The state auditor has a controversial plan to save millions of dollars by combining the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate.
State Auditor Gary Jones says it may be time for a change.
“Just because we’ve done it that way doesn’t mean that’s the best way of doing it. If we believe in smaller, more efficient government, I think that government itself is what we need to look at,” Jones said.
Jones says each year, between offices, salaries and staff, the Oklahoma Senate alone costs the state between 15 and 20 million dollars.
I’ve asked Ogle Moles in the past why we have a bicameral legislature, and none of them really have a good answer. Even though it’s a dysfunctional mess, I can see why you’d want to have a Senate and House of Representatives for a Federal Government comprised of 50 states, but why does a state need one? It’s not like each county gets two state senators to balance out the population advantage of cities. Senate districts are determined by the same imaginary gerrymandered lines as the House of Representatives. It’s redundant. Right? Or am I totally wrong?
Well, no, he’s not totally wrong. As to those Senate districts, I refer you to a 2014 scheme specifically to abolish the Oklahoma House by Senator (of course) Patrick Anderson (R-Enid):
Anderson says he wants to save a few bucks, not the worst idea in the world, though it would have been nice if he’d said something about Reynolds v. Sims, in which the Supreme Court decided that legislative houses in the states had to be divided into equal population districts. (Before this 1964 decision, each county would have at least one House member, regardless of population.) In effect, this makes one chamber in each and every bicameral state legislature all 49 of them largely irrelevant. Then again, Reynolds was decided three years before Anderson was born, so it’s probably not uppermost in his mind.
And Patrick doesn’t think the Jones scheme has any future:
Obviously, our hypocritical small government state lawmakers want nothing to do with it, and I doubt the political parties want a unicameral legislature either, so this will need to be championed and passed by the people. Since the proposal has nothing to do with discriminating against gays or letting people bring guns to music festivals, I doubt anything will happen.
He’s probably not wrong about that either.