Monday, January 31, 2011

UNCONSTITUTIONAL: Florida Judge Rules on ObamaCare


Federal Judge Roger Vinson of Florida ruled today that the 'Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act' (aka ObamaCare) is unconstitutional due to its individual mandate, and further stated that since the legislation passed by Congress lacked a severability clause, "the entire act must be declared void."

Last month, a Virginia judge also found the individual mandate to be unconstitutional. The case will end up in the Supreme Court at some point down the road.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Oh, the irony: Gilpin at the Board of Education meeting

From Peter J. Rudy of Oklahoma Watchdog:
An already contentious State Board of Education meeting got more heated after a comment by board member, and former State Senator, Herb Rozell made a comment several women in the audience felt was sexist.

After approving the hire of Jessica Russell as legislative analyst and liaison, who is pregnant and due in April, Senator Rozell made the comment that “if she has the baby and is gone for six weeks in May, she’s useless to us.”  May is the last month of session when a lot of activity happens at the State Capitol.

Superintendent Barresi requested that the comment be stricken.  Russell reportedly left the room in tears.  Even though a short recess was called, Senator Rozell has not yet apologized to Russell for the comment.
Rudy posted audio of the exchange here.

Ironically, Board of Education member Tim Gilpin (who is heard in the recording) has the following posted on his law firm's website:


Apparently, part of Gilpin's law practice deals with job discrimination/harassment related to... pregnancy.  Whoops.

Mike McCarville points out that Gilpin donated to Susan Paddack, Barresi's opponent in the election last year, and was a leading spokesman for the failed SQ744 campaign.

Gilpin rolls off the Board of Education in April.

OCPA: Reform State Board of Education


OCPA: Legislature Should Reform the State Board of Education

The actions taken by the State Board of Education today—not allowing the newly elected superintendent to hire her own staff—are a perfect illustration of dysfunction in state government. It’s time for the state Legislature to reform the state Board of Education.

Though the state constitution does require the establishment of a State Board of Education, it explicitly states that, in addition to its composition, the board’s “powers and duties shall be prescribed by law.” The Legislature, therefore, can restrict or even take away the board’s managerial powers; at a minimum, the Legislature must ensure the superintendent possesses sufficient power to hire staff and manage the department as she sees fit. The Legislature can also reform the board by altering the length of its members’ terms and how they are appointed.

The members of the board, except for the superintendent, are currently appointed by the governor and hold six-year terms. The Legislature could easily revise the law to require that the term of each incumbent member ends with the election of a new governor and that each new member is appointed by the new governor or, maybe better yet, by the superintendent. The larger point is that control of our public education system is the hands of the Legislature and governor—they should be held responsible for remedying the board's unconscionable acts.

Today’s actions are a perfect example of why our government is dysfunctional. We tie down our executive officials with a dizzying array of boards and commissions that act like leeches on our public circulatory system. Why? Because we are unwilling to trust either the individuals the people have chosen to do their jobs well, or to trust the people to throw these officials out if they have performed poorly.

The architects of our national government long ago explained that the prerequisites for good government are energy, stability, and accountability. There is no doubt having our educational system run by Gov. Brad Henry’s people long after his departure makes for a more stable government. But a government that both lacks the power to reform itself and ignores the clear command of the people to change is no good at all.

To learn more about the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), visit their website.

[MP note: for more information on the brouhaha at the Board of Education, visit Oklahoma Watchdog and the McCarville Report.]

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Muskogee Politico Roundup

Absurd: Some in the media and blogosphere have attacked Gov. Mary Fallin for allegedly plagiarizing a KOSU story about Pearl Harbor survivor Ed Vezey in her inaugural address. First of all, if that was plagiarizing (which it wasn't), that was an awfully poor job. Second, Ed Vezey has told his story to countless people, and I'd assume that it's pretty much the same every time. Same people, same places, same history, same storyteller. Third, I shot video this past summer at the unveiling of the mast from the U.S.S. Oklahoma here at Muskogee's War Memorial Park, where both Vezey and then-Congresswoman Fallin spoke. They both mentioned a ceremony at Pearl Harbor where they both attended, spoke, and talked with other U.S.S. Oklahoma veterans. Fallin most likely heard Vezey's story there in Hawaii, as I'm sure she did again at Muskogee. Most of the same people are also attacking Fallin for flubbing up her swearing-in oath. Again, ridiculous.

Porker: The taxpayer watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste has nominated Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Tulsa) as a finalist for their 2010 Porker of the Year contest, for his very public and adamant defense of earmarking. Congratulations, Senator, on joining a prestigious club. Good luck in the voting...

Unbelievable: Far-left Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) is suing the U.S. House cafeteria for biting into an olive pit in his sandwich - in 2008. The twice-failed presidential candidate is suing for $150,00, and believes he "is entitled to damages for future dental and medical expenses and to compensate him for pain, suffering, and loss of enjoyment." I'm at a loss for words......

Confession: I did not watch the President's State of the Union address, nor did I see anything but snippets of Paul Ryan or Michele Bachmann's response. And frankly, I don't really see what the uproar over the "mixed" seating was about. Everyone knows that the party in power applauds every other line of a State of the Union speech, and members of the party not in the White House sit on their hands. Sitting next to Chuck Schumer for one hour-long speech does not make you a Schumer clone, or affect how you vote the next day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

AG Pruitt Files Federal Lawsuit against Health Care Act

 
Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt Files Federal Lawsuit against Health Care Act

Lawsuit includes strengthened arguments focused on defeating
individual mandate and striking the entire health care act based on non-severability

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Attorney General E. Scott Pruitt today filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state of Oklahoma, making it the 28th state to challenge the constitutionality of the individual mandate provision of the federal health care act.

The Attorney General explained the lawsuit will enhance the collective efforts of the majority of states suing the federal government because it contains strengthened arguments against the independent mandate in response to shifting legal strategy by the federal government. It further includes allegations that focus on the non-severability of the health care act, which would find the entire act to be invalid if any part is held to be unconstitutional.

“We have an advantage of learning from the arguments the federal government put forth in the legal proceedings with Virginia and Florida, which allows Oklahoma to enhance the strategy used by those respective states.  We did this to address the federal government’s citing of the Necessary and Proper Clause to justify the individual mandate, even though any use of the clause must be consistent with both ‘the letter and spirit’ of the Constitution, which this act is not,” Pruitt said. “We also have included robust allegations that seek to have the entire act stricken by addressing the non-severability of the law.”

Additionally, the lawsuit will defend Oklahoma’s recent passage of the Oklahoma Health Care Freedom Amendment, which amended the state Constitution to say that Oklahomans cannot be required to purchase individual health care coverage. 

 “Again, there is great clarity for me on the necessary and urgent need to exercise my responsibility to defend Oklahoma’s Constitution against a federal law that requires our state’s citizens to purchase a product or face penalties from the federal government,” Pruitt said. “In November, Oklahoma voters made clear their belief that the federal government, in this instance, has overreached its power and authority.”

The complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, raises the issue of whether the U.S. Congress is empowered under the Commerce Clause to require citizens to purchase health insurance coverage or be penalized for not doing so.

The challenged provision, Section 1501 of the Act, is commonly known as the Individual Mandate. This provision requires that every U.S. citizen, other than those falling within specified exceptions, maintain a minimum level of health insurance coverage beginning in 2014. Failure to comply will result in a penalty included in the taxpayer’s annual tax return.

This mandate will require non-exempt Oklahomans to either purchase health insurance for themselves and their dependents or pay a civil penalty designed to force them into such a purchase.

“By voting to pass State Question 756 by an overwhelming margin, the people of Oklahoma made it clear that a federally enforced mandate to purchase health insurance is both undesirable and unconstitutional,” Gov. Mary Fallin said. “Furthermore, President Obama’s health care plan would cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in the middle of a severe budget crisis. I am proud that Oklahoma can now be counted among the states standing up for constitutional rights and opposing a law that is harmful to both our economy and to the health of our citizens.”

Pruitt added that Oklahoma’s recently approved Oklahoma Health Care Freedom Amendment and the federal health care act cannot coexist, and that federal preemption does not apply when a federal law is deemed unconstitutional.

As such, he commented on his obligation to defend the Oklahoma law, “The most logical way to defend our state Constitution is in an Oklahoma federal court, not in another state,” Pruitt said.

Additionally, by filing in Oklahoma, the state adds another circuit of the federal court system considering arguments on the constitutionality of the act.  This enhances the reasons for the U.S. Supreme Court to expedite a hearing on the issue.

 “I deeply respect the efforts of General Pam Bondi, and the other Attorneys General involved in the Florida litigation as well as the efforts of General Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia,” Pruitt said. “I am confident with our collective efforts we will prevail.”

The Oklahoma lawsuit will be handled by internal staff in the Attorney General’s office, and no outside counsel will be retained. 

To read the complaint, go online to www.oag.ok.gov.

Brecheen: Nix Art Spending Mandate


With Oklahoma’s projected 650 million dollar budget shortfall, priorities matter now more than ever and for this reason I have filed SB14 to repeal SB1347.

Enacted in 2004, Senate Bill 1347 (“State of Oklahoma: Art in Public Places Act”), required that 1.5 percent of the cost of construction or renovation of state-owned projects (highway construction or public buildings) be set aside for artwork. It has applied to projects costing at least $250,000 with the maximum assessment not exceeding $500,000. By statute, the artwork has been spent in, on, or near facilities or highways.  More than $5 million dollars will soon be spent in current project compliance and millions more in expenditures have already occurred/are on the horizon.  Most of these dollars are going for projects in or near Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma is cutting funding to agencies and programs because of the shrinking budget yet we are spending millions of dollars on public art. Some are asking for an explanation.  Last summer, a Marshall county community leader took the time to visit with me about this area of state expense. After researching it further, I promised to work on a repeal of the Oklahoma Arts in Public Places Act. I spoke about it for many months and in filing SB14, I am following suit on that commitment.

Those supporting the passage of SB1347 (six years ago) argued public art would enhance the quality of life for Oklahomans and make the state more attractive to out-of-state companies.  I absolutely agree. In a time of surplus and with a secured transportation system this might be worthwhile expenditure for bridge art (as found in Dallas, Texas) or artwork for the state capitol itself.  However, given our economic situation this is not the time for such expenditures in, on or near random state buildings in Oklahoma City or Tulsa.  Local/private finances should be looked for if these projects are deemed local priorities.  Oklahoma has the highest number of deficient roads and bridges of any state in America and securing structural integrity must take priority over public art. 

Even though this is a small part of the budget, every link in the chain of armor is vital in protecting our state from fiscal harm and our citizens from physical harm (accident resulting from a collapsing bridge or insufficient highway shouldering). Whether supporting federal earmarks or expenditures such as public art, opposing opinion is always the same: “It’s such a small part of the budget, so it’s not a big deal.” This attitude allows that any expenditure under a certain amount is acceptable for politicians to engage in as “nobody will really miss it”.  I oppose this D.C like attitude which has led to a 14 trillion dollar national indebtedness with each American’s share now at over $450,000 per man, woman, and newborn child.  I’m convinced that all spending that is not absolutely vital, whether it’s small, medium or large should be curtailed until the checkbook is balanced.

As of January 16th, The Tulsa World has published an editorial (“Public Art, Controversial from the Parthenon to the present, by Wayne Greene”), in opposition to the filing of SB14, and for good reason. Those living in Tulsa have every reason to want the state taxpayer investing in their city. They use the example of President Lincoln’s pushed completion of the U. S. Capitol during the Civil War as an example when public art was opposed by public officials, but was nonetheless a good investment. This is a poor comparison.  I would not be opposed to completing our national or state capitol if so needed. What I am opposed to is the reality of Oklahoma tax dollars currently being spent on a twisted steel structure that towers into the sky at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars. This steel structure is hardly a Parthenon.

Many supporting public art will cite the beautification projects found in Texas.  In comparing Oklahoma to Texas, however, one learns that Texas doesn’t have a public arts program.  The Texas Department of Transportation, does have the OPTION to spend money on highway art/carvings, but no more than one percent. The respected art on the High Five in Dallas cost $1.3 million, or one half of one percent of the total project budget.  Texas can afford to do this because they have taken care of structural integrity first and foremost. According to the annual CNBC America’s Top States for Business, Texas once again ranks first out of 50 states in terms of their overall transportation system.  Their fully functional/manicured transportation system provides tremendous incentives for attracting manufacturers. The 2010 CNBC ranking places Oklahoma’s transportation system among the ten most deficient systems in America.

Last year more than 75% of all new jobs in America originated in Texas but art is not responsible for this amazing statistic. We must not perceive it is the tail wagging the dog and confuse what really provokes state growth.  As long as out of state motorists entering Oklahoma experience significant differences in road conditions once crossing the state line, we must prioritize asphalt above art.  Our ability to attract industry depends on it.

Public art in/near cities and public art on highways/bridges are two completely separate categories but both are receiving funding under current Oklahoma statute.  I will concede that public art can further encourage economic development by giving visitors a more positive first impression of a town or city. Public art can enhance the character, splendor and the beauty of a community. And yes, it has the potential to rejuvenate rundown areas.  However, to ask state taxpayers at large to pay for Tulsa/Oklahoma City’s urban redesign, I believe, is overreaching. Successful partnerships between municipalities and the private individuals who live in those cities (those who will benefit directly) should be the funding source for artwork not fixed to highways. The state taxpayer at large should not pay for city attractions.

Public art in/near towns and cities can and should continue without the state leading this charge.  Edmond has experience and expertise with this by tapping private dollars matched by city funding. The Norman Public Arts Board was the beneficiary of 320 private donations which made possible their recent unveiling of a three story structure known as “Indian Grass”.  The rejuvenation of Oklahoma City through Metropolitan Area Projects (MAPS) or Project 180 is the direct result of local leadership.  Those inspired and taking pride in those changes have local leaders to thank, not the state legislature.

Once our state experiences economic recovery, excess state finances and we have safe highway conditions, I will support bridge artwork.  It can draw attention to our state in a positive way. But we just can't afford it right now and public safety is more important than beautification.

Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate, is the state senator for Senate District 6, which covers Bryan, Johnston, and Marshall counties, and portions of Atoka and Coal counties.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Post-Tucson gun-related political correctness? Blogger says "no"

In the wake of the shooting in Tucson, the left and the media has tried to push politically correct speech even more forcefully; in this case, anything remotely related to firearms. Recently, a CNN anchor even went so far as to apologize for using the term "crosshairs".

Blogger Charles Phipps of OKPolitechs has a post that makes a point while using as much politically-incorrect gun-related speech as possible.


Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik has been all over the news lately blaming everyone from Sarah Palin to Rush Limbaugh for the tragic shooting in his county.  It's time for Republicans to set their sights on replacing him.

Read the rest of his post here.

Legislative Leaders Form Joint Immigration Reform Committee

 
Legislative Leaders Form Joint Immigration Reform Committee 

OKLAHOMA CITY – State House and Senate leaders today announced the formation of a special joint committee to develop immigration reform proposals.

The group will include four members each from the House and Senate, as well as Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

“There must be consequences for those who intentionally break the law, particularly for those who endanger public safety or divert taxpayer resources,” said House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee. “The committee members will carefully consider proposals and develop a comprehensive reform package that truly meets the needs of Oklahoma.”

“We must remain committed to the will of our constituents who rightly believe that we are not finished with immigration reform,” stated President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa.  “It is important that we do what we said we would do and find solutions to Oklahoma’s problems.”

“I believe that we must respond to Washington’s failure to secure the border,” Pruitt said. “As the state’s attorney and top law enforcement office, we witness firsthand the consequences of Washington’s failure to do their job.  I look forward to contributing to the committee’s efforts toward finding sound solutions.”

The group’s members include the following:
  • Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee, co-chair
  • Sen. Ron Justice, R-Chickasha, co-chair
  • Sen. Roger Ballenger, D-Okmulgee
  • Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Sand Springs
  • Rep. Charles Ortega, R-Altus
  • Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa
  • Rep. Ben Sherrer, D-Pryor
  • Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City
  • Attorney General Scott Pruitt
Among other things, the committee will develop a reform package that addresses public safety issues and targets crimes associated with illegal immigration.

As part of the effort, the group will also consider proposals to better protect taxpayer money from subsidizing illegal immigration.

Throughout the process, the special committee will seek input from private citizens and organizations.

AUL Ranks Oklahoma Most Pro-Life State


Americans United for Life, a national pro-life organization, released their ranking of states today. Oklahoma came in at the number one spot.
AUL's List List shows cutting edge legislation restricts abortions and protects life at the state level
Launches national petition to urge the same at the federal level

WASHINGTON, D.C. (01-20-11) – For the sixth year in row, Americans United for Life released the “Life List” – a ranking of all 50 states based on the way each deals with a comprehensive list of life issues – from euthanasia to abortion. AUL CEO and President Dr. Charmaine Yoest said that the model legislation AUL specializes in, and the state-based approach to protecting life in the law, is “changing the momentum towards life at the state level. We are seeing a cultural shift toward protecting life and rolling back the tide of unrestricted abortions that Roe v. Wade produced.”

“The results reveal that legislative action at the state level is turning the tide toward life with strategic refinement of the law,” said Yoest. AUL has produced 38 pieces of model legislation and been influential in drafting opt-out language for states that do not wish to pay for President Obama’s health care plan that includes abortion coverage.

In the top 5 spots in 2011 are 1: Oklahoma, 2: Louisiana, 3: Pennsylvania, 4: Arkansas and 5: Texas. At the bottom of the list were New Jersey, Vermont, Hawaii, California and Washington State.

[...]

Oklahoma tops the Life List for the first time. In 2006 (the first year of AUL’s ranking), Oklahoma was ranked at #15. Over the past few years, the state has aggressively pursued and implemented a comprehensive agenda of life-affirming initiatives. Among the measures recently enacted in Oklahoma are an ultrasound requirement, limits on the provision of RU-486, coerced abortion prevention, and protections for health care freedom of conscience. Moreover, in 2009, Oklahoma became the first state to enact AUL’s innovative Pregnant Woman’s Protection Act, permitting pregnant women to use force to protect their unborn children from criminal assaults.
View more information from AUL at this link.

Call me biased, but this news is another reason why this blogger considers Oklahoma to be the best state in the nation.

Lankford Defends the Unborn on House Floor

Freshman Congressman James Lankford (R-OK) on the House floor yesterday, defending the unborn child's right to life.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Ban texting while driving? Not so fast...

Blogger and activist Kaye Beach has a great post today on a texting-while-driving ban proposed by State Rep. Danny Morgan (D-Prague).

No one will argue that texting while driving is a good idea, it’s not.

When I started EMT school the first heartbreaking wreck I was exposed to was caused by a young driver fiddling with her phone.  Naturally my immediate reaction was “there ought to be a law….”

While my views about texting or talking and driving have not changed since 2007, my views about lawmaking have. I have been educated over the last 3 years that I have spent primarily trying to put a damper on intrusive legislation.

Read the rest of her post here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

ObamaCare Repeal Debate Starts


Debate on H.R. 2, which would repeal the Obama/Pelosi healthcare reform bill, started this afternoon. The House will be voting on the repeal resolution tomorrow.

You can view the ongoing debate here on C-SPAN.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Brogdon's take on the two-year moratorium


As controversy continues over the appointment and/or hiring of ex-legislators by Governor Fallin and Insurance Commissioner John Doak, former State Sen. Randy Brogdon weighs in with his take. Brogdon, now with a job in the Insurance Department, is one of the three hires in question.
Many of my supporters have been asking what I will be doing in the future, so I want to give you an update.  I have been asked by Insurance Commissioner John Doak to serve as his Deputy Commissioner of the Fraud Division.  I am honored to serve and am excited about the opportunities to protect the citizens of Oklahoma. 

There has been a lot of discussion whether or not legislators can work for a state agency within two years after their legislative service is over.  The answer to that question is yes.  As a matter of fact there have been several Supreme Court decisions as well as Attorney Generals opinion stating the affirmative.  Following is an honest appraisal of the facts along with the spirit and the intent of the law.

The bill has three distinct provisions.  First, no member of the legislature can be appointed to an office that was created during his term of office.

Secondly, no member can receive an appointment from the Governor during his term of office.

The third provision of the bill deals with the two year moratorium which is often mischaracterized. The moratorium specifically restricts a legislator from entering into a “contract” with any state agency that was authorized during his term of office.

For example if the legislature created the “Department of Prescription Drugs” during his term of office he could not serve or contract with that department for a period of two years after his term was over.

The letter of the law and the spirit of the law are not to restrict a former legislator from working for a state agency, it is simply designed to prevent a legislator form having influence in creating a position and then moving directly in to it.
Other Oklahoma bloggers have been discussing this topic as well. Mike McCarville posted a poll asking if the appointments violated the spirit of the "no hire" law; 60% said that it went against it. Ron Black agreed with McCarville's poll respondents.

I'll be posting more on this issue later. The section of the Oklahoma Constitution in question is here.

Friday, January 14, 2011

RNC Chair Race - Today

 Reince Priebus
Ann Wagner

Saul Anuzis


 Michael Steele


Maria Cino

 The vote for RNC Chairman is taking place today, and these are the candidates. If I were to hazard a guess, the order of pictures is according to their likelihood of winning, from Priebus with the best shot to Cino with the lowest chance.

For the latest information, follow the OKGOP Twitter feed, which is posted below.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Herman Cain forms presidential exploratory committee


Herman Cain (radio show host, former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, and former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City) announced this morning that he has formed a Presidential Exploratory Committee to "test the waters" before officially deciding whether or not he will run for President.

While not a first-tier potential candidate like Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney, Cain is considered to be one of the more credible candidates being mentioned.

You can visit his website by going to www.HermanCain.com.

2012, here we come.

Coburn Caucus Expands; Treat Wins SD47 Special Election

State Senator-elect Greg Treat casting his ballot this morning

With just over 41% of the vote, Greg Treat has won the special election in State Senate District 47, the seat vacated by now-Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb. Treat defeated fellow candidates Carol Hefner (28%), Todd Brawley (17%), Steve Dobbs (7%) and Kenny Goza (6%) in the winner take all primary election. No Democrat or Independent candidate filed to run for the seat.

As fellow blogger Ron Black pointed out, in the State Senate, Treat will join another fellow (and now former) staffer for U.S. Senator Tom Coburn - State Sen. Josh Brecheen (R-Coalgate). Brecheen was elected to the State Senate this past November.

In addition to Brecheen, Treat joins two other current elected officials who have close ties to Sen. Coburn: Tulsa city councilman G.T. Bynum (elected in 2009) and State Rep. George Faught (R-Muskogee; elected in 2006). Bynum served on Coburn's staff, and Faught's oldest son serves on Coburn's staff.*



One could call this a Coburn Caucus. With the success these four have had, and Sen. Coburn set to exit elected office in 2016, don't rule out more Coburn-tied candidates joining the "club".

(* - in addition, Dr. Coburn delivered Faught's two youngest children.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mary Fallin's Inauguration


The snow threatened to move Governor-elect Mary Fallin's inauguration ceremony inside, but with no success. With less than an hour to go, people are beginning to fill the seats outside the Capitol building for this historic ceremony.

You can watch the inauguration on OETA television stations, or online here (OETA).

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Congresswoman, 17+ others shot in Arizona

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) and over a dozen 17 others were shot this morning in Tucson, Arizona, at an outdoor townhall-type meeting the congresswoman was holding.

Initially, news reports said that Giffords was killed (shot point-blank to the head), but they now report that she is alive, in "very critical condition", and still in surgery.

Here's a live news feed from local television [if the video does not work, the direct link is here]:



Several of the victims have died so far, including a congressional staffer.

UPDATE: Reports from law enforcement say that a federal judge is among the wounded. The gunman has been apprehended.

UPDATE 2: A doctor reported at a press conference that a young child died at the hospital, and that Rep. Giffords has made it through surgery. He is optimistic about her recovery.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Constitution read on House floor

The U.S. House of Representatives today read - for the very first time - the entire text of the U.S. Constitution, on the House floor. Watch below (to go to the next video, click the link in the lower right corner of the video).



Oklahoma's 5th District Congressman James Lankford read Section 3 of the 25th Amendment.

Overall, there were few instances of the reading being interrupted. A protester shouted "Except Obama! Except Obama!" during the reading of the section requiring the president to be a natural-born citizen. After the reading of the 10th, 13th and 14th Amendments, and upon conclusion of the reading of the Constitution, applause broke out among the congressmembers.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

McLarty Endorses Wagner for RNC Chair


RNC Chair candidate Ann Wagner (a former Missouri GOP chair, US Ambassador, and RNC Co-Chair) picked up an endorsement by the Oklahoma GOP's third RNC vote - National Committeewoman Carolyn McLarty on Sunday. OKGOP Chairman Matt Pinnell and National Committeeman James Dunn, the other two votes Oklahoma has, both endorsed Reince Priebus last week.


McLarty issued the following letter to RNC members, announcing her intent to support Wagner.

After thoughtful consideration, I have decided to commit my support to Ann Wagner for RNC Chairman. I believe she is the most completely qualified and capable candidate running.

Ann holds her conservative values dearly. She is right-on on the issues. She knows the dangers of letting our freedoms slip away to big government control. She observed this directly during her ambassador service in Europe. As a result, she has a deep-seated concern about the direction our country is going.

Ann has firsthand experience on the RNC as a member and as Co-Chair. She has the political and managerial experience of running the State Party and a statewide campaign in the powerful swing state of Missouri.

Ann Wagner has the diplomatic skills to be a persuasive spokesperson and professional representative for the Republican Party to the press, to the major donors, to the legislative leadership, and to the public.

Ann is a person that can be trusted to use our dollars wisely and efficiently. She can inspire the confidence of major donors and of Mom and Pop donors around the country.

The election of Ann Wagner as RNC Chairman will clearly demonstrate the RNC’s determination to recover from controversy, to unify, and to set a steady, forward course to Victory in 2012.
According to National Review's Hotline On Call blog, the race currently stands as follows: Reince Priebus is first (30 votes), Michael Steele in second (15 votes), Ann Wagner in third (12 votes), Saul Anuzis in fourth (10 votes), Maria Cino in fifth (6 votes). Over half of all RNC voting members are still uncommitted, so this could go to any of the current candidates.


You can visit Wagner's website here, and watch her announcement video below.


Fallin Names Coffee as Secretary of State


Governor-elect Mary Fallin Names Glenn Coffee as Secretary of State

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor-elect Mary Fallin today announced she has selected Glenn Coffee to serve as secretary of state.

Coffee, who was the first Republican to serve as president pro tempore of the Oklahoma State Senate, currently serves as co-chairman of the governor-elect’s transition committee.

“My focus as governor of Oklahoma will be to implement pro-growth, fiscally responsible and conservative policies to move this state forward,” Fallin said. “Glenn Coffee’s leadership and experience as a legislator will go a long way in helping our team be successful and I’m proud to have him serve in my cabinet.”

First elected to the Oklahoma State Senate in 1998, Coffee served in a variety of leadership posts including, Republican Caucus chairman (2000-2002), Assistant Minority Floor Leader (2002-2004), and Minority Floor Leader (2004-2006). Coffee served as Senate co-president pro tempore (2007-08) after Republicans won a historic tie in the Oklahoma State Senate in the 2006 elections.  He was named a “legislator of the year” in 2010 by the American Legislative Exchange Council.

As secretary of state, Coffee will work on behalf of the governor-elect to advance Fallin’s legislative agenda and will represent the governor during budget negotiations in addition to performing the statutory duties of the office.  Additionally, Coffee will serve as a liaison to Oklahoma’s American Indian tribes.

“Governor-elect Fallin has told me that she wants to use every tool available to create more jobs and opportunities for working Oklahomans. I know she’ll work with state lawmakers to pursue conservative, pro-business policies to move our state forward, and I’m honored to serve in her cabinet,” Coffee said.

Coffee earned an undergraduate degree in political science from Northeastern State University and received a law degree from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. He is an alumnus of Leadership Oklahoma and Leadership OKC.  Coffee is a member of the NSU Alumni Association and is a founding member of the Oklahoma Legislature Sportsmen’s Caucus.

He lives in Oklahoma City with his wife Lisa and their four children, sons Collin and Blaine and daughters Anna and Kate.

Note: no word yet on how his salary will be paid, as former legislators cannot receive a state salary for two years after leaving office. Typically, how the letter (but not the spirit) of this law is avoided is by paying the salaries with fees, as opposed to appropriated dollars, much like Rep. Randy Terrill is alleged to have worked out with former Sen. Debbe Leftwich in the bribery case.

UPDATE: I received the following statement from Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz.
Former legislators may take paid positions with the state if they are paid with funds not appropriated from the Oklahoma Legislature.  More than 93 percent of the secretary of state’s budget comes from non-appropriated funds (such as fees), according to the Office of State Finance.  As previous administrations have done, we are following the letter of the law and precedent established in legal opinions from the attorney general’s office.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Minority Leader Comments On Terrill/Leftwich Case - Leaves Out Leftwich


State House Minority Leader Scott Inman (D-OKC) issued the following press statement today, after State Rep. Randy Terrill (R-Moore) and former State Sen. Debbe Leftwich (D-OKC) both made their first court appearance relating to the ongoing bribery/corruption case brought against them by District Attorney David Prater.
Democratic Minority Leader Inman Calls Allegations against Rep. Terrill Disappointing and Concerning; Allegations Highlight Need for Transparency

OKLAHOMA CITY (January 3, 2011) In response to this morning’s events in which Representative Randy Terrill (R–Moore) turned himself in to the Oklahoma County Jail in order to face bribery charges, Democratic Minority Leader Scott M. Inman released the following statement:

“It is disappointing and of great concern that Representative Terrill or any official elected by the people of Oklahoma would conduct themselves in a way that brings into question the integrity of our government. As the judicial process takes its course, it’s clear that there are still numerous unanswered questions that only greater transparency and accountability can answer.

If the allegations prove true, Rep. Terrill’s disappointing actions could nevertheless be the catalyst that is needed for the kind of honesty and transparency that Oklahomans deserve and desire.” 

Noticeably absent from Inman's press release is the other major player in the case, who happens to be a Democrat. While what Terrill is alleged to have done is wrong, it is equally true of Leftwich. Unlike many past political scandals in this state, this is bipartisan in nature.

Inman and the Democrats will focus on Terrill's involvement, because he is a Republican. Terrill will continue to play the martyr, and contend that he is the target of a Democrat DA's witch hunt against conservatives.

The fact remains that Prater has a seemingly solid case against both Terrill and Leftwich, regardless of the political affiliation of anyone involved (from the accuser to the accused). This situation is by no means over or decided, but corruption and betrayal of the public trust by elected officials is a serious matter, and must be dealt with seriously.

A government that cannot be trusted by its constituents is no government at all.