Bill Allows Challenges of Unconstitutional Federal Actions

Mike Seals - May 20, 2021 10:23 pm

Sent to Governor for Review and Approval

OKLAHOMA CITY – A compromise between the Oklahoma House of Representatives and Oklahoma Senate was reached on a bill establishing an intra-branch legal process to guard against federal overreach in Oklahoma. The bill has now been sent to the governor for his review and approval.

House Bill 1236, by House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, and Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, establishes a constitutional process to exercise Oklahoma’s authorities as a state under the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by reviewing federal actions for constitutionality and seeking judicial rulings to block unconstitutional federal actions from taking effect in Oklahoma. Upon recommendation from the Legislature, the executive branch, through the attorney general, could review any federal executive order, federal agency rule or federal legislative action for constitutionality and seek judicial branch intervention when necessary to prevent unconstitutional federal overreach in Oklahoma.

The bill went to a joint conference committee of the House and Senate after amendments were placed on it during the Senate review process.

“Nearly the entire House coauthored House Bill 1236 earlier this session to protect Oklahomans from federal actions that encroach on their rights,” said McBride. “Both representatives and senators worked together during the conference committee process to get the language right without compromising the substance and strength of the bill. I am glad that we could find a way to get this common sense legislation closer to the finish line.”

The conference committee substitute maintains the tenets of the initial version of HB 1236 and eliminates any constitutionality concerns. The bill includes compromise language that clarifies the role of the courts in the process by providing that legislative findings of unconstitutionality will need court affirmation. Additionally, it creates no new government bureaucracy and should have no fiscal impact.

“We have given Oklahomans a bill that has some backbone,” said Rep. Jay Steagall, R-Yukon, Chairman of the House States’ Rights Committee. “One of the focuses of the House this session has been protecting our citizens from unconstitutional federal overreach and this bill helps do that. We have sent a clear message to the federal government that here in Oklahoma we are going to maintain the separation of powers prescribed in the Tenth Amendment, and we will not hesitate to act on unconstitutional federal actions.”

“Along with additional funding to the Attorney General’s Office included in the budget agreement, this legislation now puts real teeth into the push back against the Biden administration’s attempts to infringe on state authority and power. I appreciate Speaker McCall and House leadership for working with me and the Senate on a compromise that will make a difference in the fight against federal overreach,” Treat added.


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