State lawmakers and former legislators fired up an enthusiastic crowd Tuesday by urging them to join in the fight to stop what they called an overreaching federal government.
“Don't you see Washington is trying to force us into submission?” asked Deputy Insurance Commissioner Randy Brogdon, a former Republican state senator and GOP gubernatorial candidate. “We are at war for our freedoms today.
“We are not weak,” he said. “We can fight.”
“Lock and load!” someone in the crowd of about 300 shouted during a rally put on by a new group, Oklahoma Liberty, in the second-floor hallway in front of the ceremonial state Supreme Court courtroom in the state Capitol.
House Bill 1021, which seeks to have lawmakers declare that the federal Affordable Care Act is not authorized by the U.S. Constitution, is the main ammunition for the group. The measure states it is the duty of the Legislature to adopt any and all measures necessary to prevent the enforcement of the federal health care law, also known as Obamacare.
Those attending the rally were asked to visit with lawmakers and encourage them to vote for HB 1021 and to encourage the Republican House leadership to have the bill heard.
Thursday is the deadline for House measures to be heard and acted on by the House.
Donald Lynch, a retired federal worker from Oklahoma City, said he liked what he heard during the 90-minute rally. He said he opposes the Affordable Care Act and is concerned citizens are losing their constitutional rights.
“The federal government has just been sucking this stuff up left and right,” said Lunch, 63. “We have to get back to individual and states' rights and limit the federal government.”
The rally was organized by Mark Kreslins, who moved last year from Maryland to Norman. He said his primary focus now is to work to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, author of HB 1021, said his measure is the result of voters in November 2010 passing State Question 756, which was intended to prevent many of the federal health care reforms from affecting Oklahoma, such as making a person or an employer participate in a health care system or buying private health insurance.
“We want to complete our promise to you ... to completely nullify Obamacare in Oklahoma,” Ritze said.
Ritze said he realizes the U.S. Supreme Court last year upheld the law's constitutionality, but, he added, the high court hasn't always been right in earlier rulings and got it wrong with last year's ruling.
Rep. Dan Fisher, R-Yukon, who authored a similar measure which would have made it a felony for a federal official or corporation employee to provide services that comply with the Affordable Care Act and a misdemeanor for any state employee to enforce provisions of it, encouraged those attending the rally to tell lawmakers to push back on the intrusion of federal government. His bill, HB 2073, passed a House committee but is not scheduled to be heard on the House floor.
“Federal government, get back into your enumerated powers,” Fisher told the crowd. “Get out of our lives. We know more about our lives than you do. We know what's better for us than you do.”
“No Obama!” shouted a man in the crowd.
Larry Pratt, founder and president of Gun Owners of America, told those in the crowd to encourage lawmakers to get rid of gun bans in public schools, saying a teacher could respond to trouble in seconds compared with the minutes it would take for law officers to arrive.
“We're talking about empowering the average citizen so that he can protect himself,” Pratt said. “We're first responders and to tell first responders you can't defend yourself, that's ungodly, that's unconstitutional and that's just got to stop.”
Mass murderers seek out gun-free zones, which should all be eliminated, he said as members in the crowd cheered.
“If the public can be there, they can be there with their guns,” Pratt said.