Monday, January 22, 2018

Jolly endorses Costello for Labor Commissioner


TRUMP CAMPAIGN DIRECTOR, STUART JOLLY, ENDORSES CATHY COSTELLO FOR LABOR COMMISSIONER

    Longtime Oklahoman and Trump Campaign Field Director, Lt. Col. Stuart Jolly (ret.), announces his endorsement of Cathy Costello in her campaign for Oklahoma State Labor Commissioner in 2018.

    "Cathy Costello is the clear choice in the race for Oklahoma Labor Commissioner," Stuart Jolly says. “Cathy has the business expertise, the conservative leadership skills and the drive to make much-needed changes to Oklahoma's workforce.  Her platform is a perfect blueprint to streamline our economy for the next decade and beyond.  Mark would be proud of her for making this stand and helping Oklahomans.  I am proud to endorse Cathy Costello for Oklahoma's Labor Commissioner.”

    Jolly worked closely with Cathy’s late husband, Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, on several labor-related issues. He says he sees the same leadership qualities in Cathy as she has advocated for mental health reform.

    “I am honored and humbled to know one of Oklahoma’s strongest political leaders, Stuart Jolly, is supporting my campaign,” Cathy Costello says.  “The outpouring of support from conservative leaders in the Republican Party has been overwhelming. I promise each and every voter I will lead the Labor Department with passion, purpose and principles to help every worker in Oklahoma.”

    Cathy Costello is a co-founder of several international businesses and is a sought-after national speaker and advocate on issues of mental health.  She was also instrumental in passing landmark federal and state legislation to address how we can address mental health needs in our communities, health care approaches and the workplace.

       The Republican primary for Labor Commissioner is scheduled for June 26, 2018 and the general election will be held November 6, 2018.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Fallin amends 2nd Special Session call to include tax hikes


Governor Mary Fallin Amends Second Special Session Call

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today amended the call of the second special session of the 56th Legislature, which has been in recess since Dec. 22.

The governor did not set a date when lawmakers would return to address the shortfall in the current fiscal year budget.

“Discussions are continuing about a revenue and reform plan, which seems to be growing in momentum,” said Fallin. “We’re excited that we have an opportunity to build some grass-roots support among our fellow Oklahomans to solve our budget crisis, to be able to put Oklahoma on a stable path forward, and to provide teachers a much-needed pay raise.”

The governor’s amended call asks lawmakers to consider providing a long-term revenue solution to the state’s budget shortfalls by:

  • Increasing the tax on cigarettes, and little cigars by $1.50 per pack, and an additional 10 percent on chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes;
  • Increasing the oil and gas gross production tax by increasing the rate on wells currently at 2 percent to 4 percent, and all future wells will begin at 4 percent for 36 months and move to 7 percent thereafter;
  • Implementing a renewable generation tax at $1.00 per MWH;
  • Increasing the rate on diesel and gasoline by 6 cents per gallon;
  • Imposing a dollar cap on transferability/cash refundability for coal, wind and railroad tax credits effective the 2018 tax year;
  • Expanding the definition of covered games in the model tribal gaming compact to include “non-house-banked table games;” and;
  • Reforming rates, exemptions, deductions and credits on the individual income tax code.

Other items in the governor's call are:

  • Creating an accountability office designed to expose waste, fraud and abuse of taxpayers’ dollars in state government;
  • Modifying the structure of state government and increasing accountability by replacing the appointing power of specified boards and commissions with granting the governor direct appointing authority over these specified agency directors.  This can be accomplished by statutory change or by referring a constitutional change to a vote of the people when necessary, and;
  • Addressing a needed $5,000 pay increase for certified education staff, excluding any superintendents.

 The items in the governor’s call mirror many of the items recommended by Step Up Oklahoma, a group of Oklahoma business and community leaders.

