2019 Oklahoma Conservative Index
The Oklahoma Constitution presents the 41st 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 proposed 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 protecting free speech, protecting the right to keep and bear arms, protecting life, obstructing overbearing government regulations, against subsidizing businesses, and in opposition to revisionist history.
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 48% in the House and 61% in the Senate. The Top Conservative and Top Liberal legislators were selected by their scores on the Index. Making the Top Conservatives list were 29 lawmakers who scored 80% or more. On the Top Liberals list were 31 lawmakers scoring 20% or less.
Four legislators, two in the House and two in the Senate, scored a perfect 100% conservative rating this year. House members scoring 100% were Tom Gann of Inola, and Jim Olsen of Roland. Senators scoring 100% were Mark Allen of Spiro, and Nathan Dahm of Broken Arrow.
The next highest score was 93%, made by Representative Kevin West of Moore. Also scoring 93% were Senators Marty Quinn of Claremore, and Gary Stanislawski of Tulsa. Scoring 90% were House members Denise Crosswhite of Yukon, Tommy Hardin of Madill, Mark Lepak of Claremore, and Sean Roberts of Hominy.
One legislator, Sen. Joe Newhouse of Broken Arrow, score 86 percent. Two House members, Chad Caldwell of Enid, and Rande Worthen of Lawton, scored 83 percent. Also scoring 83% were Senators Larry Boggs of Red Oak, Julie Daniels of Bartlesville, and Casey Murdock of Felt.
Completing the list of Top Conservatives were 13 legislators who scored 80 percent. House members scoring 80% were Rhonda Baker of Yukon, Justin Humphrey of Lane, Mike Sanders of Kingfisher, Jay Steagall of Yukon, and Zack Taylor of Seminole. Senate members scoring 80% were Michael Bergstrom of Adair, David Bullard of Durant, John Haste of Broken Arrow, John Montgomery of Lawton, Roland Pederson of Burlington, Dewayne Pemberton of Muskogee, Wayne Shaw of Grove, and Darrell Weaver of Moore.
A large number of legislators scored zero conservative this year, including the Minority (Democrat) Leaders in both chambers. Thirteen representatives and three senators took the liberal position on all ten bills included on this year’s Oklahoma Conservative Index. Members of the House scoring zero were Kelly Albright of Midwest City, Merleyn Bell of Norman, Forrest Bennett of Oklahoma City, Chelsey Branham of Edmond, Mickey Dollens of Oklahoma City, Monroe Nichols of Tulsa, Melissa Provenzano of Tulsa, Trish Ranson of Stillwater, Jacob Rosecrants of Norman, Shane Stone of Oklahoma City, Emily Virgin of Norman (House Minority Leader), John Waldron of Tulsa, and Collin Walke of Oklahoma City. Members of the Senate scoring zero were Kay Floyd of Oklahoma City (Senate Minority Leader), Julia Kirt of Oklahoma City, and Kevin Matthews of Tulsa.
The next lowest score was 3% made by four representatives: Denise Brewer of Tulsa, Regina Goodwin of Tulsa, Jason Lowe of Oklahoma City, and Cyndi Munson of Oklahoma City. Two other representatives, Meloyde Blancett of Tulsa and Jason Dunnington of Oklahoma City, scored 6 percent. Three members of the House scored 10 percent, including Andy Fugate of Oklahoma City, Ben Loring of Miami, and David Perryman of Chickasha. Also scoring 10% were Senators Mary Boren of Norman, Michael Brooks of Oklahoma City, Carri Hicks of Oklahoma City, and George Young of Oklahoma City. One legislator, Rep. Ajay Pittman of Oklahoma City, received a 15% score. It is worthy of note that she missed five of the ten votes and voted liberal on the other five. Completing the Top Liberals list was one legislator, Rep. John Talley of Stillwater, who 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, is found in the center section of our print edition. It is also available by clicking the box labeled “How Conservative is your legislator?” in the upper right corner of our home page at: www.oklahomaconstitution.com
Bills used for the 2019 Oklahoma Conservative Index
(1) Protecting Free Speech on Campus
SB 361 by Sen. Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville) and Rep. Mark Lepak (R-Claremore)
Oklahoma is among several states taking legislative action to protect First Amendment rights on campus. The bill requires Oklahoma’s public universities, colleges and the career technology institutions to take action to protect students’ rights to free speech on campus. Arkansas, Arizona, Kentucky, and Tennessee have passed similar bills. “I authored SB 361 so that Oklahoma college students may engage in the free exchange of a wide spectrum of ideas – which is absolutely critical to the academic and intellectual integrity of a college education. This legislation will also protect university administrators against those who seek to silence any expression they deem offensive,” Sen. Daniels said. “There is no diversity without diversity of thought, opinion and expression. There is no freedom without free speech.” SB361 requires the outdoor areas of campuses of public institutions of higher education be deemed public forums for the campus community and prohibits public institutions of higher education from creating “free speech zones” or other designated areas of a campus, outside of which expressive activities are prohibited. The bill passed the Oklahoma Senate 36-9 on March 13 and was approved by the House 73-26 on April 22. Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the bill on April 29. A Yes vote, in support of the bill, is the Conservative vote.
