Monday, September 18, 2017

Congressman Russell endorses Lamb for Governor

Rep. Steve Russell endorses Lamb for Governor

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – September 18, 2017 – Republican gubernatorial candidate Todd Lamb announced today he has received the endorsement of Fifth District U.S. Representative Steve Russell (R - Oklahoma City). The Fifth Congressional District encompasses Oklahoma, Pottawatomie and Seminole counties, including the cities of Oklahoma City, Edmond and Shawnee.  

"I have seen firsthand the proven leadership and talent of Todd Lamb when we served together in the state Senate,” Congressman Russell said. “His organizational skill, vision and great way with people made him an incredible floor leader in a very divided Senate. Todd is selfless, has a great moral compass and was willing to lay down his life for others as a United States Secret Service agent.  He has my vote, complete trust and confidence as Oklahoma's next governor."

Lamb said, “I am honored to earn the endorsement of Congressman Russell and appreciate the manner in which he represents the Fifth District in Washington, D.C.  He has never shied away from his conservative principles; the same principles that guide me on a daily basis, and that will define my gubernatorial administration.  Steve Russell has earned the respect of his constituents and conservative colleagues in the U.S. House, and I am excited to count him as a member of my campaign team.”

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Death of Honor in the GOP

Being a Republican used to mean something. A higher standard of conduct was demanded and expected. Honesty and integrity were commonplace. We policed our own. We were "the Party of Family Values".

Looking at the news today, one can witness the death of honor in the Republican Party.

It's indicative of the culture at large, in one sense. A society that increasingly rejects God and His standards will elect men and women who do the same. To paraphrase Scripture, they profess one thing with their lips but prove another with their actions. However, our inherently sinful nature does not excuse wrong actions.

Here are just a few examples I'm thinking of.

Republicans in Congress spent seven years claiming they would "Repeal and Replace" ObamaCare as soon as they were given control of the U.S. House U.S. Senate White House. American voters gave them everything they asked for, but when the time came, they were unprepared and unwilling to do what they had promised to do for seven years and four election cycles. They lied to the American public. They said what they needed to in order to get elected, never intending to actually follow through, otherwise they would have been prepared to act when they time came.

You can even look at the nomination of Donald Trump, a man with a crude and immoral past, who exhibited no change on the campaign trail, belittling and demeaning those who opposed him, and who fabricated and circulated false and (to be honest) slanderous quotes and stories about his GOP competitors.

Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin made a pledge to run for only three terms in Congress. He repeated that promise numerous times and through his re-election campaigns. Now, he brazenly breaks it without remorse, and expects us to be fine with it.

Republicans in the Oklahoma Legislature have seen unprecedented scandal and outrage in the past two years, and last eight months in particular. A state representative resigned after allegations he sexual harassed his assistant. A full ten percent of the State Senate GOP caucus has left office for crimes: one state senator went to federal prison for embezzlement of nearly two million dollars, another is likely going to prison for a very long time due to child prostitution and child porn, another broke campaign finance laws by embezzling $100,000 from his campaign for his private use, and another just resigned and was charged with sexual battery after previously getting in trouble for drinking and driving. The governor's chief finance officer has had repeated drunk driving charges, and still holds his position. Several former legislators have had run-ins with the law, or are rumored to have not sought re-election in order to avoid scandal coming to light.

Three other state representatives ran for office, only to turn around and resign to take private sector jobs within as little as 24 days of being re-elected. They spent time and money asking voters to elect them to represent them, then spurned that duty in favor of greener pastures. They thus denied their constituents of the representation they voted for and cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars by causing special elections.

Republican candidates (nationwide and in Oklahoma) spend millions of dollars on the campaign trail touting conservative principles, only to betray those values when they get in office. The pressure from leadership, lobbyists, and groups desperate for more government taxpayer money, along with the siren call of power, is too much for them to withstand. They take the easy road, tossing aside their campaign rhetoric (which they neither believed nor intended to keep) -- and along with it what voters expected them to do based on what they were promised.

All of this, and Republican Party leaders and elected officials (by and large) just shrug, and say "well, look at the Democrats."  That's not good enough. The Party of personal responsibility needs some serious self-examination. Democrats aren't the ones who have been in the Oklahoma news these last two years with scandal after scandal. Democrats get in Congress and do what they said they would do.

The responsibility doesn't lie solely with the candidates and elected officials; we, the voters share some of that blame, because we've fallen for the slick campaigning and elected and re-elected these individuals. "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

The Republican Party needs to clean up house from top to bottom. If the elected officials won't do it, then Party officials need to speak up. The silence has been deafening.

Voters have a responsibility to weigh the actions of each elected official against what they pledged to do and against what they ought to do, and throw them out if they fail to match the standard. If we don't do our duty, we can expect the Republican house to begin to crumble.

