Here is the second edition of This Week in Liberty News, a collection of interesting liberty related stories in Oklahoma, Texas, and national news happening this week. The page updates throughout the week as events occur, so check back and keep up to date on your Oklahoma and Texas Liberty News Source!
FreedomWorks BlogCon 2013
This week, Ryan Hill of Standard Excellence attended FreedomWorks BlogCon 2013, a three-day conference for conservative and libertarian bloggers. The event was streamed live on the internet, and concluded with a taping of the Glenn Beck Program, which aired Friday.
BlogCon 2013 consisted of speakers and panels discussing many aspects of new media and blogging. The conference’s theme was “Escape the echo chamber, control the message, fight the media.” Among the guests, FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe and Vice President Dean Clancy spoke on building the grassroots movement and on the timetable of the implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act.
A notable session involved a debate over how to unite conservatives and libertarians, who often go head to head on hot issues, despite agreeing on many others. Panelists Russ Walker, Teri Christoph, Jason Pye, and Michelle Ray discussed ideas with the other attendees. The conversation became contentious at a few points, but all in all the conference itself was a successful example of conservative- and libertarian-minded people working together to accomplish a common goal.
Marijuana bill defeated
Last week Standard Excellence reported a bill was being heard in the Texas House of Representatives concerning marijuana. The bill, which would reduce marijuana possession penalties to a simple fine for first offenses, but not before its language was changed to only include minors. It advanced out of commitee, but did not receive a hearing on the House floor. Another bill making a legal defense for medical pot also did not advance.
Texas judge rules same-sex couple cannot live together
Did a North Texas judge discriminate against a same-sex couple? It depends on how you interpret it. The Dallas Voice, a Texas LGBT publication, is reporting a McCinney Republican judge has ordered the enforcement of a divorce paper’s morality clause, resulting in the ex-wife’s same-sex partner being forced to move out of the house. The divorce paper states the unmarried partners of the divorced couple are not allowed in the house at night if children are present.
This would be not ordinarily be a problem or require a return to court, but in this case the ex-wife has a lesbian partner. Same-sex marriages are not legal in the state of Texas, thus the dispute. The judge has enforced this clause, and now the ex-wife’s partner will have to move out.
When the ruling is announced by the Supreme Court concerning California’s Proposition 8, national changes could potentially unfold. Many commentators believe the Court will make a limited ruling, either upholding or striking down California’s law, but not affecting the rest of the states.
Insure Oklahoma in trouble
Oklahoma Senator Brian Crain introduced Senate Bill 640 this year to Oklahoma’s legislative session, along with Representative Doug Cox. The bill would allow Oklahoma to accept the Medicaid expansion provision of the Affordable Healthcare Act, or Obamacare, but without the requirements attached to those funds as outlined in the federal law. Governor Fallin announced last year Oklahoma would not accept these funds due to the controversial requirements.
The state’s Insure Oklahoma program is set to lose its federal Medicaid funding at the end of the year due to the full implementation of Obamacare. Since Medicaid amounts to a large portion of the Insure Oklahoma program, 9,000 low-income residents are expected to lose their coverage when the new regulations take effect in January 2014.
However, the bill will not be heard this legislative session, and instead will remain in committee, where it could be brought up for consideration again next year.
As an alternative plan, Governor Mary Fallin has proposed to redirect tobacco tax funds to the program in the amount of $50 million.
State House Speaker TW Shanon has expressed opposition to the Governor’s proposal, stating he does not believe it is the job of the government to provide health insurance to citizens.
OKC TEA Party targeted by IRS audits
The OKC Tea Party is reportedly among those targeted in an IRS scandal, exposed Friday of last week when the IRS apologized for unfairly targeting groups based on political criteria and affiliation.
The Party announced on its website that will discuss the details at its next meeting on Thursday, May 23.
Open carry allowed on public transportation
HB 1558, Open carry on public transportation bill passes House.
Wesselhoft: Right now if you have a concealed carry permit and get on a bus, it’s a felony. This changes that.
— OK Capitol Source (@OKCapSource) May 16, 2013
As this bill has passed, passengers on city buses may now carry their firearms openly. The legislation does not apply to public transportation that may leave the state. Oklahoma became an open carry state last November. Oklahomans with concealed carry permits may wear a gun on the outside of their clothing under the new law.
Tulsa’s school bond means more money for Common Core
Tulsa approved a school bond, most of which will go toward the purchase of new computers. These computers are specifically stated to help take the tests (get language) for Common Core at the end of each school year. These are the same tests that were delayed due to the McGraw-Hill server crash last month.