Oklahoma Representative Wants to Downsize Representation

Kaye Beach

Sept. 26, 2011

From a Oklahoma House Press Release dated Sept. 8, 2011

As lawmakers seek to downsize state government, state Rep. Gary Banz believes they should include themselves in the process and has filed legislation to downsize the Oklahoma Legislature.

“As lawmakers, we constantly talk about the need for smaller government,” said Banz, R-Midwest City. “My legislation lets legislators prove it in a way that shows we are truly committed to reducing the size of government.”

Under House Joint Resolution 1021, voters would have the opportunity to approve a constitutional amendment reducing the Oklahoma Legislature by approximately 10 percent. That would cut the number of seats in the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 101 to 91, and reduce the number of state senators from 48 to 43.

Am I the only one who sees a distinct difference between government and representation?  Many complain that the government is too big and intrusive but I have yet to hear one person complain that they they are suffering under too much representation

When we talk about reducing the size of “government” we mean the SYSTEM that governs.   That is to say the agencies, the bureaucracy, the confusing tangle of rules and laws that govern and burden our daily lives.  The government system is definitely too big.

Our representatives are the individuals elected by the us to protect our rights and represent us in the legislative process. They are our most direct line of access that allows for input into and influence on policy our state government.

We are sorely dissatisfied with politicians and government, no doubt but to be clear on the message,  people are clamoring for less government and more real representation.

New Gallup Poll-Americans Express Historic Negativity Toward U.S. Government

What Rep. Banz is suggesting here is NOT about downsizing government.  This is downsizing REPRESENTATION.

Bantz continues his line of reasoning;

“I believe the Legislature needs to look at itself first,” Banz said. “If we ask agencies to consolidate, it is important for the Legislature to take the lead and do the same.”

The amount of consolidation that is going on in our state is something that many have been watching carefully.  We should be watching very carefully to make sure that consolidation efforts are really cutting out the fat and not dangerously consolidating power.

In defense of his proposal (which died a deserved death last session) Banz says;

“But it [reducing the number of elected represntatives] is probably more true to the nature of long-term reduction of our overhead than some of the things that we have done this last session, that kind of tap dance around the edges, as it relates to consolidating agencies and some of those kinds of things,” he said.  Source:  JRLR Insiders Report, June 7, 2011

Bantz’ comments that reducing the number of elected representatives of the people is in keeping with the true purpose of state agency consolidation is even more vexing because we are told that the purpose of consolidation is to increase efficiency in government and save money by cutting out what is NOT necessary.

And as a cost cutting measure, this proposal is laughable.

The measure would reduce legislative expenses by $1.2 million a year, Banz said. (the Tulsa World, Sept. 26, 2011)

1.2 million dollars doesn’t even qualify as a drop in the bucket compared to other expenses in this state’s budget!

I will agree that the American system of representative government is not the most efficient or cost effective form of government. That model is known as a Dictatorship.

To bolster his argument Rep Banz offers that new communication technologies justify less representation.

“I don’t think there has been a time in state history where if you want to be involved as a citizen, as a constituent, you have greater access to your representation in the House and Senate,” he said. “With a push of the button, with technology, you can communicate with more folks and more folks can communicate with me.” Sept. 26, 2011, the Tulsa World

Emails are great, aren’t they?  What about “virtual townhalls”?

Those things are great for making people feel like they are doing something but it is no substitute for direct, human interaction. Personally speaking, I do not visit the state capitol for fun.  I do it because emails don’t cut it.

I would go so far as to say that 50 visits from constituents beats 500 emails hands down when it comes to making an impression.  No one necessarily sees those emails but everyone is going to notice 50 constituents.  Even a phone call beats email hands down.  Don’t be fooled.  Do you think lobbyists have stopped visiting the capitol because they have email?  Hardly.  They know it is not a replacement for face to face interaction and it never will be.  Now that I think about it, I’ll bet the lobbyists would love to see a smaller, more manageable legislative body.

This justification, in my opinion, is a lame one.

Back in July Banz said;

“I think it will be an idea that will be widely accepted by the public,”

Really?  What am I missing here?  It doesn’t save any money to speak of and weakens the voice and influence of the people.  Why on earth would they support this idea?

House Floor Leader Dan Sullivan concurs.

“I suspect if it were submitted to vote of the people, it would pass,” link

I find their assertions doubtful but who am I to argue?  These two men are, after all, elected representatives of the people of Oklahoma and they should be very in tune with the voters.

Dan Sullivan also said it is a proposal that needs to be looked at and will get some serious consideration.  link

OK.  If this is such a great idea, maybe we should implement this right away and let the people choose which representatives goes first.

Seriously.  What are they thinking?


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