Whatzup Politics (1090)
Attorney General Hunter’s Office Successfully Defends Two Longstanding Abortion Laws in Oklahoma County
OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today announced his office successfully defended two longstanding state laws from challenges led by a New York City-based abortion advocacy group. Oklahoma County District Judge Natalie Mai declined to put on hold a 1978 Oklahoma law allowing only physicians to perform abortions and a 2012 requirement that physicians must perform abortions in person, rather than by telemedicine.
Both laws were passed on an overwhelming and bipartisan basis, and had never before been challenged. “This is an extreme lawsuit, seeking to overthrow commonsense safety laws that have been on the books for half a century combined,” Attorney General Hunter said. “We appreciate Judge Mai’s thoughtful review and decision, which stays faithful to the U.S. Supreme Court’s repeated assertion that there is ‘no doubt’ that these types of laws are reasonable and constitutional ‘to ensure the safety of the abortion procedure.’ "Abortion advocates used to say that abortion should be between a woman and her doctor, but now they are attempting to take the doctor out of the room, and out of the picture altogether. We look forward to our continued defense of these laws and others that have been enacted to protect Oklahoma women’s health and safety, as well as the dignity of the unborn.”
A contrary ruling, the attorney general observed, would have potentially threatened the state’s anti-opioid efforts, given that the state also restricts the distribution of opioids through telemedicine. In defending these laws, the attorney general was supported by the Oklahoma State Medical Association, the Oklahoma Association of Nurse Practitioners, and the Telehealth Alliance of Oklahoma, among others.
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation directing the Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision and the State Board of Osteopathic Examiners to revoke the licenses of physicians who perform abortions. House Bill 1182, authored by State Rep. Jim Olsen (R-Roland), would revoke the license for one year.
An amendment filed prior to the vote clarified the life of the mother exception. “Every single human life, born and unborn, has value. It’s our obligation as a civilized people to defend and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves,” Olsen said. “I’m glad the House stood together to recognize that the most innocent us also deserve our most basic of rights—the right to life. But there is always more work to be done to fight for the lives of the unborn.
This is something that a lot of good people have worked on and prayed for, for a long time. I have had the privilege of being a part of that, and I am thankful for the help of the Lord.” During debate, Rep. Brad Boles (R-Marlow) explained that House Bill 1182 was extremely personal to him. Boles, a coauthor of the bill, told the members that 37 years ago, his birth mother made the courageous decision to put him up for adoption when she could have instead had an abortion. “Now she had a million reasons why it would have been more convenient for her to choose abortion—economic reasons, future college, athletic reasons—but she chose life,” Boles said. “And due to that decision she made unselfishly, I’m here today.” Rep. Tammy West (R-Bethany) also debated in favor of the bill.
“This bill, as amended, adds protections for the child, the mother, and for the discernment of the decision of the physician who is taking care of both,” West said. “It also enforces that the baby, whether in the womb of the mother or in the arms of the mother, is never reduced to an inconvenience in the state of Oklahoma.” House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) was also a coauthor of the bill.
“The overwhelming majority of Oklahomans are pro-life, and they communicate their position on this issue to our members routinely,” McCall said. “I fully support any effort that would save an unborn child while also ensuring that the mother’s life and physical health is protected as well. This bill does that, and it is a policy the House has passed before.
“All life has intrinsic worth, and we should be doing all we can to protect those who cannot protect themselves,” McCall continued. “I am proud to be one of the members of the House standing with the many groups supporting this bill, including the Oklahoma Faith Leaders group comprised of the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Assemblies of God, Heartland Conference Church of God, and Tulsa International Pentecostal Holiness Church New Horizons Conference.” Rev. Paul Abner, an ordained Oklahoma City minister who serves as the director of Oklahoma Faith Leaders, praised the legislation’s passage.
“We’re grateful to Rep. Olsen and other members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives for passing this legislation today,” Abner said. “Unborn children should be protected by law and welcomed into life, and HB1182 is one more step toward accomplishing that. Oklahoma is leading the way with this innovative legislation as we believe no other bill like this has passed in any other state. We look forward to working with the Oklahoma State Senate next to pass this much needed legislation.” Rev. Blake Gideon from First Baptist Church of Edmond, who serves as president of Oklahoma Baptists, was also in favor of the legislation.
