The Oklahoma Legislature could use a few more members like Rep. David Dank.
Since winning election in 2004 to the seat formerly held by his term-limited wife, Dank, R-Oklahoma City, has been more concerned with approving meaningful legislation than he has re-election. In this regard he's similar to U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, whose efforts to rein in federal spending have at times left him at odds with his own party.
Dank resembles Coburn in one other way: He'll tell you what's on his mind. Nuance isn't his style.
So colleagues shouldn't have been surprised when Dank gave the recently completed session a grade of “C-minus at best.” He found the session to be “marked as much or more by what we failed to do than by what we actually achieved.”
He was irked by the Legislature's unwillingness to reform tax credits — something he has tried to accomplish for the past several years. The small, and postdated, cut in the top personal income tax rate is nothing to boast about, in his view, and the workers' compensation bill signed by the governor became “muddied ... so badly that it may be years before we know what it really does.”
Dank also said a change in campaign finance reporting rules will allow for less accountability. “The way the rules are written and enforced,” he said, “is an open invitation to corruption.” Even consolidation of state agencies and commissions, an ongoing conservative cause that was furthered this session, could have been better considering that “state government is such a complicated, duplicated mess.”
In assigning his grade, Dank argued that everyday deliberations at the Capitol “turned not on public policy and what is best for Oklahoma, but on what looked politically popular.” That critique won't be popular with GOP leaders, but then again, going along to get along isn't Dank's style.