Letter to the editor: Ritze: Liquor lobby is alive

I was sent here as a conservative lawmaker. Sometimes, however, I wonder if the definition of “conservative” has changed. To me, America is the greatest country in the history of the world and being a conservative is about protecting American values and the American way of life. One of the things that Americans value most is time with their family. Folks, believe it or not, even this value is under attack, and many “conservatives” are complicit.

House Bill 2186 passed the House this past week. This bill would allow movie theaters throughout Oklahoma to sell alcohol. I voted no, and I was disappointed to see many conservative lawmakers voted to pass the measure. There used to be a time when people in this country could take their family out on the town and not have to worry about children being exposed to alcohol. Alcohol related deaths account for the loss of more than 1,000 Oklahomans a year.

The liquor lobby is alive and well in Oklahoma. Every year, we hear more bills looking to loosen Oklahoma’s alcohol laws. As a doctor, I am trained in recognizing and treating addictions, and I can unequivocally say that as we lax our liquor laws and expose more people to the dangers of alcohol more people will die. I don’t say this to be dramatic. I say this because it is a point of fact.

I do have some good news! House Bill 1708 has passed the House Floor. This bill would remove one allopathic physician from the Oklahoma Board of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and replace it with an osteopathic physician. This change, although subtle, will allow a little more parity among the two schools of medicine, which I believe will eventually provide better health outcomes for Oklahomans.

As your elected official, I always maintain an open-door policy. Helping my constituents is my greatest responsibility and the most rewarding aspect of public service. Please feel free to contact me at any time.

I greatly appreciate your prayers as I work to defend my constituents against the intrusion of big government.