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Senate Leader Won't Hold Vote On Bill Letting Lawmakers Declare Federal Actions Unconstitutional

The leader of the Oklahoma Senate said he is not on board with House Republicans’ push to let the legislature declare presidential executive orders and other federal actions unconstitutional.

The House suspended its own rules last week to take up and pass House Bill 1237, which says lawmakers have that power. Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat said during his regular availability with reporters last week they did that because of influential groups outside the capitol pushing rhetoric online similar to Timothy McVeigh’s before the Oklahoma City bombing.

"And that same type of hatred and fear, that the government is out to get you and the federal government is going to use the state as an instrument of their evil empire — yes, the federal government has overreached, and I’m going to push back at every turn I can. But I’m not going to fuel people’s fears and make people paranoid to go out and live their life," Treat said.

Treat said he will not break his chamber’s rules to take up that legislation and opposes the theory of nullification anyway.

"A lot of times, the federal government says, ‘No, it’s a federal law. Trumps state law,’ but their federal law is not within the enumerated powers. The right recourse for that, though, is not a body of 48 and a body of 101 across the rotunda to declare it unconstitutional. That’s the role of the court," Treat said.

Treat faced a lot of heat from conservative groups last week for amending previous legislation on nullification, House Bill 1236, to give the attorney general’s office more resources to review federal actions.

State lawmakers did not consider legislation on reviewing presidential executive orders and other federal actions while Donald Trump was president.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.
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