MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

April 28, 2010

Abortion bills, and sale of water

Earl Garrison
State view



We have just over a month left in this year’s session.  We successfully met our last major deadline, besides adjourning at the end of May, of hearing House bills in the Senate.

The remaining weeks of sessions will be spent in conference committees finalizing language on bills that the two chambers weren’t able to agree on the first time around.  We’ll also be working on finishing the budget.

The Governor has been busy signing bills into law.  Over the last couple of weeks, he has signed some of the bills that I’m the principal Senate author on or am co-authoring.  HB 2729 authorizes the Office of Juvenile Affairs to use chemical agents or stun-guns for self defense.

HB 3075 requires facilities that perform non life-threatening abortions to post a sign outside stating that it’s against the law for anyone, regardless of his or her relationship to the patient, to force her to have an abortion.  Facilities that knowingly or recklessly fail to post this notice will face a daily administrative fine of $10,000.

The new law also allows for damages to be recovered for an individual injured by the failure to post the sign.  Finally, it requires physicians to inform minors who wish to have an abortion that she can’t be forced into having an abortion and that only through her consent can the abortion be performed.  Consent must be certified in writing stating that she was informed by the doctor of her options.

I was disappointed that the Governor vetoed one of the House bills that I was the principle Senate author of and another one I was co-authoring.  HB 2733 would have authorized the court to grant a qualified relative “custody by abandonment” of a minor child who has been abandoned in the care of such relative if the child is living full time with the relative; the relative contributes the majority of support for the child; and the relative is unable to contact the parent of the child or the parent refuses to take back physical custody of the child.  The bill would have also provided that the relative to whom custody was granted would have had the right to consent to any services that were necessary to provide for the child.

HB 2656 would have created a new law stating that in a wrongful life action or a wrongful birth action, no damages may be recovered for any condition that existed at the time of a child’s birth if the claim is that the defendant’s act or omission contributed to the mother’s not having obtained an abortion.

A group of southeastern legislators held a press conference last week at the Capitol protesting plans to sell water from Sardis Lake to Oklahoma City.  We argued that selling the water now would be premature given the fact that a statewide water study mandated by the State Legislature won’t be finished for two years.  It’s imperative that state leaders wait until they know the findings of that study before they take any action.

There are several reasons we’re upset about the possibility of this water being sold to other entities.  One is that we don’t know how much the water is worth.  We don’t know what economic or environmental impact transferring this water could have on this part of the state.  We also have a problem with the fact the state’s Water Resources Board seems to be in charge of this agreement yet they don’t have a single member from our area.  None of the legislators from the area have been contacted for our input on this proposed plan.  Something just isn’t right about the whole thing.  Too many important players are being left out of the loop and the decision-making process.  I want you to know that we will continue to fight against the selling of water from Sardis Lake and I’d appreciate any input you have.

Mail: Sen. Earl Garrison, State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. Room 514A, Oklahoma City, OK, 73105. Call (405) 521-5533. E-mail: garrison@oksenate.gov.