Friday, September 15, 2017

OKGOP's Carolyn McLarty announces for SD27 special election

Hat-tip to Kenny Bob Tapp for this great news:

Carolyn McLarty Announces Run For State Senate District 27

“It’s time to stop talking and start DOING! It is time to put the principles of good government to work. I am prepared to do this; I have the knowledge, experience and the proven conservative track record needed to be an effective State Senator. I am reliable and I am passionate about what is best for the people of District 27. With the current budget crisis in our state and multiple challenges in the economy, education, and health care, we need assertive and faithful leadership to bring opportunities for stability and prosperity back to Oklahoma,” McLarty said.

Dr. Carolyn McLarty is a retired veterinarian, who operated the Animal Care Clinic in Woodward for 20 years. Since 2008 she has served as the Republican National Committeewoman for Oklahoma. In this position, she has represented our state’s conservative values consistently. She has demonstrated her ability to effectively lead while serving on the RNC Executive Committee and as Chairman of the Resolutions Committee.

She believes that upholding conservative principles is vital for our leaders. “Leading based upon our moral compass and guiding faith can thwart pressure from outside influences. When we make decisions based upon our faith and values, we can build a safer more prosperous state for our children; a state where they can thrive and raise their own families with a higher quality of life,” McLarty said.

A strong proponent for education, and the quality of education our children receive, McLarty fought to encourage development of excellent new standards for Oklahoma education to replace Common Core. “It is vital that we provide our children the best education that we can. Education for good citizenship is imperative for a government “by the people.” Further, quality education ensures that our children can aspire to higher goals, and enrich the State with their talents,” McLarty said.

“Through my experience in the Republican National Committee, I have worked hard to create win-win outcomes between the establishment and the grassroots. I can work in the State Senate to pass legislation that ensures that our state government serves the people of the entire Senate District 27 from Northwestern Oklahoma to the end of the Panhandle. I will fight hard to encourage legislation that enables our conservative principles and values to bring security, liberty, and prosperity to the District. As a sovereign state, we must push back the encroachment of the Federal Government into state government functions,” McLarty emphasized.

Carolyn McLarty has been married to Tom for 42 years. Together they have three children and three grandchildren. She served on the Board of Directors at the Pregnancy Center in Woodward for nine years. She also served as President of the Northwest Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association, was Chairman of the Board of the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority Board, Board Member of Eagle Forum, a national conservative pro-life organization and was a delegate/alternate to the Republican National Conventions for the past five Presidential elections.

Fallin officially calls Special Session

Governor Mary Fallin Calls Special Session to Deal with Budget Shortfall, Government Inefficiencies and Teacher Pay Increases

OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Mary Fallin today issued an executive order calling for a special session of the Oklahoma Legislature for lawmakers to address the shortfall in the current fiscal year budget as well as develop long-term solutions to government inefficiencies and fund a pay increase for public school teachers.

The governor called for the first extraordinary session of the 56th Legislature to convene Monday, Sept. 25.

Fallin recommended lawmakers:

  • Address the immediate budget shortfall created by the loss of the $215 million cigarette fee revenue.
  • Have the option to address a long-term solution to continuing budget shortfalls.
  • Address the need for more consolidation and other efficiencies in all areas of state government.
  • Clarify intended exemptions to the new 1.25 percent sales tax on vehicles. 
  • Address a needed pay increase for K-12 public school teachers.

“Urgent action is needed,” said Fallin. “Lawmakers need to come together quickly to fill this fiscal year’s budget hole so our citizens can be assured they will receive necessary core services. I also am asking them to develop solutions to address structural deficits in our budget. For decades, we have attempted to balance our budget for too long with the use of one-time resources. We must develop a budget based on stability, not volatility.”

The state’s 2018 fiscal year budget, which took effect July 1, has a shortfall of $215 million as a result of last month’s Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling, which struck down a proposed smoking cessation fee that was estimated to raise that amount. The $215 million represents just state funds. With the loss of matching federal funds, state agencies estimate the total is nearly $500 million.

“In the call, I have also given the Legislature the authority to address the need for more efficiencies in state government, which should provide long-term savings for the taxpayers,” the governor said. “In this regard, I have provided the budget committee chairpersons an extensive list of efficiencies I have proposed.

“I have been talking with legislative leaders from both parties and I will continue to work with them until an agreement is reached,” Fallin said. “I wish we had an easy button to push but that is not reality. Our challenges in front of us are difficult and it will take great resolve and statesmanship for us to be successful.”

Fallin said it is important for lawmakers to provide sufficient revenues to meet the basic responsibilities of state government, such as education, health and public safety.

“We must deliver services that work for the people, and put people over politics,” the governor said.

“I have also provided the legislative authority to clarify our intention that the new 1.25 percent sales tax on vehicles not extend to the trucking industry,” she said.

Fallin said it’s time a permanent pay raise is enacted for public school teachers. However, the governor said a pay raise alone will not improve student outcomes, urging lawmakers to ensure more existing dollars are reaching the classroom by eliminating administrative inefficiencies.

