One of our clandestine operatives — code named “OO” — sent us a memo suggesting that the Oklahoma legislature has passed a joint resolution placing a proposed amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution on the ballot. The amendment — if passed — would prohibit the state’s acceptance of certain federal education funds.
That struck us as rather remarkable, because the Oklahoma state legislature doesn’t convene until 04 February, and it will remain in session until 31 May. So we went looking.
The legislature’s website has a page for Senate Joint Resolution 7 (or SJR7). It’s authored by Senator David Holt. According to the information at the page for SJR7, it’s scheduled for a first reading in the Senate on 04 February.
Here’s a link for the text of SJR7. The operative part of it says:
The rest of the resolution discusses how the proposal will appear on the ballot. The way we read this thing, if it passes, Oklahoma can still accept federal money for free lunches and other goodies, but they won’t accept any money that is conditioned on being told what to teach or how to teach it.
This isn’t, strictly speaking, a creationism measure, although it certainly could have that effect if federal standards mandate teaching evolution in science class. But it could also have the effect of rejecting federal mandates regarding global warming or — gasp! — sex education.
It’s literally a federalism provision, and says, in effect, that Oklahoma is responsible for funding its state school system and deciding what it will (and won’t) teach, and they don’t want the feds telling them what to do. If this thing passes and the state goes full bore for creationism, that’s another matter, but constitutionally speaking, there’s nothing wrong with the resolution as written. However, providing in the same resolution that they’ll accept federal funds for other school goodies seems a bit hypocritical.
Anyway, our clandestine operative may have jumped the gun just a little bit. This thing hasn’t had a chance to pass either house yet, but it’s definitely something to watch.
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