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By Rep. RICK WEST
A bill creating the “Second Amendment sanctuary state act” passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives last week and is waiting for the governor to sign it into law.
Senate Bill 631 states that any federal, state, county or municipal act, law, order, rule, policy or regulation ordering the buy-back, confiscation or surrender of firearms, firearm accessories or ammunition from law-abiding citizens of this state shall be considered an infringement on the rights of citizens to keep and bear arms as guaranteed by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States and Article II, Section 26 of the Constitution of Oklahoma.
We’ve heard a lot of talk under the current federal administration about stricture gun laws and executive orders. This measure would protect our rights.
House Bill 2648, another bill sitting on the governor’s desk, would better protect the religious freedoms of Oklahomans to gather to worship in their churches. During the pandemic, churches were deemed nonessential, and closures were recommended, even while liquor stores and big box retailers were allowed to stay open. Other states are still fighting for their churches to reopen. This bill deems any order or rule issued by any governmental entity pursuant to an emergency that requires closure of places of worship as a substantial burden.
Another big bill to pass the House this week was Senate Bill 131, which would require the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) to implement internal managed care for Oklahoma’s Medicaid program instead of outsourcing it to out-of-state, private corporations.
OHCA has done a good job managing Medicaid programs for the state, according to our hospital administrators and our health care providers. We don’t need to be sending our tax dollars to big out-of-state outfits that are further away from the direct care of the people they serve. This would cost the state $2 billion, and could slow down reimbursement rates to providers and impact care. The governor wants this outsourced managed-care plan, but this bill fights that. We’ll have to see what kind of fight the Senate is willing to put up to get this passed and sent to the governor. Even if it gets to him, it’s most assuredly going to be vetoed, and we’d have to have two-thirds of both chambers to override that. We’ll see what happens.
On a final note, we passed Senate Bill 650 this week, which will increase the flexible benefit allowance for state employees. These public employees haven’t gotten a raise in their benefits in quite some time, and it’s something people at the Department of Transportation and other public agencies have really been asking for.
Remember to listen to me on KPRV Radio each Thursday morning during the legislative session. And if I can help you with anything, feel free to call my Capitol office at (405) 557-7413 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rick West represents District 3 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes part of LeFlore County.
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