Monday, January 24, 2011

Pair of Pre-filed Bills Propose Moving Oklahoma Presidential Primary Back to March

The Oklahoma legislature does not convene until next month, but there are already several bills that have been pre-filed which would affect the date on which the Sooner state holds its presidential primary in 2012. Republican lawmakers in both the state House (Gary Banz) and Senate (David Holt) have pre-filed bills in their respective chambers to be introduced on the opening day of the session to move the state's presidential primary from the first Tuesday in February to the first Tuesday in March. The bills (HB 1614 and SB 808) also cede control over setting the date of the presidential primary to the State Board of Elections in the event that one or more states bordering Oklahoma have moved the dates of their presidential primaries in an effort to set up a regional primary.

Oklahoma is the first unified Republican-controlled state government to have a bill(s) pre-filed or introduced that would pull a primary currently in violation of national party rules back in to compliance (on the issue of timing). This is significant because, as we've speculated around here, Republican-controlled governments would be more likely to consider staying put if early and in violation of the rules and just taking the party penalties instead of moving back. It is still early to tell if there is anything to that hypothesis.

A third bill (HB 1057) would shift the financial burden of funding the presidential primary from the state to the state parties. Control of the date setting of the contest would also change hands from the state government to the state parties as well. There is no definite change proposed, then, but the parties could opt to move the date if they so chose.

[I apologize in advance for all the RTF links for these bills. There is no good way of linking to the status of bills in the Oklahoma legislature and this is the only way of accessing the bill text.]

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