Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bridenstine to NASA? Rumors heat up


NASA Watch, a news site focused on the space agency, and Arstechnica, a tech/science news site, are both reporting that Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine will likely be announced in the coming weeks as the Trump administration's pick for NASA Administrator.



From NASA Watch:
The exact date and venue for the formal announcement of these NASA leadership nominations has not been set. NASA HQ has liked to do events with a lot of pomp and flair so we'll see what they do for this announcement. Sources have told me that a post-Labor Day announcement was being planned but it may be moved up now. Or maybe it won't.

Looking at where NASA is - and where the Trump folks seem to want it to go - a pairing of Jim Bridenstine with John Schumacher make a lot of sense. Bridenstine's views seem to resonate well with a lot of what seems to be buzzing around inside the heads of TrumpSpace people. Schumacher has a long resume in senior positions at both NASA - so he'll give Bridenstine a lot of managerial support. Bridenstine has a lot of interest in emerging space commerce opportunities while Schumacher has a solid aerospace background - another way that their skillsets complement one another.

From Arstechnia:
John Logsdon, a noted space historian and author of several books, including After Apollo? Richard Nixon and the American Space Program, said he has been hearing the same names. "Appointing [US Representative] Jim Bridenstine and [Aerojet Rocketdyne Vice President] John Schumacher as the top two NASA officials is an intriguing and potentially very productive move," Logsdon told Ars, via e-mail. "Bridenstine, for several years, has been conceptualizing what is needed for, as he suggests, an 'American Space Renaissance' and has been testing his ideas with multiple audiences. Schumacher is a Washington space community veteran, with years of both senior NASA and space industry executive experience. Together, they can bring both fresh ideas and a sense of political and policy realism to the space agency."
The Arstechnia article goes into more interesting details about both men as it relates to potential space policy, as well as implications of the picks. Read more here.

A Bridenstine appointment would mean a special election in the 1st District, which already has at least five candidates vying for the seat, which Bridenstine was vacating to his self-imposed term limit (you know, actually keeping his word, unlike another Oklahoma congressman). A special election would likely take place at the end of this year or beginning of next year, leaving the eventual victor a mere three or four months before turning around to run for the full term.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fallin will call special session to adjust appropriations


Governor Mary Fallin Says Special Legislative Session Necessary to Adjust State Appropriations 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today said the Legislature must return in special session to deal with the $215 million shortfall caused by a proposed smoking cessation fee being struck down.

“No money can be spent from any state fund unless the Legislature specifically appropriates it,” said Fallin. "Let's be clear. The director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) does not have the authority to transfer monies to the affected agencies from different sources without legislation directing him to do so.”

Article 5, Section 55 of the Oklahoma Constitution states that no money shall be paid out of the state treasury, except through an appropriation by law.

Fallin said state law (Title 62, Section 34.55) allows the director of OMES to borrow money from treasury funds to satisfy monthly allocations of appropriations made from the General Revenue Fund, but the appropriation has to be made by the Legislature.

The three agencies that received the bulk of the money from the proposed cessation fee are the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (DMHSAS), and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA).

DMHSAS would have received $75 million (about 23 percent of its total appropriation), OHCA would have received $70 million (about 7 percent of its total appropriation), and DHS would have received $69 million (about 10 percent of its total appropriation).

Without legislative intervention, DMHSAS said it would run out of state appropriations in November. OHCA said it would run out of state funds in January and DHS said it would out of state funds in May.

The funding shortfall is the result of the Oklahoma Supreme Court last week striking down a smoking cessation fee approved this past legislative session.

Fallin said she and her staff have been discussing options with legislative leaders of both parties.

“A special session is the best option,” the governor said. “Failure to meet in special session would mean $215 million would be cut mostly from these three state agencies. These agencies and the people they serve cannot sustain the kind of cuts that will occur if we do not find a solution.”

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

REID names Mark Williams as new president


RIED NAMES MARK WILLIAMS PRESIDENT

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, August 15, 2017 – The Research Institute for Economic Development (RIED) has named Mark Williams as president succeeding Susan Winchester who resigned recently to become chief-of-staff to Lt. Governor Todd Lamb. Williams joins RIED after a 36-year career with AT&T Oklahoma, serving since 2010 as Director-Legislative Affairs where he led the AT&T Oklahoma external affairs team on legislative matters at the state Capitol. Williams joined Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, now AT&T, in 1981.

