Thursday, March 28, 2013

Motion to Amend

Here's an update on House Bill 1412, the Anti-UN bill that is pending action in the Oklahoma Legislature.

I have asked Senator Patrick Anderson, the Senate co-author of the bill, to consider an amendment. 

The amendment is in the form of an addition to the bill as introduced. The purpose is two-fold: (1) To provide some prudent exceptions to the prohibition stated in Paragraph 1.C; and (2) To provide a definition of the term "nongovernmental or intergovernmental organizations accredited or enlisted by the United Nations."

Senator Anderson has replied positively to this suggestion. An email reply from his executive assistant indicates that this suggested change has been submitted to the staff of the Senate Energy Committee "...so that a committee amendment can be prepared."

The complete text of the proposed addition is given below.

If this amendment is adopted by the committee, it will go a long way toward addressing some of our most basic concerns about HB 1412. It won't solve all of the problems with the proposed new law. (In fact, some very fundamental flaws will remain in the proposed legislation). But, this revision will help to safeguard public access to important knowledge resources of the United Nations.

Thanks,

Bill Bryant
President, OKC Chapter
United Nations Association of the USA

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Existing Language in Paragraph 1.C of House Bill 1412 ...

C. Since the United Nations has accredited or enlisted numerous nongovernmental and intergovernmental organizations to assist in the implementation of its policies relative to United Nations Agenda 21/Sustainable Development around the world, the state and all political subdivisions of the state shall not enter into any agreement, expend any sum of money, receive funds contracting services or give financial aid to or from any nongovernmental or intergovernmental organizations accredited or enlisted by the United Nations.

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Suggested Additions to HB 1412 ...


D. Recognizing the fundamental state interest in promoting the unrestricted availability of knowledge resources, the prohibition stated in Paragraph C shall not apply to the acquisition of books, journals, articles, audiovisual resources, and/or data sets in printed or electronic form by any public library.

E.  Respectful of the principle of intellectual freedom, and honoring the right of all people to receive and impart information and ideas regardless of frontiers, the prohibition stated in Paragraph C shall not apply to any educational institution (public school, community college, state university, career tech school, etc.).

F. Acknowledging that the public health research and data of the World Health Organization (a UN agency) may provide valuable information to the Oklahoma Department of Health and to local health departments, the prohibition stated in Paragraph C shall not apply to any state agency nor to any political subdivision of the state which has a public health focus or any mission related to disease control, delivery of vaccines, and/or the treatment of chronic or infectious diseases.

G. Cognizant of the important reports, data, and standards that are published by the International Civil Aviation Organization (a specialized agency of the United Nations), the prohibition stated in Paragraph C shall not apply to the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission nor to any state agency or political subdivision engaged in activities designed to increase the safety of civil and/or commercial aviation.

H. Mindful that the people of Oklahoma are subject to the harmful effects of extreme weather (floods, droughts, severe storms, etc.), and recognizing the value of data published by the World Meteorological Organization (a UN agency), the prohibition stated in Paragraph C shall not apply to the Oklahoma Climatological Survey, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, nor to any state agency or political subdivision engaged in activities related to the prediction and/or mitigation of extreme weather events.

I. Proud of our state's reputation as a major center of agricultural production, and desiring to protect our access to the incomparable data of the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization, the prohibition stated in Paragraph C shall not apply to the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food & Forestry nor to any state agency or political subdivision engaged in activities designed to protect the agriculture, aquaculture, and/or natural resources of our state.

J. Wishing to support Oklahoma businesses engaged in the export of goods and services, and recognizing the need for accurate and reliable information about foreign markets, the prohibition stated in Paragraph C shall not apply to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce nor to any political subdivision of the state which is engaged in activities designed to promote economic development.

K. Understanding that international tourism is a growing industry and hopeful of further developing Oklahoma as a travel destination, the prohibition stated in Paragraph C shall not apply to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department with regard to exchanges with UNESCO (the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organization).

L. Troubled by the profound problem of human trafficking, a crime of international scope and scale, the prohibition stated in Paragraph C shall not apply to any state agency nor to any political subdivision which is engaged in activities which may be supported by the resources of the United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking (UN GIFT).

M. Concerned by the chronic and pervasive problem of domestic violence in our state, the prohibition stated in Paragraph C shall not apply to the Office of the Attorney General nor to the Oklahoma Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board with regard to information and data exchanges with UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

N. Protective of our children and wishing to safeguard them from exploitation and danger in the workplace, the prohibition in Paragraph C shall not apply to the Oklahoma Department of Labor with regard to transactions with the International Labor Organization (ILO), a specialized agency of the United Nations.

O. The prohibition stated in Paragraph C shall not be applicable in the event that a determination has been made that a transaction (agreement, expenditure of funds, receipt of funds, etc.) with a nongovernmental or intergovernmental organizations accredited or enlisted by the United Nations is: (1) In the best interest of the state of Oklahoma or one of its political subdivisions; and (2) Does not violate the property rights of any resident of the state of Oklahoma.

P. The determination referred to in Paragraph O may be made by any officer or employee of the state or its political subdivisions during the normal course of their duties.

Q. Except as provided in Paragraph R, the phrase "any nongovernmental or intergovernmental organizations accredited or enlisted by the United Nations" shall mean that the General Assembly of the United Nations has formally recognized the nongovernmental or intergovernmental organization by the conclusion of a treaty, convention, protocol, or other written agreement. 

R. The meaning of the phrase "any nongovernmental or intergovernmental organizations accredited or enlisted by the United Nations," as used in Paragraph C, shall not include: (1) Intergovernmental organizations to which the United States of America belongs as a member; (2) Any charitable or educational organization recognized by the Internal Revenue Service; (3) Any charitable or educational organization registered with the Oklahoma Secretary of State; nor (4) Any commercial or business organization engaged in lawful commerce within the State of Oklahoma. 

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