Sunday, July 22, 2018

Misbehavior is non-partisan!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair
     This week, Oklahoma legislative leadership (Speaker of the House & Senate President Pro Tempe) appointed five Senators and eight Representatives to a working group for drafting a statute for medical marijuana.   There are nine Republicans and four Democrats in the working group. They are scheduled to meet for the first time on July 25th.
    The group that funded the Yes campaign for SQ#788 has drafted a 270 page working draft of legislation.  They say it incorporates regulations used by other states.  Working Group Co-chair and State House Majority Leader Jon Echols, (R-OKC) says "The legislature has to both come up with a good product that everyone has signed off on and have an open and transparent process. It’s not going to be a top down process. It’s the legislature working with the drafters behind 788."
     The Democrat caucus has called for a special legislative session to address the statue.  Governor Mary Fallin has said she will not call for a special session, but Echols said the working group may consider that possibility.  A special session of the legislature can be called by joint order of the Senate President pro tem and the Speaker of the House, without the approval of the governor.  Three observations:
     First, State question #788’s approval by voters has made for some strange happenings.  This week, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter said the state board of health overstepped their authority in issuing rules.  Hunter said that implementing a statute is the legislature’s job, not the appointed boards.  Also this week, the state board of health’s general counsel(their top legal counsel) resigned after being charged with using a computer for the purpose of violating Oklahoma statues, falsely reporting a crime, and preparing a false evidence.  Ezell allegedly set up a fake email account and sent herself fake threats from medical marijuana proponents.  She was given personal security because the health department believed she was in danger.  Ezell also was exchanging texts with the executive director of the Oklahoma Pharmacy Board, Chelsea Church.  The OSBI, at the request of Oklahoma DA David Prater, is investigating if Church offered Ezell a bribe to include the inclusion of a licensed pharmacist at every medical marijuana dispensary. Church allegedly offered Ezell a higher paying position at the Pharmacy Board than what Ezell had at the Health Department.  Two observations:
     Second, misbehavior, corruption and graft are non-partisan.  They are rooted in human nature and not political Party affiliation.  If Ezell and Church were in fact doing what they are accused of (and they deserve their day in court), then they should be punished.  Far too many political types justify the actions of their own, but condemn everything the other side does.  Mark Twain said, “Loyalty to country always- loyalty to government when it deserves it.” 
     Third, the ambiguity of State Question #788 had made it difficult for lawmakers.  Echols says the working group will listen to those that drafted #788, but the vast majority of the legislature did not support its passage.  It is ironic that a body of people who didn’t want the legalization of pot will now draft regulations to dispense it.  It is certain whatever they recommend will be controversial and will please few.
     Just a reminder- if you are not a registered voter, the last day to register is August 3rd if you want to vote in the August 28th primary runoff.  You cannot change Party affiliation from April 1st until September 1st on election years.

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