What's the emergency?

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A follow-up to the previous entry about State Rep. Mike Reynolds (R-Oklahoma City):

A CapitolBeatOK piece from April 20, 2011, by Pat McGuigan, argues that Mike Reynolds and several Republican colleagues (Mike Ritze, Randy Terrill, Mike Christian, John Bennett) should be more like Sally Kern, who regularly votes in favor of emergency clauses, a separate vote on an approved bill that allows it to go into effect immediately rather than 90 days after the end of the legislative session. During the current session Reynolds, Ritze, Terrill, Christian, and Bennett have frequently voted against emergency clauses.

Here is the usual text of an emergency clause:

It being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is hereby declared to exist, by reason whereof this act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval.

The 90-day waiting period (and the emergency exception) is established in Article V, Section 58, of the Oklahoma Constitution:

No act shall take effect until ninety days after the adjournment of the session at which it was passed, except enactments for carrying into effect provisions relating to the initiative and referendum, or a general appropriation bill, unless, in case of emergency, to be expressed in the act, the Legislature, by a vote of two-thirds of all members elected to each House, so directs. An emergency measure shall include only such measures as are immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, and shall not include the granting of franchises or license to a corporation or individual, to extend longer than one year, nor provision for the purchase or sale of real estate, nor the renting or encumbrance of real property for a longer term than one year. Emergency measures may be vetoed by the Governor, but such measures so vetoed may be passed by a three-fourths vote of each House, to be duly entered on the journal.

I can see how a constitutional conservative might have qualms about proclaiming an emergency when no threat to the public peace, health, or safety really exists, in order to bypass a provision of the constitution. I've found a couple of articles by free-market state policy think-tanks complaining about abuse of the emergency clause in the state of Washington, pointing out that the emergency clause doesn't allow time for a referendum to prevent a new law from going into effect.

Perhaps our legislative leaders could restrict the use of the emergency clause to true emergencies and even then spell out exactly how failure to put a law into immediate effect jeopardizes the public peace, health, or safety.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 11, 2011 11:40 PM.

State Chamber targets Mike Reynolds for opposing corporate welfare was the previous entry in this blog.

Oklahoma House, Senate redistricting plans online is the next entry in this blog.

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