The Pryor Times

Opinion

May 8, 2014

When politics get in the way

PRYOR, OK — Can you imagine if your hometown police department contracted with a private company to conduct roadside traffic stops and make arrests for violations of state law or municipal ordinances? I don't know about you, but that just seems a little dirty.

Though this isn't a topic that dominates my thoughts, I write about it today because one of seventeen bills that fell prey to the Executive Branch's temper tantrum this week was a measure that would have prohibited private, non-law enforcement entities/individuals from these types of outsourcing contracts that had occurred in Caddo County. House Bill 3417 passed the House 90-0 and the Senate 43-0.

As a municipal prosecutor I always bristle when it is suggested that municipal courts are only for revenue - because that's simply not true in an overwhelming majority of municipalities. But as citizens we need to have confidence that our court systems are more than just a business. We need to have confidence that the legitimate revenue function of a police department is to offset costs of providing public safety for its citizens.

Gov. Fallin vetoed this bill because she was mad at the House for defeating her measure to privatize rural education by allowing the expansion of charter schools into rural Oklahoma. She was also upset we defeated her effort to borrow $160 million for Capitol renovations when the House preferred to attempt to pay for those repairs out of the Rainy Day Fund - an account with about $600 million currently on deposit.

Political Science is interesting. Politics can be fun. But when politics get in the way of sound policy it's always a disappointing day at the Capitol. One thing for sure, the governor's latest stunt won't help the end of the session budget negotiations go any smoother.

Thank you for entrusting me with your vote at the Capitol. Please let me hear from you on any matters pending in the legislature. I can be reached at bensherrer@okhouse.gov or 800-522-8502. Until next time, God bless you.

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