“I support House Bill 1182 because it is one of the strongest pieces of pro-life legislation that Oklahoma has put forth,” Gideon said. “It holds doctors to the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm, and it stipulates the only exception being the life of the mother.” House Bill 1182 is coauthored by Rep. Kevin West (R-Moore); Rep. Tom Gann (R-Inola); Rep. Justin Humphrey (R-Lane); Rep. David Smith (R-Stuart); Rep. Brad Boles (R-Marlow); Rep. David Hardin (R-Stilwell); Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy); Rep. Dustin Roberts (R-Durant); Rep. Dean Davis (R-Broken Arrow); Rep. Todd Russ (R-Cordell); Rep. Jay Steagall (R-Yukon); Rep. Marilyn Stark (R-Bethany); Rep. Zack Taylor (R-Seminole); Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader (Piedmont); Rep. Tammy Townley (R-Ardmore); Rep. Kevin McDugle (R-Broken Arrow); Rep. Nicole Miller (R-Edmond); Rep. Kyle Hilbert (R-Bristow); Rep. Lonnie Sims (R-Jenks); and Rep. Mark Lepak (R-Claremore). House Bill 1182 passed the House by a vote of 71-21. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.
The bill is authored in the Senate by Sen. Mark Allen (R-Spiro). -30- Rep. Jim Olsen represents District 2 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes a portion of Sequoyah County.
By State Rep. Lundy Kiger
One of the most notable problems we have in the county and much of Oklahoma is the trash problems on the roadsides of our beautiful state. Every time you see a piece of trash, someone threw it out or it blew out of their vehicle or truck. Regardless both are illegal. The state, counties and cities have laws in place to fine and address those that throw out trash. But, many people litter without being seen by law enforcement; the result is still the same that our county looks not only dirty, but as a population it comes across as we don’t care. This is something that we have to change.
We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the state, and it’s time we start taking care of it as the asset it really is to our area. What people see is a reflection on each of us.
I have made contact with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC) and requested they look at the possibility of using state inmates to help us get the litter problem under control. My request to ODOC is to consider a program that would allow inmates at Jim E. Hamilton Correctional Center, and possibly state inmates housed in the LeFlore County Jail to participate in litter clean up with the help and direction of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT).
Each of us agree that our state inmates didn’t create the litter issue, but as taxpayers each of us are paying for their daily needs of room, food, medical care and for many education. As I discussed with ODOC, our taxpayers would be happy to see those who we are supporting with our taxes be a part of the solution in helping to clean up our county.
I will continue discussions with ODOC to look at possible options to help not only LeFlore County, but all counties in our state. My thanks to each of our communities who work hard in organizing trash pick-up with volunteers in our county annually. I hope soon that we have state inmates helping and making a real difference.
WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) released the following statement after the United States Senate voted to acquit President Trump on both articles of impeachment. “From day one, this has been entirely politically driven and it’s no surprise that President Trump was acquitted today,” Mullin said.
“Throughout this entire impeachment process one fact has remained the same: President Trump has not committed a single impeachable offense. I hope we can move on from this and focus on delivering results for the American people.”
The polling place for Precinct 312 has been changed, Sharon Steele, Secretary of the Leflore County Election Board, announced today.
Voters in the precinct formerly voted at the Hodgen First Baptist Church.
Beginning with the February 11, Special School Bond Election for Heavener School, the polling place for Precinct 312 will be at 20520 School House Rd., Hodgen, OK.
Voters will be voting in the school safe room.
Oklahoma's Presidential Preferential Primary election is scheduled for March 3. Here is what you need to know.
- Eligible voters may cast only one ballot for the Presidential Preferential Primary (PPP).
- Voters must be a registered member of the party for which they intend to cast a ballot. (For example, Republicans may vote in the Republican Democrats may vote in the Democratic PPP.)
- Independents are allowed to vote in the Democratic PPP only. The Democratic Party is the only recognized party in Oklahoma that currently allows Independents to vote in its primaries. Independents are defined as voters registered without a party affiliation.
