Tulsa Businessman Leaves Local Chamber

Thursday, April 23rd 2009, 12:56 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - Stem cell research will not be banned in Oklahoma.  Governor Brad Henry vetoed a bill that would've made it illegal to do embryonic stem cell research.  The Oklahoma House had the necessary votes to overturn the veto, but the Oklahoma Senate did not.

4/23/2009 Related story: Oklahoma Governor's Veto Of Stem Cell Bill Sustained

The senate was six votes short of overturning the veto.  The bill evoked passion on both sides, and now some are blaming local chambers of commerce for its failure.

After they upheld his veto, Governor Henry praised senators, saying:  "In the face of unjust criticism and untrue assertions about this bill, these legislators took a principled stand and did the right thing for their state."      

Those on the other side of the aisle, like Randy Brogdon of Owasso, disagree.  He says the veto is an affront to the pro-life movement, and was sustained partly because of lobbying efforts by both the Tulsa and Oklahoma City Chambers of Commerce.   

"I think there are plenty of opportunities for the chamber to bring businesses to Oklahoma that does not involve taking innocent human life," said Republican Senator Randy Brogdon of Owasso.

At a news conference on Thursday morning, Senator Brogdon was flanked by Tulsa businessman Ray Thomas.  Thomas runs TPI Billing Solutions.  He is a long-time member of the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce.  He says he has resigned because of Tulsa chamber's support of embryonic stem cell research.

"And then, you have the business chamber of commerce come in and say I don't care if it's legal, can me make any money? I just think it's a ludicrous position and I was astounded," said Ray Thomas of TPI Billing.

"If we offended him by our position, we sincerely apologize," said Tulsa Metro Chamber President Mike Neal.

President Mike Neal says the chamber's position on embryonic stem cell research is not meant to alienate any of its members.  He says the research has the potential to accomplish great things, and the chamber wants to make sure that Oklahoma is not left out of the process.

"With the medical and research infrastructure in place, this would be an opportunity to save hundreds of thousands of lives in the future," said Tulsa Metro Chamber President Mike Neal.

The chamber points out that healthcare is considered to be one of the fastest growing industries in the country, and banning embryonic stem cell research may mean fewer jobs for Oklahomans in the future.