“I appreciate the efforts of these business and community leaders working together to build statewide, nonpartisan support to help the Legislature address teacher pay raises and fix our budget crisis,” Fallin said. “It is critical to our state's future to fix the budget's structural problems and put our state on a predictable, stable foundation for success. I’m optimistic, with the effort and determination shown by Step Up Oklahoma, that lawmakers can pass a realistic solution to the state’s current budget problem.”

Legislators file bill calling for Comm. of Land Office to Fund Teacher Pay Raise


Legislators to Direct Commissioners of Land Office to Fund Teacher Pay Raise

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Reps. Tom Gann, Rick West and Kevin Calvey have co-authored House Bill 8384, legislation that would require the Commissioners of the Land Office (CLO) to raise Oklahoma teacher salaries by $5,000 starting next school year using part of the almost $2.4 billion currently in the CLO fund.

“The money that is currently in the CLO fund is adequate to fund a teacher pay raise on top of what the CLO already gives to schools,” said Gann, R-Inola. “Both the state Constitution and the Enabling Act specify the money from this fund is to be used for the benefit of public education. What better avenue than to pay our teachers – the very lifeblood of our public education system – a wage commensurate with our surrounding states.

“We are not asking the land office to do anything aside from their core mission, which is to support public schools. This measure would just increase the amount that is given to schools each year, earmarking the additional funding to be spent on teacher compensation.”

The measure will specify the money will not count as a chargeable against school districts that receive money through the state funding formula, meaning they will not get less formula money in exchange for receiving additional funding for teacher pay.

According to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, the CLO’s total portfolio was almost $2.4 billion for 2017. Total program revenues were $322.8 million, compared to $87.6 million in 2016.

In 2017, the CLO distributed more than $143.6 million, $103.4 million to K-12 schools, the highest total in state history. The distribution is done according to the Average Daily Attendance of each school as provided by the state Department of Education. The CLO distributed more than $35.9 million to universities and colleges and $103.4 million for public buildings. This was an increase of $11 million from the apportionments of fiscal year 2016.

The state Constitution grants the CLO its authority to hold sections of land in each state township, granting property and oil and gas leasing rights for the sole purpose of supporting common education.

“Before we talk about raising multiple taxes on individuals, we should evaluate available resources. The CLO exists for the benefit of public education, and the state of Oklahoma. We should use this money to raise teacher salaries to be competitive with other states in our region” said Rep. Rick West, R-Heavener.

“The use of this money as a sustainable and permanent solution to provide competitive salaries to our teachers is what the taxpayers want us to do” added Rep. Calvey, R-Oklahoma City. “The State of Oklahoma should focus on better utilizing the assets already available.”

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ritze Legislation Looks to Limit Governor, Agency Salaries


Ritze Legislation Looks to Limit Governor, Agency Salaries

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, has requested Oklahoma House staff to draft legislation designed to limit the amount of tax dollars spent on the salaries of statewide elected officials, agency heads, and other highly compensated governmental employees.

Ritze, a constant conservative voice in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, looks for the legislation to accomplish the following three goals, which he feels would be beneficial to both taxpayers and the efficiency of state government:

1) Limit the salary of the governor to three times the average salary of state legislators.

2) Limit the salary of any agency head to no greater than the governor’s salary.

3) Limit the salary of any employee of a state agency to 90 percent of the employee’s agency head salary.

“We have agency heads making more money than our governor,” Ritze said. “If the governor is the chief executive of our state agencies, agency directors should not make more than the governor. Some of Oklahoma’s biggest problems, when you look at fiscal mismanagement or even outright fraud, fall at the feet of overpaid agency heads. This is the type of waste that our government needs to get rid of and quickly. We need this money to fund services for Oklahomans, not the bank accounts of bureaucrats.”

Ritze notes that while these reforms limit the size of the salary of most or all state employees, most state employees aren’t currently compensated fairly. One of the reasons for this, Ritze believes, is that their bosses are making more than they should.

