Thursday, April 26, 2012

the pro-life “Personhood” bill

I wrestled with sending out this extra e-mail this week and have
decided to do a version with limited information, for a variety of
reasons. If you are alert to what is going on at the Capitol, you know
the pro-life “Personhood” bill has become quite controversial. As
such, the Republican caucus is deeply divided between pro-life
Republicans with deeply held convictions, pragmatic Republicans who
wish the life issue didn’t exist and the middle ground Republicans who
are mostly pro-life, but with them it is a preference, not a deeply
held conviction and as such they are quite willing to yield to the
“will of the caucus”. This last group I have defined is going to put a
bunch of panties in a wad, but so be it!

Also in the mix, in my opinion, is the quite influence of the State
Chamber of  Commerce, which I believe hates for these social issues to
get attention. In their eyes, they fear such attention might make
Oklahoma look like a state filled with backward religious hicks in the
eyes of the progressives in NYC, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco.
Gee, we sure wouldn’t want to look offensive to the liberal wine,
cheese, and artsy fartsy crowd in those places who just might want to
move to Oklahoma sometime in the future.

Throw in two more factors, Speaker Kris Steele, in my opinion a
Christian socialist (I attached this label to him years ago, though he
is a really nice fellow) along with pressure from the organization,
Oklahoman’s For Life and the rising awareness of the conservative
Protestant and Catholic communities, and we have the environment for
the most emotional issue of the year.

With this emotional environment, I went fishing for information and
there are plenty of lawmakers willing to at least confirm some of what
has gone on in the closed door caucus meetings. Rather than allow SB
1433 to go to a vote on the floor of the House, leadership’s whips
polled the members of the Republican caucus and found out that a
majority of the members didn’t want a recorded vote on this issue.

After the whips did the polling, on Monday, the members met behind
closed doors in a caucus meeting. Some of those opposed to SB 1433
expressed strong opposition to the measure. Of those expressing the
strongest opposition were Guy Liebman (R-NW OKC, Edmond & Deer Creek),
Fred Jordan (R-Jenks), Doug Cox (R-Grove), Pat Ownbey (R-Ardmore),
Steve Martin (R-Bartlesville), and Marty Quinn (R-Claremore). Then you
had Colby Schwartz (R-Yukon) upset with the robo-calls that were being
used to inform constituents. I also suspect Colby may have some
measure of opposition to this legislation because of his statement on
last Sunday morning’s dog and pony show he does on Chanel 9 with
Democrat Richard Morrissette. Colby and Richard both agreed that too
much time was being spent on this issue. May I suggest, if the issued
is allowed to go to a vote, then things will move on.

It is up to anyone reading this if they chose to contact any of these
lawmakers I have just mentioned. May I suggest for the future, looking
closely at their campaign promises when it comes to the life issue,
because I believe none of these I have mentioned have any deeply held
convictions about protecting unborn babies. If you do decide to
contact them, your cause is not furthered by using threats or acting
like that Biblical animal called an “ass”. I could go much deeper here
but I don’t want to expose my sources.

On Tuesday, the Oklahoman editorialized under the title: “Under cover:
Little transparency with bill’s demise”. In the editorial they stated
their support for greater accountability and transparency in
government which would have occurred had the legislature subjected
themselves to the Open Meetings Act. They expressed concern about the
PROCESS that determined the fate of the Personhood measure. One
paragraph expressed: “While it is common for caucus meetings, which
are private, to involve strategy and policy discussions as well as
internal votes on issues or leadership picks, it’s unusual for a
closed caucus to be made the forum for final action on a bill.” The
Oklahoman went on to say: “On tough issues in the past, a committee
chairman or legislative leader was the person who officially killed a
bill without a hearing”.

“While that action may not have been popular, it provided direct
accountability in the process, something that is lacking with the
personhood bill for supporters and opponents alike.”

“By shifting the blame to the ‘caucus’ every Republican lawmaker is
simultaneously responsible for killing the personhood bill and free to
proclaim support for it.” Folks, this is why I have named some of the
names of the opposition and may name more later on.

The Oklahoman closed their editorial with:  “We’re fans of Speaker
Kris Steele, and aren’t exactly upset that this bill got deep-
sixed.” (I believe the Oklahoman, is for the most part, the public
relations organ for the State Chamber and thus my belief that the
Chamber was against this legislation.) “But transparency and
accountability are crucial to maintain the legitimacy of the
legislative process. Passing the buck fails the test. Citizens should
demand more from lawmakers if they don’t want caucus meetings to
become an end-run around open government and public votes when other
tough issues arise.”

Cudo’s for the Oklahoman’s take on this issue.

It became apparent during Thursday’s session where House leadership is
on the issue. Several House members tried to use parliamentary
procedures to force a vote on the issue and it was clear, according to
my sources, that procedure didn’t make a bit of difference. Jeff
Hickman, sitting in the chair, was bound and determined not to allow
this measure to be heard. It has been described to me as, one of the
worst cases of abuse of power since the Republicans have been in

Oh, by the way, has anyone seen Governor Fallin on this issue? I guess
this “pro-life” governor is just too busy trying to pressure
legislative members to fork over $40 million in new bond debt to
finish the boondoggle known as the American Indian Cultural Center.
She probably just doesn’t have the time to spend trying to save the
lives of unborn babies. Governor Fallin, its time to slither out from
under the rocks on this issue. Its time to make your position known.

Thanks for your time and attention.

Charlie Meadows

1 comment:

Bob Dani said...

Elect Bob Dani (FB Page)
11 hours ago

It's amazing how cowardly a State Representative can be to hide behind a Republican House Caucus ... I'm speaking about the Personhood Bill that isn't being brought up for a Vote on the House Floor. Any member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives that will not support unborn American Citizens are cowards, and what is even more cowardly is not speaking up in Public or going on record.

I can assure the people of HD-39 if you elect me to this House Seat I won't hide behind close doors on my thoughts and opinions as your representative.