Snapshots: Personhood foes unite, human trafficking opposed, Chamber cheers intangible protections, Fallin’s powers enhanced
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Published: 25-Apr-2012

Snapshots of notable events as rhetoric soars in both the House and Senate at the state Capitol:

** A group known as “Unite Women” is holding marches and rallies opposed to legislation they deem part of the “war on women.” The organization is opposed a range of policy proposals, including what it calls “anti-choice laws” across the nation, including here in Oklahoma. 

In coordination with national events, Sarah Hall said, in an email to CapitolBeatOK on Tuesday evening, that a local rally will be held Friday, April 28. Marchers will move from the First Unitarian Church in downtown Oklahoma, beginning at Noon, to start a state Capitol rally at 1 p.m. 

* * A bill aiming to combat human trafficking has been signed into law. Co-sponsored by Sen. Josh Brecheen of Coalgate and state Rep. Sally Kern of Oklahoma City, House Bill 2518 takes fresh aim at human trafficking. Kern said, in a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, “the United States is fertile ground for this inhumane industry.  Oklahoma’s location along the I-40 and I-35 corridor makes it a prime location for trafficking people from Mexico and Texas port cities. Hopefully, this new law will make these monsters think twice before trying to prey on our state’s youth.”
 
Officials with ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) estimate that annually 300,000 American girls in the U.S. are enslaved through trafficking.

Brecheen contends, “Oklahoma’s high rate of poverty, incarceration, domestic abuse, teen pregnancy and drug addiction makes it easy for traffickers to find vulnerable women and children in our state, but we need to strengthen our laws to protect these unsuspecting victims. 

“The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution prohibits slavery, and we must do all we can to prevent modern day slavery in our local communities, and this bill will help with that effort.”

The bill modifies the legal definition of “human trafficking for commercial sex” to include recruiting, enticing, harboring, maintaining, transporting, providing, purchasing or obtaining, by any means, a minor for commercial sex acts. The act specifies that a minor’s consent to involvement in sex acts cannot be used as defense in judicial proceedings.

Governor Mary Fallin signed the bill, which will take effect on November 1.

* * A group known as “Unite Women” is holding marches and rallies opposed to legislation they deem part of the “war on women.” The organization is opposed a range of policy proposals, including what it calls “anti-choice laws” across the nation, including here in Oklahoma. Impassioned rhetorical clashes over the proposed Personhood bill sparked fresh activism among abortion supporters, feminists and others. 

In coordination with national events, Unite Women’s Sarah Hall said, in an email to CapitolBeatOK, that a local rally will be held Friday, April 28. Marchers will move from the First Unitarian Church in downtown Oklahoma, beginning at Noon, to start a state Capitol rally at 1 p.m. 

* * When he was still in the Senate as President Pro Temp, Secretary of State Glenn Coffee worked to establish a framework for discussion and eventual resolution of thorny issues of “intangible property” taxation.

Last year, a task force of legislators and private citizens laid out a framework to reverse or limit the effect of a controversial judicial decision allowing taxation of “intangible” assets such as trademarks, copyrights, membership, clients lists, good name and reputation. 

The issue has provided a somewhat rare opportunity for diverse elements to agree on an impactful tax policy question. On Wednesday (April 25), the House approved Senate Joint Resolution 52, a ballot question that will let voters decide (on the November election) a proposal to prevent taxation of intangible property. 

Fred Morgan, president of the State Chamber, applauded the unanimous (89-0) vote on the measure, saying in a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK: 
“I cannot stress enough how important the passage of this legislation is to businesses in Oklahoma. This is a complicated subject and I would like to thank our state lawmakers for taking the time to study the issue and come up with a solution that prevents the largest tax increase on Oklahoma businesses in state history.

“With this unanimous vote today, and the previous vote in the Senate, lawmakers have sent a strong message to the state and nation that the Oklahoma Legislature is committed to continuing the momentum started last session in making Oklahoma an unequaled state for business growth and opportunity.”

* * Tuesday, Gov. Fallin signed into law House Bill 2834, giving the state’s chief executive the option to change her or his cabinet at any time during a term of office. This is a shift away from current law, which puts all Cabinet members on a four-year term. The new provisions will retain a requirement for state Senate confirmation of Cabinet officers. 

Fallin said the law, by state Rep. Scott Martin of Norman and Sen. Rick Brinkley of Owasso “will help me as well as future governors to call on individuals with appropriate expertise to serve over the course of multiple-year terms. I am thankful to the Legislature for sending it to my desk, and happy to sign it into law.” 

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