Rep. Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City) released the following statement today regarding House Bill 1597:
“After further consideration, I have decided to withdraw House Bill 1597, known as ‘The Business Protection Act.’ The bill as introduced did not accomplish my desired purpose.
“Across the country, business owners are being sued by individuals who are asking the owner to perform a service or provide a product that is contrary to their deeply held religious beliefs. When these business owners have refused because of conscience, they were then sued having to face legal battles that resulted in their losing their business and even facing jail. I wanted a tort bill that limited damages between the business owner and the customer ensuring that the business owner would not lose their livelihood.
“I will support the efforts of my colleagues who have introduced bills that do what I intended. I will work with the governor, the speaker of the House and Senate pro tempore to protect the business interests of our state so that all our citizens who take the risk of opening a business can prosper and thrive.”
Many policy issues will be considered by the Legislature during the 2015 session. No doubt health care will be a topic of discussion. As health care costs continue to grow and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) changes how people get medical care, everyone’s looking for policy reforms and innovations that can make acquiring high-quality health care a reality for more people.
While opinions on health care and the ACA differ, common-sense solutions should be supported. Health care policy reforms must be pursued. Many patients, doctors, employers and providers feel overwhelmed by the current system. Doctors and patients often express that they feel as if they’re just a number and not a name. They feel that in the typical health care model, costs continue to rise with no end in sight. They often feel that the health care system inappropriately at times involves a bureaucracy or a middleman that makes getting services needlessly complex and expensive.
Oklahoma is getting national attention for the growth of direct care arrangements. Direct care arrangements between doctors, patients and employers work similarly to many services consumers buy. In a direct care arrangement, the doctor provides a prospective patient with a set fee for monthly services or a one-time fee for a specific procedure. Doctors across the nation now offer family and primary care services for less than the cost of a phone bill per month and provide excellent care.
For one-time surgical procedures, direct care arrangements make the experience for the patient, doctor (and often the paying employer) more efficient, at a lower cost with higher quality.
Direct care arrangements are resulting in patients being able to trust that they’ll be affordably cared for, not just “covered.” Direct care arrangements facilitate and expand something patients and doctors both long for — a direct relationship with a doctor. Direct care arrangements provide affordable options with predictable costs. These arrangements often make the process of acquiring health care a simple and manageable experience, even removing inappropriate bureaucracy and the middleman when a go-between isn’t necessary.
Direct care arrangements also are freeing patients and even employers to better allocate resources for health insurance, stabilizing costs and letting consumers use health insurance when more appropriate or needed.
Given these outcomes, direct care arrangements should be encouraged. But some are attacking the patient-doctor relationship, asserting that direct care arrangements should be regulated by state insurance departments. This is absurd. Citizens are free to buy multiple goods and services without such exchanges being deemed as “insurance.” The direct purchase of medical services and products should be no different.
To protect the rights of doctors, patients, employers and other providers, lawmakers should provide statutory protections against direct care arrangements being deemed insurance. Let’s make sure Oklahomans are affordably cared for, not just “covered.
Yen, a cardiac anesthesiologist, represents District 40 in the Oklahoma Senate. He is a Republican. Small is executive vice president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a free-market think tank (www.ocpathink.org).
Which is the more disappointing: Rep. Sally Kern’s outrageous bill, or Governor Fallin’s weak-kneed response to it?
Kern’s bill would allow restaurants to refuse to allow service to gays and lesbians just because they are…gay and lesbian.
House Bill 1597 would allow businesses to refuse service “to any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person, group or association,” and be immune from civil liability. I guess it could be worse; it could say “to any black (or Jewish, or Catholic, or Gypsy) lesbian….”
Regular readers will know I am no advocate of the alternative life style.
They also know, I hope, that unfairness or the perception of it drives me nuts. As in unequal pay for women. As in stupid administrative rules in our schools. As in discrimination against those of color or ethnicity.
I have no doubt of Sally Kern’s devotion to the country, nor the depth of her beliefs.
This proposal, however, is one that stinks; it is something one might expect in Nazi Germany. Oh…it did happen there, didn’t it?
Enough of the hate, Rep. Kern.
Her proposal should be given the heave-ho, and by her. Now.
As to the governor’s refusal to give an opinion…not the stance of a strong leader. Disappointing, the act of a person without a strong backbone, or a sense of outrage.
This article in the trade magazine, Campaigns & Elections, suggests that the days when
large newspapers ruled political outcomes is over, replaced by social media, video content and more modern mobile platforms. The authors suggest that campaigns spend too many resources catering to editorial boards and newspaper reporters.
This video is so bad the producer has now blocked it from viewing. It is a “how to” showing school kids how to steal their parents’ firearms and take them to school and turn them in. So bad for some many reasons.
This is the worst “public service announcement” ever broadcast:
President John Adams said, “Nothing is more dreaded than the national government meddling with religion.” However, the federal government may be signaling its intention to forego the wisdom of President Adams. Recently, a Wisconsin-based atheist organization hailed its “victory” over the IRS after settling a lawsuit alleging the agency had failed to enforce the federal tax code laws prohibiting tax-exempt religious groups from electioneering.
Since 1954, the Johnson Amendment has expressly prohibited pastors from endorsing political candidates through sermons delivered from the pulpit. Such actions are what the IRS has monitored since the implementation of that law. But never has the federal government gone beyond that and attempted to police the content of sermons preached from the pulpit even where there is no specific candidate endorsement.
The lawsuit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation complained to the IRS about so-called electioneering violations by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association after it urged citizens in newspaper ads to vote along biblical principles. The atheists also complained about a letter an Illinois Roman Catholic Bishop sent to Catholics stating, “Catholic politicians, bureaucrats, and their electoral supporters who callously enable the destruction of innocent human life in the womb also thereby reject Jesus as their Lord.”
Those actions clearly are not candidate endorsements, but are examples of pastors and priests exhorting their flocks to abide by important lessons from the Scriptures. The law allows clergy to address important societal issues such as the sanctity of life or the sanctity of marriage. It would be troubling, to say the least, if the IRS has agreed to take punitive action against churches based on the content of sermons delivered from the pulpit. Yet, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is claiming victory because the group said the IRS has agreed to new protocols regarding enforcement of the federal tax code.
My office has asked both the IRS and Department of Justice for a copy of the settlement agreement and any new enforcement protocols agreed to as part of the settlement. Shockingly, the federal agencies have yet to respond to our request. We remain undeterred in our effort to obtain this information. I have also written to Oklahoma pastors and clergy to encourage them to contact my office if they encounter new IRS protocols.
The founders of our country clearly believed in the importance of protecting the ability of Americans to freely exercise their faith, enshrining that very right in the First Amendment of our constitution. The First Amendment also guarantees our right to free speech, which at its core protects our ability to engage in the political process. Where those two fundamental rights intersect hangs the right of religious organizations to encourage their members to engage in the political process in a manner consistent with the core tenets of their religions. The IRS shouldn’t punish pastors and priests for the content of their sermons and should they try the agency will be met swiftly and strongly by my office in the courtroom.