- The purpose of the Presidential Preferential Primary (PPP) is to allow all recognized parties in Oklahoma to send delegates to their party's national convention. The delegates are responsible for casting votes for the candidates they are assigned to, which represent the popular
- Each party is responsible for choosing the Presidential candidate that will be on the ticket in November.
If you are currently registered to vote, you do not need to register again for the Presidential Preferential Primary election. If you are not registered to vote, you can download an application at: elections.ok.gov or contact the LeFlore County Election Board at 918-647-3701 or County Election Board is located at 103 N. Church St., Poteau. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The last day to register for the Presidential Preferential Primary is February 7.
Registered voters may verify their registration and political affiliation using the State Election Board's OK Voter Portal at: elections.ok.gov/OVP.
The Election Board reminds voters that no party changes are allowed from April 1 through August 31 of even-numbered years.
Attorney General Hunter Partners with Walmart, EVERFI to Launch Prescription Drug Safety Program in Oklahoma High Schools
WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) released the following statement after President Trump signed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) today.
“During his campaign, President Trump promised the American people a better trade deal and he delivered on that promise,” Mullin said. “Canada and Mexico are Oklahoma’s top trading partners and this agreement puts us on a level playing field with our neighbors. Today’s signing has been over a year in the making and I look forward to seeing its benefits for years to come.”
OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Senate Republicans have elected Senator Dave Rader caucus chair and Senator Greg McCortney caucus vice chair, the President Pro Tempore’s Office announced Wednesday.
The elections were necessary due to the resignation of Senator Jason Smalley, who previously served as caucus chair.
Rader, R-Tulsa, previously served as caucus vice chair. McCortney, R-Ada, recently was appointed chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee to fill a vacancy created by the resignation.
“Caucus chair and vice chair are important leadership roles, and I know Senator Rader and Senator McCortney will do a great job on behalf of the Senate Republican Caucus,” said Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City.
OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Ty Burns (R-Morrison) today commented on new rules released by the Oklahoma State Board of Education (OSBE) to govern schools wishing to continue four-day school weeks.
Last year, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 441, which allows school districts, beginning in the 2021-22 school year, to adopt an hours-only schedule – 1,080 instructional hours (and less than the 165-day minimum otherwise required) – for individual schools if those schools meet waiver requirements from the OSBE under rules to be proposed to the Legislature this year. Districts seeking a waiver for their schools are asked to prove that the schools are performing above average in certain student performance measures and saving money as a result of the four-day schedule.
“We expected reasonable waiver rules, and we want academic accountability,” Burns said, “but we think the rules proposed are unfair and unobtainable.”
Burns said he’s been assured by the State Department of Education that the formula is fair between rural schools that might have as little as 16 students in a grade vs. for urban districts that could have hundreds of students in the same grade, but he still has concerns.
“We want to ensure these measurements are comparable and that we have a level playing field for our rural districts,” he said. “We think the four-day schedule is working in rural Oklahoma for many of our schools.”
Burns said he’s not opposed to a district being required to operate on a five-day schedule if they are performing low in multiple areas, but that is not the case for many schools in his district. He said several schools in in district received an overall grade of A on the Statewide A-F School Report Card but might have received a D in the academic growth measurement in math or English. These schools would not be able to continue to operate on the four-day schedule, he said.
If the rules are approved by the Legislature in its upcoming session, districts would need to apply for the waiver beginning with the 2021-22 school year.
To keep a four-day-a-week schedule under the proposed rules, elementary and middle schools would have to score at least a C in academic growth for math and English language arts on annual Oklahoma State School Report Cards. Early childhood centers would need to feed into an elementary school that also meets eligible criteria.
High schools would have to score a C or higher in academic achievement, which is based on state test scores, and in post-secondary opportunities on their annual report cards. Their four-year graduation rates would have to meet the state average or 82%.
No school that scores in the bottom 5% on state report cards would qualify for shortened school weeks.
According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education, using 2019 scores (the most recent available), 46 percent of the almost 200 schools that meet fewer than 165 days would be able to request a waiver from the State Board of Education. Criteria for the 2021-22 school year cannot be set until 2020 testing data is available.
Burns said he will recommend changes be made to the rules before a vote on them.
Ty Burns serves House District 35, which includes Creek, Noble, Osage, Pawnee and Payne counties, in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.