Monday, February 17, 2014

Brecheen on SB 906: "A vote I regret"

Following the State Senate's passage of SB 906, I expressed disappointment that State Sen. Josh Brecheen voted in favor of the measure. Today, we both had a conversation about the situation, and below is a note Brecheen wrote on the topic.

State Sen. Josh Brecheen (R-Coalgate)

A vote I regret

Proverbs says "The first to present his case seems right until another comes forward and questions him..."

Last year I spent several hours in discussion with a person I have known for almost 20 years about the subject of National Popular Vote. After several hours of discussion I was on the pathway of believing it was a constitutionally sound means of ensuring the beltway states (like Oklahoma) would have a greater role in electing the President of the United States. Like many, I have become frustrated with presidential candidates paying attention to only the viewpoints found in swing states.

Soon after those discussions, I was reading through the U.S. Constitution for another reason and came across the Article where the Constitution refers to the broad latitude states are given to determine electoral votes. I sensed in that reading that the approach of the National Popular Vote needed more examination and that might not match constitutional intent. I made a "note to self" to follow up with those in support to get more information about my concern. A year passed and I didn't think any further about the subject.

As the beginning of this week (second week of the Oklahoma legislature) I was caught in the halls at the Capitol by those promoting the idea of the National Popular Vote contract among states. It was their second attempt to visit with me on the subject (tried the week prior but we were all so busy I didn't have time). I shared that I had concerns based on last year's reading but that it had been so long I could not remember my thoughts. They scheduled a time   (a day prior to the vote) and we discussed my concerns as I re-read that portion of the Constitution during their scheduled session. They had some valid points about the Constitution being silent in relation to how the states award their electoral votes. As I have a strong belief in state rights, I was relieved in discussion that the state's did indeed have the right to compact and award their votes any way they chose. I agreed to support given the constitution was not violated as I saw it during that conversation. Intent and history is where I had forgot to ask questions (had been a year) and I missed the greater issue.

A day later, I listened on the floor to some opposing concerns I had not heard before and I was greatly alarmed that I had agreed to vote for it when certain responses were provided. I was not misled by those who were supportive, but given this issue's complexities, it had just never come up. I cast a vote for the bill as I had agreed to do so and given my belief in the biblical concept "a man keeps his word even when it hurts."

I greatly regret my vote in support of National Popular Vote given what I have learned in the last several days. I shared this regret at a Marshall County GOP meeting Thursday evening when asked about the issue at the meeting.

Given the business of the first two weeks of session, many of us had very limited time to hear discussion on this issue in detail prior to our scheduled vote. This is not an excuse, just context. Like many others who run a number of bills, the first two weeks of session is a blur. Given the massive amount of reading of newly introduced bill language, presentation preparation time of our own bills in committees and discussion with chairmen/member in trying to move our own bills forward, little time is left for much else. I should have made time to learn more on the very complex issue that has persuasive arguments on both sides.

I have learned two things from this mistake. I will pause the next time a bill of this magnitude comes up in the first two weeks of session and I haven't scheduled time to thoroughly vet it and been made aware of the viewpoints of those opposed. And, I have also learned to never commit to cast a vote without leaving room for "unless I hear something during debate that counters what I know thus far."

I sent word to those who visited with me about supporting NPV that I regretted my vote. I did that prior to sending this out as I still value their friendship and opinion, but wanted them to know firsthand my change of mind.

Only Jesus is perfect.

 Josh Brecheen


       -       -       -       -       -       -       -       -       -       -       -       -

Having worked on Josh's 2010 campaign, I got to know something about his character. When he wrote I cast a vote for the bill as I had agreed to do so and given my belief in the biblical concept "a man keeps his word even when it hurts", he really meant it. When Josh Brecheen gives his word, he keeps it. That integrity is rare in politics.

Sometimes, a legislator casts a vote that he later comes to realize was wrong. I believe that Josh understands that, and will take this instance to better himself as a state senator.

3 comments:

Michael Bates said...

Brecheen should never have given his word to support a bill before hearing debate. His loyalty to the Constitution and his constituents -- the oath he swore! -- should come before any feeling of obligation to the people pushing this bill.

David Van Risseghem said...

I'm left feeling that the senator really hasn't 'gotten it'. He decided that the other 99% of American voters get to control my essential act of democracy. Folks in Illinois, California, Minnesota, and Virginia get to cast their own proportional vote in their own states, but they also get to have access to my ballot, too!
And they somehow would have us think that this will result in candidates spending more time in Oklahoma, instead of the states I mentioned?
I don't think the senator has been listening to his own district enough.
And he's really weak in his reasoning about giving his word. His mistake was in being too quick to give his word and too lazy to do sufficient research.
The fact that we can give away our voting franchise is not the crux of the issue. The act that we shouldn't...that's what he failed to see.

Steve Fair is a political activist. said...

I appreciate someone being a person of their word, but the Senator should be more on top of his game. He must be asking people in his district about these important bills and not listening to out of state liberal lobbyists. As to keeping his word, when it became clear during debate this bill had fishhooks in it, a true man of integrity would have told the bill's author he had changed his mind, not voted for a bill simply because he had given his word. People change their minds all the time after confronted with the facts and 'doing what is right' is more important than keeping your word and voting for bad legislation.