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Oklahoma House bill questions presidential executive orders

Posted at 10:10 PM, Mar 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 08:28:22-05

TULSA, Okla. — A game-changing House bill in the Oklahoma State Legislature is now in the hands of state senators.

Republican representatives are calling into question executive orders from President Joe Biden.

"This gives us a mechanism to go ahead and review that process ourselves and put the federal government on notice," said Rep. Stan May (R) of Broken Arrow, Okla.

Republicans voted in lock-step to pass House Bill 1236. They defeated House Democrats, 79-18. Now, it is up to state senators to decide if the bill makes it to Gov. Kevin Stitt's desk.

The bill allows the Oklahoma legislature to review "any executive order issued by the President of the United States, federal agency rule or federal congressional action to determine the constitutionality of such action."

In the bill's language, legislators can call on the Oklahoma attorney general to "seek to have the action declared unconstitutional." If the attorney passes, legislators can determine its constitutionality by a majority vote.

"This just gives us a way to fight those things," May said.

In the bill, state legislators plan to review possible executive orders for the pandemic and regulation of natural resources like oil.

May told 2 Works for You Biden's executive order halting the Keystone XL Pipeline is one of those on his party's agenda.

"That affects the oil business in Oklahoma and that's a huge part of our economy," he said.

Oklahoma State University Political Science Professor Dr. Matt Motta told 2 Works for You the bills is uncharted territory in state legislation.

“What I think is without precedence is this idea that states could simply ignore an executive order and effectively do less to not follow that order whatsoever," Dr. Motta said.

He said there is precedent for states challenging presidential executive orders, but in the courts, not through legislation.

“What I think you see state legislators in Oklahoma doing, especially Republicans in the state legislature in Oklahoma, is saying look we are going to take matters in our own hands,” Dr. Motta said.

Dr. Motta said state governments do have the authority to "fill in the gaps" where power is not granted to the U.S. Government by the Constitution. However, he said the president is legally allowed to issue executive orders. He expects serious legal challenges if HB1236 becomes law.

2 Works for You reached out to Oklahoma House Democrats but did not receive any responses.

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