Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Vote in 'Tournament of Waste: The Bitter 16'

Tom Coburn's Foundation to Restore Accountability has launched Tournament of Waste: Bitter 16, a March-Madness style contest designed to bring attention to the worst waste, fraud, abuse and duplication in government spending.

Why the Tournament of Waste matters:

Our country is in serious fiscal trouble. Our national debt will soon hit $20 trillion. In addition, over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities, and hundreds of failing and duplicative government programs will burden future generations that will ultimately have to foot the bill.

However, there is a way forward. Building consensus on areas like waste, fraud, and duplication can be a great starting point for bigger reforms.

We took the most outrageous wastes from the past year and want YOU to vote for the "team" that will be crowned the winner of the Tournament of Waste.

Not only is this tournament fun and informative, but also promotes conversation on what our country's priorities should be.

Learn more about our mission and how you can get started here.
Click here to vote in the Bitter 16. Submitting picks enters you in a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card.

Bridenstine: I will vote “Yes” on AHCA

The vote on the American Healthcare Act is a very tough decision.  As the Representative of the First District of Oklahoma, my philosophy has been to fight for the most conservative option possible, and I often vote “No” to get to a “better Yes”.  Today, I decided the American Healthcare Act is the best “Yes” that the House is able to accomplish legislatively at this time.  Conservatives worked very hard to improve this bill, and while we hoped for a better bill, this is a dramatic improvement over Obamacare.

Obamacare is collapsing on itself with massive increases in premiums and deductibles so high that some families are effectively uninsured.  Many states have lost health insurance providers where companies cannot afford to offer Obamacare-compliant policies.  A third of all counties, including every county in Oklahoma, have only one provider on the exchanges this year and another third have only two.  Seven years ago, Obamacare took over nearly 20 percent of the U.S. economy, and unwinding that tangled system is extremely complex.

This bill effectively repeals the individual and employer mandates, cuts $1 trillion in taxes, and reduces the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars over ten years.  The bill fundamentally transforms Medicaid from an open-ended and unsustainable entitlement to a State-centered system which caps the Federal contribution and maximizes flexibility for the States.  The Medicaid reforms alone will save trillions over the long-term, help move millions of people onto private insurance, and preserve the safety net for the most vulnerable.

Most important to me, this bill prohibits funds from going to the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, and redirects federal funding to Community Health Centers.  This provision alone merits support even though the bill falls short of what conservatives wanted to accomplish.

I am disappointed that this legislation did not include provisions to repeal the Obamacare health insurance regulations which are the root cause of skyrocketing premiums and employers dropping coverage.  Fortunately, Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, will exercise his authority under the law to remove costly Obamacare regulations.  I also have great reservations about the bill’s refundable tax credit scheme, which is essentially a different version of the Obamacare subsidy program.

In my judgment though, this is the opening legislative salvo of the Trump Presidency, and we cannot let it fail when we do not have a shot at a better option.  Therefore, I will vote “Yes”.

Oklahoma Senate approves judicial reforms

Senate Pro Tem Mike Schulz (R-Altus)

The Oklahoma Senate on Tuesday approved a handful of judicial reform bills, including measures that would change the way state judges are appointed.

“These reforms are a measured approach to help restore the balance of power among the three, co-equal branches of government in Oklahoma. Too many times, we’ve seen the judiciary extend beyond its constitutional role and instead take on the role of a super-legislator. These changes also will roll back the outsized role the trial lawyers play in appointing judges to the bench. The governor’s office and the members of the Senate are directly elected by the citizens of Oklahoma and should be afforded more authority and responsibility in judicial appointments,” said President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, R-Altus.

Sen. Anthony Sykes, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, offered several of the judicial reform measures.

“Failing to enact judicial reforms continues to put Oklahoma at the mercy of a system that gives too much power to a select group of trial lawyers instead of the duly elected representatives of the people. The governor and members of the Legislature are immediately accountable to the people for the decisions they make. These common-sense reforms will provide more accountability and help put more power into the hands of the people, as our founders intended,” said Sykes, R-Moore.