“I am excited to join RIED and to work with our outstanding officers and directors as we continue to produce Oklahoma’s pre-eminent analysis of legislative voting patterns on business, job creation and economic development issues,” Williams said.  “For the past 20 years, RIED has established a respected reputation at the state Capitol, with the annual ‘RIED Report’ commonly anticipated following the end of the legislative session.  RIED’s positive impact since its inception is illustrated by the fact that legislative advocacy for business, job creation and economic growth has improved from 32% in 1998 to over 60% in 2017.”

Greg Love, RIED board chairman said, “I want to express how pleased we are to have another accomplished individual fill the position of RIED president. Mark has been involved with the state legislature for many years, and we are very confident he will do great work in his new position. Lastly, the RIED board thanks Susan Winchester, and wishes her success in her new position with Lt. Governor Lamb.”

Williams presently serves as Chairman of the Board of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits and Chair-Elect of the Oklahoma City All Sports Association.  He is the past board chairman of the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma, the Northwest Chamber of Commerce and the Oklahoma Baptist University Alumni Association.  He has, or is currently serving on the boards of the First Tee, Leadership Oklahoma, Youth Leadership Exchange, Sooner State Games and the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City, where he is also a Life Member.

Williams is a native Oklahoman, receiving a B.A. in Economics from Oklahoma Baptist University and a J.D. from Oklahoma City University. He is married to Carol Cathey Williams and they have two daughters and five grandchildren.

Research Institute for Economic Development was founded in 1997 and is a non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting economic growth through the evaluation of business, job and economic growth issues considered annually by the Oklahoma Legislature. RIED does not lobby issues or endorse candidates.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Lamb names 'Oklahoma Economic Diversification' advisory committee


LAMB NAMES OKLAHOMA ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION COMMITTEE
Oklahoma Business Leaders to Support Efforts to Grow Oklahoma Exports

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – August 14, 2017 – Republican gubernatorial candidate Todd Lamb announced today the formation of his Oklahoma Economic Diversification Committee. The group of Oklahoma business leaders will advise on issues to help diversify Oklahoma’s economy through greater worldwide trade.

“Growing and strengthening Oklahoma’s economy, both within our borders and beyond, is a central component of my Renew Oklahoma plan,” Lamb said. “To that end, I am pleased to announce that prominent Oklahoma business leader Chuck Mills will serve as chairman of my Oklahoma Economic Diversification Committee. Chuck is chairman of the OK District Export Council and president of Mills Machine Company, a third-generation manufacturer located in Shawnee. I am honored to have his business expertise, experience and counsel, as well as that of the other committee members as I pursue the governor’s office.”

Mills commented, “I am excited to help Todd Lamb formulate an advisory committee that will assist him in creating economic development opportunities throughout Oklahoma and beyond. The goal of the committee is to explore all avenues to create broader awareness and opportunities for Oklahoma companies to showcase, and ultimately export, their products. Todd Lamb has the vision and real-life business experience to be a tremendous advocate for Oklahoma businesses, large and small, as Oklahoma’s chief executive officer.”

Committee members include:

  • Keith Briem – Choctaw Global, McAlester
  • Dr. Don Drew – Oklahoma Christian University, Edmond
  • C.R. Freeman – Premium Beef and Grain, Lone Wolf
  • Johnny “Bump” Grant - Consolidated Turbine Specialists, LLC., Bristow
  • Alfred Hernandez – Lopez Foods, Inc., Oklahoma City
  • Heidi Hughes – GEFCO, Inc., Enid
  • Eric Kunkel – CCK Strategies, PLLC., Tulsa
  • George Lee – Red Devil, Inc., Pryor
  • Chuck Mills – Mills Machine Company, Shawnee
  • Dick Morris – Advantage Controls, Muskogee
  • Alfonso Nieves – BuildBlock Building Systems, LLC., Oklahoma City
  • Joe Smith, Jr. – Ditch Witch, Perry


Lamb said additional Oklahoma leaders will be announced in the coming weeks to lead other
advisory committees.

2017 Republican District Ratings for Oklahoma Legislature

Here's the 2017 update to my Republican District Ratings, the 2016 version of which can be viewed here.

This rating system is to determine how "Republican" each state house and state senate district is. The formula is comprised of three elements: federal-level (most recent Republican presidential nominee's in-district vote percentage), state-level (most recent Republican gubernatorial nominee's in-district vote percentage), and local-level (in-district voter registration).

If a district might be rated 50.0, that does not mean the Democrat rating would also be 50.0, as I didn't split the remaining portion up between Democrat, Libertarian and Independent. This system simply rates on "Republican-ness". Perhaps another way of putting it is this: a generic Republican candidate should be able to get no less than the RDR in his district.

Have a look at each full list. Given the massive turnover last year, I marked which members are freshmen (i.e. elected in 2016). I'll post the 2017 Conservative Performance Index soon, where we'll examine each legislator's conservative score (an average of two different conservative rating systems) and compare it to their district's Republican rating.

