The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 20, 2014

Editorial: Unicameral Legislature a radical — and interesting — concept

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Fewer lawmakers. Doesn’t sound like a bad idea, does it?

How about having more coalitions built around issues, instead of party lines? How about blurring the rural and urban divide in the Oklahoma Legislature? And maybe less lobbyists?

State Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, recently filed legislation, Senate Joint Resolution 43, to set a vote of the people for a constitutional amendment to create a unicameral Legislature consisting of 48 lawmakers.

Oklahoma’s current bicameral Legislature — which includes 101 representatives and 48 senators — is costly, inefficient and unnecessary, Anderson said.

Nebraska, the only state with a single-chamber legislative body, boasts a nonpartisan, unicameral legislature.

Anderson said his proposal would generate savings greater than $16.5 million annually for Oklahoma.

It’s a radical concept, but does it have a chance?

“Zero, but it is a hell of an idea,” University of Oklahoma political science professor Keith Gaddie told the Tulsa World.

It’s a legislative long shot, but if Anderson’s idea became reality, power would be concentrated for those lawmakers chairing committees, Gaddie said. Less seats also would mean less citizens having a chance to serve.

Anderson’s bill bucks tradition, but is that a bad thing?