Among the bills approved by the Senate were:

  • SB 708 (Sykes) requires a district judge to have served as lead counsel in at least three jury trials before being elected or appointed to serve on the bench.
  • SB 779 (Sykes) changes the amount of judges each judicial district may nominate.
  • SJR 43 (Sykes) would allow voters to decide whether to amend the judicial appointment process to model the federal system. Under this proposal, the governor would nominate candidates to fill judicial vacancies and the Oklahoma Senate would confirm or deny the governor’s appointment. The Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) would rate the governor’s judicial nominees as either “qualified” or “not qualified.”
  • SJR 44 (Sykes) would allow voters to decide whether to amend the Constitution to modify the judicial nominating process. Under this proposal, the JNC would provide the governor with five qualified nominees to fill a judicial vacancy, instead of the current recommendation of three nominees. The governor would be allowed to reject those nominees and request five new nominees. The governor would then select one nominee, whose name would be forwarded to the Oklahoma Senate for confirmation.
  • SB 213 (Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow) would change the boundaries of Oklahoma Supreme Court judicial districts to correspond with the number of congressional districts in Oklahoma plus adding at-large positions.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

State Rep. Martin to Resign at end of Session to Lead Norman Chamber

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Scott Martin today announced that at the end of this legislative session he will resign his seat in the Legislature to lead the Norman Chamber of Commerce. At its Board meeting today, the Norman Chamber named Rep. Martin its next president and chief executive officer beginning June 1. He has submitted the appropriate paperwork to Governor Mary Fallin and Oklahoma House of Representatives Speaker Charles McCall, tendering his resignation from his House seat effective May 31.

"It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve the people of House District 46 for the last 11 years in the Oklahoma Legislature,” said Martin, R-Norman. “Due to term limits, I knew my legislative tenure was coming to an end. As I contemplated life after the Legislature, I was certain I wanted to continue to be part of something that would have a lasting impact on my family and community. The Norman Chamber of Commerce is an organization that makes such a difference.  Therefore, when the opportunity with the chamber presented itself, I decided to do something I had not previously considered, end my term prior to its natural expiration.

“I can’t think of a better place to use my talents and energy than the Norman Chamber of Commerce.  Their mission to build economic prosperity is vital to our community and one that helps drive everything else that creates the quality of life we all desire. My legislative career has shown that I understand the importance of a thriving business community, and my commitment to that end is evident in my voting record.

"As I discussed this opportunity with the chamber search committee, I expressed my sincere desire to extend my service through this legislative session so that my constituents would continue to have their voice heard and represented until the very last vote is cast. My passion for education, public safety, transportation, and healthcare hasn’t waned, and I will fight to the bitter end to make sure my constituents have a strong and steady common-sense voice at the Capitol. It’s the least I could do for people who have entrusted me with the privilege of representing them for so many years.

"I am so excited about beginning this new chapter in my life with the chamber. My family and I are wholly invested in Norman, and I look forward to growing the chamber and advocating for business at every turn. I show up to work every day with the same goal in mind, to make a positive difference.  That goal won’t change as I transition to this next phase in my professional life, but until June 1, my focus will continue to be serving the people of House District 46."

Oklahoma House votes to ban genetic-defect based abortion

Oklahoma House Votes to Protect Life

OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill that seeks to ban abortions in instances of certain birth defects passed out of the House this afternoon with a vote of 67 to 16.

The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2017, House Bill 1549, seeks to prohibit abortion solely because the unborn child has been diagnosed with either Down syndrome or a genetic abnormality or has the potential for a genetic abnormality. The bill would also hold physicians who violate this measure liable.

“Life is a gift from God,” said Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee. “Today, I am thankful that the members of the House of Representatives chose to protect that gift.”

HB1549 will now be sent to the Oklahoma Senate.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Music Monday: Symphony No. 5 ("Reformation") Finale

Reader Jim K. suggested this week's Music MondaySymphony No. 5 ("Reformation") by 19th-century German composer Felix Mendelssohn. The video below is of the 4th and final movement of the piece; the full, nearly 28-minute piece can be heard here. Mendelssohn composed this piece for a celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Augsburg Confession, a key moment of the Protestant Reformation. The 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation will occur later this year.


Click to go below the page break to see all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to suggest for a future Music Monday? Email me at

Former Rep. John Wright endorses Tressa Nunley in HD75

HD75 special election candidate Tressa Nunley has been endorsed by former State Rep. John Wright (R-Broken Arrow):

"It is impossible to predict every issue that will come before the Legislature. However, if you send someone who shares your principles, values, and convictions, when the issues arise, they are likely to decide and vote on them as you would. I know Tressa Nunley to be Pro-Life, a person of sincere faith, and a candidate who is trusted by several of my conservative friends."

- John A. Wright
Oklahoma State Representative (1998-2010)
Chief Deputy, Tulsa County Assessor's Office

Nunley has also been endorsed by Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel and State Rep. George Faught (R-Muskogee). The Republican primary will be held on May 9th. A district map can be viewed here. Four Republicans and two Democrats are running to fill the seat being vacated by disgraced Rep. Dan Kirby, who resigned after an investigation into his alleged sexual harassment of two previous legislative assistants.