Up first, State House:


Northwest Oklahoma has the top three Republican district; HD61 maintained top-status with 71.0%, while HD59 (69.8%) and HD58 (69.1%) leapfrogged from 6th and 7th place last year. Broken Arrow's HD80 comes in fourth with 68.2%, and #5 goes to HD41 (a gerrymandered district running from Enid to the edge of OKC) with 67.3% .

The five least Republican districts are HD73 in north Tulsa (10.3%), HD99 (16.6%) and HD97 (22.9%) in Oklahoma City, OKC's HD88 (27.9%), and HD72 (29.7%) in north Tulsa.

The average rating for all House seats is up 0.3 points to 52.2%. For Republican-held seats, it actually fell overall by 0.4 points to 56.7%, while Democrat-held seats also fell 0.5 points to an average of 40.4%.

The five most Republican seats held by Democrats are HD6 (56.0%) in the northeast, recent special-election snag HD75 (54.3%) in Tulsa, HD7 (51.1%) in the far northeast corner, OKC's HD85 (49.4%; a 2015 special-election steal), and HD86 (48.5%) in Adair County.

The six least Republican seats held by Republicans are HD13 (39.5%) in Muskogee and McIntosh counties, HD62 (41.8%) and HD64 (42.3%) in Lawton, HD71 (43.7%) in Tulsa, and HD19 (44.5%) in the southeast.


Now, let's look at the State Senate:


The most Republican district is again in far northwest Oklahoma and the Panhandle - SD27 at 69.5%. Next are SD25 (65.8%) in south Tulsa, SD19 (63.8%) in the Enid area, SD22 (63.6%) in northwest OKC, SD29 (62.7%) around Bartlesville.

The five least Republican districts are SD11 in  north Tulsa (26.5%), SD48 (27.2%) and SD46 (37.5%) in Oklahoma City, SD9 (41.1%) in Muskogee and Cherokee counties, and SD16 (42.3%) in Cleveland County.

The average rating for all Senate seats is up 1.4 points to 53.5%. For Republican-held seats, it's up 0.2 points to 55.5%, while for Democrat-held seats it's up 3.5 points to 41.8%.

The three most Republican seats held by Democrats are SD34 (an early 2016 special-election stunner) at 59.1%, SD44 (51.8%; the most recent special-election grab), and SD32 (47.9%).

The five least Republican seats held by Republicans are all in southeast or east-central Oklahoma -SD9 (41.1%), SD7 (43.9%), SD8 (44.7%), SD5 (44.9%), and SD6 (47.3%).

Of note, the least-Republican Republican-held House and Senate districts both cover the city of Muskogee and most of Muskogee County, and both were won in 2016.


If you'd like to see maps to show where all the different districts are, go here for State House maps and here for State Senate maps.

Below the break, I've added two more sheets: one showing all House and Senate districts together for comparison, and the other showing the percentage changes each district had since the 2016 rating.

Music Monday: Beethoven's 5th Symphony

This week's Music Monday is the first movement to Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, by the great 19th-century German composer Ludwig van Beethoven.

Enjoy!



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 JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Small: Misleading statements by Osborn, Boren are harmful


Free Market Friday: Misleading statements harmful

Former House Appropriations and Budget Chair Leslie Osborn recently stated Oklahoma is “50th in the nation in tax collections.” Calling for more tuition and fee increases on working Oklahoma families, University of Oklahoma President David Boren made a similar dead-last claim regarding state support for higher education.

Despite Boren’s claims, the actual data show that Oklahoma ranks 31st in total state support for higher education. When adjusted for cost of living, on a per capita basis Oklahoma actually ranks 26th in state support for higher education.

Just as the actual data contradict President Boren’s claim, the undisputed data from the United States Census Bureau contradict Rep. Osborn’s statements, proving that we are far from being the lowest-taxed state.

Regarding Osborn’s assertion, the actual data show Oklahoma is not 50th in the nation. According to the latest available data from the Census Bureau, Oklahoma collects more in state taxes than Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Thus, Oklahoma ranks 31st, not 50th. Per capita, Oklahoma ranks 38th in tax collections. When adjusted for cost of living, Oklahoma ranks 36th in per capita tax collections.

What’s really astonishing is that the state managed to collect this level of revenue despite being in a recession while most states were not. Oklahoma lost 21,800 energy and manufacturing jobs, resulting in a loss of more than $13 billion in taxable income. Oklahomans reduced purchases subject to sales tax and use tax to the tune of $4.1 billion just to survive, according to available Oklahoma Tax Commission data. Given this, state government should not complain, and Oklahomans should be thanked for their sacrifice.

