.
Six legislators, five in the House and one in the Senate, scored a perfect 100% conservative rating this year. House members scoring 100% included David Brumbaugh (Broken Arrow), Travis Dunlap (Bartlesville), Mark McCullough (Sapulpa), Jason Murphey (Guthrie), and Chuck Strohm of Jenks. Nathan Dahm (Broken Arrow) in the Senate also scored 100%.
The next highest score was a 93% by Senator Anthony Sykes of Moore. Also scoring 93%, in the House, were Dan Fisher (El Reno), and Sally Kern (Oklahoma City).
Earning a score of 90% were House members Chad Caldwell (Enid), Dennis Casey (Morrison), David Derby (Owasso), Jon Echols (Oklahoma City), George Faught (Muskogee), Randy Grau (Edmond), Elise Hall (Oklahoma City), Charles McCall (Atoka), Randy McDaniel (Edmond), Lewis Moore (Arcadia), and Scooter Park (Devol). Senators who matched the 90% score were Mark Allen (Spiro), Stephanie Bice (Oklahoma City), Clark Jolley (Edmond), and Greg Treat of Edmond.
All legislators who scored 80%, or better, are also on the list of Top Conservatives.
No legislators scored zero conservative this year, but the legislator with the lowest Conservative score was Emily Virgin of Norman, a member of the House, who scored a dismal 10%. The next lowest score was from a senator, John Sparks, also of Norman, who could only manage 12%.
House member Cory Williams, from Stillwater, had a lowly 13%. Senator Jeannie McDaniel of Tulsa had a score of 16%, which tied her with George Young, a House member from Oklahoma City.
Mike Shelton (Oklahoma City) had a score of 19, with Kay Floyd, also of Oklahoma City, who made a 20% conservative score, round out the Top Liberals list this year.
Two seats in the House were not scored in this year’s ratings due to vacancies. Rep. David Dank of Oklahoma City died during the session and the empty seat was not filled before end of the session. Rep. Kevin Matthews of Tulsa was elected to fill a vacant seat due to a resignation in the Senate. Most of the ten votes occurred near the end of the session and those votes made up most of his score. Since he was a member of the House when the other votes occurred, his earlier House votes were included in his Senate score. His House seat was not filled before the end of the session.
A list of the all legislators with their vote on each of the ten bills, their total score for this year, and their Cumulative Average including scores from previous years, is found at the bottom of this page.
Bills for 2015 Oklahoma Conservative Index
(1) Bonds for OKPOP Museum
Senate Bill 839 by Rep. Jeff Hickman and Sen. Brian Bingman
This bill provides for borrowing $25 million in bonds for construction of the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture to be located in Tulsa, commonly known as OKPOP. It is estimated that it will cost taxpayers about $42 million to pay off the bonds. The Oklahoma Historical Society has secured collections from figures such as Garth Brooks, Will Rogers and Bob Wills, among numerous others to place in the museum. After the experience with the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum fiasco, it is surprising that legislators and the governor would travel down this path again. Beyond the question of if it is the proper role of government to build museums, there is the fiscal issue of the state going into debt to finance the project with bonds. The proposal passed the Senate 28-18 on May 19 and the House 51-40 on May 22. Governor Mary Fallin signed on May 29. A NO vote is conservative.
(2) Payroll Deduction for Unions
House Bill 1749 by Rep. Tom Newell and Sen. Nathan Dahm
This bill prohibits a state agency, including public school districts, from making payroll deductions on behalf of an employee for membership dues in any public employee association or professional organization that collectively bargains on behalf of its membership. As a result of this legislation, members of these organizations would have to pay the unions directly instead of the taxpayers incurring the cost for collecting the money for the unions. The bill passed the House 59-39 on February 18 and the Senate 27-16 on March 26. It was signed by Gov. Fallin on April 2. A YES vote is conservative.
(3) Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program Expansion
Senate Bill 71 by Sen. Mark Allen and Rep. John Bennett
The bill expanded the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Program Act. It modifies the definition of basic industry, as it relates to the program to include agricultural activities for establishments primarily engaged in chicken egg production. Under the program the state pays up to 5 percent of the payroll for new jobs. This scheme, in the name of economic development, subsidizes large commercial entities which compete with the small and family-owned businesses which are unable to obtain the subsidies. The bill passed the House 51-43 on April 7and the Senate gave final approval on 31-14 on April 14. It was signed by Gov. Fallin on April 21. A NO vote is conservative.
(4) School Security
House Bill 2014 by Rep. Jeff Coody and Sen. Don Barrington
Most of the mass shooting incidents have occurred in gun-free zones where the perpetrator does not expect to be confronted with armed resistance. This bill allows the board of education of a school district to authorize the carrying of a handgun onto school property by school personnel specifically designated by the board of education, provided such personnel either possess a valid armed security guard license, or holds a valid reserve peace officer certification. It passed the House 85-12 on May 6 and the Senate 40-5 on April 22. Gov. Fallin signed on May 12. A YES vote is conservative.
(5) Push Back on EPA Mandate
Senate Bill 676 by Sen. Greg Treat and Rep. Jon Echols
This was part of an effort in at least a dozen states to push back against the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule which mandates a 30 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from power plants in each state by 2030. The EPA is requiring each state to develop a State Implementation Plan (SIP). Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt requested this bill which assumes the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will develop a SIP to comply with EPA rules. The bill gives the Attorney General an opportunity to reject that SIP if he finds it to be unconstitutional, which Pruitt has publicly indicated he is likely to do. The bill passed the House 68-21 on April 23 and the Senate 38-7 on April 28. Gov. Fallin vetoed the bill on May 1. A YES vote is conservative.
(6) Dismemberment Abortion Ban
House Bill 1721 by Rep. Pam Peterson and Sen. Josh Brecheen
This bill makes it unlawful to perform or attempt a dismemberment abortion unless necessary to prevent serious health risk to the mother. A “Dismemberment Abortion” dismembers a living unborn child and extracts him or her one piece at a time from the uterus. The recent publicity concerning Planned Parenthood selling body parts from dismemberment abortions adds to the importance of this legislation. The bill states that only a physician or someone acting as a physician may be liable for performing a dismemberment abortion. It states violators will be fined $10,000 and/or imprisoned for not more than two years. The bill passed the House 84-2 on February 26 and the Senate 37-4 on April 8. It was signed by Gov. Fallin on April 13. A YES vote is conservative.
(7) Builder Registration Act
House Bill 1828 by Rep. Scott Martin and Sen. Kyle Loveless
This bill creates the Oklahoma Professional Residential and Commercial Builders Registration Act which says: “No person shall engage in or practice building or construction” unless he or she meets the requirements and “register” with the Construction Industries Board. It would give authority to the board to set up and require continuing education for builders, revoke “registrations,” fine and penalize those who practice without being registered. This legislation is part of a continuing effort by members of professions and businesses to limit competition and increase costs to consumers. It passed the House 51-34 on March 10, but failed in the Senate 8-37on April 22. A NO vote is conservative.
(8) Child Passenger Restraint Law Expansion
House Bill 1847 by Rep. Scott Inman and Sen. Randy Bass
This bill modifies the child passenger restraint system requirements. It requires a child at least four (4) years of age, but younger than eight (8) years of age, if not taller than 4 feet 9 inches in height, to be properly secured in either a child passenger restraint system or child booster seat. A person could also be fined for not having the child secured according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This “nanny state” legislation continues the effort to regulate every aspect of a person’s life. Passed the House 52-44 on May 21 and the Senate 35-6 on May 22. Gov. Fallin gave her approval on June 5. A NO vote is conservative.
(9) Protecting Religious Liberty
House Bill 1007 by Rep. David Brumbaugh and
Sen. Dan Newberry
This bill provides that no regularly licensed, ordained or authorized official of any religious organization will be required to solemnize or recognize any marriage that violates the official’s conscience or religious beliefs. It also provides that a regularly licensed, ordained or authorized official of any religious organization will be immune from any civil claim or cause of action based on a refusal to solemnize or recognize such marriages. With the recent United States Supreme Court decision making same-sex marriage “legal” across the entire nation, there is concern that the religious liberties recognized in the U.S. Constitution will come under attack. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt noted following the court decision, “The Obama Administration's lawyer warned that tax-exempt organizations B like churches B may soon see that status revoked by the Administration if those organizations don't recognize same-sex marriage.” The measure passed the House 88-7 on February 12 and the Senate 38-5 on April 22. Gov. Fallin signed the bill on May 1. A YES vote is conservative.
(10) Federal Funds Registry
House Bll 1748 by Rep. Tom Newell and Sen. Greg Treat
This legislation would have required state agencies to report the amount of federal funds received, to rank the funds according to the agency’s reliance on them, and to report the cost incurred to comply with federal requirements associated with the funds. The information would have to be available through a website maintained by or on behalf of the entity. The federal government too often utilizes these monies to hijack the sovereignty of states and drive federal priorities with little or no public scrutiny. The public, and even most legislators, are not aware of many of the federal programs being committed to by state agencies. The bill passed the Senate 39-1 on April 22 and the House 69-19 on April 29. It was vetoed by Gov. Fallin on May 11. A YES vote is conservative.
CLICK ON THE LINKS BELOW TO SEE THE VOTES AND SCORES FOR THE MEMBERS OF EACH RESPECTIVE CHAMBER OF THE LEGISLATURE.
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