- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 24, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma lawmakers could bring home a smaller paycheck, work less and even see their numbers cut by a third under a few of the measures that already have been filed ahead of the 2015 legislative session.

Nearly 70 measures have been filed so far in the Senate, with another handful in the House, but already legislators are coming up with some quirky and unusual ideas.

Sen. Patrick Anderson, a 10-year veteran of the Oklahoma Senate, has introduced a measure that would allow the people of Oklahoma decide whether to abolish the Senate altogether and change its Legislature to a single, 101-member body.

“The last time I introduced it, I tried to get rid of the House of Representatives. They took offense to that,” said Anderson, R-Enid. “This time my version eliminates the Senate.

“I’m not mad at the Senate or the House, but my intent is to streamline the legislative process and save taxpayer money in the process.”

One resolution seeks a public vote on whether to have the Legislature meet every other year, while another would tie legislators’ base salary, which is currently $38,400, to a regional average that would result in a pay cut.

While fewer than 100 bills have been filed so far, it’s expected close to 3,000 bills and resolutions will be introduced during the 2015 session, which begins on Feb. 2 and is scheduled to conclude on the last Friday in May. The deadline for introducing bills is Jan. 22.

Gov. Mary Fallin and Republican leaders in the House and Senate still are fine tuning their legislative priorities, but all have voiced an interest in addressing budget-related policy matters this session, such as the tens of millions of dollars in various tax incentives offered by the state and the diversion of general revenue for special projects. Other priorities include criminal justice measures to slow the state’s ever increasing prison population.

Anderson acknowledges many of the ideas proposed by him and his colleagues, including the unicameral Legislature, might not make it to the governor’s desk or a vote. But he said he hopes to spur conversations that could lead to a more efficient government.

“These will have an uphill battle, but I think it’s important these issues are brought forward and discussed,” Anderson said.


Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy



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