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Oklahoma's governor lashes out at Legislature for inaction on key issues

Gov. Mary Fallin vetoes 15 bills, says lawmakers are not addressing top issues, including repair of crumbling state Capitol.
by Rick Green Modified: April 29, 2014 at 8:02 pm •  Published: April 29, 2014

House Speaker Pro Tem Mike Jackson said he doesn’t think this legislative session is much different from others he has seen.

“In every legislative session — and this is my 10th year here — we don’t always get everything we would like done,” Jackson said. “This year is no different. At end of the day, the result will be good. We still have a lot of work to do but we have time to do it.”

He did acknowledge that political posturing tends to increase in an election year.

Range of issues

The Republican governor criticized the GOP-controlled Legislature on a broad range of issues.

She bemoaned a lack of legislative action on a bill requiring doctors to check a database to ensure patients are not getting multiple prescriptions for potentially dangerous medications such as painkillers.

She said she was disappointed the Legislature has not yet referred a measure to voters to allow local school districts to exceed bonding requirements one time to fund construction of storm shelters or other safety improvements.

She said there has been a lack of legislative action to reduce the $11 billion of unfunded liability in state pension systems.

Responding to a question, she said she wants to see action to finally approve funding to complete a long-stalled project to build the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City.

“We keep kicking the can down the road,” she said.

She said that with only about a month left in this legislation session, budget negotiations have been “too superficial and infrequent.”

Fallin said minor issues need to be set aside so there is time to work on pressing matters.

She described some of the bills she vetoed.

“One bill attempts to regulate the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which is a federal agency, which the Oklahoma Legislature has no authority over,” she said.

Fallin said another bill she vetoed “wants to make it easier to sell stolen watches.”

“Another bill makes it easier for former employees of the ABLE commission who regulate the liquor industry to then go and work for the liquor industry, a potential conflict of interest and an invitation for cronyism,” she said.

“Another bill would pre-empt municipalities from enacting laws affecting the regulation and sale of knives. I don’t have a lot of people calling the Capitol to talk about those things.”

by Rick Green
Capitol Bureau Chief
Rick Green is the Capitol Bureau Chief of The Oklahoman. A graduate of Humboldt State University in Arcata, Calif., he worked as news editor for The Associated Press in Oklahoma City before joining The Oklahoman.
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