(2) Constitutional Carry of Firearms
HB 2597 by Rep. Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City) and Sen. Kim David (R-Porter)
On February 27, Governor Kevin Stitt signed legislation establishing “Constitutional Carry” of firearms in the state of Oklahoma. It was the first bill signed by the new governor. “Oklahomans are strong supporters of the Second Amendment, and they made their voice known as I traveled across all 77 counties last year,” said Stitt. HB 2597 allows the concealed or unconcealed carry of firearms by any person who is at least twenty-one years of age, or at least eighteen years of age and in the military, if the person is not otherwise disqualified to purchase a firearm.
Under the bill, you cannot carry a concealed or unconcealed handgun in public and private schools K-college, public or private sports arenas, gambling facilities, government buildings, and private businesses, unless allowed by the owner. The bill maintains current law in that you must pass a background check to purchase a gun, that you must disclose guns in your possession when requested by a law enforcement officer, and that those convicted of a felony cannot own or buy a gun. Gun owners can still obtain a license in Oklahoma, with reciprocity recognized in multiple states across the nation.
Oklahoma is the 16th state to allow constitutional carry. Oklahoma joins Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Vermont that allow the Second Amendment as an individual’s carry permit. The citizens of the 15 states where constitutional carry is allowed can carry without a permit in Oklahoma. The new law goes into effect November 1, 2019.
The legislation passed the Oklahoma House 70-30 on February 13, and the Senate 40-6 on February 27. Gov. Stitt signed the bill within hours of its final passage. Former Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed a similar bill in 2018, saying the state’s existing firearms regulations were “few and reasonable.” But every candidate in the last Republican gubernatorial race pledged support for constitutional carry. A Yes vote, in support of the bill, is the Conservative vote.
(3) Nanny State Child Care Standards
HB 2038 by Rep. Dean Davis (R-Broken Arrow) and Sen. Frank Simpson (R-Springer)
This bill proposed new standards for licensed child care centers that would limit sugar-sweetened beverages to one serving per day; specify nutrition requirements for infants; require giving children opportunities for physical activity, and eliminate screen time, including television, movies, cellular phones, video games, computers and other digital devices for children younger than two years of age. An example of the standards in the proposal, it would require “providing infants daily opportunities to freely explore their indoor and outdoor environments under adult supervision, including engaging with infants on the ground each day to optimize adult-infant interactions and providing daily time in the prone position for infants less than twelve (12) months of age ...” Some believe that it is the role of the government to dictate such precise instructions to a private business without regard to the input of parents. The measure passed the Oklahoma House 68-20 on March 12, but failed in the Senate 11-31 on April 24. A No vote, opposing the bill, is the Conservative vote.
(4) Defunding Rape Cover-up
HB 2591 by Rep. Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City) and Sen. Mark Allen (R-Spiro)
The Defunding Statutory Rape Cover-up Act prohibits the state from granting Medicaid funding to any healthcare provider that has failed to report statutory rape as required by mandatory child-abuse reporting laws. Child molesters who impregnate their minor victims sometimes use abortion as a means of covering up the evidence of their crimes. Abortionists frequently perform abortions on minor girls, without parents’ knowledge, when a statutory rapist brings the girl to an abortion facility and pays for the abortion. The bill passed the Oklahoma House 79-20 on February 11 and the Senate 35-8 on April 24. The bill was signed by Gov. Stitt on April 30. A Yes vote, in support of the bill, is the Conservative vote.
(5) Combating Assisted Suicide
SB 108 by Sen. Gary Stanislawski (R-Tulsa) and Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy)
This legislation helps protects against assisted suicide by ensuring accuracy in reporting the cause of death on death certificates. The bill creates the Death Certificate Accuracy Act which requires certifiers to list lethal drug overdose, or other means of assisted suicide, in the chain of events under the cause of death, or list it under significant conditions contributing to death. If a lethal drug overdose, or other means of assisted death is listed, the death shall be labeled as a suicide. A certifier that knowingly omits the listing of such substances in the cause of death shall be deemed to be engaged in unprofessional conduct. Promoters of legalizing assisted suicide are encouraging those participating in assisted suicide to cover up what is actually occurring by reporting an underlying illness, instead of suicide, to hide the true cause of death in such cases. A prerequisite for preventing the lethal practice of assisted suicide from gaining a foothold in Oklahoma is honest reporting of the actual cause of death so the perpetrators cannot hide what they have done. The bill was amended and approved by the Oklahoma House 59-36 on April 17 and approved by the Senate 33-12 on April 30. It was signed by Gov. Stitt on May 6. A Yes vote, in support of the bill, is the Conservative vote.
