State Sen. Tom Ivester says lawmakers may be violating a constitutional prohibition on “logrolling.” A bill to cut income taxes starting in 2015 also designates $120 million for Oklahoma Capitol repair over two years.
The Oklahoma Constitution requires that bills deal with only a single subject (other than the general appropriations bill to fund state government). Combining unrelated subjects in a single bill, or logrolling, is often used to force legislators to endorse unpopular measures in order to gain approval of other proposals they support.
House lawmakers have resisted Capitol repairs, particularly a bond-financed approach. Ivester argues that repair funding was tied to the tax cut to force House lawmakers to support both. Because Ivester, D-Sayre, opposed the tax cut plan, some may question his motive in raising the constitutional issue. But he may have a point.
In recent years, the state Supreme Court has sent mixed messages regarding its interpretation of logrolling. In 2009, the court tossed most of a bill authorizing bonds for three separate projects. Supporters argued the bill dealt with only one subject — bonds — but the court ruled each bond must be considered separately. The court also struck down a 2010 bill with several provisions regarding abortion. Once again, lawmakers argued only a single subject was covered. The court disagreed.