One Republican mantra is their advocacy of “local control,” usually advanced to defend a local government’s efforts to push its brand of religion down everyone else’s throats. But, while it enables bigots to maintain their bigotry, the GOP shies away from local control in most other instances.
Norman residents would like to eliminate single-use plastic and paper bags. They think a five cent fee on each bag might discourage their usage. Maybe they don’t like to see them blowing from the tree tops.
Not so fast, says Republican Sen. James Leewright of Bristow. The Associated Press reports Leewright proposed a bill to ban municipalities from imposing such fees – and it passed in committee.
The claim is that such “individual guidelines for plastic bags would create a hodgepodge of rules,” hard to enforce. Maybe so if you don’t know where your city limits are.
The AP continues, “Oklahoma is one of at least five states where lawmakers are considering pre-empting local governments from taxing or banning plastic bags. Eleven others including Texas, Arizona and Florida already have pre-emptions laws.” The three mentioned are Republican-controlled. Meanwhile, New York state is set to join California in banning such bags statewide, joining Hawaii, according to The Hill, which has banned them county-by-every-single county. Who can trust such local license?
Not Oklahoma Republicans. In 2014, they passed a law which forbids local entities from raising their own minimum wage levels above the state average. The opponents stated the obvious – that such a hike might send local employers elsewhere. But, shouldn’t it be the call of local officials to decide what kinds of businesses they want in their community?
In a recent weekly column, Democratic Rep. David Perryman of Chickasha detailed how the oil industry’s legislative lackeys have increased the petro polluters rights at the expense of local control.
In 2015, Greed’s Own Party’s legislative lackeys banned local municipalities from imposing anti-fracking rules to protect its citizens. Seems like it was those radicals up at Stillwater who wanted to protect their citizenry.
“Not only did this move undermine the ability of municipalities to protect its citizens and their property,” Perryman wrote, “it firmly solidified the jurisdiction of the Corporation Commission, historically the favorite lapdog of the oil and gas industry, and pre-empted local control on most issues.”
Local control becomes oilco control.
Now comes HB 2150, which “would require municipalities and counties to compensate oil and gas business interests for any regulation or restriction that may limit oil and gas operations, even if the restrictions are intended to benefit the health and safety of the community.
“The bill,” Perryman points out, “would punish cities, towns and communities for trying to protect citizens from pollution and is an attempt to scare municipalities away from passing any ordinance that might impact oil and gas.”
As is usually the case with the party of platitudes, the rhetoric is 180 degrees away from its intentions. “Local control” sounds great; just don’t try to exercise it around Republicans.
(Gary Edmondson is chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party: scdpok.us or facebook.com/SCDPOK/.)