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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Secretary Of State: Who Dat?

The appointment of former State Senator Glenn Coffee to Secretary of State has created quite the buzz among Constitutional conservatives and even moderate-to-liberal Democrats.  Republicans involved in the discussion imply that the Secretary of State is not as important as, say, the Lt. Governor - whose Constitutional role includes ribbon-cutting and possesses the title of President of the Senate. 

The issue of whether or not Coffee can take the job because of the Constitutional referendum on legislators taking a state job may be a moot point because the statute is specific to positions created by the legislature.  The Secretary of State is a Constitutional post - but it sure as hell may be time to revisit that law and have it include a two year moratorium on ALL state jobs for a period of two years.  Of course, the legislature probably wouldn't go for that because the vast majority of our elected officials are chomping at the bits to trade-up, to get better, more lucrative government paychecks.

But just what in the heck does the Secretary of State do in the great state of Oklahoma?

If you have ever started a business in Oklahoma, you've been to the Secretary of State's office where you filed your paperwork.  But there is a whole lot more and most people just don't understand...until now.

From the Secretary of State's website:
The Secretary of State is required by law to attest to the Governor's signature and to file all official acts of the Governor. Executive orders, appointments and proclamations signed and issued by the Governor are certified and distributed by the Secretary of State.
Original certificates of pardons and paroles are recorded and filed in the Office of the Secretary of State. Foreign and domestic extraditions are also recorded and maintained in this office.
For the "average Joe," the above may or may not have much significance.  But the following does:
Under the provision of the Oklahoma Constitution, the judges of any court exercising judicial power shall be subject to removal from office, or to compulsory retirement from office by the Court on the Judiciary.
The Secretary of State is required to determine and designate five (5) district judges to serve on the Appellate Division and eight (8) district judges to serve on the Trial Division of the Court on Judiciary.
Every odd-numbered year this office is responsible for organizing the meeting for the Court on Judiciary to make or amend their rules of procedure as mandated by the Oklahoma Constitution.
Why is this important?  Do the math.  How many of our judges are set to retire in the next few years and who will be involved in this process?  A former State Senator who works for one of the most powerful law firms in Oklahoma.

But wait, there's more.
Through the initiative and referendum process, the citizens of Oklahoma reserve the power to propose laws and amendments to the state Constitution. They also reserve the right to approve or reject certain laws, amendments and acts of the Legislature through this process.
Statewide initiative and referendum petitions are filed in the Office of the Secretary of State. After circulation of the petition, this office counts and binds the signature pamphlets. If the signatures are sufficient, the state question is placed on the ballot for a vote of the people. New laws adopted by the people are published in the Oklahoma Statutes or Oklahoma Constitution.
Think about it, kids.

Now you know what it's so bloody important. 

So, you decide:   Is cronyism alive and well in the Oklahoma GOP?