(6) Modifying AIDS/HIV Education
HB 1018 by Rep. Marcus McEntire (R-Duncan) and Sen. Adam Pugh (R-Edmond)
This bill would have revised the requirements concerning AIDS/HIV education in the government schools. It would require each school district to provide instruction of HIV, AIDS, and related issues according to a specific schedule by grade level. The bill also directs the State Department of Education to make available medically accurate curriculum, but, school districts have the option to create their own curriculum provided the curriculum is approved for medical accuracy by the State Department of Health. However, the critical issue was not what the bill proposed to require, but the repealer: “70 O.S. 2011, Section 11-103.3, is hereby repealed.” This would repeal the current law which requires school districts to make the curriculum and materials available for inspection by the parents or guardians a public forum. It also removed the requirement to teach that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain means for prevention. The bill passed the Senate 27-18 on April 25, and the House 69-15 on May 7. The bill was vetoed by Gov. Stitt on May 14. A No vote, opposing the bill, is the Conservative vote.
(7) Rebates for Hollywood
SB 200 by Sen. Roger Thompson (R-Okemah) and Rep. Jason Dunnington (D-Oklahoma City)
This bill expands the purpose of the Oklahoma Quick Action Closing Fund to include payments of rebates for production costs of a high impact production of a movie. A high impact production, as defined by the bill, is a production with costs equal to or greater than $50 million and with at least 1/3 of the total costs deemed Oklahoma expenditures by the Office of the Oklahoma Film and Music Commission. The measure provides an exception for rebates from the requirement of a Department of Commerce study to determine the impact on the state. The bill also doubles the annual rebate cap for the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program from $4 million to $8 million and extends the sunset date from July 1, 2024 to July 1, 2027. Funding from the Oklahoma Quick Action Closing Fund would not be limited by the rebate program cap. It was amended and approved by the House 92-5 on April 25, and the final version was approved in the Senate 37-8 on May 1. The bill was signed by Gov. Stitt on May 7. A No vote, opposing the bill, is the Conservative vote.
(8) Ban Disposable Container Taxes
SB 1001 by Sen. James Leewright (R-Bristow ) and Rep. Dustin Roberts (R-Durant)
This legislation prevents Oklahoma cities and towns from imposing a fee or tax on an “auxiliary container,” such as plastic bags, plastic water bottles, or disposable food containers. Eleven other states, including Texas, previously adopted similar pre-emption legislation. The city of Norman was considering imposing a 5-cent tax on plastic and paper bags. The bill was supported by retailers and container manufacturers who believe such municipal ordinances could reduce consumer choice and increase the cost of groceries and other products. Opponents of the bill charged that the ban is an affront to local control, but just as the states created the federal government, the state government establishes the rules under which the local units of government may govern. The bill passed the Oklahoma Senate 35-9 on March 6 and the House 51-41 on April 16. Gov. Kevin Stitt signed the bill on April 23. A Yes vote, in support of the bill, is the Conservative vote.
(9) Abortion Pill Reversal
SB 614 by Sen. Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville) and Rep. Mark Lepak (R-Claremore)
This bill provides that an abortion patient be given information during the informed-consent process about the possibility of reversing the intended effects of a medication (chemical) abortion if the mother changes her mind. Chemical abortions have overtaken surgical abortions as the method preferred by the abortion industry for taking a child’s life. In Oklahoma, 53% of all abortions are such abortions, which involve a two-step drug process. The first abortifacient drug, mifepristone (RU-486), is given at the “clinic.” The second drug, misoprostol, is taken 24-48 hours later, usually at home, to expel the unborn child and complete the abortion. Medical science has developed a method for reversing the effects of a medication abortion and saving the life of the unborn child when only the first drug has been ingested by the mother. To date, over 500 babies have been saved by the Abortion Pill Reversal protocol, which involves the administration of progesterone. This protective legislation will let a mother know that the effects of a chemical abortion can potentially be reversed and save her baby’s life if she changes her mind after taking the first abortion pill. The bill gives her a second chance at “choice.”
Oklahoma joins Arkansas, Idaho, South Dakota and Utah in having abortion reversal laws on the books. Oklahoma’s law will go into effect on November 1, 2019. The Kansas Legislature also recently passed similar abortion reversal legislation, but it was vetoed by the state’s newly elected Democrat governor. SB 614 passed the Oklahoma Senate 39-8 on March 5 and was approved by the House 74-24 on April 16. On April 25, Gov. Kevin Stitt kept his campaign promise to sign any anti-abortion bill which reached his desk. A Yes vote, in support of the bill, is the Conservative vote.
(10) Move Oklahoma’s Native American Day
SB 111 by Sen. Michael Bergstrom (R-Adair) and Rep. Collin Walke (D-Oklahoma City)
This bill moves the state’s Native American Day from the third Monday in November to the second Monday in October, which is the same date as Columbus Day. Since 1937, Columbus Day has been celebrated in recognition of Christopher Columbus discovering America. The acknowledged purpose of the move is to diminish the importance of Columbus. Many Native American activists say that the discovery of America, and the subsequent migration of Europeans to the continent, is not something to celebrate. On January 11, leaders of five Oklahoma Tribes – Cherokee, Choctaws, Chickasaws, Creeks and Seminoles – endorsed the bill. Gov. Mary Fallin, vetoed similar legislation last year. The bill passed the Oklahoma Senate 37-8 on March 4 and the House 81-17 on April 22. The bill was signed by Gov. Stitt on April 25. A No vote, opposing the bill, is the Conservative vote.
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