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Proposed legislation aims at saving money amid lawmaker scandals

OKLAHOMA CITY — One of several proposed bills at the state capitol would require outgoing lawmakers to pay for their replacement election, which costs the state around $40,000.

Several lawmakers have left office in lieu of scandals, and there have been several resignations since last year.

It costs the state around $40,000 to fill those empty seats.

"Everybody is looking for ways to save money. I think the challenge is you don't want to make it hard for legislators, who do need to resign their seats, to resign,” said Trent England with the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

England said he thinks Senate Bill 6, which would require any lawmakers who resign or are stripped of their duties, to pay for the replacement election.

“The challenge with Senate Bill 6 is, very good intentions, but it seems like an issue where we really need to figure out what the right incentives are so that we don't have legislators clinging to their seats,” England said.

House Bill 1067 is similar. It would require those who’ve engaged in misconduct to surrender their entire campaign account to the state election board to help offset the costs of a replacement election.

“They have difficulty coming up with the money to do that, so getting some assistance at least from legislators who choose to or are forced out of office due to their own poor decisions is probably something we should look at it,” said District 92 Representative Forrest Bennett.

This is a challenge England said is easier said than done.

“Winston Churchill said democracy is the worst form of government except for everything else that's ever been tried. I think we have to remind ourselves, sometimes, there's just not a perfect solution that everybody is going to be comfortable with,” England said.