Editor’s Notebook: Johnson’s apology, foreign laws, tightening ROPE

From an editor’s notebook, an Oklahoma representative apologizes for uttering words widely considered anti-Semitic, Gov. Mary Fallin signs a new law banning the application of foreign laws and precedents in Oklahoma courts, and tightening the ROPE. 

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State Rep. Dennis Johnson, R-Duncan, took the podium at the Oklahoma House of Representatives to apologize for comments made during legislative debate on April 17 (Wednesday).

House Democrats and the National Jewish Democratic Council had issued statements decrying Johnson’s statement that customers of his small business might “Jew me down on a price.” House Speaker T. W. Shannon and Senate President Pro Temp Brian Bingman also criticized Johnson’s comments, with Bingman saying the phrasing “personally offended” him. 

Speaking to a hushed House chamber Thursday afternoon, Johnson said, “What I said was wrong. What I said was hurtful to many good and decent people. My words were careless. They were unintentional and do not indicate what was in my heart.

“This was a serious offense and I have no excuse for using such a thoughtful phrase. It will not happen again. I am sorry and I ask the forgiveness of the House, this chamber. It does reflect on us negatively. I accept that.” 

House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, said Johnson’s actions “are the restitution that’s necessary to move us forward.”

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Gov. Mary Fallin has signed House Bill 1060, state Rep. Sally Kern’s measure prohibiting the application of foreign laws and precedents when that would violate either the state or federal constitution. The Oklahoma City Republican’s proposal passed overwhelmingly in both the House and Senate last week, despite strong opposition from the Sooner State’s Muslim community and civil libertarians.

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During the remaining Wednesdays of the 2013 legislative session, the grass roots conservative group Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE) plans a series of events aimed at sustaining opposition to state implementation of the “Common Core Curriculum.” 

Members of the group are scheduled to visit the Capitol on April 24 and May 15, and engage in letter-writing, phone calls or “social media” activity for May 1, May 8, May 22 and May 29. 

ROPE members held a well-attended Capitol rally on March 27, and state Rep. Gus Blackwell, R-Laverne, the group’s legislative champion, wrote a commentary for the state’s largest newspaper, The Oklahoman, this week. 

You may contact Patrick B. McGuigan at Patrick@capitolbeatok.com and follow us on Twitter: @capitolbeatok.