Legislature Preview: New session brings on new set of solutions
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Sunday, February 03, 2013
2/03/13 at 7:35 AM
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Each year brings a crop of bills that cause some puzzlement. Superficially, at least - and sometimes even upon closer inspection - they seem to be solutions in search of a problem, gratuitous or just plain incomprehensible.
Many of the roughly 2,500 bills and resolutions filed for the legislative session that begins Monday might be classified as extreme. But, except for the sheer volume of gun legislation, there don't seem to be as many head-scratchers.
Several bills deal with Agenda 21, a supposed international conspiracy involving the United Nations. And a resolution by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, calls for a complete accounting of the nation's gold reserves.
On the states' rights front are multiple proposals to bring felony charges against anyone trying to enforce various federal laws in the state, and one to funnel federal income taxes through the Oklahoma Tax Commission - with the state ultimately deciding how much to remit to the federal government. Guns are not the only weapons getting attention this session. House Bill 2170, by Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, would legalize "spring-type" knives.
That may sound like switchblade knives, but Echols says it is not. He points out that his bill removes "spring-type knives" from the list of banned weapons but leaves switchblade knives - along with daggers, Bowie knives, dirk knives , sword canes, blackjacks, loaded canes, billy clubs, hand chains and metal knuckles.
The law is not clear about what constitutes a "spring-type knife." A "spring-assisted knife" differs from a switchblade in that the latter's blade fully opens and locks in place by pressing a button on the handle. A spring-assisted knife requires the user to begin the opening process manually.
Spring-assisted knives are widely available and popular with outdoor enthusiasts and some weapons collectors. Echols, a first-term representative, said he was approached by OK2A, a Second Amendment group, about carrying the bill.
One might think something called Safe Routes to School could not be too controversial, but one would be wrong. Two legislators, Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, and Rep. Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, have filed bills to terminate Oklahoma's participation in the program, which distributes about $1 million a year in federal grants through the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
The program's stated goal is to encourage children to walk and ride bicycles to school through educational programs and upgrades to sidewalks and bike trails. Safe Routes to School has run afoul of some conservatives who say it is a waste of money on something kids ought to be doing anyway.
Legislator files repeal of blasphemy law
As promised, Rep. Randy Grau, R-Edmond, has filed legislation to repeal the state's 1910 blasphemy law.
It's not clear when the law was last enforced - or if it ever was - but Grau said last fall he would try to have it removed from the books after riots in northern Africa attributed to an anti-Muslim Internet film.
Oklahoma law defines blasphemy as "wantonly uttering or publishing words, casting contumelious reproach or profane ridicule upon God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the Holy Scriptures or the Christian or any other religion."
It provides exceptions in cases in which "the words complained of were used in the course of serious discussion ..." and makes violation of the statute a misdemeanor with no specified penalty.
The state Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals databases contain no references to cases involving blasphemy, indicating neither has ever been asked to rule on the issue.
Original Print Headline: New session brings in new set of solutions
Randy Krehbiel 918-581-8365