For Immediate Release: March 11, 2003
Senate Approves Vote Of The People On Cockfighting Penalties
The State Senate has given the nod to a measure that would let the people of Oklahoma decide whether the penalties included in last November's state question banning cockfighting were too severe.
Senator Frank Shurden is the author of Senate Bill 835. The measure would let voters decide whether to change the penalty for violating the state ban from a felony to a misdemeanor.
"The voters really didn't have the chance to decide on the penalty, which is currently a felony. That puts hard working Oklahomans who raise gaming birds in the same category as murderers, rapists and drug dealers. This measure simply let's the people decide whether that makes sense or not," said Senator Shurden, D-Henryetta.
Opponents argued that it would be wrong for lawmakers to change a state law that was approved by the voters, but others pointed out that anything in the statutes can be amended, and that lawmakers had done so on other statutes approved by the voters.
"This is a legitimate part of the process of creating and refining state laws. But more than that, it gives the public the chance to address a situation that needs to be addressed before we have people sent to prison that shouldn't be there," said Senator Shurden.
SB 835 now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
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