“When we talk about reducing the size of government, we don’t necessarily mean cutting programs and positions,” Ritze said. “There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars we could save if we standardized or limited the pay at the top. Some may say that paying less at the top would bring in less qualified people. I would counter that argument by pointing out that the former commissioner of health was making nearly $200,000 per year, and that agency is now under investigation for six years of mismanagement. Furthermore, what is more important? Overpaying an agency director or being able to adequately compensate the hard-working Oklahomans below the agency director? I would argue the latter, and these reforms help accomplish this.”

Dick Heller (of DC v. Heller) endorses Coleman for Congress


Second Amendment “Hero” Endorses Coleman for Congress

TULSA:  The man at the center of a landmark Supreme Court decision that determined the Second Amendment protected the rights of Americans to own firearms today endorsed Andy Coleman for U.S. Congress.

Dick Heller who was at the center of the historic Second Amendment case, District of Columbia v. Heller, released the following endorsement of Captain Andy Coleman:

“As a leading advocate of Second Amendment rights, I know Andy Coleman will defend our constitutional freedoms in Congress. He won’t be swayed by political pressure or liberal special interests to water-down or weaken the right to keep and bear arms. I trust Andy Coleman and you should too.”  -  Dick Heller

“I am grateful to Mr. Heller for his support and confidence. In Congress, I will never back down from protecting the Constitutional rights that Mr. Heller so bravely sought to defend,” stated Captain Andy Coleman.

Captain Andy Coleman is seeking the Republican nomination for the open congressional seat in Oklahoma’s First District.  He is an Air Force Academy Graduate and former Intelligence officer who served in the Middle East.  He is the only candidate in the race with military and national security credentials along with experience working in the Muslim world – critical skill sets in short supply in Washington. For six years, Coleman worked as the Middle East Regional Director for the Voice of the Martyrs, a Christian ministry based in Bartlesville. Coleman spent up to 100 days a year in 17 countries swirling with groups like Hezbollah, ISIS, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Hern raises nearly $100K in 4th Quarter


Kevin Hern Reports Another Strong Quarter in Fundraising for CD1 Election

Tulsa, OK – U.S. Congressional candidate Kevin Hern, businessman of Tulsa, has reported receiving contributions totaling nearly $100,000 in the 4th Quarter. This brings Hern's total contributions to approximately half a million dollars. Hern is seeking Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional District seat being vacated by Representative Jim Bridenstine who was nominated by President Trump to head NASA.

Kevin Hern's campaign shows very strong momentum leading in to 2018. This is the 4th consecutive fundraising report that Mr. Hern has totaled more donations than all the other announced candidates in the race.

“I continue to be humbled by the support I have received,” Hern said. “My message that we need proven problem solvers, who understand how to create jobs, representing the people’s interest in Washington D.C. is resonating throughout the entire district. I have first-hand knowledge on not only how to create jobs, but also on the damage government bureaucrats cause to our economy.”

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

SoonerPoll: Cornett 24%, Lamb 18%, Richardson 9%


Yesterday morning, Bill Shapard of SoonerPoll went on KFAQ's Pat Campbell Show to release the numbers from their latest GOP gubernatorial primary poll.

GOP Gubernatorial Primary (parentheses are results from September)
Mick Cornett - 23.9% (29%)
Todd Lamb - 17.6% (32%)
Gary Richardson - 9.0% ("under 10%")
Dan Fisher - 4.0% ("under 10%")
Gary Jones - 3.4% ("under 10%")
Kevin Stitt - 3.4% (not polled)
Undecided - 38.7% (23%)
MoE +/- 4.84%

There's more information on SoonerPoll.com, but no crosstabs have been posted.

Tidbits:

  • Cornett's best showing is in the 5th District - almost 50%
  • Lamb's best is the 3rd District - 27%
  • Richardson's best is the 1st District - 15% (ahead of Cornett's 12%)
  • Lamb's percentages were most consistent across the state

Monday, January 15, 2018

Music Monday: Bleed The Same

Suggested by a reader, this week's Music Monday is Bleed The Same, written by contemporary Christian singer Mandisa, featuring fellow CCM artists TobyMac & Kirk Franklin.



Enjoy!

See below for all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to suggest for a future Music Monday? Email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.


January 8th, 2018: Saint-Saëns' Symphony No.3 'Organ' (Maestoso)
December 25th, 2017: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
December 18th, 2017: I Saw Three Ships (The Piano Guys)
December 11th, 2017:Who Is He In Yonder Stall
December 4th, 2017: Carol of the Bells (Mannheim Steamroller)
November 27th, 2017: Joy to the World!
November 20th, 2017: We Gather Together
November 13th, 2017: Mansions of the Lord
November 6th, 2017: Träumerei
October 30th: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 23rd, 2017: In Christ Alone
October 16th, 2017: When I'm Knee Deep In Bluegrass
October 9th, 2017: I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb
October 2nd, 2017: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major (Brahms)
September 25th, 2017: Beethoven's Sonata No. 8 in C minor ('Pathétique')
September 11th, 2017: Have You Forgotten?
September 4th, 2017: Bach's Double Violin Concerto
August 28th, 2017: Noah Found Grace In The Eyes Of The Lord
August 21st, 2017: The Heavens Are Telling The Glory of God
August 14th, 2017: Beethoven's 5th Symphony
August 7th, 2017: 'Lift High The Name Of Jesus' medley
July 31st, 2017: Fanfare for the Common Man
July 24th, 2017: Variations on 'Happy Birthday'
July 10th, 2017: Summer (Presto) from Vivaldi's Four Seasons
July 3rd, 2017: Freelance Fireworks Hall of Fame
June 26th, 2017: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
June 19th, 2017: A Christian Home
June 12th, 2017: Ol' Man River
June 5th, 2017: Choctaw Cowboy
May 29th, 2017: Armed Forces Salute
May 22nd, 2017: Double Bass Concerto No.2 in B minor
May 15th, 2017: Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D major
May 8th, 2017: The Army Goes Rolling Along
April 17th, 2017: He Is Alive
April 10th, 2017: Surely He Hath Borne/And With His Stripes/All We Like Sheep
April 3rd, 2017: Here Comes Carolina
March 27th, 2017: 'Spring' from Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons'
March 20th, 2017: Symphony No. 5 ("Reformation") Finale
March 13th, 2017: The Pigeon on the Gate
March 6th, 2017: Finlandia
February 27th, 2017: When I Can Read My Title Clear
February 20th, 2017: William Tell Overture - Finale
February 13th, 2017: 'Romance' from 'The Gadfly'
February 6th, 2017: White Winter Hymnal
January 30th, 2017: Hail, Columbia
January 23rd, 2017: Hail to the Chief
January 16th, 2017: Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
January 2nd, 2017: Auld Lang Syne
December 26th, 2016: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
December 19th, 2016: I Wonder as I Wander
December 12th, 2016: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
December 5th, 2016: A Christmas Festival
November 28th, 2016: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
November 21st: Beethoven's 'Hymn of Thanksgiving'
November 14th: Hymn to the Fallen
November 7th: This World Is Not My Home
October 31st, 2016: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 24th, 2016: 'Mars', from 'The Planets'
October 17th, 2016: My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
October 10th, 2016: Spain
October 3rd, 2016: International Harvester
September 26th, 2016: 'The Imperial March' from Star Wars
September 19th, 2016: Awake the Trumpet's Lofty Sound
September 12th, 2016: Before the Throne of God Above
September 5th, 2016: The Hunt
August 29th, 2016: Liberty
August 22nd, 2016: Summon the Heroes
August 15th, 2016: Bugler's Dream
August 8th, 2016: Olympic Fanfare and Theme
August 1st, 2016: 'Prelude' and 'Parade of the Charioteers' from Ben-Hur
July 25th, 2016: How The West Was Won
July 18th, 2016: Six Studies in English Folk Song
July 11th, 2016: From Everlasting To Everlasting
July 4th, 2016: The Stars and Stripes Forever
June 27th, 2016: Rule, Britannia!
June 20st, 2016: Bugler's Holiday
June 13th, 2016: Ride of the Valkyries
June 6th, 2016: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54, Allegro Vivace
May 30th, 2016: Armed Forces Salute
May 23rd, 2016: Paid in Full (Through Jesus, Amen)
May 16th, 2016: Overture from 'Carmen'
May 9th, 2016: L'Arlesienne Suite No. 1 - Prelude
May 2nd, 2016: My God Is a Rock
April 25th, 2016: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
April 18th, 2016: Paganini's Caprice No. 24 in A Minor
April 11th, 2016: Fantasia on a 17th Century Tune
April 4th, 2016: Hark The Sound/I'm a Tarheel Born
March 28th, 2016: Rustle of Spring
March 21st, 2016: 'Ode to Joy' sung by a 10,000-voice choir
March 14th, 2016: Hard Times Come Again No More
March 7th, 2016: 'The Suite' from Downton Abbey
February 29th, 2016: Moonlight Sonata
February 22nd, 2016: Liebestraum No. 3
February 15th, 2016: Help Is On The Way
February 8th, 2016: God of Grace and God of Glory
February 1st, 2016: 'My Story'
January 25th, 2016: Israeli Concertino
January 18th, 2016: What Grace is Mine
January 11th, 2016: "Meditation" from Thaïs
January 4th, 2016: Praeludium and Allegro
December 28th, 2015: Appalachian Carol
December 21st, 2015: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
December 14th, 2015: O Holy Night
December 7th, 2015: Christmas Fantasy
November 23rd, 2015: Simple Gifts
November 16th, 2015: Preacher Tell Me Like It Is
November 9th, 2015: Armed Forces Salute
November 2nd, 2015: Amazing Grace
October 26th, 2015: The Harmonious Blacksmith
October 19th, 2015: Liberty Fanfare
October 12th, 2015: The Majesty and Glory of Your Name
October 5th, 2015: Elgar's 'Enigma' Finale
September 28th, 2015: Stayed on Jesus
September 21st, 2015: Great Gate of Kiev
September 14th, 2015: Nearer, My God, To Thee

