Case called for judge’s recusal
On Friday, Oct. 17, Oklahoma County District Judge Bill Graves was asked to put an abortion bill on hold pending the outcome of a legal challenge. Senate Bill 1848, which became law on Nov. 1, requires that abortion facilities have a doctor on-site with admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of where the procedure is performed.
In response, Larry Burns, a Norman physician who performs abortions, has tried to secure admitting privileges at several nearby hospitals without success. (Who knows why?) So, he became the plaintiff in this case and is represented by the Center for Reproductive Rights, an organization that has successfully challenged other anti-abortion measures.
Graves did not help stop or postpone the bill because: I was in the House of Representatives with Graves, then a state representative. He amended just about every “health care” bill on the House floor with an anti-abortion amendment.
Abortion bills didn’t get to the House floor because Rep. Jeff Hamilton was chairman of the Health Committee and I was vice-chairwoman. We would not hear anti-abortion bills.
Anyhow, when Graves’ anti-abortion amendments got to the Senate, they went to the Health Committee chaired by Sen. Bernest Cain. Cain deleted Graves’ amendments from the healthcare bills. In my opinion, Graves should have done the “judicial” thing and disqualified himself in this case because of conflict of interest.
— Wanda Jo Stapleton
Former state representative
Is it the law of the land?
Regarding same-sex marriage become law in Oklahoma (News, “Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Oklahoma,” Ben Felder, Oct. 6, okgazette.com): Setting gay marriage equal to straight is as logical as giving me a doctoral degree because I spent as much time failing university courses as a doctor would’ve spent passing them. On a related topic, the use of “law of the land” at the end of your Oct. 15 article (News, “Pushback,” Ben Felder, Oct. 15, Oklahoma Gazette) seems wrong. Same-sex marriage is the law of the land the same way that aerial flight is the law of gravity.
— Jay Hubbard
Robbing Peter to pay Paul
I got a chuckle out of Bobby Stern’s Aug. 13 commentary placing the blame for the state’s woeful transportation infrastructure on the federal government (Opinion, Commentary, “We need long-term solutions,” Aug. 13, Oklahoma Gazette).
Oklahoma’s gas tax is 17 cents a gallon, less than half the national average and cheaper than every bordering state. Stern cheers Gov. Mary Fallin for the “necessary efforts” to fund transportation, but she gutted education in the process. Fallin has increasingly diverted income tax revenues that previously went into the General Fund and education directly into transportation, where spending exploded from $180 million in 2005 to $571 million in 2013, a more than 300 percent increase.
Also, high gas prices are the overwhelming reason people are driving less and switching to more fuel-efficient vehicles.
The real travesty is that diverting money from the General Fund means Oklahoma taxpayers withstand the worst of transportation funding as opposed to a gasoline tax, which captures a large percentage of funds from interstate travelers who use (and damage) our roads.
— DW Tiffee