Members of an Oklahoma conservative group were in a surly mood Wednesday after President Barack Obama's re-election, with the head of the group urging legislative leaders to fight the “thug-booted federal government” and the national health care law.
Several members attending the noon meeting of the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee insisted their guest speakers, House Speaker Designate T.W. Shannon and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, continue to oppose the Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare.
“If there is no place that we're willing to draw a line in the sand, I would urge you to get your knee pads out … so that the thug-booted federal government can step on you and start walking all over you,” said Charlie Meadows, the group's chairman.
Others in the group of about 125 said lawmakers should continue to fight the nation's health care law, which was upheld this summer by the U.S. Supreme Court. They also said they want lawmakers to pass legislation banning Sharia law. Voters in 2010 passed state questions allowing Oklahomans to opt out of the health care law and to outlaw Sharia law.
Shannon, R-Lawton, and Bingman, R-Sapulpa, said separate federal court rulings have limited lawmakers' options. They said GOP lawmakers would discuss developing key legislative issues at caucus meetings later this year. The four-month session begins in February.
“Our state constitution says that we must abide by federal law,” Bingman said. “The federal law is the law of the land.”
“Not an unconstitutional law, sir,” a man shouted at the Senate leader.
Members criticized Bingman for the Senate's failure to pass a bill that would have prohibited foreign laws from being enforced in Oklahoma courtrooms; the measure passed the House of Representatives in 2011 and was patterned after State Question 755, which 71 percent of the voters supported in 2010. A federal appeals court in Denver upheld in January an injunction against the state question and said it likely is unconstitutional. The court ruled that the rights of an Oklahoma City Muslim man likely would be violated if the ban on Sharia law would take effect.
Another person said he supported legislation that was introduced but never passed that would have made it a crime to enforce the Affordable Health Care Act and asked whether a similar measure would be considered next year. About 65 percent of voters in 2010 approved State Question 756 that would allow Oklahomans to opt out of a health care system.
“Certainly with the president being re-elected, the chances of us being able to overturn that is going to be a much greater challenge.” Bingman said. “If we do nothing in Oklahoma whether we like it or not the federal government is going to come in and implement the Affordable Care Act.”
A couple others began yelling at Bingman and Meadows brought things quickly under order.
Under the health care law, health care exchanges have to be fully operational by Jan. 1, 2014, but other deadlines are along the way. Oklahoma hasn't developed plans for the exchange, which is an electronic marketplace where uninsured people can compare and buy health insurance and, under the health care act, receive federal subsidies for the cost.
Gov. Mary Fallin early in 2011 accepted a $54 million federal grant to establish an exchange, but later rejected it after Republican lawmakers urged her to do so after hearing criticism from conservative supporters.