Having completed Deadline Week, this slower week gives us a chance to get some rest and to visit folks in our districts.
On Monday, I was able to attend the monthly Washington County GOP meeting. WOW! What a turnout! This was the first meeting with the new leadership and they did a great job managing the meeting. We heard updates from representatives of our Washington delegation. All eyes are on DC as we watch what the new administration has in store for the country. I am grateful to have Representative Hern watching out for the interests of Oklahomans.
Tuesday evening in Oklahoma City was the annual Oklahoma Youth Expo. What a fun event! Thousands of people, rows of barns filled with livestock and kids playing. It is so good to be an Oklahoman! Governor Stitt and all of the Oklahoma legislators were in attendance. We had the opportunity to learn how to show livestock and were paired with a student from our own district. Miss Kennedy Kramer of Caney Valley FFA taught my son, Gabe, and I how to properly present her beautiful lamb for judging. She was very knowledgeable and had Gabe convinced that sheep showing should be in his near future.
We spent some time at the Capitol early in the week discussing our resolve as legislators to protect Oklahoma from any Constitutional violations coming from the oval office. We have passed bills and resolutions asserting our sovereignty under the 10th Amendment of the United States Constitution.
HB1236 The measure allows the Legislature to review presidential executive orders, federal agency rules or congressional action to determine constitutionality.
“Oklahoma hereby asserts sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and delegated to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.” HR1010HR1009
Deadline Week: All bills must be heard by Thursday, March 11th.
This. Was. A. Long. Week. Tuesday was the longest day. We voted to suspend rules and stayed on the floor until 1:00 am Wednesday.
There were several bills presented in support of our 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. And ALL OF THEM PASSED out of the House!
HB1629 by Representative David Hardin declares Oklahoma to be a 2A Sanctuary State. (PASSED)
HB1662 by Representative Kevin West states A person who uses defensive force, as permitted pursuant to the provisions this section, shall not be subject to criminal prosecution and civil action for the use of such defensive force, unless the force is determined to be unlawful. (PASSED)
HB1674 by Representative Kevin West This measure provides that a motor vehicle operator who unintentionally causes injury or death while fleeing a riot is not to be held criminally or civilly liable. (PASSED)
HB2334 by Representative Jay Steagall clarifies that a concealed or unconcealed firearm may be carried on property designated by statute, ordinance, resolution, policy or use by a governmental authority, including a street, plaza, sidewalk, alley, or zoo. (PASSED)
HB2401 by Representative Todd Russ modifies which felonsare prohibited from possessing a firearm by restricting the prohibition to those with a violent felony or 85% crime conviction. (PASSED)
HB2588 by Representative Sean Roberts allows a board of education of a school district to adopt a policy to authorized the carrying of a handgun onto school property by school personnel if the person possesses a valid handgun license and meets other requirements authorized by the board of education. (PASSED)
Week 5 begins the two week process of hearing bills on the House floor. This occurs after all bills have been heard in committee(at least, all the bills that were given a hearing in committee). All bills that will be sent to the Senate must be heard by midnight on Thursday, March 11.
We hear and vote on 30-80 bills each day. With each simple press of a button, 101 people determine policy that affects hundreds, thousands, and even millions of individual citizens in the state of Oklahoma. To me, the thought is a heavy weight that I take very seriously. As I read each bill, I first measure each as I said I would during the campaign.
Does it place a burden on individual Oklahomans?
Does it regulate private enterprise?
Does it restrict government?
The answers should be: No, No, Yes
This week, we heard some good bills and some bad bills. Among the most important bills, was one presented by Representative Marilyn Stark with whom I share an office. She has worked tirelessly on reducing the restrictions of assisted living centers so families can be reunited. HB1677 allows residents of assisted living facilities to designate a caregiver that shall not be denied entry into the facility. There are so many heartbreaking stories of families that have been separated from parents and grandparents during this last year. The purpose of this bill is to guarantee this separation is never repeated. Well done, Representative Stark!
I have been surprised by the number of bills brought to the floor relating to the Department of Mental Health. I will not argue that there is a mental health crisis in this state. In fact, there is a mental health crisis nationwide and even worldwide. A primary cause is gross government overreach and this is causing fear, depression and suicide. What concerns me is the apparent belief that offering more government programs provided by the Department of Mental Health is the answer to this crisis. How has State intervention truly helped anyone? Do we think that allowing a State agency into our mental health will make anything better? The term “Thought Police” comes to mind. Below are links to several bills that have been presented this session. Do you think these bills will help or harm the citizens of Oklahoma?
