Largest Turnover of Oklahoma Legislators

Chris Meyers
General Manager
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

This month more than one third of Oklahoma’s legislators will begin the first session of the 56th Oklahoma Legislature as freshmen. It’s the biggest bumper crop of new legislators in our history. The turnover is largely the result of term limits; after 12 years they are done.  

In the House of Representatives, 19 members term limited, 11 opted not to run for re-election, and two incumbents were defeated in the primary election. Thirty-two of the 101 House members —or 32 percent—are brand new. In the Senate, 11 members term limited, nine opted not to run for re-election, and one was defeated in the primary election. Twenty-one of the 48 Senators—or 44 percent—are new.  

This large turnover presents both challenges and opportunities for electric cooperatives. Institutional knowledge is lost and that is truly a concern for us and for leadership within the House and Senate. But new folks do bring fresh ideas and an eagerness to make a difference, which are positive factors.  

Most new legislators are only vaguely familiar with electric cooperatives and the unique role we play in powering rural Oklahoma. We stand ready to educate them about cooperatives, our challenges, and the consequences of proposed legislation. That education and understanding stays with them beyond their terms in office.

The electric utility business is changing rapidly and state laws will need to be modified from time to time. Changes are primarily driven by new and better technologies, efficiency improvements, and the emergence of distributed energy resources (DER). There are new and more stringent regulations to comply with as well. It’s all very complicated and that is why we work closely with our legislators. We help them understand the full impact of proposed legislation. Be assured that we will work to protect our mission of maintaining safe, affordable and reliable power.  OKL Article End

Addressing Challenges Ahead of Us

Gary McCune
President
Oklahoma Association of
Electric Cooperatives

I pray that everyone had an enjoyable Christmas and New Year. With the holidays behind us, we are preparing for an exciting new year. We are aware of some challenges ahead of us, but there are other ones we have yet to recognize. Nonetheless, we will face them head on this year with determination and persistence.

As I write this editorial, we are preparing for the inauguration of our new president and his administration. Just like other transitions, there will be directions we are eager to engage and some that we are hesitant to embrace. As someone keeps telling me, “Change looks different and different looks bad.” However, I realize just because it is different and we have no experience with it, does not necessarily mean that the benefits are not there. We just have not realized them at this time.

The state of Oklahoma is not much different. There are many challenges—some that have not been experienced before—that our own legislative assembly will need to address this year. Addressing new challenges in the same manner as the past will not solve the issues of the future. We must be willing to promote to our legislators a new direction that solves our problems. This means change. And, it will not always be to our personal advantage. We need to rise above those desires and see the overall picture of what we want our state and our nation to be. There will need to be negotiations and—yes—compromise. I don’t know when that word became so offensive. It is not a sacrifice of our principles and standards, but a consolidation of shared beliefs that derive a better decision that separately we could not obtain. Oklahoma and our nation have prospered and have been blessed many times over because we faced challenges and found solutions to overcome them. This time is no different. We have within us the ability to solve issues ahead of us. We just need to find the courage, persistence and collaboration to find the answers. OKL Article End