Oklahoma lawmaker fights to get rid of Senate, House

Capitol

OKLAHOMA CITY –  When you think about the government, you may think about those in the House and the Senate.

However, an Oklahoma senator says he wants to reduce the size of the legislature by 101 members.

Sen. Patrick Anderson has filed Senate Joint Resolution 43, which would allow voters to to create a unicameral legislature.

A unicameral legislature is a form of government where there is only one legislative chamber.

In other words, there would no longer be a Senate and a House.

“Although the Oklahoma legislature is a bicameral body, both chambers perform identical functions,” Anderson said.  “As a result, the legislative process is unduly burdensome and extremely costly to the taxpayers.”

Supporters say the system would reduce costs and provide increased transparency.

“We are asking all of our state agencies to make cuts and reduce costs,” said Anderson.  “As lawmakers, we should reserve the same scrutiny for our own process.  Why not lead by example and eliminate the unnecessary expenses that exist in the legislature?”

Nebraska has a unicameral body with just 49 legislators.

Oklahoma would be a little smaller with just 48 members.

Anderson said his proposal would generate savings more than $16.5 million annually.

Oklahoma Rep. Paul Wesselhoft disputes those claims.

Wesselhoft said, “Senator Anderson is certainly not the expert on the issue of costs. Last time I checked, the Senate and House have similar budgets and the Senate has half the number of members. If I understand the numbers correctly, that means the people are getting double the democracy for half the price in the House. I would be willing to co-author Sen. Anderson’s SJR if he will take a friendly amendment to eliminate the Senate.”