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
  • plane-crash-1-a.jpg Plane crash victims recovering

    Two Arkansas men remained in a Tulsa hospital Monday after the plane they were flying crashed into a wooded area in Cookson.
    According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the 1946 Ercoupe 415 crashed under “unknown circumstances” about a mile from the Tenkiller Air Park in Cookson Saturday morning.
    The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says 75-year-old John McCreary and 85-year-old Albert Demarco Jr., both of Ozark, Ark., were flown from Cookson to St. John Medical Center in Tulsa.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • walker-terrance.jpg Man taken for blood sample confuses hospital with hotel

    Tahlequah police say an Austin, Texas, man stopped Saturday mistook a local hospital for a hotel when he was taken to have his blood drawn.
    Officer Cory Keele’s affidavit says 20-year-old Terrance Walker was driving south on Muskogee Avenue at about 2 a.m. Saturday, swerving from one line to another.
    Keele tried to stop the car near Muskogee and Chickasaw, and Walker eventually slowed to a stop near South Street.
    Walker opened the car door as Keele approached. The officer said Walker had dilated pupils.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • ennis-scottie.jpg Knife-cutting incident lands man in jail

    A Tahlequah man jailed for allegedly cutting a woman with a kitchen knife was released on a recognizance bond Monday.
    Scottie Lee Ennis, 42, was arrested after Officer Austin Yates was sent to Tahlequah City Hospital late Friday night.
    There, Yates spoke with Jennifer Pennell, who had apparently suffered a stab wound to her arm.
    Pennell told Yates she and her husband, Ennis, had gone to Dewain’s Place earlier in the evening, and while at the bar, a man bought her a drink.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • hawley-jeremy.jpg Tahlequah man bonds out after arrest for assault

    A 22-year-old Tahlequah man bonded out of jail Monday after his weekend arrest on domestic assault charges.
    Jeremy Hawley was booked into jail Sunday for domestic assault and battery in the presence of a minor and interfering with a 911 call.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cherokee Nation law eases restrictions in gaming facilities

    The Cherokee Nation Tribal Council on Monday night voted to reduce regulations in its gaming facilities, but to conform to National Indian Gaming Commission minimum internal control standards.
    The measure ultimately passed 9-7, with District 1 Councilor Joe Byrd abstaining.
    Before discussion, Councilor Lee Keener moved to table the item, saying neither he nor members of the gaming commission had sufficient time to review the act. Councilor Cara Cowan-Watts seconded the motion, with a friendly amendment.

    April 15, 2014

  • Boy again caught with stolen items

    Cherokee County sheriff’s deputies say a juvenile caught with stolen property several times in the past was recently discovered to have more missing items.
    Deputies took a report over the weekend from a man who said his garage was burglarized while he was away from his home for an extended time. A number of items were taken, including an air compressor, leaf grinder, leaf blower, extension cords, drill-bit kit, a cordless drill, antique tools, a pressure washer, a machete, an aluminum ladder and a butane lighter torch.

    April 15, 2014

  • hughes-james.jpg Muskogee man caught with drugs at casino

    Cherokee Nation marshals arrested a Muskogee man Sunday after he was allegedly caught with drugs at the Cherokee Casino.
    Deputy marshals were called when security at the casino noticed a man drop a bag of a white, crystal-like substance.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tahlequah man charged with hitting vehicle, fleeing

    Prosecutors have formally charged a Tahlequah man accused of hitting another vehicle in downtown Tahlequah and leaving the scene.

    April 15, 2014

  • sp-symposium-Child.jpg Child discusses survival of Native communities

    When Dr. Brenda Child, Ojibwe/Red Lake, tells people she is from the reservation at Red Lake, Minn., she explains, “We’re the ones who didn’t lose our lands.”
    Her tribe’s story is unusual among Native Americans, many of whom have been displaced throughout history. But history is complicated, she said. That’s why, as a historian, she is interested in “the small stor[ies].”
    “I’m someone who can’t really get a grasp of the big picture ... unless I look at the individual stories of people on the ground. How were they living? What shaped their lives?” she asked.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • ts-Symposium-Leeds.jpg Developing food security, sovereignty

    When the Cherokees rebuilt their nation 150 years ago following the Trail of Tears, they immediately went to work re-establishing a government, along with higher education and court systems.
    Stacy Leeds, Cherokee citizen and dean of the College of Law at the University of Arkansas, said that while history reveres the Cherokee judges, scholars and lawmakers of the time, most Cherokee citizens were farmers.
    Leeds gave a presentation Friday about tribal governance, land use, food and agriculture police and economic development during the 42nd annual Symposium of the American Indian at Northeastern State University. The luncheon was hosted by the NSU Chapter of American Indian Students in Science and Engineering, and Leeds offered the AISES students food for thought about where their careers could be going.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge US Supports Ukraine's Efforts to Calm Tensions Suspect in Kansas Shootings Faces Murder Charges Ukraine: Military Recaptures Eastern Airport Raw: Storm Topples RVs Near Miss. Gulf Coast NASA Showcases Lunar Eclipse Pistorius Cries During Final Cross-Examination The Boston Marathon Bombing: One Year Later Michael Phelps Set to Come Out of Retirement First Women Move to Army Platoon Artillery Jobs Sex Offenders Charged in Serial Killings Police: Woman Stored Dead Babies in Garage OC Serial Murder Suspects May Have More Victims Family: 2 Shot in Head at Kan. Jewish Center Raw: Horse Jumping Inspires 'Bunny Hop' After Attack, Officials Kill 5 Bears in Florida Popular Science Honors Year's Top Inventions ND Oil Boom Attracting Drug Traffickers
Stocks