McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Opinion

April 25, 2014

At the capital with Rep. Brian Renegar

McALESTER — Senate Bill 1790 by Anderson (R-Enid) was presented this week; here we go with more unfunded mandates. This bill would require (on an annual basis) coaches, officials and referees to undergo concussion training from the Centers for Disease Control. Now that is a noble cause but the CDC is located in Ames, Iowa, and I know they wouldn’t come down here for free. With 535 school districts, they would just about have to keep employees down here full time; by the way, there was no money appropriated for this requirement.

It went on to require a certain length of time for athletes to stay off practice and games and further issued penalties from one month’s suspension to a permanent ban from athletic events. This bill was defeated (Y/39;N/46), but the author captured it for a possible re-hearing later.

One of the biggest disappointments that I have seen is the complete failure of the Legislature to ban texting while driving. For the last eight years, one or more legislators has filed legislation to this end. Our past speaker, T.W. Shannon, absolutely refused to let these bills be heard on the House floor. When he stepped down from Speaker to run for the U.S. Senate, I was hoping the new speaker, Jeff Hickman, would allow one of these bills to be heard, but to no avail.

Four weeks ago North Dakota became the 43rd state to ban texting while driving. I feel that we will legalize marijuana before we ban texting. Unfortunately, there is widespread speculation that it will take a texting death to a public official or his/her spouse for the Legislature to wake up.

SB 1471 by Denney (R-Cushing) allows the OSBI to sell a copy of a deceased person’s fingerprints for $15 to a family member if the fingerprints are from a concealed weapon permit. This is one of the strangest request bills I have heard.

SB 1777 by Ownbey (R-Ardmore) requires veterans centers in Oklahoma to shut down their indoor ventilated smoking areas by Jan. 1, 2015, and by 2018 no smoking would be allowed whatsoever. The problem with this legislation is that when these veterans were soldiers, cigarettes were a part of their C-rations; so the Army got them addicted, and now the Legislature is telling them they have to cease by 2018.

Earlier we had a bill that actually passed that had to do with a constitutionality question raised in a courtroom. If a question of constitutionality was raised, the presiding judge could not rule on it, but rather a three-judge panel would be called in to rule on it. Talk about slowing the process … Well, today Representative Scott Biggs (R-Chickasha) brings forth SB 1907 which states that anytime a constitutional question is raised in a courtroom, the Attorney General’s office would be notified and the AG’s office would be entitled to be heard — total gridlock. This bill was defeated 46-45 but was captured by the author and can be brought up in the next three days of session. These recaptured bills usually pass when they are heard the second time.

Last week my column was a little too long and my list of visitors was omitted by the McAlester News-Capital. No one ventured by the office this week but visitors last week were Jessica Beck, Renee Amason, Dawn Edwards and Kalita Lott from the Pittsburg County Health Department; also Denice Daniels and Marcey Ford, representing the Tobacco Settlement Trust.

I hope you all have a blessed Easter. John 20:29 Jesus said “Because you have seen me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.”

He is risen indeed!

District 17 state Rep. Dr. Brian Renegar, DVM, D-McAlester, can be contacted at the Oklahoma House of Representatives at 405-557-7381; brian.renegar@okhouse.gov; or 504 State Capitol, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105.

 

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