National Popular Vote before Oklahoma House committee Wednesday

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rino-768px.pngThe attempt to enlist Oklahoma in the National Popular Vote agreement, a left-wing attempt to subvert the constitutional method for electing the president, is back. In 2014, NPV legislation was rushed through the State Senate. Legislators were invited to junkets in tropical locations and other favorite vacation spots to discuss National Popular Vote. Lobbyists found emotionally resonant arguments and were able to get senators to make binding promises . Thus they won the vote on the floor of the State Senate. Within days, several senators had recanted their support, following an outpouring of anger from conservative grassroots activists, Republican party leaders, and conservative think tanks. The State House never took up the bill, which expired with the sine die adjournment of the legislature.

In previous entries, I've explained why NPV is a bad idea -- it undermines our Constitution, allows voter fraud in one state to affect the presidential result everywhere, and disconnects Oklahoma's popular vote result from the allocation of Oklahoma's electors. The Republican National Committee unanimously condemned the proposal. The libertarian Cato Institute and conservative Heritage Foundation and Eagle Forum oppose National Popular Vote, as does the Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs. The Oklahoma Republican Party's platform has opposed the idea for years.

Despite the defeat, the leftists behind NPV continued their campaign. Local GOP consultants and sometime candidates Darren Gantz and David Tackett set up meetings between out-of-state NPV lobbyists and conservative grassroots activists. Legislators were invited on at least one more NPV junket -- Christmas season in New York City.

Lame-duck State Rep. Lee Denney, who also serves as speaker pro tempore, is the sponsor of this session's NPV bill. But what is going to happen on Wednesday is sneaky and underhanded.

HB 1686, the bill Denney filed to have Oklahoma join the NPV agreement, was sent to the Rules Committee. Another bill, HB 1813, was assigned to the Elections and Ethics Committee. Authored by Democrat Rep. Eric Proctor, HB 1813 originally dealt with ballot access for political parties, but the entire text of his bill has now been replaced by text from Denney's HB 1686 committing Oklahoma to the National Popular Vote. On Wednesday morning, February 25, 2015, the Elections and Ethics Committee will consider the bill.

This rush to committee is reminiscent of the speed with which the bill was rushed through the State Senate. NPV supporters seem to be hoping to sneak this through once again, before grassroots activists hear about it.

Here is a list of committee members. I encourage you to contact the members directly to urge their swift defeat of this measure:

Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, chair -
Rep. Donnie Condit, vice chair -
Rep. Gary Banz -
Rep. David Dank -
Rep. Charlie Joyner -
Rep. David Perryman -
Rep. Michael Rogers -

I also urge you to ask your Republican member of the State House to remove Lee Denney from her leadership position as Speaker Pro Tempore. There ought to be consequences for anyone who supports this betrayal of constitutional principles.

UPDATE: At the committee meeting, Rep. Denney laid over her bill, HB 1813. Chairman Wesselhoft expressed sympathy for her tough decision and said that the committee would remain the custodian of the bill, which could be heard next year if she wanted to bring it forward. According to State Rep. Glen Mulready, the committee chairman could not have forced a vote on the bill after the author laid it over. Because this was the last opportunity for a bill originating in the House to move out of committee, this particular bill is dead for this session.

Here is a direct link to the audio for the Elections and Ethics Committee meeting February 25, 2015. The chairman doesn't speak until 7:24 -- it's all background chatter before that.

NPV opponents cannot relax, however. This particular bill could get a committee hearing and a vote on short notice next session, still in time to affect Oklahoma's 2016 electoral votes. The NPV lobbyists are relentless, and I expect that they will continue to look for ways to woo legislators and activists.

There is also the possibility that the language could be inserted into a bill this year through the remainder of the legislative process -- possibly as a committee substitute for a bill that originated in the other house, possibly in a conference committee.

NPV opponents should continue to press legislators to declare their intentions on this proposal, regardless of the bill number to which it gets attached. Because it is an interstate compact (as they called it last year) or (as they're now calling it) an agreement among the states, the states all must adopt the same language. It is what it is. There's no possibility that the bill could be "improved" in the legislative process. So there's no good reason for a legislator to be agnostic about how he or she would vote. The NPV proposal is well-defined and unamendable, and conservative voices in Oklahoma and nationwide are unanimously in opposition. When the State Senate passed the NPV compact bill in 2014, lefty blogs cheered and conservative websites mourned. If a self-described conservative legislator is hesitant to take a stand on this issue, I'd hesitate to trust them on any other issue or for any elective office.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 24, 2015 4:13 AM.

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