Reps. Pat Ownbey, R-Ardmore, and Tommy Hardin, R-Madill, woke up Friday morning knowing they would show up at the Legislative Luncheon.
What they did not know was they are liberals.
Both men were called to task for their voting record on seven issues in an editorial in The Oklahoman, which cited the Oklahoma Central Parent Legislative Action Committee. The Oklahoman stated, “You can bet that each of those Republicans campaigned as a supporter of tax cuts and local control and claimed to oppose tax increases. Clearly, their voting records don’t mesh with the campaign rhetoric.”
Those who have attended the legislative luncheons, however, have remained in the loop about the men’s views, which have remained consistent during the past session. And the idea that they are liberal gained a fair share of chuckles from the audience.
“Pat and I are getting slammed saying that we are liberals,” Hardin said. “A couple of weeks ago, I was 70 percent conservative. It’s amazing how these special interest groups only poll certain bills. They never ask why you voted the way you did.”
Ownbey gave several examples of why he voted on certain issues, and said, although there are legislators who voted according to a certain index, he takes a bill at face value.
“I think I am pretty business oriented,” he said. “I have never looked at a bill to see if it is a business indexed bill. I vote if it’s the right thing to do.”
Ownbey also said you have to look at each bill in its proper context.
“Two years ago, I voted for the income tax cut,” he said. “Two years ago, we could afford it. I didn’t feel that it was a smart move this year. Saying that, two-thirds of my district wanted the tax cut two years ago. This year, more than half thought not, and it plays an impact.”
Ownbey also talked about the governor’s charter school bill, which he voted against, saying it was a terrible bill without local control. He said he voted against the horizontal drilling bill, which set the tax rate at two percent, because there was no sunset clause, with which he disagreed.
“You have to look at every bill on its own merit,” Ownbey said. “We don’t vote for a score, we vote for a bill in its entirety.”
Both Ownbey and Hardin discussed bills that had been passed in the past session, which included veteran bills and pay raises for state employees.
Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Ardmore, discussed bills passed, and also talked about studies in which he will be involved in the coming months. Simpson said he would look at prescribed burn plans in an effort to prevent fuel for fires, as well as the need to reduce the Red Cedar population.
“Thousands of acres used to be burned off every year. But when we started controlling Mother Nature, it built up combustible fuel,” Simpson said.
Simpson used the example of a recent Lawton wildfire, referring to pictures where the fire went around an area that had been part of a prescribed burn the year before.
The Senator will also be part of a border study with Texas in an effort to develop a consistent border. The inconsistency comes from the Red River changing course, allowing silt to build up and create new land.