ScissorTales: Is four-month Oklahoma legislative session too long?
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Promoters of Oklahoma City have a new arrow for their quiver. The Business Journals recently ranked the metro as the second-best city in America for small business, trailing only Austin, Texas. Denver, Raleigh, N.C., and Salt Lake City round out the top five. Tulsa came in at 24th. The Business Journals analyzed each city's number of small businesses per 1,000 residents, the change in that concentration during the past year, one-year growth rates for small businesses and private-sector employment, and five-year rates for population and employment. The study gave Oklahoma City high marks for indicators that deal specifically with entrepreneurship. We were also one of only six major markets that added small businesses during the past year while maintaining a concentration of more than 25 small businesses per 1,000 residents (ours is 26.9).
Smokers and tokers
As chairman of the state Senate Health and Human Services Committee, Brian Crain refused to hear a bill allowing local control of smoking regulations. Crain, R-Tulsa, has argued lawmakers should either debate a comprehensive statewide ban on smoking or nothing, decrying a piecemeal approach. Yet he then granted a hearing to a bill to legalize the “medical” use of marijuana. That measure failed, with Crain among the opponents. Crain said he allowed the vote because of the persistence of the bill's author, Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Oklahoma City. But advocates of local control of smoking regulations have been pushing the issue for years; supporters include everyone from the governor to health officials to local mayors. In comparison, Johnson is a legislative gadfly. It's disturbing that a committee chair appears more receptive to the fringes than to state leaders and the broad Oklahoma electorate.
Democrats are issuing weekly press releases criticizing the State Rights Committee, which Oklahoma House leaders created to push back against perceived federal overreach. Democrats are certainly right to criticize activity they see as ridiculous, although their releases are light on detail, other than claiming Oklahoma Republicans are somehow anti-gun. (Does that claim even pass the laugh test?) Mostly, the releases tout the Democrats' supposed superior knowledge and love of the U.S. and Oklahoma constitutions. Yet a quote attributed to Rep. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, said Republicans “refuse to accept the law of the land after our three branches of federal government and the Supreme Court have spoken.” Last time we checked, the U.S. Supreme Court is part of the three branches of government (judicial) — not a fourth. If Democrats want to portray themselves as constitutional experts, they should avoid mistakes that would get them bounced in a high school civics class.
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