Sunday, February 14, 2010

Update on State's Rights Legislation

During the past two weeks of the legislative session, Oklahoma State Representatives have mostly focused on committee work. Most legislation is subject to approval by a committee before being considered by the entire House of Representatives.

I have previously written about some state's rights initiatives which will be considered by the Oklahoma Legislature in an attempt to counter some recent expansive actions of the federal government.

Proponents of this legislation point to the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution which states that power not specifically given to the federal government by the Constitution shall be maintained within the states. This is an especially important component of our governance structure as we have a much greater opportunity to have our voices heard when the power of government is placed at the most localized level possible.

One of these state's rights initiatives is House Joint Resolution 1054 authored by Representative Mike Ritze and Senator Randy Brogdon -- and co-authored by several Legislators, including myself. The concept behind HJR 1054 was successfully introduced into the Arizona Legislature last year in response to the federal government's attempt to expand its role in the health care industry. HJR 1054 would allow Oklahomans to vote on placing a new section into the Oklahoma Constitution. If approved by Oklahoma voters, the new provision would state that laws "shall not compel, directly or indirectly, any person, employer or health care provider to participate in any health care system."

This proposal is designed to make the purchase of health care services voluntary. It is intended to establish that no law or rule can require a person to purchase health care insurance and no penalties or fines can be imposed upon a person who chooses not to purchase health care insurance.

Representative Ritze presented HJR 1054 to the House Rules Committee last Wednesday night. The committee approved the measure by a vote of 8-1. HJR 1054 will now be considered by the entire House of Representatives.

As a member of the Public Safety Committee, I was honored to support another important state's rights measure which would protect the right of Oklahomans to gun ownership. House Bill 3157 is authored by Representative Leslie Osborn and Senator Anthony Sykes. HB 3157 declares that the citizens of Oklahoma shall not be required to participate in any international, state or federal firearms registration program, nor shall any firearm lawfully owned and possessed by a citizen of this state be subject to confiscation unless such firearm has been used for unlawful purposes in violation of Oklahoma statute. HB 3157 was approved by the Public Safety Committee by a vote of 8-4.

In the upcoming weeks I intend to provide continued updates concerning the progress of this and other state's rights legislation.

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