Throughout the 2017 legislative session, tax consumers tried to get lawmakers and the public to support more than $2 billion in tax increases. Despite these attempts, no tax increases were constitutionally passed by the Legislature.

It’s understandable why tax consumers are working so hard to get taxpayers to believe the 50th and dead-last mantra: They want Oklahomans to be in the psychological condition to support and accept massive tax increases.

While I believe Rep. Osborn cares about Oklahoma, misleading statements from public officials such as Osborn and Boren are harmful to efforts to find viable, long-term solutions.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (www.ocpathink.org). This column originally ran in the Journal Record.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

House, Senate Democrats respond to cigarette tax ruling

The House and Senate Democratic caucuses have now issued statements over the Oklahoma Supreme Court striking down SB 845, the Cigarette Tax Smoking Cessation Fee.


House Democratic Caucus Releases Statement in Response to Oklahoma Court Ruling

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that Senate Bill 845 is unconstitutional.

SB845 was projected to raise more than $200 million for the current state budget by charging cigarette wholesalers a $1.50 per pack tax. During the legislative session, however, House Democrats warned Republicans that passing the unconstitutional legislation would have a detrimental impact on our state budget and state agencies. The measure passed the House with a partisan vote of 51 to 43.

The proposed revenue from the tax affects 7 percent of the appropriated budget to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, 10 percent of the appropriated budget to the Department of Human Services, and 23 percent of the appropriated budget to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

The court’s ruling will likely prompt a special session, costing the state an additional $30,000 per day, and requiring lawmakers to return to the capitol to fix the now incomplete budget.

“In order to appease special interests, Republicans made a decision to ignore the House Democratic Caucus, Oklahoma citizens and the Oklahoma Constitution,” said Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa. “As a result of that decision, we are now facing a $200 million hole in our current budget. It is time for the Republican Leadership to stop playing political games and to start working on real solutions to fund state government. As we have been all year, the Democratic Caucus stands ready to negotiate a long-term solution to fix Oklahoma’s funding crisis.”

Rep. Collin Walke, D- Oklahoma City, a freshman Legislator said that he was elected to work for every day Oklahomans, and reiterated, “The Democratic Caucus will not support a solution that depends on regressive taxes while wealthy individuals and corporations continue to receive government handouts through tax credits, exemptions, and a decade of irresponsible tax cuts. It is time for the Republican majority to realize that an investment in the people of Oklahoma is an investment in the future of our state and it is absolutely imperative that the cycle of crisis created by negligent budgeting practices end.”

House Democrats held a public budget forum in the House Chamber on August 3rd, inviting all members of the House to listen to statements regarding the importance of these now threatened core services and to begin the work to reach an agreement in the event any of the revenue raising measures were struck down.

After the Forum, Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman stated, “We were sent to the Capitol to act in the best interest of the people, to provide core services for those most in need, to fund our schools, and build infrastructure for growth. The Democratic Caucus released a compromise budget plan that incorporated stable revenue to not only fill the budget shortfall, but also began the process of restoring cuts that have taken place over the last ten years. We put out a call to ask the Majority Caucus to come to table and prepare for Special Session. Not a single member of the Republican Caucus showed up.”

The House Democratic Caucus is urging the Governor to call a Special Session immediately. Several members are requesting legislation be drafted reflecting proposals contained in the Restoring Oklahoma Plan, released in March of this year, with the intention to maximize the time used in a Special Session to not only restore cuts tied to the cigarette tax but also to put Oklahoma on a better path forward.



Oklahoma Senate Democrats Issue Statement on Today’s Supreme Court Ruling Declaring “Cigarette Fee” Unconstitutional

The Oklahoma Senate Democratic caucus issued a statement Thursday through their leader, Sen. John Sparks, D-Norman, commenting on the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the “cigarette fee” and declaring it an unconstitutional tax:

“The opinion issued today by the Oklahoma Supreme Court finding that the so-called “cigarette fee” passed by the legislature was, in fact, an unconstitutional tax comes as no surprise. We knew this tax was unconstitutional when it was passed by the legislature back in May. We made the same arguments that the Court has articulated in today’s opinion when Republican leadership at the Capitol was playing partisan political games and pushing this desperate revenue measure through during the last hours of the 2017 regular session.

“This kind of unconstitutional legislation is nothing new from the Republican leadership at the Capitol. Unfortunately, we are used to wasting money paying lawyers to defend their unconstitutional bills. What makes this situation new, and worse, is that now we are going to have to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in a special session doing the job that should have been done back in May.

