A measure approved this week in a state House committee would let Oklahoma voters decide an issue that lawmakers refuse to. It’s only the latest example of legislators punting on their responsibilities.
A joint resolution by Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, would let voters decide whether the state should seek a $200 million bond issue to fix the Capitol and other buildings in the Capitol complex. The Legislature has spiked previous bond issue efforts over concerns about the state incurring additional debt.
An idea similar to Hickman’s was floated during the 2012 session but didn’t materialize. The argument was that the Capitol is “the people’s building” and so they — not the men and women sent to Oklahoma City to represent them — should make the decision.
Last year a legislative task force abruptly stopped studying the idea of letting grocery stores and convenience stores sell wine and high-point beer. Off it went to a potential vote of the people. Lawmakers have shown no appetite for changing state law to allow cities and towns to enact their own smoking-related ordinances. Bills went nowhere last year and again this session. So now Gov. Mary Fallin is leading a petition drive to send the idea to a vote of the people.
Legislators have no problem pandering and passing feel-good bills, but they too often lack the fortitude to make the difficult choices their jobs require.