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.

Friday, January 12, 2018

House Dems respond to Step Up Oklahoma business leaders' proposal


House Dems Respond to Business Leader Proposal

OKLAHOMA CITY – The House Democratic Caucus has released the following statement regarding the budget plan laid out today by Step Up Oklahoma.

“We are appreciative of the members of the business community who recognize that the failed Republican fiscal policy is the cause of Oklahoma’s current budget crisis.

However, we believe the plan presented today is lacking in important details, and our caucus is hesitant to endorse the proposal at this time, especially given the stark lack of diversity among the members of the coalition. We will be discussing the plan with members of our communities and districts and also with stakeholders who were left out of the coalition, such as the wind industry, state employees, teachers, correctional officers, and working families who have been adversely impacted by devastating budget cuts.

House Democrats released a budget plan almost a year ago, the Restoring Oklahoma Plan. We are encouraged that Step Up Oklahoma’s proposal incorporated portions of that Plan, such as the Gross Production Tax and the Personal Income Tax, but again, those portions of the proposal are severely lacking in details.

The House Democrats and Step Up Oklahoma seem unified in the belief that if we don’t invest in Oklahoma teachers, public employees, healthcare, education, roads, and corrections, our entire state economy is left in peril. The House Democratic Caucus is ready to work with Step Up Oklahoma to build on this common ground and form a budget solution that works for all Oklahomans.”

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Fallin's "Community Leaders" working group releases tax hike, budget reform plan



Oklahoma Business Leaders Call For Reform And Revenue Measures
Package includes $5,000 teacher pay raise

OKLAHOMA CITY – (January 11, 2018) — A nonpartisan group of Oklahoma business, civic and community leaders announced today a combination of reform and revenue measures to drive efficiencies, eliminate abuse and waste, and raise revenue to support a $5,000 salary increase for teachers and to fund core services.

The group has formed “Step Up Oklahoma” with rural and urban representatives from diverse business and organizational backgrounds. The group is united in its desire to work with state leaders to resolve Oklahoma’s budget crisis. The group is advancing a plan that addresses waste and abuse through reforms and ending the boom and bust cycle of state government through revenue enhancements.

Reforms support recent calls from elected officials for greater efficiencies and accountability in state government. Revenues in the plan will provide funding for education, health care and other core services.

“Legislative leaders and the governor are all focused on solutions and this is encouraging,” commented David Rainbolt, BancFirst executive chairman and Step Up member. “It’s no longer enough for business leaders to play Monday morning quarterback. We’ve got to step up to partner with our elected officials in finding solutions and bringing citizen support that helps everyone to make the tough choices that will move Oklahoma forward.” Rainbolt continued, “We must all support efforts to stabilize the budget while at the same time enacting real reforms. Revenue combined with reforms will put our state on a firm foundation to better serve our citizens. While this plan is not perfect, it puts the state on a positive trajectory.” The government reform measures will give lawmakers the tools they need to root out waste and allow time for long-term planning to put into place greater accountability.

“We are serious about the reforms,” commented Tucker Link, founder and chairman of Knightsbridge Investments and an OSU/A&M Regent and Step Up member. “Rural Oklahoma has been hit particularly hard by our budget challenges. Hospitals are closing and schools are struggling to keep their doors open. While many of these reforms will require constitutional changes and take time, we believe they need to be on the table. Oklahomans want their government to run efficiently, and they want quality core services. This plan will do that.”

“Education is the key to building a better Oklahoma,” commented Phil Albert, President of Pelco Structural, OU Regent and Step Up member. “Teachers are the difference makers. To attract and retain fine teachers, we must compensate them adequately. The time to act on teacher salaries is now.” The plan will raise $800 million with over $250 million to support teacher salary increases and the remainder to support core services. “Our citizens want a financially sound and efficiently managed state,” Rainbolt said. “This plan will reverse our course and revive our future for the benefit of all Oklahomans.”

REFORMS

• Increase teacher pay by $5,000
• Revise the state budget to reflect accurate numbers
• Require line-item budgets
• Modify term limits
• Lower the supermajority required to raise revenue
• Establish a budget stabilization fund
• Give the governor direct appointment power over the largest state agencies
• Make the governor and lieutenant governor running mates
• Change the process to fill Supreme Court vacancies
• Create an independent budget office to assist with eliminating waste
• Allow voters to decide the structure of each county’s government

REVENUE

The nonpartisan group developed a broad compromise plan which affects taxes on:
• Cigarettes, little cigars, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes
• The energy industry, including the gross production tax
• Motor fuels
• Wind-power generation
• Refundable income tax credits
• Gaming activities
• Personal income tax

For more information, visit StepUpOklahoma.com.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Yes, let's move state taxation to the school bond process


Yesterday, State Rep. Harold Wright (R-Weatherford), the number two Republican in the State House, announced that he was filing a bill to call a state question that would amend the Constitution to lower the legislative revenue-raising threshold from 75% to 60%.

His argument is that this would be in line with the 60% requirement in school bond issues: "This is why I am proposing legislation that would put to a vote a change in the revenue-raising requirement in the constitution that would lower the requirement to 60 percent, the same as a school bond issue. Many agree that this would be a fair compromise and still make it difficult to raise revenue."

I would fully support changing legislative tax raising abilities in line with the school bond process. Let's compare how taxes can currently be raised in Oklahoma:

Taxation at the state level:
  • The legislature can raise taxes only with 3/4ths vote in favor
  • The legislature can send taxes hikes to a vote of the people, where it passes with majority vote (50%+1)
  • Taxes can be raised with majority vote (50%+1) via initiative petition

County sales taxes:
  • Cannot be raised by the county commissioners
  • Must go to a vote of the people
  • Can pass with a majority vote (50%+1)

For school bond elections:
  • School districts cannot raise tax rates
  • Bond increases or renewals go to a vote of the people
  • School bonds require a 60% vote in favor

I appreciate Rep. Wright's suggestion that we change how the legislature can tax to the process school bonds go through

If we did that, the Legislature would be unable to raise any taxes, would be required to bring tax increases to a vote of the people, and such ballot measures would necessitate 60% affirmative vote for passage.

Count me on board with that.