OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Ron Sharp is continuing his push this session to save taxpayers from paying for special elections when state legislators leave office before their term is up. Senate SB 363 requires state Senators or Representatives who resign, are removed from office, or are expelled, to pay the remaining balance of their campaign fund to the State Election Board to offset the costs of the resulting special election.
“The number of elected officials who have left office before completing their terms has created a financial burden for the state,” said Sharp. “Special elections are expensive and the taxpayers shouldn’t be burdened with that cost.”
SB 363 does not apply to those members who pass away while serving office.
The Shawnee Republican said he respects people’s career choices but wants legislators to be held accountable for the oath they make to their constituents to serve out their full term.
“Why should Oklahoma taxpayers pick up the bill because someone decides mid-term to pursue another job or, as has been the case recently, are removed from office because they committed a crime?” said Sharp. “I understand people have to do what’s best for their families when it comes to career decisions but when they leave they should have to give their remaining campaign funds to the Election Board to help pay for the resulting special election. It’s just common courtesy. And if they commit a crime, they should definitely have to forfeit their campaign funds to the Election Board. That is just common sense.”
Sharp filed similar legislation (SB 1006) in 2018 but the bill was not given a committee hearing in the Senate.
Since 2013, 14 House and Senate special elections have been held. The nine legislative special elections in 2017 and 2018 alone cost Oklahoma taxpayers more than $250,000.