The Edmond Sun

Opinion

March 25, 2013

Be prepared to explain the vote

GUTHRIE — Consider the following statement one might hear if they stay around the Capitol very long: “If there is one consistent thing about that legislator, it is that he is consistently inconsistent!”

The average observer and voter will likely forgive a legislator for voting differently on issues than they would. But very little frustrates an observer more than a legislator who votes according to inconsistent and illogical philosophy.

A week ago, members of the House of Representatives cast 186 recorded votes in one week’s time. This year, it appears as if we are on track to cast about 850 votes. With so many votes to be considered, it is vital for each legislator to apply a consistent voting criteria.

It is tempting for legislators to cast votes based on the emotion of the moment, change their votes while the vote is still ongoing (depending on whether the bill is winning or losing), or vote based on personality and friendship. Legislators may cast a vote on an issue that is contrary to the principles he/she campaigned on because of their relationship with a special interest group or a particularly outspoken constituent. This creates frustration for those voters and observers who can’t predict how their legislator will vote.

Don’t think that inconsistent voting is monopolized by legislators who espouse a particular ideological point of view. Both conservative and liberal lawmakers are subject to acquiring the “change-itis” disease that sways their votes according to the most illogical of criteria.

It is a moral imperative for Legislators to do their best to resist the temptation to cast votes according to emotion. Legislators must be prepared to explain their votes in a logical way according to a consistent philosophy for which their voters and observers can hold them to account.

I learned this lesson during my second term in office.

After I cast a vote, I would often walk to the back of the House chamber on my way back to my office. This required walking past the new freshmen legislators who are traditionally seated toward the back of the House chambers.

I tend to vote no on more proposals than the average legislator. The freshmen noticed this and invariably my trek back to the office was subject to interruption from a freshman. They were new to the Legislature and wanted to know why I voted against a bill that most were supporting.

I quickly learned that I better be prepared to explain my vote before I headed back to the office.

Over the years, I put in place a system of criteria through which I filter my votes. These criteria are based on the principles that I campaigned on. They also allow me to explain my votes in a clear, understandable way.

I keep a copy of each of the materials that I distributed to the voters during each campaign and I occasionally review those materials. This allows me to adhere to the contract I have with the voters. They voted for me to be their representative based on some very detailed principles I outlined in those materials. Now it is my obligation to apply these principles when I vote. I have attempted to translate those principles into a logical, criteria-based voting philosophy.

As these criteria have evolved over the years, they have made it easy to make most of those 850-1,000 votes we must cast each year. They also allow me to clearly explain my votes. In a future update, I plan to explain the process I have developed for applying these criteria to the bills prior to each vote.

And if you ever have a question about how I vote on a particular bill, please don’t hesitate to ask.

REP. JASON MURPHEY, R-Guthrie, represents House District 31, which encompasses all of Logan County and a portion of northern Edmond. He may be reached via email at jason.murphey@okhouse.gov, on Facebook at facebook.com/JasonMurphey and Twitter.com/JWMurphey.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Loosening constraints on campaign donations and spending doesn’t destroy democracy

    Campaign finance reformers are worried about the future. They contend that two Supreme Court rulings — the McCutcheon decision in March and the 2010 Citizens United decision — will magnify inequality in U.S. politics.
    In both cases, the court majority relaxed constraints on how money can be spent on or donated to political campaigns. By allowing more private money to flow to campaigns, the critics maintain, the court has allowed the rich an unfair advantage in shaping political outcomes and made “one dollar, one vote” (in one formulation) the measure of our corrupted democracy.
    This argument misses the mark for at least four reasons.

    April 23, 2014

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 23, 2014

  • Free trade on steroids: The threat of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

    Many supporters of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade agreement are arguing that its fate rests on President Obama’s bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan this week. If Japan and the United States can sort out market access issues for agriculture and automobiles, the wisdom goes, this huge deal — in effect, a North American Free Trade Agreement on steroids — can at last be concluded.

    April 22, 2014

  • Can Hillary Clinton rock the cradle and the world?

    What's most interesting to contemplate is the effect becoming a grandmother will have on Hillary's ambition. It's one of life's unfairnesses that a woman's peak career years often coincide with her peak childbearing years.

    April 22, 2014

  • Chicago Tribune: If Walgreen Co. moves its HQ to Europe, blame Washington’s tax failure

    The Walgreen Co. drugstore chain got its start nearly a century ago in downstate Dixon, Ill., before moving its corporate headquarters to Chicago and eventually to north suburban Deerfield, Ill.
    Next stop? Could be Bern, Switzerland.
    A group of shareholders reportedly is pressuring the giant retail chain for a move to the land of cuckoo clocks. The reason: lower taxes. Much lower taxes.
    If Walgreen changes its legal domicile to Switzerland, where it recently acquired a stake in European drugstore chain Alliance Boots, the company could save big bucks on its corporate income-tax bill. The effective U.S. income-tax rate for Walgreen, according to analysts at Swiss Bank UBS: 37 percent. For Alliance Boots: about 20 percent.

    April 21, 2014

  • Sulphur a future major tourist destination?

    Greta Garbo says, “I want to be alone,” in the 1932 film “Grand Hotel.” That MGM film starred Garbo, John and Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery and a young actress from Lawton named Joan Crawford. It told the stories of several different people who were staying at an exclusive hotel of that name in Berlin Germany.
    It was critically well received and it inspired more recent films such as “Gosford Park” and television shows such as “Downton Abbey” in that it detailed the relationship between powerful and wealthy people and those who served them. The film opened amidst much fanfare and it received the Oscar for best picture in the year of its release.

    April 21, 2014

  • St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Why poverty across the world matters to Americans

    A child starving in South Sudan should matter to Americans. That was the message delivered last week by Nancy Lindborg, whose job at the U.S. Agency for International Development is to lead a federal bureau spreading democracy and humanitarian assistance across the world.
    That world has reached a critical danger zone, with three high-level crises combining military conflict with humanitarian catastrophes affecting millions of innocents in Syria, the South Sudan and the Central African Republic.
    But back to that child.

    April 18, 2014

  • Government leadership complicit in overfilling prisons

    One of the thorniest problems facing any society is the question of what to do with transgressors. Obviously, the more complicated a culture becomes, the more factors come into play in trying to figure out what to do with those who choose not to “play by the rules.”

    April 18, 2014

  • My best days are ones normal people take for granted

    It is a weekend for working around the house. My fiancee, Erin, and I have the baby’s room to paint and some IKEA furniture to assemble. I roll out of bed early — 10:30 — and get into my wheelchair. Erin is already making coffee in the kitchen.
    “I started the first wall,” she says. “I love that gray.” Erin never bugs me about sleeping late. For a few months after I was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings, I often slept 15 hours a day. The doctors said my body needed to heal. It must still be healing because I hardly ever see 8 a.m. anymore.

    April 18, 2014

  • Instead of mothballing Navy ships, give them to our allies

    A bitter debate has raged in the Pentagon for several months about the wisdom of taking the nuclear aircraft carrier George Washington out of service to save money. The Washington, at 24 years old a relatively young vessel, is due for a costly refit, a routine procedure that all of the 11 large carriers in service undergo regularly.

    April 18, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results