This year, state lawmakers filed 2,455 bills and joint resolutions. By comparison, lawmakers in the first legislative session after statehood filed just 916 bills and joint resolutions. We've noted the irony of a Legislature now dominated by small-government Republicans seeking to enact so many new laws. So it's worth noting that some lawmakers are trying to repeal statutes, not create new ones.
House Bill 1088, by state Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, would repeal a 1909 law making blasphemy a misdemeanor. The law has gone unenforced for decades because it's unconstitutional. Grau rightfully argues there's no reason to leave it on the books.
Grau also filed House Bill 1089 to repeal a law barring county commissioners from owning railroad stock. The justification for the law has long passed.
State Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, has filed three bills repealing laws regarding a fire ant research and management committee, the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Act, the Oklahoma Military Base Closure Prevention Task Force and an Oklahoma Office of Volunteerism. Most of those groups no longer exist. So why devote space to them in our statutes?
State Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Laverne, has filed two bills to place the Committee of Home Inspector and Examiners under the Construction Industries Board and to consolidate the independent Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board with the office of the Oklahoma attorney general. Obviously, these proposals aren't earthshaking, but their authors deserve praise for trying to streamline Oklahoma laws.
We'd prefer that lawmakers focus on repeal efforts instead of introducing bills such as state Rep. Aaron Stiles' legislation to exempt veterans and state employees from paying state income tax. That bill would effectively require other taxpayers to bear a larger financial burden and pit neighbor against neighbor. Why should teachers pay income tax but not state workers?
It's far better to repeal old bad laws than create new bad laws.