With the Oklahoma House calling it a year last Friday (May 22) and the Senate belatedly following suit this past Wednesday (May 27), legislative action in the Sooner state came to a close until 2010. [Both chambers closed up shop prior to the May 29 deadline for legislative adjournment.] The end of the session means that legislation stuck in committee remains in limbo to some extent. The legislature rules allow for such legislation to carry over from an odd-year session to an even-year session, but it is unclear as of now as to whether HB 1340 will be one of those bills.
As we've talked about since January, this bill would shifted the financial burden of the presidential primary system in Oklahoma from the state to the state parties. The parties would set the candidate filing fee at a certain level in order to fund the election. This isn't a first, but it does go against the trendline on this particular issue. The movement has been toward primaries; specifically primaries operated on the state's dime. South Carolina had been the only remaining party-run primary until 2008 when the state legislature over-rode Mark Sanford's veto. That bill allowed state funding of the contest but let the parties determine when they were to be held (a provision that allowed the Palmetto state to maintain its first in the South status) and is what continues to differentiate the South Carolina primary from other primaries. HB 1340 would have made Oklahoma similar to South Carolina pre-2008.
Again though, this bill could be resurrected during the 2010 session and may find more support if the economy continues to stagnate. Then again, if the economy was an issue in this decision, it is hard to fathom why action was not taken during the 2009 cycle.
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