The Tea Party and Term Limits
Those who work at the Capitol on a regular basis become rather accustomed to the large number of groups that hold presentations or demonstrations in support of various issues. However, last week, I think a lot of people were caught off guard by the size of the group that showed up to demonstrate against big government spending. Somewhere in the area of 5,000 people took time out of their busy days to attend the event and I believe their message made a difference.
The very next day, state Representative Mike Reynolds pointed to the group's attendance as a reason the Representatives should support an anti-tax proposal the he was introducing. Reynold's anti-tax measure was subsequently approved by an overwhelming bipartisan vote.
Hopefully this is just a small first step as the people attempt to reassert a sense of fiscal discipline over government. I am very excited to see the people's involvement and certainly hope it will continue.
Another exciting event last week was the final passage of Senate Joint Resolution 12, a resolution for term limits for all statewide elected officials. The passage of the resolution will allow the people to vote on the proposed policy at the next general election.
More than 15 years ago, the people decided overwhelmingly to limit the number of years a state legislator can serve because they believe elected officials should be servants. Voters want their leaders to make sacrifices to serve the people and then go and live under the laws they helped enact. Prior to legislative term limits, many career politicians were part of an elite class who made their life in politics. I believe that the people of Oklahoma want their leaders to be citizen legislators who stay in touch with the real world and who are not just building personal political empires.
Now, with the affirmative vote of the people, we will be able to bring this concept full circle. By placing limits on the terms of statewide officials, we will be declaring that there are no positions in state government where a politician can build his own political empire that will last for years.
I enjoyed to opportunity to serve as the House author of this resolution but I recognize that passage only came about with the support of the leadership of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Senate and the hard work of other proponents of this idea, including the two citizen groups, Oklahomans for Responsible Growth and Americans for Prosperity.
The two other legislative members who were also responsible for the passage of the resolution were State Senator Randy Brogdon and former State Representative Trebor Worthen. It was Rep. Worthen who conceived the idea and first introduced it in 2005. Worthen invested a tremendous effort in paving the way for the approval of the resolution and did the groundwork necessary to eventually get it passed. Brogdon supported Worthen as the champion of the bill in the Senate.
Last year, Worthen decided not to seek reelection. Following his departure, I was privileged to step in as the House author of the effort and look forward to seeing the results of the vote on election day.