January 16, 2014
By Chris Casteel
Gov. Mary Fallin on Wednesday chided Congress for standing still while states move forward on issues ranging from energy to education.
“Washington's short-term thinking and continued inaction are hurting state economies, repressing job growth and, ultimately, hurting American families in every state,” Fallin said in the State of the States address sponsored by the National Governors Association.
Fallin, the group's chairman, said “it is left to states to chart their own path and pursue their own policies where partisan gridlock has left Washington unable to address the nation's serious problems.”
The Republican governor, who is seeking her second term this year, shared the stage at the National Press Club with the group's vice chairman, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, who like Fallin, devoted a good portion of his speech to energy policy.
Hickenlooper, a Democrat, said his state was considering the opportunities and risks of hydraulic fracturing — some Colorado counties have sought to ban fracking — and trying to “foster a better sense of trust” between the public and energy producers.
Colorado has been at the forefront of something Hickenlooper is not so proud of — legalization of marijuana. The state this year became the first to allow sales of the drug for recreational use.
Hickenlooper said he had opposed the state question that passed and was determined to “regulate the living daylights out of” the drug.
How the state responds to the legalization, he said, “will be one of the great social experiments of the century.”
Fallin said, “As long as I'm governor in Oklahoma, I'll do anything I can to prevent the legalization of marijuana.”
Asked about embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Fallin said the details were still coming out about his staff's involvement in a plan to close lanes of a busy bridge for political reasons.
“No governor ever wishes that on any governor — to go through that type of circumstance,” she said of her fellow Republican, whose attendance at Fallin's birthday party and fundraiser last month was canceled because of an ice storm.
However, she said, “any time public policy hurts the public itself — which it appears it did, in fact it did do that — then that's not right.
“He's been a strong leader. You saw his leadership during Hurricane Sandy to help the state get back on its feet. He's also a man who speaks his mind and sometimes that ruffles feathers, so we'll just wait and see.”