Throughout the years, Oklahoma legislators have created a massive tyranny of confusing and conflicting laws which benefit those who can afford to hire smart attorneys to navigate through the maze of conflicting statutes, but punishes the average citizen who has no such luxury.
Several lawmakers, including myself, have accepted the challenge of whittling away at this labyrinth of regulation. We started by taking on the repeal of some of the most ridiculous laws first in an attempt to eliminate as many laws as quickly as possible. Perhaps the day will come when the state’s entire legal code can be simplified and modernized.
To date, I think the effort has been a great success.
We introduced so many repeals that at one point a member of the opposing party rose in parliamentary objection over the number of bills introduced, apparently not realizing that most of these were not new laws at all but were actually repealers of old laws.
Some of my favorites which I have authored and are still working through the legislative process include: retiring the law that created a criminal offense for refusing to yield access to others on party line telephones and mandates that phone directories prominently publish notice of this law in bold typeface; lifting the legal mandate from sellers of watches to keep written records which could be taken by the district attorney at any time; and retiring the state’s Y2K liability protection law more than 14 years after the Y2K scare.
Also still alive are a series eliminations of more old state boards and commissions. The governor’s office has been extremely helpful in identifying which of these boards could be eliminated or consolidated.
You may recall that we have already cut 14 pages from the state’s directory of agencies, boards and commissions this session. Should our repealer bills win approval in the Senate, next year’s directory will be even smaller.
Of course, our efforts to repeal old laws are offset due to the continual passage of new laws. That’s why HJR 1003 is so important. HJR 1003 was approved by the House, and awaits Senate action. It would allow Oklahomans to vote to limit the Legislature and keep it from passing new laws every other year. This would not only significantly slow the flood of new laws, but would let legislators focus on the state budget and state agency accountability during the non-policy year.
Senate committees have already advanced a number of our proposals. They could be heard by the full Senate within days and signed by the governor soon thereafter.
It is my hope that this session proves to be the the “year of the repealer” and that it will be followed by many more.
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 email@example.com.