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Shawnee News-Star

Story last updated at 1:23 a.m. Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Moving beyond cockfighting

Our View

State senators may take up Senate Bill 835 today which would attempt to subvert the will of the people as voiced in the Nov. 5 general election. The measure, by Sen. Frank Shurden, wants to alter State Question 687, the ban on cockfighting that was approved by 56 percent of the people.

Shurden' bill seeks to have another statewide vote concerning cockfighting that reduces the penalties from felonies to misdemeanors. If senators even give the measure much thought surely they will realize that this simply undermines the will of the people.

Frankly, we are getting a little tired of seeing this issue raise its ugly head when legislators have a lot more to do in the current session. Our local lawmakers should vote against the bill and send a message to their colleague that the people have spoken and their will should be honored.

State Question 687 was passed by the citizens of Oklahoma only after a brutal battle to even get it put on the ballot. It was three years from the time those who supported the ban began the initiative petition process until Oklahomans had the opportunity to vote.

The voters were fully aware of what the proposal to ban cockfighting contained. All of the points covered in the ban were vigorously debated and well publicized. There were no secrets.

Senators should make sure that SB 835 goes nowhere. The business before legislators this session is much more important than messing with or revisiting the cockfighting issue.

Many of those who opposed SQ 687 in the election and were against the ban have managed to tie up the cockfighting issue in the courts. It appears the issue will be decided by state Supreme Court.

It will be behoove that court to move on this issue in an expeditious manner since enforcement of the ban has been blocked in certain counties by district court judges who have granted injunctions. Most of those have been granted by judges who know their jobs are at stake come election time.

Let us remind legislators and particularly Sen. Shurden that SQ 687 was a proposal that banned cockfighting throughout Oklahoma, not only in certain counties. It was never proposed as a county option, but rather to include the entire state.

The mentality of some lawmakers is that if certain counties voted against the ban then cockfighting should be allowed to continue there. That is not the way our system works.

Senators should ensure that SB 835 is dead on arrival whenever a vote is taken. They should further remind Sen. Shurden that they have much more important business to address during the current legislative session.

MJM, Executive Editor

Mike McCormick may be reached at scoop1@news-star.com or at 214-3922.