HB1103 (Passed) The Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is required to maintain the survey and provide technical assistance to schools in survey administration, and help create health prevention and intervention strategies based on survey results.
HB1593 (Passed) A local district board of education shall require a training program for teachers which shall emphasize the importance of recognizing and addressing the mental health needs of students.
HB1027 (Passed) The State Department of Education and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services training . . .
HB2006 (Passed) The Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services shall promulgate rules and standards for certification of Problem Gambling Treatment Counselors . . .
HB1568 (Passed) In collaboration with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services requires the State Board of Education to mandate that all schools provide instruction in mental health, emphasizing the interrelation between physical and mental well-being.
HB2877 (Passed) The Department of Mental Health and law enforcement.
HB2388 (Passed) Social emotional learning is defined as the process through which children and adults manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy, maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.
Just because something might be a good idea, does not mean the state should be involved. Most “policy” should be left to the individual to decide.
All of these bills are headed to the Senate. Consider contacting your senator in the next few weeks to voice your thoughts on these measures.
Feel free to comment below if you have questions or comments about specific bills.
Week 4 was a busy week at the Oklahoma Capitol and back home in District 11.
Week 4(the week of February 21st) had some fun highlights. I was excited for the opportunity to be a judge of the 2021 State Aviation Art Contest. Students of all ages submitted artwork to the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission focusing on the theme “A Friendlier World with Air Sports.” We were all impressed with the variety of artwork these students created: hot air balloons, parachutes, gliders, aerobatics planes, and even a biplane. It was an honor be part of this event.
Another event that was held virtually this year was the Bartlesville District Science Fair hosted by Phillips 66. I look forward to attending in person next year. Congratulations to all of the students who competed in this event!
My boys and I were able to attend the Washington County Junior Livestock Show for the awards presentation, Premium sale, and BBQ dinner. Oklahomans love their meat and I am proud to be from this great state! I was able to meet some lovely ladies from the Oklahoma CattleWomen. Members of this organization have been proudly supporting the cattle industry in Oklahoma since 1955.
In the House of Representatives, I have been assigned to 4 committees: States Rights, Public Health, Administrative Rules, and Select Agencies. This week, I was pleased to have the opportunity to vote for LIFE in Public Health and States Rights. We passed 3 very good bills out of committee:
HB1102 by Representative Jim Olsen (Senator Daniels, my Senator, is the Senate author.)
HB2441 by Representative Todd Russ (Again, Senator Daniels is the Senate author.)
Another week of weather delays. Most of my committee meetings were cancelled due to road conditions. We were able to hear HB1236 in the States Rights Committee. This is a 10th Amendment bill that gives the Oklahoma Legislature authority to review any Presidential executive order to determine if it is Constitutional. A much needed protection!
On Thursday(2/18), we were finally able to meet for session. The first bill from the freshman class of legislators was heard on the floor and passed. Representative Moore endured several minutes of lighthearted hazing questions from seasoned legislators before opening the vote. He answered all questions expertly.
This week ended Saturday with the Washington County GOP Convention. We elected a new chairman and vice chairman. I’m sorry to see Joe Beffer and Billie Roane step down, but I think our new leadership will work hard to grow the party even more.
Congratulation to Chairman Mike Lessard and Vice Chairman Alexander Johnson!
This week began with treacherous roads due to unexpected ice. After attempting to drive to Oklahoma City on Monday, I slowly made my way home passed many wrecked and stranded vehicles. I was frustrated to miss the first vote on the House floor to extend the virtual meetings provision of the Open Meetings Act. My first committee meeting of the week was cancelled due to weather.
Wednesday was the only other day with a bill on the floor agenda. In what I expect to be a rare occasion, I voted in support of a bill. Representative Marti’s bill HB2677 will adjust how your small, independent pharmacies can be audited. This will allow your local pharmacist to focus on patient care and running a business. I am always in favor of supporting small business in our state.
STATES RIGHTS- This was my first committee meeting this week. We heard Speaker McCall’s bill HB2085. This bill requires state buildings to prominently display our national motto, “In God We Trust.” The cost estimate is minimal while the statement is huge. This was my first time to run a committee meeting since Chairman Steagall was presenting this bill to the committee. I voted in support of this bill.
PUBLIC HEALTH- Several bills were heard in this committee meeting. Most notably were Representative Steagall’s HB2335 and HB2336. 2335 will prohibit a government issued vaccine mandate. 2336 limits the governor’s authority to restrict business during a state of emergency. Both excellent bills in support of the rights of individual Oklahomans and I was proud to vote YEA.
ADMINISTRATIVE RULES- I learned this week that this committee hears “Sunset bills” for the first few weeks. These bill simply renew the existence of advisory and certification boards across the state.
