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Notes from the House Floor session 4-19-12

By   /   April 19, 2012  /   1 Comment

Below are edited notes taken during the House Floor Session on Thursday, April 19, 2012. It is not a complete transcript of everything that was said.  For that you can go to the House webpage and view the video.   Links provided take you to more information about the bill including the actual language and vote details.

SB1820 by Denney

Denney: sets weighting for online students

McCullough: I think the formula is confusing. Can you explain why an online student is weighted as 1.3? Denney: Weights were assigned because different students require different things. This number was derived using the same number as a charter school student.

Curtis McDaniel: why did they determine that a school that doesn’t put up brick and mortar gets the same weight as one that does? Denney: not just a student and computer. There are teachers and technology. They thought it was similar to a charter school situation.

McPeak: so this money is not under control of the local school? Kids can be from Cushing and say they want to take classes at Ripley and the money goes to Ripley? Denney: More likely White Oak because that’s the virtual school right now. Virtual education has been in OK for years. We want to fix it so the money follows the student.

Lockhart: is there any guarantee that the money goes for Oklahoma students? Denney: I would hope so. This just says if Cushing has 500 students, they should get the money for 500 students.

Bill passes 58-30. Emergency Clause fails.

SB1274 by Peterson

Peterson: allows a woman getting an abortion to hear the heartbeat.

Jeannie McDaniel: I find this already in law. Why are we doing this? Peterson: The ultrasound was in law, this allows for listening to the heartbeat.

Cox: we’re opening physicians up to a lawsuit for not offering this, but also can be held liable by the spouse, sibling, guardian or another physician. So someone not even in the room can have a liability claim? Peterson: If she was unable through sickness or whatever to make that claim and they knew she was not offered the opportunity. Cox: when I came up here, I considered myself pro-life. We continue to have these bills with unintended consequences and I find myself against these bills. I’ve about had it up to here with the unintended consequences. Peterson: would you believe the decision of an abortion is like no other and when a woman goes into an abortion clinic, two lives are changed forever. The woman needs as much information as possible before making that decision and that’s what this bill does.

Billy: is this a choice or are we forcing her? Peterson: it’s a choice so she can make a fully formed decision.

Virgin: are you aware that all of the three doctors who perform abortions in the state already provide this? Peterson: good, then I hope you’ll vote for my bill. Virgin: we have all of these Supreme Court cases quoted, why include them when some do not have the outcome you desire? Peterson: they’re educational. (reads from Casey decision) whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice you should be for this bill so women are not misled. Virgin: can you tell us what the court held in the Casey decision? Peterson: I don’t have that in front of me. But until Roe is overturned, the state can make sure women are informed and that’s what this bill does.

Hamilton: isn’t it true that in an abortion there are two people involved? Peterson: yes, with distinctively different DNA. Hamilton: isn’t it also true that the baby cannot speak for itself? Peterson: yes and the heartbeat is the unborn child’s voice. Hamilton: isn’t it also true that in an abortion, one person decides to kill another person so it’s only fair they are made aware of what they are doing? Peterson: absolutely.

Brumbaugh: would you be surprised that the state of PA, since the informed consent laws have been enacted, better adoption rates and overall health in the state? Peterson: thank you for that question.

Kern: do you know anyone who has bought a used car? Peterson: yes, I have. Kern: and don’t you want the salesman to tell you everything about that car? Peterson: yes. Kern: and wouldn’t you say a human life is more important than a car? Peterson: Absolutely.

Cox: wouldn’t you agree there are three people involved because the doctor is included and this bill opens him up to liability from a whole bunch of other people? Peterson: if he allows her the opportunity to hear the heartbeat, he has no problem. Cox: but these people who may or may not be in the room can sue and maybe you’ve heard of frivolous lawsuits and they may think it’s worth it. Peterson: if he has all the proper documentation, there’s no problem.

Kouplen: not being a doctor or lawyer, a question has come up. What if the woman says she doesn’t want to hear the heartbeat, could these other people sue her? Peterson: No. It’s just about the doctor’s responsibility to ask her.

Nelson: your husband is a physician, right? Setting aside the issue of abortion, if I go to a doctor and he doesn’t disclose all my treatment options or any of the pitfalls and there’s a bad medical outcome, what happens currently? Do I have legal recourse? Peterson: I don’t feel adequate to respond on that. But in this case, knowledge is power, why not give her all the info she needs. For years the other side has lied to women. Nelson: my understanding is a doctor could be held liable. So if in all these other areas of medicine a doctor can be held liable, why treat the issue of abortion differently?

Renegar: if this goes into effect and we have 20K women come in asking for an abortion, do you think they will know the statutes? Do they have to read the law to know what the rights are? Peterson: the physician will know it’s his responsibility. The woman doesn’t have to know, the abortionist has to know. Renegar: why do we never mention the father of the child? Shouldn’t he have to hear it as well? Peterson: a lot of times the father is not known. I press my motion.


