Guest Opinion: By Russell Turner – Up In Smoke

THE CONSERVATIVE VIEW BY RUSSELL TURNER UP IN SMOKE Ever since the Oklahoma Department of Health released their guidelines over the subject of Medical Marijuana there has been a furor over those rules. Even State Attorney General Mike Hunter has chimed in and said that the board exceeded their authority in the medical marijuana rules. While I did not support SQ 788 the majority of the voters of Oklahoma did, sadly our state has a track record of manipulating the intent of legislation by unelected boards and commissions. What the cannabis supporters are currently experiencing is nothing new. For years many tradesmen across Oklahoma have had to deal with these boards just to have the right to earn a living.
In many cases our legislators vote in legislation to regulate certain occupations. In my opinion there is far too much regulation placed upon working professionals across our state. If you have a small barber shop you have to be licensed, if you are a plumber, heat and air repairman, electrician, etc. you are required to have multiple licenses. The legislature will create an unelected and unaccountable board to regulate some industry, they will endow them with powers, then they can do the dirty work and the legislature can distance themselves from hardships they place upon the workers across our state. I know about this first hand. I have operated a HVAC business for 40 years.
Many years ago every town you might happen to work in required you to obtain a license to practice your trade there. Then the legislature decided to solve this problem by creating a state license system under the Construction Industries Board (CIB); the idea was that if you had that state license, you could work anywhere in the state. Now we have this monstrosity, and even with the state license you still have to get a license in every backwater town where you might have a small job to do. When you quiz any of them about the system they have created you will be politely told that it is for the safety of the public, in reality it is just another way to get more money from the hardworking people of this state. When the state license requirement was first implemented the cost was $50 per year but now the cost is $200 per year, remember that is what is paid just to the state. Another thing these unelected boards are known for is requiring 6 hours of continuing education every three years. I want to emphasize the point that the Construction Industries Board does not provide that training. They are very good at collecting our money but providing nothing in return. I have suggested to the people at the CIB that they should provide that education to the journeymen free of charge; I was told that they just couldn’t do it, but there were individuals that I could contact and they would teach the course. From personal experience I have found that the cost of course is usually $100 dollars. I once attended one of these courses and I counted 70 fellow tradesmen from the area; we each paid $100 and spent 6 hours of our time there. The instructor collected seven thousand dollars for his day’s work minus the cost to rent the room where he held the event. Over a three year period of time those 70 contractors will pay the CIB $42,000.00 dollars, and it puzzles me why they cannot provide the contractors something for their hard earned money. If this is not a big rip-off I will eat my hat.
We have far too many legislators who have never had to deal with this kind of chicanery. For all of the people out in the public that don’t seem to care about out of control boards and commissions remember this, anytime the government puts more burdens upon any service they will have to pass it on and that results in a higher cost for the consumer. Earlier this year all the mainstream media could talk about was how educators across the state were being mistreated. Just a little comparison, a teacher is required to maintain a teaching certificate through the state and they don’t have to maintain a separate certificate or license in the school they are teaching in. The cost for the teaching certificate is $50.00 for 5 years or $10.00 per year. During that same period of time a contractor will pay $1,000.00 just to the state alone, and that is not counting what is extorted from them from various cities and municipalities. The marijuana industry will be no different, there will be some board created with the heads making huge salaries with a huge benefit package while all of your money goes up in smoke.