The Norman Transcript

December 27, 2013

1 topic per bill is rule

The Associated Press

NORMAN — Here’s some basic math: One plus one equals two.

Here’s some more: Two is greater than one.

Most of us learned all that by first grade, but it seems to be beyond the Oklahoma Legislature.

Once again Tuesday, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that an important piece of legislation was unconstitutional because it dealt with more than one issue.

As the result, a 0.25 percent cut in the top state income tax rate and funding for repairs to the state Capitol are lost.

That’s two things that won’t happen because legislators put them both in one bill. The Oklahoma Constitution is clear on this point. One topic for one bill. Two topics is one too many.

It’s not like the Legislature couldn’t see this one coming. The Supreme Court has been overturning multi-topic bills for years. It’s cost the Tulsa area funding for Arkansas River improvements and forced a special legislative session earlier this year to disassemble and repass a multipart lawsuit reform measure that the high court had spiked.

During debate on the tax cut/Capitol improvement bill, Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, warned fellow House members that the bill dealt with two clearly distinct topics and was headed to the Supreme Court rubbish pile. He was right, but practically no one listened.

Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, originally a cosponsor of the tax cut plan, did listen. He ended up voting against the measure when the unconstitutional second topic was added.

We congratulate those members who take seriously their oath of office, which says they will uphold the Constitution. For the rest, we wish they would take a refresher course in elementary mathematics seriously, and maybe some elementary civics, too.

— Tulsa World

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