“We need to approach a special session thoughtfully with real plans for revenue measures that can fill the $215 million budget hole which has been created at the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority and the Department of Human Services. We need to set clear priorities, take hard votes and make tough choices with all revenue options on the table for open, transparent discussion and debate. This is a time for cooperation and compromise. This is the time for a plan of action, accountability and real results. This is what our constituents demand of us and what they deserve from us with no exceptions and no excuses.

“We cannot continue to let the most vulnerable Oklahomans suffer because of a continued lack of leadership among the Republicans at the Capitol and their unwillingness to do the hard work and take the hard votes necessary to properly and fully fund our healthcare agencies.”

Lamb, Richardson comment on Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling

Continuing comments on the Supreme Court striking down the Cigarette Tax Smoking Cessation Fee, here are statements from two of the top Republican candidates for governor: current Lieut. Gov. Todd Lamb and attorney Gary Richardson:


Lamb Issues Statement Regarding OSC Ruling on Cigarette Fee Proposal

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - Lt. Governor Todd Lamb issued the following statement this
morning regarding the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling that a proposed fee increase on
cigarettes is unconstitutional:

“I am not surprised by the court’s ruling regarding the cigarette fee measure as I believe it
contradicts the intent of SQ 640. With the ruling, the legislature must now focus first and
foremost on identifying existing state funds to allocate to the healthcare-related programs that
were scheduled to receive appropriations from the cigarette fee measure. It is my belief this can
be done without drastic cuts to agencies. State government can and must operate more
efficiently, and this ruling provides an excellent opportunity to start that process.”



Richardson Issues Statement in Response to Supreme Court Striking Down Tobacco Tax 

Tulsa, OK, August 10, 2017 – Gary Richardson issued a statement today in response to the Oklahoma Supreme Court striking down the revenue raising portion of SB 845, which levied a $1.50 per pack "fee" on cigarettes.  "We are encouraged by the Supreme Court upholding the intent of SQ 640, which was passed by the voters in 1992 to require either a supermajority of the legislature to raise revenue or send the measure to a vote of the people," said Richardson.  "We were fully supportive of this challenge as it violates Article 2, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution just like the three bills I challenged in court."

Richardson then highlighted part of Justice Wyrick's opinion in paragraph 49, which stated the following:
"If this quintessential excise tax can be transformed into a fee merely by calling it a fee and adding some regulatory gloss to the measure enacting it, then the promise of Article V, Section 33-a promise made to citizens in 1992 when they went to the polls and enacted the amended version-will be an empty one. The 'tax relief' to be expected from the requirement that all 'future bills "intended to raise revenue" . . . be approved by either a vote of the people or a three-fourths majority in both houses of the Legislature' will have been illusory. And that, we think, would be an abject failure to carry out 'the manifest purpose of the framers and the people who adopted it.'"
(NAIFEH v. STATE ex rel. OKLAHOMA TAX COMMISSION)
"It is heartening to see the Supreme Court bring clarity to this issue," said Richardson.  "We hope that Supreme Court will view our challenges to the car sales tax, electric and hybrid vehicle fees, and the decoupling of the standard deduction through the same lens when they release their decision on the other challenges to the revenue-raising measures."

Fallin, McCall, Schulz comment on Cigarette Tax ruling

State leaders are starting to weigh in on the Oklahoma Supreme Court striking down the Cigarette Tax Smoking Cessation Fee. First up, the three members of state government who pushed the unconstitutional tax and were named in the lawsuit: Governor Mary Fallin, House Speaker Charles McCall, and Senate Pro Tem Mike Schulz.


Governor Mary Fallin Statement on the Oklahoma Supreme Court 
Striking Down Smoking Cessation Fee

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today issued the following statement in response to the Oklahoma Supreme Court striking down a smoking cessation fee approved this past legislative session:

 “I am disappointed to hear the Supreme Court struck down the smoking cessation fee, but I certainly respect the justices’ authority. I will be discussing with legislative leaders from both parties the need to address the $215 million shortfall this will create for the Department of Human Services, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the three agencies that received the bulk of the money that was to be generated by the cessation fee.

“These agencies and the people they serve cannot sustain the kind of cuts that will occur if we do not find a solution. My belief is we will have to come into special session to address this issue.”


House Speaker McCall Releases Statement after Court Ruling

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Speaker Charles McCall issued the following statement today regarding the Oklahoma Supreme Court's decision on Senate Bill 845.

"The Court has made their ruling and now it is up to the Governor and legislative leaders to agree on the best course of action moving forward.

