This is the time of year when many of last session’s approved legislative initiatives take effect. Traditionally, this means many new laws are going into place. All too often, these are unnecessary laws that create additional fees, new government debt and inappropriate spending, unnecessary and confusing regulation, or worse. Unfortunately, this year is no different. There are many unnecessary laws going into effect. However, there is some good news. Over the past three legislative sessions, several legislators have made an effort to start repealing old law. In addition to the 228 new laws taking effect November 1, a series of repeals of old laws is also taking effect.
The repealed laws fall into three categories.
First, we seek out old special interest/corporate welfare programs that are currently unguarded by special interest groups, and we repeal them before those groups can re-coalesce around their pet programs.
This year I authored House Bill 2288 which repeals Oklahoma’s World Trade Development program, a law which had allowed the State Department of Commerce to administer an exports insurance program on behalf of private companies. This was one of many laws which put the state into the business of advocating for the “winners” of the free market — to the detriment of those who don’t have the connections and influence, knowledge and resources to take advantage of a state government program. This unnecessary government/corporate welfare program died last week as a result of our repealer.
Secondly, we are eliminating regulations that have become outdated and are probably not enforced but could be enforced by those who would use to law to play “gotcha” games and persecute those who didn’t know about the antiquated laws.
Here’s an example: I sponsored House Bill 2286 to remove the state’s regulation of party line phone systems. This bill took effect last Tuesday and removes laws from 1955 that established two criminal offenses related to the use of party line phones. It required phone directory publishers to prominently post the law in their books. Of course, this law wasn’t being followed but that didn’t change the fact that the publishers were technically in violation of the law — at least until last Tuesday.
And thirdly, we find those unnecessary programs that could be used by government entities to place additional burdens upon taxpayers.
House Bill 2285, which also went into law last Tuesday, eliminated a 20-person government board. This was just one of numerous unnecessary government boards that we have completely eliminated in recent years. The cumulative effect of eliminating these boards is providing significant cost savings to the state agencies that staffed those entities.
This isn’t the type of legislative initiative that you read about in the media but I would suggest that it is one of the Legislature’s most important duties.
After three years we can start to quantify our work. I can now count more than 50 laws that I have repealed, and this does not include the numerous other laws that other legislators have repealed. In fact, the repealer effort has spurred a friendly competition among the “repealer legislators” who are trying to repeal more laws than we pass.
We have just scratched the surface. There is much more to do!
Thank you for reading this article. Your interest and input are much appreciated. Please do not hesitate to email Jason.Murphey@hd31.org with your thoughts and suggestions.