House Committee advances measure to end “preferential treatment”

Oklahoma voters may vote to end some government-sponsored programs traditionally called “affirmative action.” In the view of Republican advocates, a new proposal would let voters decide whether “to outlaw state-sanctioned discrimination.”
  The House Rules Committee today (Wednesday, April 6) voted 1-3 to approve Senate Joint Resolution 15. 

  The measure co-sponsored by state Rep. Leslie Osborn of Tuttle and Sen. Rob Johnson of Kingfisher previously passed the state Senate, 31-15. 

  In a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, Osborn said, “State government policies simply should not discriminate against Oklahoma citizens based on race or gender. This constitutional amendment will allow the voters to take a stand for equality.”
  If approved in the House, the measure would submit a proposed constitutional amendment to a statewide popular vote. The proposed amendment declares, “The state shall not grant preferential treatment to, or discriminate against, any individual or group on the basis of race, color, sex, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.”
  “Government employment and contracting decisions should be based on merit alone,” Osborn said. “The only way to guarantee all citizens have the opportunity to compete is to treat them all equally. I believe Oklahoma citizens will overwhelmingly approve this constitutional amendment at the polls.”
  In wake of the committee vote, the proposal is now pending before the full House. 
NOTE: Editor Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this report.