The RINO Index

Republican Party Platform Sets the Standards

The higher the score the more conservative the legislator


The GOP Party Platform sets the standards for what is a good vote and what is a bad vote.  Every few years the State GOP revisits the Platform and votes in changes.  The Platform was formed and changes are suggested by Republicans offering suggestions in the form of a resolution to the Platform Committee who combines all the ideas and submits the finished product to the State Convention for a floor vote.  Individuals or county GOP committees can offer amendments while it is on the floor then the vote is taken.

Oklahoma has a wonderfully conservative and somewhat libertarian Party Platform but it is not being followed by the elected officials but it does serve to rank them on how well they follow the Party Platform and Oklahoma values.

Out of the hundreds of votes cast each session it becomes obvious which bills are so bad as to deserve a slot on the RINO Index each year.  Most of the bills are suggested by conservative legislators others are suggested by informed activists, and generally thirty to forty bills are considered and boiled down to twenty bills.  Some times the House list is a bit different than the Senate bill or vice versa.

The Party affiliation and district number are near the name of the elected official and the vertical cells are the bill numbers and a brief description.

As an example see the above score for Rep. Chris Kannady, Republican.  He got all twenty votes wrong, he voted for tax increases, tax deduction cuts, fee increases, anti liberty legislation, or more tax credits for the wealthy donor class.

A Y or Yes vote is bad and it costs 5 points.  A N or No vote is good and it adds 5 points.   An E means excused or absent, either the politician didn’t show up to vote that day or he “walked” the vote, as in run to the bathroom and hide while the difficult issue is being voted on to avoid making the voters angry.  Those missed votes are counted as 2.5 points, meaning a politician can score a 50% by missing all the votes, not a good system but at the same time we needed to cut some slack for a few missed votes for the average legislator.  Numbers are rounded off by the spreadsheet so that explains the final score being a half point off at times.

Where Do we get the Voting Info?

From the House and Senate websites.  Each bill has a page showing all the action, amendments, and the voting records for that bill.

The form on the right, blurry that it might be,  is how the info is published by the legislature.  You can see that exact vote here at this link

There might be several votes and one trick the legislators will use is voting for a bad bill until they see it is about to fail, then switching votes on the final passage to avoid supporting a bill that was bad.  Yes, they actually will have another vote to allow legislators to switch sides.  Or the real battle will be over a “procedural” vote, then the final vote is cast knowing that the bill is going to fail from the votes on the procedural vote thus allowing politicians to cast no votes when they in fact voted for the bill right up till the final vote.

So some expertise is required and some knowledge of the process of voting and procedures in order to select the vote that shows an honest snapshot of how each legislator voted on the issue.  A lot of the time the final vote is the “emergency clause” that allows the bill to become law much faster without any time for opponents to file a lawsuit to halt the legislation if it is illegal or constitutionally flawed.  Some legislators switch their votes to avoid angering leadership but if the law was bad, it is still bad and doen’t need rushed into law.

Do Legislators get Credit for Other Good Votes?

No, it is their job to do the right thing for the common good and for their voters back home.  No matter how many good votes are cast the bad votes are the ones that really matter.

Every year there are thousands of useless laws filed for no other purpose than to cast show votes.   A show vote is a vote on a bill that everyone knows will never become law but it allows the legislator to show that he is pro gun or pro life or anti something with zero chance of the bill becoming law.  Those votes do not count. 

In the end the bills chosen for the Index are a compromise but generally they are a mix of the worst bills voted on by each Chamber and on a variety of subjects.  One year might be heavy on social issues like pro life bills or soft on crime legislation, other years are dominated by taxation increases, fee increases, or deduction freezes or cuts.

 

One thing that isn’t done is allowing a vote on the final list of bills.  The conservative legislators propose bills but the Tea Party picks the range of legislation to consider and winnow down to twenty bills.  Democracy fails when those voting are ill informed on the issues or on the processes and tricks used by the legislators to avoid difficult votes.

Below are some of the more recent RINO Indexes an some from the past as we have time to insert them.  Visit your legislators’ individual web page on this site for their latest score.

 

The 2017 Oklahoma RINO Index

This session ended last May and the focus of the index was generally tax increases, fee increases, and tax deduction cuts or freezes.  Click on the index below for more info

2017 RINO Index

 

The 2016 Oklahoma RINO Index

Coming soon, dead link below for now

Find Out More

 

The 2015 Oklahoma RINO Index

Coming soon, dead link below for now

Find Out More