My oldest son still at home recently turned 18. Since the ice kept me from OKC, I was excited to go with him to the polls for the first time.
“Oklahoma, the state of our state is strong because we are resilient and well-positioned for a bright future.” – Governor Kevin Stitt
The first week of the 58th Oklahoma Legislature began with a Joint Session of the House and Senate to receive Governor Stitt’s State of the State address. It was an honor to sit in the House chamber with those senators and representatives who have steadfastly fought for our rights as Oklahomans. While many in the room were typical politicians whose focus is increased government authority disguised as aiding the people, scattered around the room today were the citizen legislators who are there to push back against the ever-increasing spread of tyranny.
As I listened to our governor discuss budget recovery following a year of government restrictions on small businesses, teachers being required to teach children virtually, and difficult challenges between two sovereign nations in one state, I was humbled by the responsibility that so many entrusted to me. I am grateful for the opportunity to join those who stand firm in truth. Although I anxiously entered this room uncertain about how to manage the task before me, I left the chamber encouraged, strengthened, and emboldened to fight the good fight, to run the race to the finish, to stand fast for the rights of the people of Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma House of Representatives honored retired U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sergeant Rowdy Freeman, as he was presented with a home built for him by Military Warriors Support Foundation, a nonprofit that provides programs designed to facilitate a smooth and successful transition into civilian life for combat-wounded veterans and Gold Star families.
The States Rights committee was my only committee to meet this week. I was honored to cast my first committee vote for religious freedom in Oklahoma. HB2648 prohibits the closure of places of worship during an emergency.
As I prepare to join the 58th Oklahoma Legislature, I find myself reflecting hopefully on the opportunity we see before us in the form of a substantial Republican majority in all three branches of Oklahoma government. I am profoundly encouraged by the increased number of conservatives entering with me, even as at the same time I find it necessary to discern exactly what a conservative is in the American and more particularly the Oklahoman sense.
Conservatism, according to Edmund Burke, who is regarded as the founder of modern conservatism, at essence cautions against radical disregard of that which society has built before, and rather embraces a humble reverence for the traditions of society inherited from our ancestors. Edmond Burke’s conservatism views with skepticism destroying what our forefathers built under the arrogant certainty that what follows will be better. Burkean conservatism seeks to restrain the ever-mutating social contract of Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau with the stability of existing society. Burke regards the social contract, because its ends cannot be obtained even in many generations, as “a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.”
In practice the difficulty of implementing conservatism lies in its inherent personal and regional subjectivity. I find large numbers of persons collectively declaring themselves conservative, while closer conversation reveals variability in just what to be conservative means. Ultimately each individual considers those particular ideas he personally favors as defining conservatism. In practice large numbers of diverse minds use similar language to advocate differing fundamental ideas. The all-too-common result, as we have seen repeatedly in past legislatures (both state and national), is broadly like-minded legislators working nonetheless at cross purposes.
In the United States, however, we need never struggle with a changeable social contract ideal. By the wisdom of our forefathers we have an actual, written contract among the several states, between the states and the nation, and more importantly between the individual citizen and the state. Our forefathers, uniquely in human history, derived a working balance between Burkean conservatism and the forward-looking liberalism of Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau. The transforming brilliance of our particular social contract lies in clearly describing the purpose of government by narrowly defining what government may do and broadly forbidding all else.
In the United States, uniquely, what conservatives ought to conserve is not cultural and societal norms, per se; but rather that actual social contract of ours, the United States Constitution. The Constitution, more than the culture and traditions of society which naturally vary from region to region, is that very glue which binds us together, while at the same time preserves the diverse culture and traditions of the several regions of our nation and of our state. This it does by insisting on that most essential ingredient of any free society: strictly limited government.
Faithful adherence to our unique Constitution therefore provides the practical balance between forward-looking reform and reverence for the foundational wisdom of our forebears. Adherence to the Constitution requires faith in the sovereignty of the individual citizen, of which he cedes a narrowly defined part to his state, which in turn cedes a still more narrowly defined part to the nation. This proper understanding of the just origins of power by consent of the governed effectively addresses all of the perplexing challenges that will face the legislators in the coming session.
As I contemplate joining the 58th Oklahoma Legislature, I am convinced that to be a Constitutional conservative, not merely a subjective conservative, is the just and proper position of any American statesman at any level. Let us therefore resolve together as we proceed into 2021 to restore that essential understanding that sovereignty justly exists in the individual citizen, proceeds in limited measure by his consent to the state, and from there in even more limited and defined measure to the nation. Let us resolve together, in short, to restore the nearly squandered blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.