Monday, May 4, 2009

Weekly opinion/editorial
by Steve Fair
The tenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

James Madison, "the father of the U.S. Constitution," said concerning the powers delegated to the federal branch of government: "The powers delegated to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, [such] as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce. The powers reserved to the several states will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people."

Interpretations of the tenth amendment are divided into two camps. The first camp interprets and believes the Constitution does not grant the United States federal government any power that it does not expressly mention. The opposing view is that the Constitution grants Congress the authority to do more or less anything that is not explicitly prohibited by the first eight amendments. As all aspects of government have grown- but particularly the federal branch- this amendment has gained some attention across the nation. It has resulted in several states passing what is known as “tenth amendment” legislation.

Oklahoma State Representative Charles Key, R-OKC authored HJR 1003 which declared in part, “THAT this serve as Notice and Demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers. THAT all compulsory federal legislation which directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed.” The resolution was sponsored in the State Senate by Senator Randy Brogdon, R, Owasso.

“We, the people in the states, created the federal government,” Key said. “They act like they created us and we’re under their authority, and that’s really not the case.” “It’s to help try to get us back to following the Constitution and try to preserve our constitutional form of government,” Key said. “The federal government continues to violate it more and more. It’s gotten so bad that they pretty much do whatever they want and get away with just about anything they want to get away with.”

On February 18th, the Oklahoma State House passed HJR 1003 by a vote of 83-15 and sent the resolution to the Senate where it passed on April 14th 29-18. All Republicans voted for it and most Democrats against it.

On April 24th, Gov. Henry vetoed the resolution saying, “In short, HJR 1003 could be detrimental to Oklahoma and does not serve the state or its citizens in any positive manner.” Henry went on to say, “Furthermore, HJR 1003 also alleges, without offering any evidence or explanation, that past and current U.S. leaders may have violated the Constitution and committed crimes against the states and the country.” The Governor also said it was a WASTE OF TIME to pass 10th amendment legislation. This coming from a guy who is chronically late for appointments, has avoided pushing any meaningful reform-tort or workers comp- during his term and who just last week honored a rock band that dishonored the "people's house." Henry was surely joking- no one in their right mind would call standing up for the nation's founding document a waste of time. This lame duck Governor will undoubtedly run for another office after he is termed out- Oklahoma voters better REMEMBER when it comes to Blackjack Henry- the Governor who gave us casino gambling and a state rock song that he is a situational ethics kind of guy! To quote Flaming Lips Wayne Coyne, "He's so cool!"

Had Governor Henry signed the resolution, it would have been distributed to President Obama, members of Congress and other federal offices as an official statement from the state of Oklahoma.

In response to the Governor’s veto, Key has reintroduced the resolution as House Concurrent Resolution 1028. If the concurrent resolution passes both the House and Senate, it will not require signature from the governor. It passed the State House on Monday the 4th and now moves to the Senate.

Texas Governor Rick Perry supports tenth amendment legislation. When the Texas legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution 50 which is virtually identical to Key’s bill, Perry said, “I believe that our federal government has become oppressive in its size, its intrusion into the lives of our citizens, and its interference with the affairs of our state,' he continued. 'That is why I am here today to express my unwavering support for efforts all across our country to reaffirm states' rights affirmed by the Tenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. ”

How can Governors of two states with citizens that have similar values see things so differently? Of course, one is a Republican and the other a Democrat, but the founders were non-partisan on the issue of the power of the federal government.

Thomas Jefferson, the founder of the Democrat Party said; "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated." It is abundantly clear the founding fathers- even the Democrats- believed in limited government. If limited government was their goal, then why is it wrong to remind our current federal leaders to follow the Constitution and not exceed their Constitutional authority? The foundation of our Republic and its democratic system of government is rooted in the principles of the U.S. Constitution and it’s time our leaders in Washington started following it.

A recent poll commissioned by The Tulsa World has Henry with a higher approval rating than either of our US Senators Inhofe and Coburn. That's because no one is paying attention to what Blackjack is doing. He has vetoed a popular Voter ID bill and a bill that would have made English the official language of Oklahoma, yet two thirds of Oklahomans think he is doing a good job. So long as so many Oklahoman citizens fail to pay attention, we will have Blackjack vetoing good legislation and failing to deal with hard issues.

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