Cleveland files whistleblower protection bill


Cleveland files whistleblower protection bill

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Bobby Cleveland introduced legislation this week aimed at strengthening the rights of whistleblowers.

House Bill 2528 amends current statute to give state employees who have reported wrongdoings the right to file a civil action against the agency and individuals employed by or acting on behalf of the agency for all damages suffered from a retaliatory discharge of employment or other adverse employment action. The whistleblower also will be entitled to recover the costs and attorney fees for successful prosecution.

“This bill is meant to give employees more power,” said Cleveland, R-Slaughterville. “After listening to agency employees across the state express fear of retaliation, I realized our current laws just aren’t strong enough.

“State employees are our eyes and ears for what’s happening on the ground at agencies. These hardworking Oklahomans are the backbone of our government, and we depend on them to report when something goes off the rails. Men and women should be able to come forward with a solid, protective law on their side.”

If passed, the law will take effect Nov. 1, 2018.

State Rep. Dale Derby not seeking reelection


Citing a frustration with how state government has been operating, State Rep. Dale Derby (R-Owasso) told me this morning that he will not be seeking reelection this year.

Talking about events at the legislature, Derby said, "If I practiced medicine the way we do things down at the Capitol, there wouldn't be enough body bags in Oklahoma."

Derby has worked as a private practice physician for more than four decades, first as a general practitioner and continues work as an anesthesiologist even while serving in the Legislature.

Derby represents House District 74 in Owasso, and was first elected in 2016.