I want to apologize for getting obviously upset at a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Atoka. A person who always is very vocal in voicing their opinion said I was wasting time and money by asking to change legislation on abortion. They also expressed concerns that I wanted to keep laws that make it a felony to possess drugs within 1,000 feet of a school zone when state voters voted to reduce this to a misdemeanor.
I must admit I have mixed feelings about apologizing. On one hand, I am a public official and should be able to handle all suggestions. On the other hand, I get upset when people treat me as uneducated because I have a different opinion and I stand for moral issues. I believe it’s past time citizens of Oklahoma – Democrats and Republicans – get infuriated and stand together to stop injustices from occurring in our state and nation.
I want to address the issues raised and give readers a chance to draw their own conclusions.
The question: “With all the problems in the state’s budget why should the Legislature waste the time and money on filing a bill to stop abortion?”
First, there are many who do not believe it is a waste of time to stop the mass murder of unborn children. I personally cannot think of any more important issue that I should address. Secondly, I was shocked at how many bills we are asked to vote on; it’s in the thousands. In comparison, I think saving unborn children definitely rates much higher than most of the bills.
Because I file a bill on abortion and giving a father the right to save his child, does not mean I am not working on the budget. I have worked to return state revenue without raising taxes, and I know we are getting it done. I stand boldly for rural education and our county office to receive funding. I will fight to keep our senior citizens’ community building open. This week I joined with Senator Silk and others community leaders to stop the closing of the Talihina Veteran’s Center. It was a huge victory, and we saved over 200 jobs and helped the Southeastern veterans. I am working on four projects that will bring considerable employment opportunities to District 19 and increase revenue for our schools, hospitals, and roads.
The second question is dealing with state questions 780 and 781. I voted to maintain our drug-free school zones.. This person indicated the voters were informed and had spoken. In response, I would point out that approximately four counties voted for 780 and 781, while approximately seventy-three counties voted against it.
Working in criminal justice for about 29 years, I have unique insight into this problem. We send too many to prison and give way too many criminal records. But, I also know people are given numerous chances before they are sentenced to prison.
District attorneys have forced these people to start on DA supervision instead of actual supervised probation because this is how they financially support their offices. Offenders may receive multiple supervisions before being placed in drug court treatment or prison. The state questions make these drug crimes a misdemeanor, meaning it will increase DA supervision and decrease accountability and treatment for offenders. It actually has a reverse affect than intended because misdemeanors are not eligible for programs like drug court.
Instead, we should fund the DAs and let them do the job they are trained to do. Get the DAs out of the supervision business and began to get real supervision by trained and qualified supervision officers who use best practices, progressive discipline and supervision standards. This will reduce offender violations, reduce prison growth and actually save the state millions of dollars. I have closed my supervision business that I may voice my concerns without having a financial interest to gain.
I believe we can all agree we are less concerned about the person driving by a school with a joint in his vehicle than the person using drugs or distributing drugs to children. That’s why I have worked with a senator to add an amendment to the 1,000-feet rule. The amendment would make it a felony to possess drugs within 1,000 feet of the school if you are in the presence of a minor.
In closing, I will always stand for protecting the life of unborn children and for protecting our schools from being exposed to drugs. I will work for real justice reforms that address addictions and helps drug offenders seek sobriety, reforms that hold drug offenders accountable and reduces the cost on tax payers. Thank you for your time and God Bless.
Justin Humphrey represents Oklahoma House District 19. He can be reached at (405) 557-7382 or Justin.Humphrey@okhouse.gov.