Thursday, March 19, 2020

State Rep. Gann: Legislative proxy voting is reckless and dangerous

Administrative Rules Chairman Tom Gann Issues Statement on Proposal to Allow Legislators to Vote by "Proxy"

INOLA – State Rep. Tom Gann (R- Inola) issued the following statement in response to the plan to allow legislators to consider and vote on bills without being present at the Capitol:

"The Oklahoma Constitution requires a quorum of legislators to be present to consider legislation. This important provision was wisely designed by our states' founders. It prevents the many evils that would arise if legislators were making policy without direct participation in the lawmaking process that impacts those we serve.

If I am well, showing no symptoms and do not have Covid-19, I will perform my duty as an elected official of the House of Representatives from House District 8. I will travel to the Capitol and cast my vote personally. I will not use a proxy. Proxy voting is not what I was elected to do.

The 'proxy' voting proposal is unnecessary and reckless to our constitutional form of government. A bill or measure voted under implementation of this plan could be challenged in a court of law, and a dangerous precedent could be set to allow proxy voting from here on out.

We have a representative form of government where each member of the house is a proxy already for approximately 38,000 people. We have no authority to delegate that responsibility to one or two individuals.

Our Constitution is clear that we are to be present for votes and debate if needed, to the point that even law enforcement cannot detain us en route to fulfill our duty.

If the person delegated to be a proxy is able to travel to the capitol to cast votes if they are well, why would I not be able to cast my own vote if I am well? 

There are many others in our society who by virtue of their jobs cannot call it in, nor use a proxy and forsake their duty.

I will fulfill my duty according to the State Constitution I swore an oath to and be present to vote and represent the 8th House District of Oklahoma.

I understand and appreciate the necessity to reduce the risks of exposure and virus spread by limiting the number of legislative events. We are under very unique circumstances with the outbreak of Covid-19.

Because of these circumstances, the Legislature should forgo the consideration of many of the unnecessary proposals remaining and focus mostly on the Constitution's requirement to create a state budget. Because of this situation, only the state budget rises to the level of absolute necessity during this particular time in the session.

There is ample time to consider the budget before the Constitution mandates the end of the legislative session in late May, and it is anticipated that the spread of the virus will have peaked by that time."


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