Among the most interesting aspects of the 2013 legislative session is the newly formed States Rights Committee. The House Committee was created by House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) and is addresses the infringement of the Federal Government on states rights.

Among the committee members is Tommy Hardin (R-Madill), who has found himself in a balancing act of wanting to protect state's rights while acting in the best interests of its citizens.

"I think this is a good thing but I think it is kind of being abused to make political statements," Hardin said. "The concept is good, but you have people trying to make political statements. We are playing with people's lives and it shouldn't be done."

A case in point was two bills Hardin voted against in committee on Tuesday. The first was House Bill 2022, "The Oklahoma Firearms Bill of 2013," authored by Rep. Sally Kern (R-Oklahoma City). The bill made it through committee by a 7-6 vote with Hardin casting one of the six dissenting votes.

If passed into law, the bill would make it a misdemeanor for a physician or health care provider to ask an applicant for employment about whether or not the applicant possesses or owns a firearm. It would also make it unlawful for a physician, health care provider, or employee working for a physician or health care provider doing business in this state to ask a patient or parent of a patient if they own a firearm.

There is currently a national debate over whether physicians by law, should be mandated to ask about gun ownership. Physicians are currently permitted to ask their patients about gun safety but there is not a mandate to do so.

"I understand what the representative wanted to do in the bill," Hardin said. "But when you put our health care providers in a bad situation, it is not the right way to make a statement."

Hardin also voted against House Bill 1487, which would have prohibited certain entities and persons from assisting the armed forces from detaining Oklahoma citizens. The bill failed by a 9-4 vote to pass through committee.

"I asked the author (Rep. Mike Ritz, R-Broken Arrow) about this and it puts National Guardsmen in a bad situation. If they don't obey an order, they are placed in a bad situation. I know everybody is fed up with the Federal Government and wants to make a statement but that is not the way to do it. When the tornado came through Lone Grove, if the National Guardsmen had been called out, they would not have been able to do their job. There needs to be common sense."

Michael Pineda