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From One House to Another: Oklahoma House of Representatives affirms federal constitutional framework, key founding principles

Patrick B. McGuigan 

Oklahoma City – In voice votes held last Tuesday (March 16), the Oklahoma House adopted resolutions focused on provisions in the U.S. Constitution. A majority of representatives supported the measures, believing fundamental constitutional values are under siege in contemporary America. 

State Rep. Jay Steagall, R-Yukon, was sponsor for two such measures, with several colleagues as co-sponsors. 

According to a press release from state House Communications staff, House Resolutions 1009 and 1010 “assert Oklahoma’s state sovereignty in the face of multiple attempts by the federal government to usurp states’ rights.” 

Summarizing the intent of the legislative majority, the release identified recent steps in Congress which the Oklahoma resolutions are designed to counteract: “H.R. 1, the ‘For the People Act of 2021’ and H.R. 8, the‘Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2021.’

Oklahoma’s House Resolution 1010 (as well as 1009)recounts (in the ‘whereas’ catalog that begins the measure), “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” As the approved measure underscores, “the Tenth Amendment limits the scope of federal power.”

H.R. 1010 goes on to stress that “the Second Amendment is a limitation placed on the federal government,” with the explicit provision: “the Right of the People to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

In the framework established in the state resolution, the author noted that the state Constitution provides “the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma provides: “The right of a citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power, when thereunto legally summoned, shall never be prohibited.”

Rep. Steagall’s companion measure, House Resolution 1009 affirms that the Oklahoma House “recognizes Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution of the United States,” which provides that “The times, places, and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the Legislature thereof; but Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.”

Additionally, in the “whereas” provisions, the Steagall measure notes that “Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution of the United States is wholly silent on the matters of voter registration and congressional redistricting.” 

The pair of resolutions also sketches the reasoning many legislators in Oklahoma and in other states are advancing in opposition to the pair of Congressional enactments, which Steagall and others believe would transform (to the negative) the American system of federalism. 

Steagall’s proposals do not require action in the state Senate, and included direction that “suitable copies” of the resolutions “be delivered to the President of the United States, the President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, and each member of the congressional delegation of Oklahoma.” 

A third state measure, House Concurrent Resolution 1002, also moved through the Oklahoma House and will be considered in the state Senate. 

This resolution, approved on March 16, notes that “the production of beef, pork, and poultry in Oklahoma contributes $18 billion annually to the state’s economy.” 

In the ‘whereas’ catalog the measure points out that “animal agriculture and the direct care of livestock is a meaningful way of life to more than 110,000 Oklahomans.” 

After listing a range of nutritional and other benefits, the resolution – from Republican authors Dell Kerbs of Shawnee, Max Wolfley of Oklahoma City and Sean Roberts of Hominy – concludes: “[T]he Oklahoma Legislature encourages Oklahomans to consume and enjoy meat and poultry for the week beginning March 22, 2021, and as often as they desire.” 

The proposal now advances to the upper chamber of the Legislature, where state Senator Casey Murdock, R-Felt, is the author. 

Note: Founder of CapitolBeatOK.com, Patrick B. McGuigan of Oklahoma City is also publisher of an independent and locally-owned newspaper, The City Sentinel. A member of the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, McGuigan is the author of three books and editor of seven books. 

Oklahoma State Rep. Jay Steagall, R-Yukon