Tell Them NO on SJR21 and HJR1096
OBA President Renée DeMoss today calls upon OBA members and all concerned citizens to reach out to their state Senate and House of Representatives members and tell them to vote NO on SJR21 and on HJR1096.
The Oklahoma Legislature has taken an increasingly hostile stance toward the legal profession and the courts over the last several years, and the above pieces of proposed legislation are intended to weaken our state judiciary. SJR21 wholly politicizes the judicial selection process. HJR1096 abolishes a pay raise for our state court judges, who have not had a raise in six years. Both bills would make it harder for qualified and impartial judges to make their way onto the bench and to remain there.
On Tuesday April 8, another bill, SB1988, was scheduled to be heard in the House Judiciary Committee. This bill would have eliminated the rights of OBA members to vote to select the attorney members of the Judicial Nominating Commission. The bill called for the six elected attorney members currently on the Commission to be summarily removed on November 14, 2014, and to be replaced by appointees of the House Speaker and the Senate President Pro Tempore. When it became clear that this bill would not receive approval from the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, it was laid over, only to reappear on Wednesday in the House Rules Committee as a different bill with a different number - SJR21.
SJR21 was originally filed in 2013 during the last legislative session as a Senate resolution intended to amend the Oklahoma Constitution to require that all judicial appointments be approved by the Oklahoma State Senate. Following the failure of SB1988 to be heard in the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, however, SJR21 was dusted off and amended overnight, and brought up in the House Rules Committee on Wednesday, where it passed out of the Committee by a vote of 6 to 1.
SJR21 will next be voted on by the full House, and if approved by the House, would return to the Senate for approval of the House amendments. The dates for these votes have not yet been scheduled, but the bill must be voted on in the House by Thursday, April 24.
Also on Tuesday, HJR 1096 was introduced in the House of Representatives to abolish a judicial pay raise that has been recommended by the Board of Judicial Compensation, an independent committee that was created by the Legislature several years ago specifically to make recommendations to Legislative members on judicial salaries.
Please join us in notifying your local senators and representatives that the proposed bills would do great harm to our state’s ability to provide fair and impartial courts for all Oklahomans.
Not sure whom to contact? Visit www.oklegislature.gov/FindMyLegislature.aspx to find your state senators and representatives.