Law & Principles , Culture & the Family

Michael Carnuccio | July 31, 2015

Free Market Friday: Planned transparency

Michael Carnuccio

Recently released undercover videos show casual conversations about crushing the life from a tiny, unborn person. When the talk turns to calculating potential compensation for her harvested organs, even abortion advocates admit it’s disturbing. Many Americans are appalled to discover that their own tax dollars provide more than a half-billion dollars every year to the organization exposed in these videos.

Some of those tax dollars flow directly to the organization – Planned Parenthood – from federal agencies. Others are sent from Washington, D.C., to state and local governments with requirements that direct them to Planned Parenthood or similar groups. These funds are difficult to account for and often come with all kinds of strings attached.

Oklahoma legislators recognize this as a problem. Setting aside any particular use of these tax dollars, federal funds often flow into the state without being accounted for in the budget process or approved by elected officials. The process lacks transparency and accountability.

In this year’s legislative session, state Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Tom Newell, R-Seminole, offered House Bill 1748. It would’ve required agencies to tell legislators and the public about federal funds received and any strings attached. The measure passed overwhelmingly in both chambers, but was vetoed by Gov. Mary Fallin.

Legislators should keep trying, especially in light of concerns raised by the recent Planned Parenthood organ harvesting videos. Oklahoma’s executive branch might prefer to keep to itself the strings attached to federal funding, but that’s not how our government is supposed to work. Legislators and citizens deserve to know what kind of deals state agencies have with Washington, D.C., and whether federal funds force Oklahoma to support groups like Planned Parenthood.

Oklahomans can also be thankful for Republican U.S. Sen. James Lankford. He has introduced legislation for a one-year moratorium that would stop all federal funding of Planned Parenthood unless it gets out of the abortion business. No doubt this is an effort most Oklahomans support.

Yet whatever one’s position on this controversy, all Oklahomans benefit from transparency. Self-government is only possible when the people and our representatives know what is going on within government. The Legislature should be applauded for its attempt this year to increase transparency for federal funds, and encouraged to continue that work.

Michael Carnuccio

Former OCPA President

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