Gov. Frank Keating: SQ 805 a bad idea for Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Constitution is a load. Bulking in with a scale-busting text and 150 amendments, the document was the most lengthy of the state constitutions at the time of its ratification in 1907. Constitutions should be the people’s contract. Legislative enactments are the people’s work. By definition, constitutions should be brief and direct. Statutes are workhorses. They respond to growth and decline, the changing needs landscape of a changing state. The founders must trust future legislators to legislate. Constitutions are at 30,000 feet. Legislation is treetop.

President Theodore Roosevelt described ours as “Not fit for publication.” It made forever laws that could only be amended with great difficulty. Oklahoma’s constitution sets the flashpoint and the specific gravity of kerosene. It prohibits railroads from giving away tickets for travel. Our founders included a Blaine amendment, an anti-Catholic scream from the 19th century. This yesterday silliness remains to this day.

The proposed State Question 805 is a return to yesteryear. Break out the celluloid collars and the pocket watches. It is again 1907.

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