"It is important to remember that the reason our budget has been suffering is because Oklahoma families and businesses have been struggling.  State revenues are a reflection of the people of our
state.  When our citizens have less money in their pockets to spend the state will realize less revenues.  I am a firm believer that government must live within its means.

"The tobacco fee for health care was passed in an effort to avoid significant budget cuts. After House Democrats refused time and again to support increased revenue measures, the fee was our only opportunity to balance the budget without deeper cuts. The minority party decided to play games with the budget, and now that opportunity has passed.

"I look forward to working with the Governor and the Senate to overcome this latest challenge."


Senate Pro Tem comments on Supreme Court ruling

Statement from Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz on Thursday’s Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling regarding the cigarette fee.

“While I disagree, I appreciate the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s quick ruling allowing the governor and the Legislature to immediately address the matter. There are several options available to us, and Senate leadership will continue to work with the governor’s office and House on deciding the best move forward.” – Pro Tem Mike Schulz, R-Altus

Oklahoma Supreme Court strikes down cigarette tax



In a swift and unanimous decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the Cigarette Tax Smoking Cessation Fee passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Fallin violated the Oklahoma Constitution.

Here's the summary from the opinion (which can be read in full at this link):
Petitioners, who are manufacturers, wholesalers, and consumers of cigarettes, challenged Senate Bill 845, alleging that it is a revenue bill enacted outside of the procedure mandated in Article V, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution. The parties agree that the passage of SB 845 did not comply with Article V, Section 33; so the case turns on whether SB 845 is the kind of "revenue bill" that Article V, Section 33 governs. Applying the test we have utilized since 1908, we conclude that the primary purpose of Sections 2, 7, 8, and 9 of SB 845 is to raise new revenue for the support of state government through the assessment of a new $1.50 excise tax on cigarettes and that, in doing so, SB 845 levies a tax in the strict sense. As such, Sections 2, 7, 8, and 9 of SB 845 comprise a revenue bill enacted in violation of Article V, Section 33 and are unconstitutional.
The scathing opinion was written by Justice Patrick Wyrick, the newest addition to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and came less than 48 hours after the Court heard oral arguments on the case.

Some nuggets from the opinion:
[ś22] As a threshold matter, Petitioners present compelling contextual evidence in support of their claim that the Legislature's primary purpose in enacting SB 845 was to raise new revenues. The State Respondents urge us to ignore that evidence, and understandably so; it strongly indicates SB 845's passage was motivated by the Legislature's need to raise revenue so that it could satisfy its constitutional obligation to enact a balanced budget. We agree that a measure's purpose must be measured by its actual operation and effect, rather than by any legislator's statements as to what motivated his or her vote for the measure. But this dispute over the relevance of contextual evidence is ultimately of no consequence because SB 845's text-and text alone-conclusively demonstrates that the primary operation and effect of the measure is to raise new revenue to support state government.
More:
[ś42] The position taken by the State Respondents is, in this regard, extraordinary. In their view even a measure that explicitly levies a massive new tax, can evade Article V, Section 33's "revenue bill" requirements so long as the tax is enacted for a "regulatory" purpose. In this respect, the State Respondents are willing to go even further than the House of Representatives because, under their view, even a measure which explicitly levies a new excise tax on cigarettes - like the four failed House measures - could have been enacted with a bare majority vote. This is so, insist the State Respondents, because the purpose of the new $1.50 assessment has always been to discourage smoking. The logical end point of this position is that the Legislature can impose by bare majority any tax whose purpose is to discourage behavior disfavored by the government. One can imagine the gasoline tax being doubled "to reduce traffic congestion and wear and tear on our roads, the costs of which are overburdening the Department of Transportation," or the income tax on the top 1% being tripled "to reduce the societal ills that arise from income disparities among our citizens." Surely the people did not intend that the Legislature could blatantly tax them without complying with Article V, Section 33, by merely wordsmithing their bills to describe some "regulatory" purpose for the tax. Thus, we reiterate that whether a measure is "intended to raise revenue" must be the overarching consideration in determining whether a measure is a "revenue bill." If so, the Legislature must either muster enough votes to satisfy Article V, Section 33, or submit the measure to the people for their approval.

More:
[ś49] Lastly, were we to hold otherwise, the distinction between fees and taxes-and thus the protections against taxation provided by Article V, Section 33-would be meaningless. The State Respondents tell us that this is a common refrain from those raising such challenges, and one we should thus ignore. But despite any prior false alarms, this cry of "wolf!" rings true. If this quintessential excise tax can be transformed into a fee merely by calling it a fee and adding some regulatory gloss to the measure enacting it, then the promise of Article V, Section 33-a promise made to citizens in 1992 when they went to the polls and enacted the amended version-will be an empty one. The "tax relief" to be expected from the requirement that all "future bills 'intended to raise revenue' . . . be approved by either a vote of the people or a three-fourths majority in both houses of the Legislature" will have been illusory. And that, we think, would be an abject failure to carry out "the manifest purpose of the framers and the people who adopted it." 

Read the full opinion here.

This end result was very clear to anyone who was not dead-set on raising taxes on Oklahomans this past legislative session. The constitutional provisions regarding raising taxes are not rocket science, they're crystal clear, and it is beyond the pale that the Legislature (with some exceptions) and Governor sought to so blatantly violate the Constitution and the will of the people of Oklahoma.

If this measure was not struck down, the Legislature would have been given unlimited ability and power to raise taxes. The Supreme Court made the absolute right decision.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Rosino gains GOP nomination in SD45, Ford in HD76


Primaries were held today for the special elections in House District 76 and Senate District 45.

In HD76, vacated by the death of Rep. David Brumbaugh, Republican Ross Ford eeked out a 19-vote victory over Rep. Brumbaugh's widow Shelley, winning 30.76% to 29.85%. A third candidate received 28.52%, with two others in single digits. Democrat Chris VanLandingham took 54.18% in a two-way Democratic primary.

In SD45, vacated by Sen. Kyle Loveless, Paul Rosino emerged victorious out of 7 GOP candidates, gathering 32.61% to the nearest competitor's 21.12%. He will face Democrat Steven Vincent, who defeated his one opponent with 92.22% of the Democratic primary vote.

The general election for both races will be held on November 14th.

Supreme Court hears tax lawsuits today, watch livestream here


OKLAHOMA STATE COURT NETWORK TO AIR SUPREME COURT ARGUMENTS

OKLAHOMA CITY - With the assistance of the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA), the Oklahoma State Court Network (OSCN) website will provide a link for the oral arguments to be held before the Oklahoma Supreme Court on the recent challenges to revenue measures enacted in the 2017 legislative session.

The rare same-day scheduling of three oral arguments on issues of statewide interest will take place in the Supreme Court Courtroom at the State Capitol on Tuesday, August 8 at 9:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., and 11:00 a.m. Due to an anticipated overflow crowd, the House of Representatives has made available Conference Room 206, where a live stream will be provided to those who cannot find seating in the courtroom.

No other photographers or video cameras will be allowed in the Supreme Court Courtroom.

OETA will make available a raw video for broadcast television media in the State of Oklahoma following the proceedings. For more information, contact Jessi Crino at (405) 408-8435 or at jcrino@oeta.tv.

The link to the live-time feed will be found Tuesday on the OSCN website.

* * UPDATE **

Link for the livestream is HERE.

This may also work:

Monday, August 7, 2017

Cole endorses Chambers in HD46 special election


CONGRESSMAN TOM COLE ENDORSES DARIN CHAMBERS IN HD-46 RACE

August 7, 2017 -- Congressman Tom Cole, United States Representative for Oklahoma's Fourth District, is endorsing Republican candidate Darin Chambers in the upcoming House District 46 special election.  Cole is encouraging voters on both sides of the political aisle to join him in supporting Chambers on September 12th.

"The legislature desperately needs the expertise of a successful businessman and Darin Chambers is the answer," says Congressman Tom Cole.  "His conservative credentials, as both a military veteran and a Fortune 500 efficiency expert, make him the ideal candidate to represent House District 46."

Darin Chambers considers this endorsement an honor because of Congressman Cole's long history of bipartisan support from the voters of HD-46.

"I am reaching out to all conservative voters regardless of political affiliation,"  Darin Chambers says.  "I want to take my business experience and expertise, along with the values of our district, to the State Capitol. Business problems call for business solutions and the voters of HD-46 know how badly Oklahoma needs that right now. Solid business sense is what I will deliver."

"Darin Chambers has the experience, integrity and vision Oklahoma needs right now," Congressman Cole says.  "I am holding a fundraiser for Darin on August 17th because, even if you don't live in his district, he still needs your support. I'm asking every voter in HD-46, both Republican and Democrat, to get to the polls on September 12th and vote for Darin Chambers.  The stakes are too high to stay home."

Darin Chambers is a Navy veteran, graduated from OU with an Electrical Engineering Degree in 1991, and earned his MBA from UCLA in 1999.  Chambers now teaches upper-level engineering classes at OU, drawing on his experiences as a general manager for a global services firm working with top executives to improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase productivity.  He and his wife, Dianne, live in Norman with their two daughters and two foster children.

The House District 46 special general election will be September 12th.

