Patrick B. McGuigan, editor
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman – who serves as Majority Whip in the Legislature’s upper chamber – drew national attention over the past two years for his advocacy of a “Convention of the States” to consider possible revisions to the U.S. Constitution.
While the idea drew sharp criticism from some conservatives, it garnered support from many others. He was successful in gaining legislative support for such a convention.
In an interview with CapitolBeatOK, Standridge explained his motivations on the issue:
“When I decided to run for office I did so because of a desire that my children have the same opportunities, and have the same great country, that I and those that preceded me have been blessed with. I knocked on thousands of doors when I ran five years ago, and the sentiment was the same as mine. I researched nullification, interposition, Article V and other measures to regain power that states/citizens have lost and over time I concluded that Article V was the only hope of regaining our lost representation.
“As our founders faced, today we are facing similar, with a shadowy, little known power a world away in D.C. dictating on high how we should live our lives, how much of our property they will confiscate in order to force us to live how we ‘should’ live and doing all within and outside their power to keep us in line.
“It is past time that states and their citizens should stand up and demand that we should be able to govern ourselves, and although not every state will do as well as the next, we will be free to be who we are, and our federal government can go back to doing what we created them to do in the first place: defend us, mediate for us and ensure we play fairly with each other.”
In December, the state Board of Equalization projected an $863 million gap between anticipated revenues and planned state government spending.
Asked to comment, Sen. Standridge reflected, “It is clear the Board is taking a conservative approach to the state’s budget outlook. This is a good thing. Although I would expect the state to come under the nearly 900 million projected shortfall, there is absolutely no denying the outlook is not a positive one.
“That being said I think everyone in the state feels a sense of recovery on the horizon, and I hear much more optimism for our future than I do pessimism. Certainly all legislators want to see the state provide the core services we are obligated to provide, most important among them education for our children. I think all realize that this year will be challenging just to provide the minimum needed to get along.
“Down budget years, if nothing else, provide legislators and agencies with the opportunity to find efficiencies and also find areas that could use trimming. All and all I feel very good about the future of Oklahoma, and as one of the states that have weathered the downturns better than almost all other states we should be very proud of the business-friendly low cost of living environment we have created in our state.”
A pharmacist who was the first in his family to garner a college degree (from the University of Oklahoma, in 1993), Standridge and his wife Lisa have three children. First elected in 2012, he was reelected in November with 21,069 votes (62.10 percent) to 12,811 votes (37.81 percent) for independent Shawn P. Sheehan.
Asked to list two or three top priorities for the session that begins in February, Standridge told CapitolBeatOK: “For years we have been hearing about how we need to ‘drain the swamp’ in D.C., whether from our own Senator Tom Coburn or our incoming President Trump. This has caused me to take a serious inward look at our own state, and the environment we have established here that might lead us down a swampy road.
“I have ten or more bills this session alone to address what I see as areas that need correcting if we as leaders want to maintain the confidence of those that have elected us. I have also authored legislation around charter schools and school choice, two areas in education I believe are the future for Oklahoma children and families as well as creating an education environment most friendly to the continued economic development of our state.
“Every person and every business I speak with about coming to Oklahoma, when they get serious, always investigate our education system, and not only want to find schools that will help their children succeed but for business want an education system that trains and educates tomorrow’s workforce at the highest level. I have also authored various other bills from drug addiction to increased transparency in the state.”
The Legislature will reconvene on February 6.