Monday, November 2, 2015


Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

     249 laws went into effect on November 1st.  The one getting the most attention is the one that makes texting while driving illegal.  If caught, it is punishable by a $100 fine.  There is a new law requiring children under 2 years old to ride in a rear-facing car seat and all children ride in a car seat or booster seat until the age of 8.  The fine for not complying is $50.  Also on November 1, Oklahoma will become a Right- to-Try state, which allows terminally ill patients to try drugs that have not yet have full FDA approval.  Another law will allow volunteer fire departments across Oklahoma to use firefighters over the age of 45, but they wouldn’t be eligible for a pension.  A new law makes it a felony to assault an off-duty law enforcement officer.  Another law will allow people who have been convicted of misdemeanor drug offenses to be able to buy firearms if they have served out their sentences and it has been ten years.  Still another law will allow citizens to renew their car tags and register to vote online, however that will not be a reality for a couple of years. There is also a new law that allows Oklahoma to perform executions by nitrogen gas, electrocution and firing squad - in that order - if lethal injections are ruled unconstitutional, or become unavailable. Still another law made it legal to carry an automatic knife aka a switchblade. 
     Other laws include one to require any county sales tax elections to only be ‘single subject.’ Another law eliminates writing your property tax check to the person elected as county treasurer.  There is a bill that restricts billboard advertising in certain areas.  There are laws regulating cemeteries, roofers, dog kennels, chicken ranchers, Uber, and plumbers.  There are laws on human trafficking, pensions, open meetings, body cameras, sprinkler systems, mental health, splash pads, and competitive bidding.  There are laws on farming, ranching, injection wells, commercial driver’s license, and water rights. 
     SB 839, authored by Senate Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, (R-Sapulpa) and Speaker of the House Jeff Hickman, (R-Fairview) creates the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture and places it under the supervision of the Oklahoma Historical Society It also authorizes the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority to issue up to $25 million of debt to finance construction of the museum. The bill expresses the Legislature's expectation that the Oklahoma Historical Society will make rental payments for the purpose of retiring the debt from current appropriations received by the Oklahoma Historical Society.
     Were all these 249 laws absolutely necessary?  Do we have too many laws in Oklahoma- in America?  If you ask the lawmakers- the authors- they would say every one of the laws was critical to maintaining the space-time continuum.   Life would cease to exist if that bill/law wasn’t passed, but passing laws doesn’t necessarily reduce crime or bad behavior.  Roman Senator Cornelius Tacitus said, "Formerly we suffered from crimes; now we suffer from laws.”  He went on to say, “The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws.”
     The Heritage Foundation, the Cato Institute, and the Freedom Foundation have all addressed the dramatic increase in the number of laws at the federal level.  In June at a conference hosted by Freedom Works, it was reported there are at least 5,000 federal criminal laws- up over 25% in the past ten years.   Lawmakers pass laws so fast the American Bar Association says they simply do not have enough staff to categorize every law we have on the books.  Former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese wrote in 2010: We are making and enforcing far too many criminal laws that create traps for the innocent but unwary, and threaten to turn otherwise respectable, law-abiding citizens into criminals.”
     Some of the 249 laws that went into effect this week were necessary, but many were not.  There are repetitive and duplicates of laws already on the books.  The ‘texting’ bill targets a specific behavior while driving, but there is already a ‘distracted driving’ law on the books.  What’s next- putting on makeup while driving?  Did we really need to add another law on the books?  Plato said, “Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the laws.” 

No comments: