Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

March 14, 2013

Local legislators leery of some bills

Some proposed state measures aim to nullify federal law, or add restrictions that could raise privacy questions.

TAHLEQUAH — Legislators at the state capitol are engaged in a flurry of activity as the session moves into high gear.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives has passed a number of bills that will wend their way through the Senate. Various measures aim to nullify the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; modify the Quality Jobs Act; give help to families that provide foster care; add questions to abortion provider forms; and strengthen the law as it applies to bath salts and synthetic drugs.

State Sen. Earl Garrison, D-Muskogee, is one of three senators who represents portions of Cherokee County after the District 3 seat recently vacated by Jim Wilson was eliminated last year by the Legislature. Garrison is appalled at the outcome of the health care vote, which was passed in the House, 77-20.

“I think nullification is terrible,” said Garrison. “It’s saying we’re going to ignore the 200,000 Oklahomans without health insurance, and it impinges on the rights to expand Medicaid. The Medicaid expansion [included] federal dollars we were going to use to help those Oklahomans. Our rural hospitals are hanging on by a thread. The health care law costs us nothing the first three years. I just don’t understand the insanity at all.”

State Rep. Mike Brown, D-Tahlequah, said the measure representats a type of grandstanding, and has no teeth.

“It didn’t do anything; it’s just something they’re going to say,” said Brown. “It’s [PPACA] already been upheld by the [Supreme] Court. I think [lawmakers] will come to realize they’ll expand Medicaid regardless, to get those federal dollars. The irony is the law allows for the  privatization of Medicaid. I think whenever they see the aspect of that, they’ll jump on it.”

Garrison is a member of the of the Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, and is himself a veteran. He supports the House measure that would cap the net benefits rate for a company with at least 10 percent of its gross annual payroll earnarkef for veterans of the U.S. military.

“Our veterans are our heroes, so I support anything we can do to make their lives better,” said Garrison.

Garrison opposes the measure adding questions to the Individual Abortion Reporting Form. Questions to be added focus on the performance of an ultrasound, how the abortion was performed, the heartbeat of the fetus prior to abortion, and the number of abortions performed.

“I’m pro-life, but I think we’re pushing that too far,” said Garrison. “Whether a lady wants to hear the heartbeat is between her and her physician. I don’t see passing laws just to get re-elected. I hate to see the issue of ‘life’ politicized, and that’s what they’re doing.”

Brown says the bill doesn’t address the real issue.

“This is just more paperwork for the doctors,” said Brown. “Until the federal government decides they want to overturn Roe vs. Wade, it’s pointless. What we need to do is take care of the needs like feeding those babies and helping those mothers who are on Temporary Aid for Needy Families, instead of cutting funding. If you want to address family issues, you don’t take the milk money from the babies to do it. If you’re pro-life, act like it.”

House Speaker T.W. Shannon proposed the measure that would allow Oklahomans who provide foster care to deduct expenses from their taxes. House Bill 1919 would allow a single person to deduct up to $2,500 in donations a year, and married couples filing jointly could claim up to $5,000. The proposed deduction would take effect Jan. 1, 2014, and now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Garrison also supports this legislation.

“Helping with foster care is important,” he said. “We need good-quality families to provide foster homes. I agree with the governor on that. Anything we can do to strengthen that program, we should probably do.”

Brown also supported the measure.

The House passed HB 2217, which would strengthen the law with regard to bath salts and synthetic drugs. Garrison said he realizes synthetic drugs are a rampant problem, but doesn’t necessarily agree legislation is the way to combat it.

“We’ve got a lot of those synthetic drugs out there killing kids,” said Garrison. “It’s difficult to regulate, and they always stay one step ahead of us in making new ones. I really don’t know the answer to that, but I’m for doing our best to get it off the street.”

Brown, who co-authored the bill, said it casts a wider net for law enforcement to use in getting the substances off the street.

“The thought was to go a put in broader definitions, so that now, any alterations to the synthetic cannibinoids and their packaging will be included,” said Brown. “I think this will give law enforcement a law with some teeth to work with.”

Brown also authored a bill that would have banned texting while driving, but had no success in getting it passed.

“They flatly refused to hear my texting bill,” said Brown.

“I even worked up an alternative to the all-out ban, just asking for a full ban in school zones, work zones or intersections, but they wouldn’t even hear it.”

Rep. Will Fourkiller, D-Stilwell, did not respond to interview requests by press time. Sen. Kim David, R-Wagoner, who represents Hulbert; and Sen. Wayne Shaw, R-Grove, who represents eastern Cherokee County, also did not return phone calls.

Text Only
Local News
  • jn cvbc fire.jpg Church catches fire after burglaries

    Authorities are looking for the person accused of breaking into the Crescent Valley Baptist Church two times this week and likely causing a fire that damaged the youth building early Wednesday morning.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • svw Humane photo.tif More volunteers needed to house strays, help with spay-and-neuter

    Furry friends may seem like the perfect addition to round out a family.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marijuana, seeds lead to four arrests

    Four people were arrested on marijuana related charges early Wednesday morning after a traffic stop on South Muskogee Avenue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Sex offender found living in tent at river

    Cherokee County sheriff’s investigators arrested a convicted sex offender this week when they discovered he has been living in a tent along the river.

    July 24, 2014

  • ts-NSU-MAIN.jpg Fledgling RiverHawks arrive

    Over 200 incoming freshmen took part in orientation class at Northeastern State University

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-TCP-jump.jpg Tahlequah Community Playhouse revving up for new season

    Tahlequah Community Playhouse is kicking of its 41st season with a nod to friendship and aging.
    TCP finished auditions for its first play of the season, “The Dixie Swim Club,” on Tuesday.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • Infant mortality dropping in county

    When a mom-to-be is expecting a healthy, happy baby, every week of pregnancy is crucial.
    Short gestation, or premature births, is a leading cause of infant mortality. Any child born before reaching 37 weeks of gestation is considered premature.

    July 23, 2014

  • Board considers combining tourism, chamber positions

    Members of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the local Tourism Council are discussing the possibility of combining two jobs into one.
    Chamber President Steve Turner encouraged board members Tuesday morning to be prepared next month to decide how it will begin a search for a new executive director.

    July 23, 2014

  • New chamber board members nominated

    Three new board members will likely be installed during the regular August meeting of the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce.

    July 23, 2014

  • ts-camp-cherokee-main.jpg Camp Cherokee

    About 500 area youth attending popular camp for tribal citizens.

    In reality, two camps are taking place at the Camp Heart ‘o the Hills: a day camp for children in first through sixth grades, and a residential camp for those in middle and high school.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos


Do you believe school administrators and college presidents in Oklahoma are paid too much?

Strongly agree.
Somewhat agree.
Somewhat disagree.
Strongly disagree.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands