Thursday, November 15, 2018

1889 Institute, Goldwater Institute publish alternative to occupational licensing

There’s a better way to ensure occupational quality—without relying on the government.

OKLAHOMA CITY (November 15, 2018) – Today, the government plays the role of granting occupational licenses to professionals, supposedly to protect consumers and ensure quality services. But as a new paper jointly published by the Goldwater Institute (Phoenix, AZ) and the 1889 Institute shows, there’s a better, modern alternative to the government-run system that benefits consumers and professionals alike.

In their new report, A Win-Win for Consumers and Professionals Alike: An Alternative to Occupational Licensing, Byron Schlomach, director of the Oklahoma-based 1889 Institute, and the Goldwater Institute’s Christina Sandefur and Dr. Murray Feldstein explain that private certification would produce information benefits for consumers and service providers without the existing government monopoly on licensing.

“If you’ve ever used Yelp to find a good restaurant, or Angie’s List to find a good plumber, then you know how important it can be to get accurate information about sellers and products. Occupational licensing is supposed to provide that—a confirmation that the seller will provide a reliable product or service—but that often doesn’t happen without other costs, like reduced supply, higher prices, and compromised quality,” Schlomach said.

The paper proposes private certification as an alternate solution to government licensing. Private certification provides the best of all worlds: It protects consumers from fraud, encourages the creation of reliable sources of shorthand information to help both professionals and consumers, and it gives privately certified sellers the incentive to keep their quality high in order to keeps their certification credible.

A model bill included in the paper offers a voluntary system to complement the existing traditional occupational licensing process. It would allow private certifying organizations to register with the state, privately certify individuals to practice an occupation according to the organization’s practices, and employ modern technology, including consumer-rating systems using smartphone applications, to protect consumers. Such a system would create an element of competition, allowing certifying organizations to vie to provide the highest-quality credential.

The paper can be found here, with additional work on occupational licensing here.

President Pro Tem-designate Treat files bill creating legislative watchdog office

President Pro Tem-designate Greg Treat files bill creating legislative watchdog office
Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) will evaluate agency spending and performance 

Senate President Pro Tem-designate Greg Treat on Thursday filed legislation to create a legislative fiscal watchdog office to help lawmakers better fulfill their oversight role of state agency spending and performance.

Senate Bill 1 creates the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) to provide the Legislature with objective, verified data lawmakers can then use as they consider and make critical policy decisions.

“Real numbers and objective data will help the Oklahoma Legislature make better informed decisions when writing the state budget, setting policy, and tracking whether programs are meeting or exceeding our expectations,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City.

“The most important duty the Legislature has is to write the budget and provide oversight of agency spending and performance. In most cases, the Legislature depends on the agency itself or the executive branch to report data on spending and performance. Agencies present only the data they want us to see not necessarily what we need to see. Agencies tend to focus more on outputs and not outcomes. That’s not how we are going to turn Oklahoma around. The Legislature needs independent, objective data so that we can make better informed decisions,” Treat said.

Key parts of SB 1:

  • LOFT will conduct performance evaluations of agencies, programs, or specific divisions;
  • LOFT would have open access to all agency data and budgets;
  • LOFT would be overseen by a bicameral, bipartisan committee;
  • LOFT would have six to eight independent, nonpartisan office staff;
  • Data gathered by and reports produced by LOFT would be available to the public.

Treat pointed to the recent Health Department scandal as one of the best reasons why an office like LOFT is needed.

“Last year, the Legislature was told the Health Department needed $30 million immediately or they agency couldn’t make payroll and there would be catastrophic public health implications. As we know now, the department didn’t need the money and the agency’s finances were in shambles. That is unacceptable and must not continue,” Treat said.

“Well more than half of the states have a legislative oversight office like LOFT. It helps provide accountability and oversight among the branches of government. The legislative, executive, and judicial are co-equal branches of government. They serve as a check on one another’s power. We need an independent, nonpartisan office like LOFT to provide the Legislature with real numbers as we make decisions on how to get the best outcomes and returns on each and every tax dollar,” Treat said.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Election Results Maps: Oklahoma Legislature

I've had a busy week since election day, so I'm pretty far behind on posting about the results. Here are two maps illustrating the election results and new partisan makeup in the Oklahoma Legislature.

First up, the Oklahoma State House:

On a night when many expected Democrats to make major gains in the Legislature, Republicans picked up seven seats in the House, while Democrats only flipped three, meaning the GOP now holds an historically-high majority of 76 members to a mere 25 registered Democrats.

Districts that flipped:

  • HD6 - Democrat to Republican (open seat)
  • HD15 - Democrat to Republican (open seat)
  • HD17 - Democrat to Republican (open seat)
  • HD18 - Democrat to Republican (Rep. Donnie Condit defeated)
  • HD24 - Democrat to Republican (Minority Leader Steve Kouplen defeated)
  • HD71 - Republican to Democrat (open seat)
  • HD79 - Republican to Democrat (open seat)
  • HD83 - Republican to Democrat (open seat)
  • HD86 - Democrat to Republican (open seat)
House Democrats are an endangered species in rural Oklahoma, and extinct in Gene Stipe's old stomping grounds of McAlester, the heart of Little Dixie. Both House seats in the McAlester area went red, including the defeat of incumbent Rep. Donnie Condit. More astonishingly, House Minority Leader Steve Kouplen was upset in HD24.

Now for the Senate side:

While the House had a significant shift, the Senate was more subdued. Republicans picked up one seat, while Democrats flipped two, putting the chamber at 39 Republicans and 9 Democrats.

Districts that flipped:

  • SD30 - Republican to Democrat (open seat)
  • SD32 - Democrat to Republican (open seat)
  • SD40 - Republican to Democrat (Sen. Ervin Yen defeated in GOP primary)
On the Senate side, the Democrats lost their sole remaining mostly-rural district, and the only one west of I-35. They are now confined to the OKC-Norman and Tulsa metros.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Gov.-elect Stitt announces Oklahoma's Turnaround transition team


OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (Nov. 13, 2018) – Governor-elect Kevin Stitt today announced formation of Oklahoma’s Turnaround, the transition team for the Stitt administration.

The transition team will work with Governor-elect Stitt to recruit Oklahomans to serve in a Stitt administration and to build out Oklahoma’s Turnaround transition team to include issue-centered advisory committees on the following seven topics: Education, Economic Growth, Government Efficiency, Infrastructure, Health, Public Safety, and Native American Partnerships.

Oklahoma’s Turnaround Team will develop policy proposals for the upcoming legislative session, prepare the governor-elect’s budget proposal, and ensure an orderly transition to the new administration.

"I am grateful for the talented Oklahomans who are rolling up their sleeves and already getting to work on making our state Top Ten. The transition team will be focused on recruiting fresh, new leadership to assist in Oklahoma’s turnaround,” said Governor-elect Kevin Stitt. “Over the next week, we will be expanding the team to include committees focused on policy priorities for the first Legislative session.”

For those interested in applying for Oklahoma’s Turnaround or to serve in a Stitt administration, Oklahomans are encouraged to visit

The executive team is as follows:

Marc Nuttle will serve as chair of the transition team. Nuttle is a lawyer, author, consultant and businessman who has had a varied career. He has represented and advised Presidents of the United States, leaders of foreign countries, state officials and corporations. Nuttle has worked on government policy and has predicted economic trends.

Matt Pinnell is Lieutenant Governor-elect. Pinnell is a small business owner with his wife, Lisa. Most recently, Pinnell was tapped to lead the transition team for Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel. Prior, Pinnell served as Director of State Parties for the Republican National Committee from 2013 to 2017 and served as Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party from 2010 to 2013.

Melissa Houston serves as Labor Commissioner, appointed in 2015. Before serving as labor commissioner, Houston was chief of staff and policy adviser in the state attorney general's office. She has also served as the chief of staff for the Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security for nine years and an attorney for the Truth in Sentencing Policy Advisory Commission.

Aamon Ross was the Campaign Manager for Stitt for Governor 2018. Before serving as Campaign Manager, he was a consultant to a variety of companies and industries and negotiated large scale contracts. Additionally, Ross has owned several small businesses and led numerous teams while working in medical device sales for over 14 years.

Sean Kouplen is Chairman and CEO of Regent Bank in Tulsa. Kouplen holds numerous statewide leadership positions including Chairman of the OSU-Tulsa Board of Trustees, Chairman of the Hospitality House of Tulsa, and Board of Directors for MetaFund, Salvation Army of Tulsa, and SouthPoint Church. 

Mike Mazzei is the President of Tulsa Wealth Advisors | Raymond James. Mazzei is a former member of the State Senate, representing Senate District 25 from 2004 to 2016. Mazzei previously served as the Senate Finance Chairman from 2008 to 2016.

Corbin McGuire served as Chairman for the Stitt for Governor campaign. McGuire started RNM Recruiting 14 years ago and serves as Managing Director. RNM Recruiting is a technology search firm that focuses on permanent placements nationwide. Corbin graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1995 and currently resides in Tulsa.

Geoffrey Long was general counsel for the Stitt for Governor campaign and will serve as the General Counsel to the transition team. Before entering private practice, he previously served as an attorney for the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, Oklahoma Attorney General, and other state agencies.

Donelle Harder was Deputy Campaign Manager and spokesperson for the Stitt for Governor campaign. Before joining the campaign, Harder was Vice President at the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association and had previously served as Communications Director for U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and for the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. She comes with more than 10 years of experience in political advising, strategic communications, and government relations.

The transition office is scheduled to open on Thursday. The office is located on the first floor of the State Capitol and will be open Mondays thru Fridays, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except for on holidays. The transition office phone number is 405-522-8804.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Music Monday: Hymn to the Fallen

In honor of yesterday's 100th anniversary of the end of World War One, this week's Music Monday is Hymn to the Fallen, composed by John Williams for the film Saving Private Ryan, but put into a WWI tribute in this video.


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

October 29th, 2018: A Mighty Fortress is Our God
October 22nd, 2018: Hymn to Red October
October 15th, 2018:  Indian Reservation ("Cherokee People")
October 8th, 2018: Wagner's 'Columbus Overture'
October 1st, 2018: Danny Boy
September 24th, 2018: Dvorak's 'From The New World' Symphony, 4th Movement
September 17th, 2018: Deep River
September 10th, 2018: Muleskinner Blues
September 3rd, 2018: Boomer Sooner
August 20th, 2018: Psalm 23
August 13th, 2018: Ashokan Farewell
August 6, 2018: How the West Was Won
July 23rd, 2018: I Just Can't Wait to Be King
July 16th, 2018: 'Jupiter' from 'The Planets'
July 9th, 2018: Hail to the Spirit of Liberty
July 2nd, 2018: Turn The Tide
June 25th, 2018: Good Guys Win
June 18th, 2018: Watching You
June 11th, 2018: Adoration
June 4th, 2018: March from 'A Moorside Suite'
May 28th, 2018: Taps
May 21st, 2018: Listz's La Campanella
May 14th, 2018: Handful of Weeds
May 7th, 2018: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
April 30th, 2018: Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53 ("Heroic")
April 23rd, 2018: Blow Ye The Trumpet
April 16th, 2018: Asturias (Leyenda)
April 9th, 2018: Old Mountain Dew
April 2nd, 2018: His Life For Mine
March 19th, 2018: See, the Conqu'ring Hero Comes!
March 12th, 2018: Choctaw Nation
March 5th, 2018: Hark, I Hear The Harps Eternal
February 19th, 2018: The Olympic Spirit
February 12th, 2018: Olympic Fanfare and Theme
January 29th, 2018: Hail to the Chief
January 23rd, 2018: Waltz in A-Flat Major, Op. 39 No. 15
January 15th, 2018: Bleed The Same
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

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Election Day: Vote for Principle

Today is Election Day. Voters across the country are casting ballots to conclude a critical midterm election.

If you're in Oklahoma and need help finding your polling location, use this link from the State Election Board.

Oklahoma election results will be posted at the Election Board website starting at 7:00pm.

Here are my picks, with more detail on them here:

Governor: Kevin Stitt
Lieutenant Governor: Matt Pinnell
State Auditor: Cindy Byrd
Attorney General: Mike Hunter
State Superintendent: not Joy Hofmeister
Insurance Commissioner: not Glen Mulready
State Treasurer: not Randy McDaniel
Corporation Commissioner: Bob Anthony

1st Congressional District: Kevin Hern
2nd Congressional District: Richard Castaldo
5th Congressional District: Steve Russell

SQ793: Yes
SQ794: No
SQ798: No
SQ800: No
SQ801: Yes

Oklahoma Supreme Court: for Patrick Wyrick, against the rest
Court of Civil Appeals: for Goree, against the rest
Court of Criminal Appeals: for Rowland and Kuehn, against Lewis
 District Judge, District 15, Office 4: James Walters
Associate District Judge, McIntosh County: Brendon Bridges

HD2: Jim Olsen
HD8: Tom Gann
HD12: absolutely not McDugle
HD15: Randy Randleman
HD41: Denise Hader
HD49: Tommy Hardin
HD83: Jason Reese
HD85: Matt Jackson
HD79: Dan Hicks
SD2: Marty Quinn
SD4: Mark Allen
SD6: David Bullard
SD40: Joe Howell

Monday, November 05, 2018

My picks for the 2018 Oklahoma general election

Early and absentee voting is over for the 2018 Oklahoma general election, with the remaining in-person ballots to be cast on Tuesday. As is my custom, I will be discussing my picks for the general election races in this post.

Some of these candidates I am in wholehearted support of. Others will receive my vote with some reservations or primarily because the other options are worse. On still others, I will be casting a protest vote, or skip that race ("undervoting"). If I've written a separate post on a particular race or candidate, there will be a link where you can read in more detail. Candidates that I enthusiastically support will be in bold.

Governor: Kevin Stitt (R)
Oklahoma needs Kevin Stitt as Governor, not only because of the sharp contrast he draws with liberal Democrat Drew Edmondson, but because Stitt will be a strong leader (unlike Fallin) and will stand against the Legislature as it begins to turn to the left.

Lieutenant Governor: Matt Pinnell (R)
Matt Pinnell is a solid candidate, a great guy, and will make a fantastic Lieutenant Governor. Teamed up with Governor Stitt, I would expect great leadership for Oklahoma.

State Auditor: Cindy Byrd (R)
The State Auditor's office is vitally important, especially as we have seen recent fiscal scandals among state agencies and with record levels of tax revenue coming into state coffers. Cindy Byrd has served as Gary Jones' top employee, and will build on the tremendous performance of his tenure. Hopefully, the Legislature will unshackle the State Auditor to allow the office to be more proactive about rooting out waste, as they continually tied Jones' hands out of political motivations.

Attorney General: Mike Hunter (R0
It appears that even the Democratic nominee for governor, Drew Edmondson, voted for Mike Hunter.

State Superintendent: not Joy Hofmeister (R)
From all appearances, Joy Hofmeister and her campaign consultants should have gone to prison for multiple campaign finance felonies back in the 2014 election. Those charges were inexplicably not followed through on. I will not cast a vote for such an unethical candidate. I'll be voting for the Independent in this race out of protest.

Labor Commissioner: absolutely not Leslie Osborn (RINO)
Osborn, a "Republican", is endorsed by the AFL-CIO, voted to make it easier to raise taxes, completely betrayed conservative principles in her final years as a legislator, and ran an incredibly dishonest and nasty campaign in the primary and runoff. I'll be casting a protest vote against her in this race.

Insurance Commissioner: not Glen Mulready (R)
Another Republican who voted to make it easier to raise taxes, Mulready will not be getting my vote. I won't reward such an action with my support.

State Treasurer: not Randy McDaniel (R)
Another Republican who voted to make it easier to raise taxes, McDaniel will not be getting my vote. McDaniel is a fine gentleman, but as previously mentioned, I can't reward that HJR 1050 vote with my support.

Corporation Commissioner: Bob Anthony (R)
This is Anthony's "last hurrah" due to term limits.

1st Congressional District: Kevin Hern (R)
Hopefully Hern will be a worthy successor to former representative Jim Bridenstine.

2nd Congressional District: Richard Castaldo (L)
Markwayne Mullin is a politician running on broken promises and cannot be trusted when he gives his word. I won't reward such dishonorable conduct with my vote, and will cast a protest vote for the Libertarian candidate.

5th Congressional District: Steve Russell (R)
Russell has been a little disappointing in Congress, consistently getting sub-par ratings early in his tenure from conservative organizations like Heritage Action, Club For Growth, the American Conservative Union (his scores have improved some more recently). He is facing a decently strong challenge from a Democrat who is being pushed by radical leftist and pro-abortion groups. This district is beginning to become more competitive as the Oklahoma City metro turns more purple.

State Legislative races

HD2: Jim Olsen (R)
HD8: Tom Gann (R)
HD12: absolutely not McDugle (R), an adulterous individual of atrocious character
HD15: Randy Randleman (R)
HD41: Denise Hader (R)
HD49: Tommy Hardin (R)
HD83: Jason Reese (R)
HD85: Matt Jackson (R)
HD79: Dan Hicks (R)
SD2: Marty Quinn (R)
SD4: Mark Allen (R)
SD6: David Bullard (R)
SD40: Joe Howell (R)

If the Republican in your district is on this list of legislators who voted to make it easier to raise taxes, I'd encourage you to consider at least not voting, if their opposition is unpalatable.

SQ793: Yes. The hysteria from the opposition has been ridiculous, and I'm a fan of competition in a free market. Not particularly a fan of singling out one industry for a constitutional amendment, so if it fails I hope the Legislature addresses this very real problem that is contributing to significantly higher expenses for Oklahoma consumers.
SQ794: No. I'm not convinced that this is a needed measure and could have unintended consequences.
SQ798: No. I still believe having an independent Lieutenant Governor can be beneficial. It also seems to be very poorly written, with an incomplete process to be determined in the future by the Legislature.
SQ800: No. Oklahoma does not need another government fund to pocket away taxpayer money.
SQ801: Yes. This would give flexibility and local control to school boards in funding for their districts.

Oklahoma Supreme Court: for Patrick Wyrick, against the rest
Court of Civil Appeals: for Goree, against the rest
Court of Criminal Appeals: for Rowland and Kuehn, against Lewis 

Unless I've heard otherwise to change my mind, I vote against retention. No judge has ever lost a retention vote, so it would take a miracle for that to happen this year. Here is a little more information on the judges, in addition to links at the bottom of this post.

District Judge, District 15, Office 4: James Walters
Conservatives in this five-county district (Muskogee, Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, and Adair counties) should be supporting Walters. He is a well-respected attorney and a real conservative. His opponent is part of the Democrat "good ol' boys" club and is no conservative.

Associate District Judge, McIntosh County: Brendon Bridges
I have heard good things about Bridges from people I attend church with and who have interviewed both candidates. This race is between a Scalia fan and a Sotomayor fan.


Michael Bates of, as always, has some excellent insights on this election: the Judges, SQ793 (no), SQ794 (yes?), SQ798 (no), SQ800 (no), SQ801 (yes), on 'Ayatollah' Drew Edmondson, on the need for Governor Stitt,

Charles Phipps of OKPolitechs has a great post on the state questions.

David Van Risseghem of SQ798 (no)

Kenny Bob Tapp of Tapp Into Common Sense: vote no on OSC Justices Edmondson, Gurich and Kauger

Steve Fair and Georgia Williams: judges and state questions

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Now more than ever, Oklahoma needs Stitt/Pinnell

Oklahoma is at a crossroads, particularly for the Republican Party. Will we continue down the road of bigger and more intrusive government, expanded and higher taxes, and increased abandonment of conservative principles, or will we choose fiscal responsibility, conservative values, reined in and accountable government, and more freedom and choice?

That is what Oklahoma voters will decide on Tuesday, and much of that hinges on the election of our next Governor and Lieutenant Governor.

Oklahoma needs Kevin Stitt and Matt Pinnell in a desperate way.

As the Oklahoma economy rebounds, state government will be flush with cash. With the legislature lurching leftward, both through Democrat pickups and moderate Republicans purging conservatives from the GOP caucus during the primaries, the pressure to explode government growth and spending will be tremendous.

Kevin Stitt has made government efficiency and accountability a key part of his platform. He has singled-out some major areas of needed reform in the budgeting process and how agencies operate. Stitt can wield a Trumpian hammer to the status quo in Oklahoma City and bring long-needed changes to how our state is run.

Matt Pinnell makes a perfect fit with Kevin Stitt. Where Stitt has no previous political experience or relationships with elected officials, Pinnell helped get many of them elected in his former role as OKGOP chair. His built-in relationships with many of the players in the Capitol will go a long way toward helping craft and guide the Stitt agenda through the marble halls of the State Capitol.

I think we can count on both Stitt and Pinnell to hold the line against the legislature when they go astray. Pinnell has pledged to take an active role in working with the legislature, and Stitt has already begun regular communication and strategy meetings with legislative leadership -- something that never existed with the current governor and led to major problems.

Both Pinnell and Stitt, with their unique backgrounds and capabilities, will be able to market and promote our state in a way to help facilitate further growth. Oklahoma's image can rebound with the fresh leadership they will provide.

During the primary, Kevin Stitt answered an in-depth survey that I sent to the GOP gubernatorial candidates. You can read his responses here. It was a wide-ranging questionnaire, and he took some very good and refreshing conservative positions on the issues.

The Democrat alternatives to Stitt and Pinnell are both very liberal, and would lead Oklahoma down the wrong path. Combining a liberal Governor/Lt. Governor with a Legislature that is turning leftward would be disastrous for Oklahoma's economy and growth.

Oklahoma needs conservative fighters at the helm of government, ready to face down their own party when it goes down the big government road. Mary Fallin was a catastrophe for the Republican Party; Kevin Stitt and Matt Pinnell are needed to bring conservative principles back to state government.

On Tuesday, I will proudly and enthusiastically cast my vote for Kevin Stitt for Governor and Matt Pinnell for Lieutenant Governor. I hope that you will join me.

Steve Fair and Georgia Williams on the State Questions, Judicial Retention races

Steve Fair and Georgia Williams on the State Questions and Judicial Retention races

This is Georgia Williams and Steve Fair’s twenty second year of providing analysis of the State Questions, the Justices and Judges on the Oklahoma general election ballot. Georgia Williams and Steve Fair hosted The Grapevine, a popular political radio talk show for five years. They are knowledgeable and thorough in their research. They evaluate each proposal and person. They provide commentary on the state questions and a profile of the justices/judges. They give their recommendations on how to vote on each SQ and judge. While Steve and Georgia are both active in the Republican Party, their views do not necessarily reflect the views of the Party. To contact them, email or

State Questions on Your Ballot

State Question 793 - Right of Optometrists and Opticians to 
Practice in a Retail Mercantile Establishment 

Steve: YES: # 793 is an Initiative petition. If passed, this would likely result in big box retailers going into the eyeglass business, like they have in other states, lowering the cost of eyewear. Opponents of #793 maintain that Optometrists are local health care professionals who do more than prescribe eyewear and Oklahomans will regret turning their eye care health over to discounters. They cite the loss of local merchants due to the growth of big box retailers. Oklahomans are paying more for eyewear than consumers in other states and that is because optometrists and opticians can’t set up shop in a retail store. Local independent Optometrists should have combated the big box retailers by forging a united alliance and providing competitive pricing for the consumer by purchasing together. Their failure to do that has given the big box retailers an advantage in their industry.

Georgia: YES: #793 is an Initiative petition. I agree with Steve on this SQ. While it is true this will hurt the local Optometrists, it will benefit those who buy glasses and contacts in Oklahoma. I know many people who travel out of state to get their glasses and it is because of the restriction of not allowing glasses to be sold in retail outlets.

State Question 794 - Crime victim’s rights
(language text and info)

Steve: YES: #794 is a legislative referendum. This is a version of Marsy’s Law, which grants victims of crimes, and their families certain rights. Marsalee (Marsy) Nicholas was stalked and murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. Released on bail before the trial began, Marsy’s killer sought out and confronted Marsy’s mother and brother, who had no idea he had been released. The brother has made it his life’s work to get rights for victims of crime. It is law in five states and five states are voting on a version of it in November. If passed, #794 would give victims and their families the right to be notified about and present at proceedings, the right to be heard at proceedings involving release, plea, sentencing, disposition, or parole of the accused, the right to have the safety of the victim and victim’s family considered when making bail or release decisions, the right to be protected from the accused, the right to be notified about release or escape of the accused, etc. A similar law was struck down in Montana because the judiciary has ruled it violated the rights of the accused. Expect it to be challenged in Oklahoma, but #794 is a good idea and should be passed.

Georgia: YES: #794 is a legislative referendum. I agree with Steve. Victims of crime and their families should be notified about parole hearings, sentencing, and releases of the person who victimized them. It may be challenged, but I would be hopeful the judiciary would be as sensitive to the victims of crimes as they are to those who commit them.

State Question 798 - Joint nomination and election

Steve: YES: #798 is a legislative referendum. Currently, 25 states elect a lieutenant governor on a ticket with the governor, while 18 states, including Oklahoma, elect a lieutenant governor separately. Five states do not have the office of Lt. Governor. By having the two run on the same ticket, it would eliminate the possibility of a Lt. Governor from a political Party different than the Governor ascending to the top job. By their running together, it would also be more likely they would work closer together than if they ran separately and the job of Lt. Governor could be expanded. If passed, #798 would not go into effect until 2026 and therefore would not affect the current Lt. Governor, since Oklahoma has term limits for statewide offices. The Lt. Governor can only serve 8 years (2 terms).

Georgia: NO: #798 is a legislative referendum. I need more information on the nuts and bolts of this ‘new’ process. While the president and vice presi- dent run on the same ticket at the national level, it’s unclear how the process will actually work. Since the legislature is given the authority to ‘establish procedures’ for the joint nomination, it’s not clear how this will work. I have little confidence in the legislature doing this in a way to benefit Oklahomans

State Question 800 - The Vision Fund

Steve: YES: #800 is a legislative referendum. If approved, SQ#800 would create a trust fund for oil & gas production tax revenue. Beginning July 1, 2020, 5 percent of the state’s oil and gas production tax revenue would be deposited into the fund. The deposit would increase by 0.2 percent each year. Four percent of the fund’s principal would be transferred yearly into the general revenue fund. The Oklahoma State Treasurer would be able to invest the money in higher return funds, unlike the current State Rainy Day Fund, which has restrictions on how the money can be invested. #800 would create a fund similar to what Texas has for their oil/gas tax revenue. It is a good first step in removing the peaks and valleys Oklahoma typically experiences in state revenue due to the volatility of the oil and gas industry.

Georgia: NO: #800 is a legislative referendum. I have trouble with #800, because when we take a percentage of state revenue and put it into a trust fund to prop up government in down years, we grow government. We already have a Rainy Day fund, which the legislature raids every year. I don’t see the need to have a second contingency fund.

State Question 801 - Ad valorem usage authorization

Steve: YES: #801 is a legislative referendum. SQ#801 would amend the state constitution and allow local voter approved property tax (ad valorem) to be used to fund school district operations (teacher salaries, support staff). Currently that is prohibited. While #801 does allow for more local control, some critics say if it passes buildings and maintenance of buildings and equipment will suffer. Others say it will create inequity within Oklahoma education, whereby some districts will pay their teachers much more than others can afford. Neither of those arguments is without merit, but passing #801 provides more flexibility and local control to the local school board and that is much needed. The key will be to hold the local school boards accountable on how they spend the money.

Georgia: YES: #801 is a legislative referendum. I agree with Steve. My concern is that some school districts could neglect their buildings, but I believe local school patrons will hold them accountable if they fail to keep up the facilities. I would hope this would increase the money that gets ‘to the classroom,’ and doesn’t just pad the local school superintendent’s salary.

Oklahoma’s Retention Ballot System

Why are Supreme Court justices, The Court of Criminal Appeals judges and the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals judges on the ballot this year?
Oklahoma Supreme Court justices and the judges of the two other appellate courts are on the ballot in nonpartisan elections every six years so voters can determine whether they should stay in office. This regular vote is called “merit retention.” This year, four Supreme Court justices (out of nine), four Court of Criminal Appeals judges (out of five) and four Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals judges (out of twelve) have merit retention elections.

What do “Yes” and “No” votes mean?
A “Yes” vote means you want the justice or judge to stay in office. A “No” vote means you want the justice or judge to be removed from office. The majority of voters decides.

How did Oklahoma decide to use the merit retention election system?
In 1967 Oklahoma’s voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment requiring that the merit retention system be used for all appelate judges. This vote came after the public became concerned about abuses that occurred because of the earlier system of contested elections.

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Edmondson: vote NO          Karger: vote NO          Gurich: vote NO
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Wyrick: vote YES          Lewis: vote NO          Kuehn: vote YES

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Rowland: vote YES          Goree: vote YES          Swinton: vote YES

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Buettner: vote YES          Bell: vote NO          Mitchell: vote YES

Friday, November 02, 2018

They voted to make it easier to raise your taxes. Vote accordingly.

In 1992, Oklahoma voters revolted against higher taxes and passed State Question 640, a constitutional amendment that attacked the ease with which tax increases had historically been passed. SQ640 required revenue-raising measures to either be passed by a majority vote of the people (50%+1) or a 75% vote in both houses of the Legislature, rather than a simple legislative majority as had been the practice.

Big government advocates and tax hogs have complained about it ever since.

As legislative Republicans began abandoning their conservative principles over the past few years in the face of tough fiscal choices, they increasingly started to talk about gutting SQ640 and lowering the standard for revenue-raising measures.

Until this past year, no outright tax increase had achieved that 75% hurdle, although hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes had been raised through other means (votes of the people, fees, and other loopholes). To be fair, few outright tax increases had been attempted. Nevertheless, the 75% hurdle did not prove to be "impossible" as tax fans had decried.

At the beginning of the 2018 legislative session, efforts began in earnest to actually reduce the revenue-raising threshold and gut SQ640's constitutional language. House leadership filed a measure (HJR1032) to drop the threshold to 3/5ths (60%), and then a new measure (HJR 1050) to change it to 2/3rds was brought to the floor.

All of this continued to ignore the fact that a statewide vote of the people only requires a bare majority of 50%+1 vote. Legislators continue to fear placing tax increase measures before the voters, counting instead on short memories to cover up their legislative voting records.

HJR 1050 made it to a vote. An amendment was submitted to reduce the tax-hike vote threshold from the proposed 2/3rds back down to 60% (like HJR 1032). That amendment failed, although a shameful 39 Republicans voted for it. The next vote saw 44 Republicans join 7 Democrats in passing the bill.

That brings us to this election. Three Republicans on the ballot for statewide office voted to gut SQ640 and make it easier for the Legislature to raise your taxes.

State Reps. Randy McDaniel, Glen Mulready, and Leslie Osborn all voted to change the tax-raising requirement from 3/4ths to 2/3rds. Glen Mulready voted to move it even lower to 3/5ths (McDaniel voted against, Osborn skipped the vote but in all likelihood would have voted yes).

McDaniel is running for State Treasurer. He is facing off against a lone Independent candidate, Charles De Coune.

Mulready is running for Insurance Commissioner. He is facing a Democrat, Kimberly Fobbs.

Osborn is running for Labor Commissioner. She is facing Democrat Fred Dorrell and Independent Brandt Dismukes.

After the House passed HJR 1050, current Insurance Commissioner John Doak slammed the Republicans who voted to gut SQ640, saying that it was "hard to believe this vote has happened in Oklahoma", and "our party needs to govern by continuing to increase efficiency and effectiveness of limited government and lowering taxes not making it easier to raise by lowering the threshold of votes needed." Several county Republican parties (including Muskogee County) passed resolutions opposing the effort to make it easier to raise taxes, as did other conservative organizations.

This betrayal of the Oklahoma taxpayer should not be rewarded by promoting these individuals to higher office. McDaniel and Mulready are cordial and well-meaning, and generally conservative, but legislative votes have consequences. This was a major transgression. Osborn has many flaws, including her targeting of conservatives and endorsement by the AFL-CIO, and this is just one more to add to the pile.

None of these three Republicans will be getting my vote this election. I haven't completely decided whether I'll simply not cast a vote in their races, or if I will vote for their opposition, but I absolutely will not lend them my vote. That's no loss to them, as I'm sure they'll all three win by large margins, but principles matter, and betrayal of principles also matters.

Remember this at your ballot box and vote accordingly.

On a side note, at least 16 of the other Republicans who voted against the Oklahoma taxpayer are on the ballot for re-election. Check the betrayal list here.