Proposed legislation should be debated and voted upon by our elected officials. All of it – the good and bad – should get a hearing in committee. If it passes muster, it should go to the full legislative body for additional debate, potential amendment, and a vote. This is our system. It is designed to respect the wishes of the majority while protecting the rights of the minority – and the smallest minority is the individual, where all rights begin. Sometimes, legislation should be stopped because we don’t know what is in it. Sometimes it’s very, very bad. Here are two examples.
First, if legislation is secret it should be voted against. The public cannot be represented nor can we weigh in with our opinions if the details are kept hidden. The most hidden of all legislation is a “shell bill”. Wednesday, Oklahoma State House Bill 3215 is scheduled to be heard in the Public Safety Committee. The hearing starts at 10:30 AM in Room 206. Perhaps we will learn what is in this bill – since it has no text, has had no publicity, and is a complete secret to most of the public.
I say most of the public is in the dark because someone undoubtedly knows what will eventually wind up in this bill. The title of the bill is the “Oklahoma County Jail Improvement Act of 2014”. For the text of the bill, go to THIS LINK. In case you don’t want to go to a link, here is the text of the law, as it reads at THIS LINK right now:
An Act relating to county jails; creating the Oklahoma County Jail Improvements Act of 2014; providing for nocodification; and providing an effective date.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA:
Section 1. NEW LAW A new section of law not to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes reads as follows:
This act shall be know and may be cited as the “Oklahoma County Jail Improvements Act of 2014”.
Section 2. This act shall become effective November 1, 2014.
That’s it. As a very politically active citizen of Oklahoma County – where my tax dollars go towards paying for the jail mentioned briefly in this legislation – I would like to know what is going on. Does the legislature have business with just ONE county? Is the Sheriff, who has done a horrible job in the management of the facility in question, going to get a state-funded bailout? Should the voters of the other 76 counties be mad as hell? I don’t think this “legislation” should move forward past Wednesday. I would like to see it brought up for “debate”, and then voted on – and voted down. End this practice now, and while you are at it please fill us in on the missing details. You know, who suggested it, what the text was going to say and do, that sort of thing. Our new Speaker has a shining opportunity to set an example here. I will anxiously be watching his efforts to bring transparency to a murky practice.
(NOTE – if this is about funding a new jail, or providing any funds for the existing jail, we should have a long talk about what is wrong and how money will not fix it).
Second, on the same day, in the same committee, Oklahoma House Bill 2615 will be considered. This bill is absolutely, completely and horribly bad. I am sad to report that the author is the Chairman of this committee – which does not bode well for liberty. Please go HERE and click on the link, to read it. Again, I will print some of the relevant text. Here is the summary:
An Act relating to state government; making certain reports and assessments of the Oklahoma Information Fusion Center confidential; authorizing disclosure to certain persons; making collected information privileged and not discoverable; providing an exception; providing for codification; and providing an effective date.
If that is not a chilling summary, I can’t think of what is. Most legislation is boring, but this is SO scary, so important, that I am going to give you rest of the text:
BE IT ENACTED BY THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF OKLAHOMA:
SECTION 1. NEW LAW A new section of the law to be codified in the Oklahoma Statutes as Section 150.21c of Title 74, unless there is created a duplication in numbering, reads as followed:
A. The information reports and intelligence assessments of the Oklahoma Information Fusion Center shall be confidential and shall not be open to the public; provided, however, members of the Oklahoma Information Fusion Center may disclose, at the discretion of the Oklahoma Information Fusion Center Director, such Fusion Center information reports and intelligence assessments to:
1. Officers and agents of federal, state, county, or municipal law enforcement agencies and appropriate authorities for criminal investigation, criminal prosecution, crime prevention, public safety, and Homeland Security purposes; and
2. Critical infrastructure and key resources personnel in the private sector and other necessary private sector security officials authorized by the Oklahoma Information Fusion Center Director to receive such reports for public safety and Homeland Security purposes.
B. Information collected and compiled under the authority of this section shall be privileged and not discoverable, nor subject to subpoena or order for production issued by any court, other than production in a district court criminal proceeding for the prosecution of crimes which are the subject of the information sought.
SECTION 2. This act shall become effective November 1, 2014.
So, you might ask, what is a Fusion Center? This is from Wikipedia:
A fusion center is an information sharing center, many of which were jointly created between 2003 and 2007 under the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S. Department of Justice.
They are designed to promote information sharing at the federal level between agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. military, and state- and local-level government. As of July 2009, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recognized at least 72 fusion centers. Fusion centers may also be affiliated with an Emergency Operations Center that responds in the event of a disaster.
When the State collects information in secret on the citizens, it is spying and violating their privacy. To use that information against those citizens and not allow them to refute it because they cannot know what evidence is against them horrifically wrong. It is an offense to any who still hold that the Constitution should not be violated – and should be fought with all means available by anyone who has sworn an Oath to that Constitution – which includes all members of the House. From the relevant Constitutions:
US Constitution - Article VI, Paragraph Three: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.
Bill of Rights - Amendment IV: The right of the people to be secure in their person, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Bill of Rights – Amendment VI: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence. (Emphasis added).
Oklahoma Constitution – Section I-1: The State of Oklahoma is an inseparable part of the Federal Union, and the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the land.
To sum up the problem with a Fusion Center – if the State gathers secret information that is used to prosecute someone, but that person cannot know what information the State has, that person cannot have a fair trial. They must have access to the evidence being used against them. This is so far beyond the realm of acceptable it is hard to put into words. It is something from East Germany, or Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, Communist China – pick your totalitarian Police State.
Anyone who votes for this should not be in office since they clearly do not understand the role of government. As a reminder on exactly what that role is, from the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
The voters of Oklahoma deserve an explanation from the author of this monstrosity – who suggested it, did you write it or have help, and what were you thinking? The author is Representative Steve Martin of Bartlesville. He should kill his own bill and disclose the answers to these questions, immediately. Give him a call or an email, along with the other members of the Conference Committee on Public Safety. Here they are: