Consent

Knowing When No Means No

Knowing When No Means No - March 17, 2019

State Representative David Perryman 

                What do low self-esteem, depression, mental health and a high teen pregnancy rate have in common? If your answer was Oklahoma, you are eons ahead of 56 members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

                That is the number of men and women who last week voted against House Bill 1007, which would have given Oklahoma public schools the option to teach age-appropriate consent and healthy relationship education. Who would not want their children and grandchildren, and more importantly, the FRIENDS and potential acquaintances of their children and grandchildren, to understand what is and what is not consent, and what is and what is not a healthy relationship.

                As the author, Jacob Rosecrants, a Norman Democrat explained the legislation, there were attempts to derail passage by the eight or so legislators who were vocal in their opposition to the Bill and who refused to see that the Bill was not a liberal, backdoor attempt to introduce “sex education” into the classroom.

                At one point, another legislator who favored the Bill attempted to explain that teaching young people to have the self-esteem to “say no” and teaching them to respect that lack of consent would likely reduce the incidence of unhealthy relationships and teen sexual activity. He went on to say that he believed that consent and healthy relationship education in the past might have reduced the high number of legislators who may have engaged in a sexual relationship before or outside of marriage. In response, one of the legislators who opposed the Bill complained to the Speaker of the House that he had been “disparaged.”

Nancy Schimelpfenning, a free-lance author writing in September 2018 in the online publication, A Very Well Mind, stated that more often than not, teens do not have the needed maturity to deal with the risks and responsibilities associated with sex. And when they turn to risky sexual behavior to cope with their feelings of depression and inadequacy, it can create many life-altering situations for them, such as pregnancy, abortion, sexually transmitted disease, and parenthood.

Even though the Bill as voted on allowed a parent to opt their child out of the curriculum, there was opposition from vocal legislators who want their children to learn about self-esteem, healthy relationships, boundaries and interpreting consent from their family or from their church. They were not convinced however, that passage of the proposal could make a positive impact on the lives of students who do not receive that message from their family or a church.

According to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention webpage of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the reality is that the Oklahoma Teen Pregnancy Rate (29.7 per 1000 females) is 36.7% higher than the national average of 18.8 per 1000 teen females and is closely linked to critical social issues such as poverty, educational attainment, and increased health care costs. More than 40% of teen moms live in poverty within the first year of giving birth; by the time the child is three, the figure increases to 50%.

 Nearly 64% of Oklahoma teens that gave birth in 2012-2013 said that their pregnancy was unintended, while another 21% were not sure if they wanted a baby later, sooner, then, or at all.

More than once, the word “abstention” was mentioned by those who opposed the Bill. What better way for a young person to protect their right to abstain by instilling in him or her the self-esteem to take that stand and by instilling in his or her friends the knowledge of when he or she is or is not consenting.

Thanks for allowing me to serve. If you have any questions or comments, please call or write, 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

Reading the Instructions

Reading the Instructions - March 22, 2015

State Representative David Perryman

Opening a box containing an unassembled item poses a great temptation to toss aside the paperwork and begin assembly “by the seat of our pants.” Freelance assembly sometimes works and besides, we really don’t have time to “Completely Read These Instructions.”

On occasion when we realize that assembly has reached an impasse, we scramble to find the guide, hoping that we did not ignore the twelve point type, bold face sentence on the manual’s cover, “Do Not Throw These Instructions Away.”

A college professor once emphasized the importance of following instructions by telling his students to use ink and read the entire test before beginning.  Those who did as instructed discovered at the end of the test, a direction to simply place their name at the top of page one and return the test with no other marks. Many failed.

Of greater import than assembly instructions or college exams is the duty of elected officials to fully read and understand legislation before voting. Unfortunately, pending Senate Bill 563 continues to progress toward law. The Bill passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee strictly along party lines and when heard on the Senate floor, six Republicans joined the seven Senate Democrats opposing the Bill, but it still passed 31-13.

There is no hyperbole in saying that the bill erodes the private property rights of hundreds of thousands of landowners in this state and allows a portion of their property to be taken without compensation. This is a bill that takes property from farmers and ranchers but also from any person whose property fronts upon a public road easement anywhere in this state. If Senate Bill 563 becomes law, every easement or right of way in the state has the potential of having poles or pipelines laying in them on the surface of the ground.

Currently, in Oklahoma only public utility companies as regulated by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, possessing the right of eminent domain are the only private entities that may locate utilities in roadway easements and rights of way.

However, Senate Bill 563 will allow “any person or entity” to use any public road, highway, right-of-way or easement to install poles, equipment, wires, pipes and conduits ON TOP or below the ground across and along rights of way and easements by simply securing the consent of the city or county having jurisdiction of the easement, even if the easement was simply for roadway purposes.

The bill further provides that if the lines or pipes are not “anticipated” to lie in the ditches or across the roads for more than a year, the consent of the landowner is not required and the landowner is not entitled to compensation.

SB 563 is no accident. Private companies seek to lay pipe on the surface of rights of way and easements.  They know that any statute granting that right must also allow the general public to do likewise. Otherwise, a private company would possess “a right not held by the general public” and could, according to EOG Res. Market. v. Okla. St. Bd. of Equalization, (Okla. Supreme Court, 2008) be subjected to corporation commission regulation and be required to pay property taxes based on an Oklahoma Tax Commission statewide assessment formula.

They would rather have their property taxes determined by individual county assessors who are faced with legal and practical limitations on their ability to make full and accurate tax assessments.

Perhaps those Republican senators who voted for Senate Bill 563 knew exactly how this bill impacts private property rights. Without a doubt, the lobbyists and corporations that want to lay pipe above ground in easements across your property without consent and without compensation knew what it said when they drafted the Bill.  Apparently, the cover of the bill said, “No Reading Necessary.”   

Thank you for allowing me to serve as State Representative.  If you have questions or comments about this issue or any other matter, please contact me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 800-522-8502.