“I encourage lawmakers to see this special session as an opportunity to change the fiscal course we are headed,” said Fallin. “I hope they seize the moment to pass legislation that makes more recurring revenue available, reduces our reliance on one-time funds, and puts our state on the path to success.”

Pro Tem Schulz pushes cigarette tax, urges pre-special session agreement

Senate Pro Tem urges lawmakers to come together with revenue plan ahead of special session

With a special session less than two weeks away, Oklahoma Senate Pro Tem Mike Schulz called on lawmakers to put partisan politics aside and come together on a plan to fill the $215 million budget hole created by court rulings this summer.

“The special session is rapidly approaching and all we’ve seen so far is political games from both sides of the aisle. I understand why the public would think it’s ‘déjà vu all over again’ and worry that the special session will be a repeat of the end of regular session," said Schulz, R-Altus.

“We don’t have time in a special session for ideas that have not been thoroughly vetted in the legislative process. We don’t have time to rehash arguments from the past two years. Before the special session is gaveled in, we need to have an agreement and plan in place so that we can move quickly and effectively. It’s time to come together. It’s time to stop bickering and playing political games. It’s time to do the job Oklahomans elected us to do."

“Senate Republicans have met three times since the initial court ruling that left a $215 million hole in the budget. We’re preparing for every scenario, but it’s clear to the Senate that the best path forward is to pass a $1.50 cigarette tax increase. The Senate passed a cigarette tax during the regular session and the Senate is ready to move on it again if the House can send one our way."

“Let’s do this now, get it done quickly in special session to address the budget hole and return our entire focus to important issues like job creation and economic development, regulatory and tax reform, and increasing educational quality and opportunity for Oklahomans.”

Thursday, September 14, 2017

State Reps. Moore, Cleveland Issue Republican Budget Challenge

Moore, Cleveland Issue Republican Budget Challenge

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Reps. Lewis Moore and Bobby Cleveland announced today they are challenging Republican lawmakers to prepare for a line-by-line budget review ahead of a pre-session Republican Caucus meeting in December. Moore and Cleveland hope lawmakers will each find $50 million to $100 million in budget reductions and efficiencies.

 “We have spent too much time and energy lately finding creative ways to increase revenue,” said Moore, R-Arcadia. “This Republican Budget Challenge is a way for us to shift our focus back to conservative principles: eliminating waste, streamlining government and finding efficiencies that benefit Oklahomans. It can and has to be done."

 “We understand going line by line through agency budgets is a tedious task,” Moore said. “But, if we spent even half as much time rooting out waste as we have trying to increase revenue through the legislative process, I bet we could find some real savings. For the past few years, the legislature has allocated money to agencies in block grant form, with agencies determining how they would allocate funds within their agencies.  The legislature, which represents the citizen’s will, to include how much money to raise and spend, should go through each agency budget, line-by-line, prioritizing needs and dictating spending.  I believe each agency and our citizens will be better served with greater scrutiny."

 After the December caucus meeting, Moore and Cleveland hope to release results outlining the top ideas to the public ahead of the 2018 session.

 “We urge all of our members to participate in this challenge,” said Cleveland, R-Slaughterville. “We are hearing from Oklahomans across our state who believe there are inefficiencies in state government. It is our job to ensure a more efficient system, and the Republican Budget Challenge allows us to do just that.

 “We are excited to see the great ideas that this challenge produces. At the end of the day, we cannot expect taxpayers to bear the brunt of higher taxes when we all know there’s plenty of waste to be found in our system. Our citizens deserve better,” Cleveland said.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Democrats take another legislative seat in HD46 special election

In the special election held in House District 46 today, Democrats once again emerged victorious, snatching another Republican-held seat away and continuing their recent success in special elections. Democrats have lost only one legislative special election since April 2015, flipping two House seats (HD85 and HD75) and two Senate seats (SD34 and SD44). The "one that got away" was HD28, which Republican Zach Taylor held for the GOP by a mere 56 votes.

Democrat Jacob Rosecrants defeated Republican Darin Chambers 60.41% to 39.59%. Ironically, that's the exact same percentage that Scott Martin defeated Rosecrants by in 2016,  four and a half months before Martin announced his resignation to take a job with the Norman Chamber of Commerce.

House District 46 has a Republican District Rating (RDR) of 48.7, making it the 13th-most Democrat Republican-held seat (36th most Democrat out of 101 seats). Still, past elections have been heavily weighted to the Republican side; 60.41% in 2016, 64.4% in 2014, unopposed in 2012, 80.3% in 2010, 65.76% in 2008.

Until the continued drip, drip of scandals coming from Republicans at the State Capitol is stopped, Republicans can likely expect more losses in the future. The Democrats were unable to turn special election success into general election success in 2016, but 2018 may be different.