Oklahomans haven't been happy with what's been going on at the Capitol, that much is clear.
So voters -- a record number of them, for a midterm -- are sending a bunch of new legislators to Oklahoma City this spring, as well as a new governor and lieutenant governor. Fifty-seven legislators, in fact: 46 of the 101 members of the House of Representatives and 11 of the 48 members of the Senate. The message that was chanted by educators and their advocates in May echoed resoundingly a week ago: they did remember in November.
Two of those new legislators will be from Norman: Sen. Mary Boren and Rep. Merleyn Bell, both Democrats. Another, Republican Rep. Sherrie Conley, will represent House District 20. All three ran on strong pro-education platforms, as did dozens of other legislators. And many legislators who were at best less than enthusiastic and at worst hostile toward increases in education funding will not be back. Teachers should have a lot of supporters in the upcoming session.
What that means for other important issues remains to be seen. There appears to be bipartisan support for criminal justice reform, although it will take more than a single session for our state to improve a cyclical system that incarcerates a higher percentage of men and women than any other state in America. Improving health care funding is a longer shot. Accepting Medicaid Expansion seems to be the most common sense move to inject federal funding into our health care system, but the likelihood of that happening seems low.
Then again, who knows? There's a lot of fresh faces at the Capitol. And that's a good thing.
Another new name that may sound familiar to Cleveland County residents is Daniel Pae. The University of Oklahoma graduate and former SGA president Daniel Pae will head to the Capitol on Thursday to be sworn in before starting his term in February. He's representing House District 62, which includes Lawton. He's also 23.
Oklahoma's future is looking bright.