Billy: this bill is simple. It doesn’t remove a choice to abort a child. It allows her the opportunity to hear the heartbeat of her unborn child. If doctors already do this, then there are no changes. Why would we not want to do this? When I walk into a doctor’s office, I expect him to be professional. Why not let her be informed? It allows a choice for her to understand everything happening inside her body. Women have been told in the past it’s just a blob of tissue. And when they find that information was false it has repercussions. We can empower every woman who enters an abortion clinic to know what’s going on in her body.

Kern: This is an issue of life. The right to life is inalienable because it’s not of human origin, it’s of divine origin. William Blackstone said life is the immediate gift from God and begins as soon as the baby can stir in the womb. The Bible says at the moment of conception, Jesus Christ was God. (closes with Preamble to Constitution) Who is our posterity? It’s those who were unborn.

Hamilton: I have volunteered for years in a crisis pregnancy center. A lot of the women are distraught when they get there. But when they hear the baby’s heartbeat it changes them. They suddenly realize they are mothers right now. I’ve had girls burst into tears and say “thank you” because I helped them not have an abortion. What this bill does is give young women an opportunity to hear the heartbeat and know they are mothers right now. When you become pregnant you are a mother. I was aware of my children even before the pregnancy test was positive. I also knew they were all boys.

Jeannie McDaniel: I think what I resent here is we’re discussing something that is already the law. I don’t mind people listening to the heartbeat, but what we’re opening up now is the liability issue. I don’t think women will read this bill, it’s about the liability portion. It opens the doctor up to the mother, father, parent, sibling, guardian or former doctor to bring a suit. It’s a shell game and I’m embarrassed.

Nelson: I guess I’m rising to speak about some observations on discourse in the chamber about this bill. It looks to me the issues surround the doctor-patient relationship and liability. We’ve heard slogans and signs. One said why let a political body tell a woman what to do with her body? I kind of agree with that. It appears there is a situation where a doctor may not disclose what is going on with a woman’s body. It’s not a medical reason but a political reason. So it’s up to a political body to put protections in place. Second it’s about legal liability. If a doctor says I need surgery but doesn’t tell me 85% of people die from it, I think my survivors have a good legal case. Can we tell people what to do with their bodies? We tell them they can’t smoke marijuana. Can I sell a kidney to fund my campaign? I’m told you can’t. Make no mistake it IS about liability and politics and medicine. Are you going to be on the political side or the medical side. But I just don’t see where this is a threat.

Cox: I agree with every single thing except that this is a good bill. The more stuff we put into statute, the more backup a lawyer has to sue a doctor. Have we beat a dead horse on the abortion issue? What problem do we have with informed consent now that this bill addresses? This is a terrible law. We have much better laws on the books that discourage abortions. Current law says we use an ultrasound which is better than what this law says. What should we do with this bill? (tears paper) Virgin: we hear about informed consent here. Do you think when a woman is in an abortion clinic that the doctors don’t have the most informed consent of any doctor? Cox: there’s a long list of information that has to be given. Wesselhoft: the ultrasound renders a visual image, does it give audio as well? Cox: it does, it has sound triggered by the movement of blood.

Peterson: let’s get back to what the bill does. It provides the opportunity for a woman to hear the heartbeat. She can refuse it, but it has to be offered. The Representative from Norman says it’s offered now but the burden is on the woman to ask. Follow the money. Who benefits from abortions? Abortionists get wealthy doing this. We have more baby boomers and no one to replace us. We have to talk about the life issue. It’s about the future of our country. Dr. Cox, you voted for this in committee, so I guess you’ve had a change of heart since then. Written material is fine, but to have the opportunity to hear the heartbeat is an invaluable tool. This is empowering women. Knowledge is power.

Bill passes 75-12

SB1616 by Quinn

Morrissette: why was title off? Quinn: that was my fault, it should have been placed back on in cmte. It’s a freshman mistake. Morrissette: on any project, the workers are covered by worker’s comp. Your definition covers liability and worker’s comp which are two different entities. The liability part I can understand. Quinn: I may have worker’s comp for work I do on a regular basis, but for large projects, the risk is different. That’s why it’s being included. Morrissette: has something occurred at the Devon building or another project that raised a red flag? Quinn: I don’t know of a specific situation. But I know there are situations where there have been unintended consequences which are devastating for the little guy. Morrissette: are you concerned at all that if someone is injured on one of these job sites and wouldn’t be covered? Quinn: you are better able to discuss the legal language. If you think this needs to be addressed, then we can do that on the Senate side.

Bill passes 88-2 (Hamilton, Morrissette opposed)


Peter formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.