The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would allow the state to put the brakes on the power of President Joe Biden’s executive orders there.
HB 1236 would allow the Oklahoma state legislature to review each executive order and determine if the order should be given to the Oklahoma attorney general, who would determine if it is allowed under the U.S. Constitution.
If the attorney general deemed an executive order unconstitutional, the bill seems to indicate the attorney general could sue for a court order invalidating the executive order.
If the attorney general decides not to take action on an order, the legislature could conduct a majority vote declaring it unconstitutional.
If the legislature invokes its option to declare an executive order unconstitutional, the statute is unclear whether the Oklahoma government would file suit or the state would ignore the order inside the state, leaving it to the federal government to enforce or try to take it to court.
The bill states:
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the state, county, political subdivision or any other publicly funded organization shall not implement any action that restricts a person’s rights or that the Office of the Attorney General or the Legislature by a majority vote determines to be unconstitutional.
Federal law always trumps state law, but any federal action that is unconstitutional is not a law at all. For example, even some things that Congress can do by passing a federal law are unconstitutional if a president tries to do without Congress passing a law.
The bill outlines different categories of orders lawmakers would review, from pandemics and other health emergencies, land use issues, oil and natural gas regulations, education issues, and agriculture regulations.
Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall and State Rep. Mark McBride, both Republicans, introduced the bill, which passed in the House 79-18.
The legislature’s biggest beef with Biden is his push towards renewable energy and away from fossil fuels, which are a valuable resource and a key industry in the state.
“I think this president has just taken a direct stab at Oklahoma,” McBride told the Oklahoman, specifically criticizing the Biden administration’s energy policies.
But not all Oklahoma lawmakers support the bill. House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, a Democrat, called the bill “pandering”:
In today’s OK House shenanigans, we’re hearing HB 1236 which would allow the Oklahoma Legislature to declare executive orders & federal laws unconstitutional. Can you say “pandering?” #okleg
— Emily Virgin (@EmilyVirginOK) February 25, 2021
“In today’s OK House shenanigans, we’re hearing HB 1236, which would allow the Oklahoma Legislature to declare executive orders & federal laws unconstitutional. Can you say ‘pandering?’” Virgin tweeted Thursday.