We're committed to opposing Senate Bill 23 in the 2013 session of the Oklahoma Legislature. The proposed new law is built upon a false premise. If SB23 succeeds, it would result in some very pernicious consequences for the people of our state. It would prohibit state agencies, cities, counties, state universities and public libraries from investing in an array of resources from United Nations agencies and certain non-governmental organizations.
The first editorial opinion on Senate Bill 23 was published today by the Tulsa World. Here are some key excerpts:
It seems almost preposterous, but there are still people out there who sincerely believe there is a plot by the United Nations to take over the United States and evidently Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, is one of them.
The latest conspiracy theory making the rounds on the Internet is the U.N.'s Agenda 21, which is seen by some, including Anderson, as a way for the U.N. to somehow gain control of our land and dictate how it can be used.
Anderson plans to introduce Senate Bill 23, calling for a legal ban on city membership in groups tied to the Agenda 21 proposal....
Agenda 21 is a nonbinding document that is a comprehensive plan of global, national and local action to preserve the environment. It deals mostly with bike trails, mass transit, sustainable farming and energy conservation. That hardly sounds like a devious plan to take over the world....
We'd like to believe that the upcoming session of the Legislature would deal with the myriad of serious problems facing this state. If this legislation is any indication, that, sadly, is likely far too much to hope for.
Read more at the Tulsa World website.
The next comment is from an engineer in our state's aerospace industry. He offers his take on Senate Bill 23:
First, it goes against the Governor's vision of Oklahoma's technological future. As an engineer in the aerospace industry, I rely on technical data from all over the world - including NATO and UN organizations - to keep Americans safe in the skies. This whittles away at the capability we are trying to build. We like it here, but this kind of "support" is disheartening.
Second, it flies in the face of the outstanding academic institutions we have here. OSU agricultural research is world recognized. In addition, we boast one of the best Engineering programs in this part of the country. OU's partnership with the National Severe Storms Lab has no other equal. Millions of dollars in research grants come here from around the world. This bill tells all of these institutions, "We don't want you here because you are scientists." If the bill were to pass as law, and defeated in appeals (I would expect constitutional concerns), our universities would be forbidden to access critical information they need to continue the amazing work they do.
Don't forget this is also the center of the FAA universe with the Mike Monroney Aeronautical center. The Air Force Logistics center is here. The list of corporations employing educated technical professionals can go for pages. Again, "We don't want you here."
Third, this is the OPPOSITE thing you would want to do if you didn't trust, or were hostile to, international research. You have to have academic peerage. Researchers MUST be able to review other researcher's works to ensure the science is accurate. By banning this, you remove the ability of scientists to question it. Note that none of these legislatures have much of anything to do with scientific careers, which is even more disheartening.
Eric Heinze is a professor at the University of Oklahoma:
I am a professor and researcher of international relations, specifically international organizations and institutions, such as the United Nations. While I also have my opinions about the United Nations, it’s agenda, and efficacy in world politics, as an analyst and educator, the only way I can seek to advance knowledge and understanding of these institutions and how they operate — for good or bad — is if I am able to access the information that they produce. The proposed legislation would seek to ban our state universities from purchasing a variety of research reports, datasets, and other information from entities tied to the United Nations, such as the World Bank, UNICEF, and scores of other UN-affiliated bodies that produce massive amounts of information on a variety of global issues. This would severely curtail access to this information by those studying and working on solutions to the world’s many problems, as well as stymie the advancement of knowledge about how international organizations are thought to affect world politics. Such a law would be disastrous for the free flow of information, for the ability to produce knowledge, and would have detrimental effects on Oklahoma businesses operating in a global economy.
--Eric Heinze, Ph.D.