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House Speaker Sets Target On Pesky Citizen Petition Initiatives…

12:37 PM EST on February 27, 2024

In addition to their annual bills that fight the culture war battles of the day, one thing our conservative lawmakers love to do more than anything is try to subvert the will and power of the Oklahoma people, and make it harder to get an initiative petition on the ballot.

As this article and this article and this article and this article show, it’s a pretty popular pastime.

In fact, I’d say it stands right up there with introducing an anti-abortion bill, authoring a pro-gun law, or simply hooking up with an L.A. at a Sine Die party as a right of annual legislator passage!

Although past attempts to make the people even more powerless in our alleged democracy didn’t go as planned, the ruling establishment has called upon State Rep. Charles McCall – the influential Oklahoma Speaker of the House who is likely running for Governor in a few years – to hammer through HB 1105.

Dubbed the “Subverting the Will of the Oklahoma People Act,” it’s a bit tamer than other efforts to euthanize the public’s voice.

Instead of drastically altering the Initiative Petition process, it will tack on additional fees and extra-bureaucratic regulations to, which will in turn make it harder and more cumbersome for people to overcome their ultra-biased and partisan representation at the capitol, and push through meaningful change the state actually needs.

TLO Super Fan Barb Hoberock has all the details for something called Oklahoma Voice:

Critics of a bill moving through the Legislature say it would cripple the process used to get measures on the ballot...

House Bill 1105, by House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, would require those seeking to circulate an initiative petition to get a state question before voters to pay $1,000. The fee would be refundable if the petition meets the qualifications to get on the ballot.

The measure would require those collecting signatures to undergo a criminal background check by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and require the results to be filed with the Oklahoma Secretary of State.

Finally, the measure extends the timeline to file an objection or protest of constitutionality  to 90 days from 10.

Maybe I’m a bit too much of a democracy zealot, but I think we should be making it easier – not harder – to get initiative petitions on the ballot.

We have state questions to thank for medical marijuana, expanded health insurance coverage, and even the ability to buy wine at the grocery store – all things that never would have happened if we left it to the legislative process that Speaker McCall currently controls.

Then again, I’m a powerless Independent voter, and State Questions and judicial retainments are about the only section of the ballot where I have a truly democratic voice, so I guess I’m a bit biased.

Also, for what it’s worth, I guess you can’t blame lawmakers for trying to neuter the people’s ability to make new laws and rules for themselves.

Filing an initiative petition is the only method citizens have left to overcome our rigged two-party democracy that funnels money and power to special interest groups, extremists, and authoritarian theocrats, and make genuine changes to government policy that’s for the better good.

Plus, it directly conflicts with the top two reasons people become lawmakers – power and control.

As I mentioned, Speaker McCall is the author of the bill, so you’d have to assume it has pretty high chances of passing. When and if it does, it will then go to the Senate.

Although they’re a bit less wild than the House, I’d bet they’d love to help make the people weaker and will likely pass the bill. From there, it would go to Kevin Stitt – a guy who never voted until his name was on the ballot – so I doubt he’ll care much either way.

Anyway, we’ll keep our eyes on it and keep watching.

Stay with The Lost Ogle. We’ll keep you advised.

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