Message to Okie lawmakers: Read y’all

I listened to some Oklahoma legislators bragging about finishing their business ahead of the session closing deadline.

Oklahoma lawmakers work into the night to pass legislation before they’re constitutionally bound to end the 2007 session.

Some folks might think that’s a good thing. For example, they were able to squeeze in an ethics bill.

It passed the Senate with a 47-0 vote and the House with a 97-1 vote. New language was written in the bill by the Senate on Thursday and passed through both chambers.

Wow, that must be some bill! Only one person in both chambers had a problem with it. Then again, perhaps he was the only person to read it.

House members received the new language a couple hours before voting on the bill, which was more than 70 pages long.

Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, wondered how legislators can make a decision on a bill after getting the bill in the “dead of the night at the last minute.”

I’d say Rep. Reynolds makes an interesting point, except that legislators not reading what they vote on happens all the time. Take HB1616, which was approved by the governor back in April.

The new law, previously HB1616, prevents the speed trap designation from being issued in the future. It also removes the label from the communities affected by the 2003 law.

The provision to expand patrolling authority was a last-minute addition to a bill that was nearing passage in the statehouse. Opponents said it was a matter that deserved more debate instead of being slipped in quietly.

And when they finally realized what they actually voted for:

House members voted to reinstate a law that was overwhelmingly reversed earlier this year in legislation passed by the House and Senate and signed by Governor Brad Henry.

It would be nice to think that this is the only thing the legislature passed without knowing. But of course, with the thousands of bills considered every session, we know better.

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