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Oklahoma House: New committee won't take up secession, chairman says

The chairman of the newly formed States' Rights Committee said the panel will look at protecting Oklahoma's sovereign rights.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT Modified: January 18, 2013 at 7:08 pm •  Published: January 19, 2013

The chairman of a new state House committee doesn't know yet what bills will be assigned to it, but he says he can guarantee one topic won't come up for a hearing.

“The one thing that people have confused this with is preparing or trying to secede from the Union,” said Rep. Lewis Moore, chairman of the House of Representatives States' Rights Committee. “We're not trying to do that.

“There's been in no way, shape or form any desire to do that,” said Moore, R-Arcadia. “We want to work within the system that we have to be both American citizens and the best Oklahoma citizens that we can be.”

It's just as well. President Barack Obama's administration last week told petitioners seeking to allow Texas to secede from the United States and create an independent government that it wasn't permitted. A White House official said the Founding Fathers established the United States as a perpetual union. The Texas petition, with 125,746 signatures, declared that withdrawing from the Union was feasible because the state had a balanced budget, as does Oklahoma.

Rep. Mike Shelton, one of four Democrats on the 12-member committee, said any legislator who brings up secession breaks the oath office to defend the U.S. Constitution.

“I hope that we don't have to deal with situations like that,” said Shelton, of Oklahoma City. “Oklahoma's clearly a better state by partnering with the government on a lot of programs.”

Moore, who three years ago switched Obama's portrait in the House chamber with that of then-Gov. Brad Henry, said the point of the States' Rights Committee is to oppose intrusive federal regulations that duplicate what state agencies are doing or what they can do.

House Speaker T.W. Shannon, during his acceptance speech earlier this month, said House Republicans will oppose intrusion by the federal government.

“We will fight every invasive regulation,” said Shannon, R-Lawton. “We will refuse each costly expansion.”

Possible bill topics

Moore said he won't know until House Republican leaders assign bills which measures his panel will consider. The bill filing deadline was Thursday; about 1,300 measures were filed in the House.

Moore said it would appear that a measure seeking to exempt guns made in Oklahoma from federal regulations could be heard in his committee, but more than likely will be assigned to the House Public Safety Committee, which traditionally has heard bills dealing with guns.

The same is true with a measure that would punish any official with the federal government who attempted to enforce the national health care law by being charged with a felony, he said. It could be heard in his committee, but more than likely will be assigned to a committee dealing with health or insurance issues.

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