- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

Enid News & Eagle, July 7, 2014

Prescription for regulation

When we recently heard Oklahoma is ranked fifth in painkiller prescriptions nationwide for 2012, we weren’t surprised.

Mental Health Commissioner Terri White has said Oklahoma ranks in the top five for per-capita sales of hydrocodone and morphine.

“That, in part, is why 81 percent of all unintentional poisoning deaths in our state involve at least one prescription drug,” White told Oklahoma Watch. “We must do something about this.”

This is a rampant problem statewide. Last spring, a pharmacist was accused of taking the painkiller hydrocodone from an Enid pharmacy where he was employed.

Two years ago, the state of Kentucky required physicians to check the drug-taking histories of patients before issuing new narcotics prescriptions.

During the first 12 year of mandatory checks in Kentucky, Oklahoma Watch reported that prescriptions plummeted in that state: hydrocodone, down 10 percent; oxycodone, down 12 percent; alprazolam (Xanax), down 13 percent.

In Oklahoma, the argument from lobbyists and doctors against an online accountability database is predictable - that this unnecessary reform would be too expensive.

Commissioner White recently supported a bill trying to lower prescription drug abuse deaths that failed during the last legislative session.

“There was a great deal of misinformation used by those opposing this legislation,” White told Oklahoma Watch. “That is unfortunate, because the facts don’t lie.”

Our state needs to implement strict regulation, accountability and enforcement to curb painkiller abuse.

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Muskogee Phoenix, July 7, 2014

Court grants corporations human rights

The Supreme Court is heading down a frightening path and should apply the brakes.

The justices have set a scary precedent by assigning rights that Americans hold dear to corporations. The court has shown a willingness to elevate an inanimate organization, a building, above the rights of natural humans.

The recent ruling in the Hobby Lobby case holds that closely held corporations have religious rights. The court ruled earlier in the Citizens United case that corporations have free speech rights.

Saying the ruling is limited to closely held corporations is deceiving. Most American corporations, including many large ones, are closely held.

The owners of Hobby Lobby absolutely have the right to object to purchasing contraception for anyone. No one should be able to force those individuals to do something that violates their freedom of religion.

Corporations, however, are not their owners. We are not talking about a sole proprietorship or a partnership here.

Webster’s says a corporation is a legal entity that exists independently of the person or persons who have been granted the charter creating it.

Corporations are a useful but artificial legal construct to insulate owners from certain risks and obligations, to operate independently for contractual, tax and other business advantages.

You won’t find a corporation sitting next to you in the church pew. A corporation can’t kneel at the pew or go down for baptism.

Corporations cast no ballot. Corporations do not give birth and do not need medical care or contraception.

Regardless of your opinion on the Hobby Lobby or Citizens United case, you should be concerned that the highest court in the land is now granting artificial entities the same rights as natural humans. And you should be concerned that, in the Hobby Lobby case, the majority held that the religious rights of a fictional body were more significant than their effect on its employees.

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The Oklahoman, July 6, 2014

In decrying Hobby Lobby decision, liberals ignore Obama’s actions

The liberal reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, which protected the religious freedoms of certain business owners, has been as predictable as it is asinine. The court, in the eyes of liberals, has declared another “war on women.”

Yet if these liberal critics truly believe what they’re saying, we ask a simple question: Why aren’t they condemning President Barack Obama in equally vitriolic language? After all, the Obama administration has exempted millions of companies from having to provide abortifacients to female employees.

Marion Homier, vice-president of the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, responded to the court’s ruling by saying, “This decision means that employees will be subject to policies based on employers’ religious beliefs, regardless of their own. Employers will potentially be able to establish discriminatory policies against women or presumably any employees on the basis of religious belief.”

Yet the majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, pointed out that the Affordable Care Act already exempts millions of businesses from contraception and abortifacient coverage mandates. Alito noted the federal law “exempts a great many employers from most of its coverage requirements. Employers providing ‘grandfathered health plans’- those that existed prior to March 23, 2010, and that have not made specified changes after that date - need not comply with many of the Act’s requirements, including the contraceptive mandate. . And employers with fewer than 50 employees are not required to provide health insurance at all.”

Those two groups comprise a substantial share of the national marketplace. Alito noted, “Over one-third of the 149 million nonelderly people in America with employer-sponsored health plans were enrolled in grandfathered plans in 2013. . The count for employees working for firms that do not have to provide insurance at all because they employ fewer than 50 employees is 34 million workers.”

Put together, these exemptions cover roughly 84 million workers in the United States. That figure exceeds the combined population of 30 U.S. states. Obama supported every one of the exemptions. When Obamacare was being debated in Congress, the president agreed to exempt small businesses. After the law passed, he went on to unilaterally extend several other exemptions.

In February, the administration announced that companies with more than 50 full-time workers would be exempted from the employee insurance mandate, delaying it from 2014 until 2015. The administration also announced that companies employing between 50 and 100 full-time workers would be exempted until 2016, and that companies with 100 or more workers would have to offer insurance to just 70 percent of full-time workers in 2015.

In March, the Obama administration announced that the exemption for grandfathered plans would be extended until 2016.

In short, if employers are allowed to “establish discriminatory policies against women,” as Homier claims, then Obama is a major culprit in that alleged scheme, thanks to his nonstop rewriting of his namesake health care law.

In contrast, the Supreme Court’s ruling is a narrowly tailored religious-freedom decision addressing only “closely held” companies - those where five or fewer individuals control more than 50 percent of the value of outstanding stock.

If Homier and other liberals truly believe unfettered access to abortifacients is a “right,” why aren’t they lambasting Barack Obama? Their silence on that front proves that their objective is simply to engage in partisan political theater, and nothing more.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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