For more information on Darin Chambers visit his Facebook page at Darin Chambers for State Representative District 46 or www.ChambersforStateRep.com.

Music Monday: 'Lift High The Name Of Jesus' medley

This week's Music Monday is Lift High The Name Of Jesus / The Legend Of Saints And Snakes, a "greengrass" (Irish+Appalachian bluegrass) medley from Christian songwriters' Keith and Kristyn Getty's Greengrass Session album.

Enjoy!



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 JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Darrell Weaver to run for Senate District 24


Darrell Weaver announces Senate candidacy

Darrell Weaver, former Director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, announced today that he will be a Republican candidate for State Senate, District 24.

The Moore-based seat is currently held by Sen. Anthony Sykes, who will term out of office in 2018.

“It’s not enough for Republicans to win elections. We must also show true leadership and advance conservative policies that improve life in Oklahoma, particularly when our state faces the kind of challenges we see today,” Weaver said. “I’ve spent my career tackling some of our toughest societal challenges. Now is the right time in my life to take that skill set to the legislature and represent the people of District 24. I will spend the time necessary to knock on every door in the district and ask voters to send me to the State Capitol to work for their interests.”

Weaver is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and was commissioned as an agent with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics in 1987. He rose through the ranks to become Director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control in 2006, and retired after serving the Bureau for 28 years. In 2014, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Hall of Fame.

Weaver was a long time elected trustee of the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System (OLERS) and a member of the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) governing council.

Weaver has been active in the community in numerous ways, including his current work as the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma. A man of faith, Weaver is a Christian author who has been a speaker at men’s groups, youth camps, and church gatherings across the state of Oklahoma. He is a long-time volunteer youth football and basketball coach.

Weaver’s wife, Kim, is a physician. They are small business owners active in the Moore and South Oklahoma City Chambers of Commerce. Weaver serves as the Chair of the Government Affairs Committee for the Moore Chamber.

The Weavers have five children and attend Harvest Church in Moore.

Weaver graduated from Cameron University with a Bachelors of Accounting, and later earned an MBA from Oklahoma Christian University where he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Pharmacy. He is an alumnus of Leadership Oklahoma Class XXVIII, Leadership Oklahoma City Class XXIX and the 2013 Leadership Moore Class.

“My faith and my family are the center of my life. The things I want for my family are things I know other families want as well – a more prosperous future for our children and a society that places greater value on higher things than mere material things,” Weaver said. “If you share that vision, I would be honored to have your support.”

For more information about Darrell Weaver, go to DarrellWeaverforSenate.com.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Cathy Costello announces campaign for Labor Commissioner




CATHY COSTELLO ANNOUNCES CAMPAIGN FOR LABOR COMMISSIONER

August 2, 2017 -- Conservative Republican Cathy Costello, widow of former Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, announces her candidacy today for Oklahoma Labor Commissioner in 2018.  Costello is a successful business owner and nationally-renowned mental health advocate.

"Mark and I had a consistent formula that allowed us to succeed in business - Hard work, solid values and diligent planning," Cathy Costello says. "That is exactly what I will bring to the job as Oklahoma's next Labor Commissioner. I do not want anyone's vote because of the tragedy of my past. I am asking for everyone's vote because of my vision for the future."

Costello plans to implement reforms to improve workplace safety, promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education to cultivate Oklahoma's future workforce, and reduce the loss of wealth and productivity due to untreated mental illness.

"Mental illness is the leading cause of lost workplace productivity and accounts for 30% of disability costs," says Costello.  "One in four Oklahomans suffers from mental illness which takes a tremendous toll on Oklahomans both personally and financially.  The Labor Commissioner has a statutory obligation to promote the health and welfare of every worker in Oklahoma.  Under my administration, mental health will be taken as seriously as physical health.  It's a win-win for employers and employees alike."

Cathy Costello is a lifelong Republican, resident of Edmond, and the co-founder of several international businesses.

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

For more information on Cathy Costello and her plans for Oklahoma, visit her website at www.CostelloForOK.com.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Latest fundraising figures for statewide candidates


The latest campaign reporting period has come to a close, and candidates have submitted their contributions and expenditures reports to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. You can search the reports by race here. Below are the figures for the statewide races:

GOVERNOR
Republicans
  • Todd Lamb: $2,094,045.47 raised, $102,400.62 spent, $1,983,998.68 on-hand
  • Gary Richardson: $185,729.00 raised ($175k loan), $179,567.87 spent, $5,757.13 on-hand
  • Mick Cornett: $181,000.00 raised, $2,915.95 spent, $178,084.05 on-hand
  • Gary Jones: $22,585.28 raised, $274.28 spent, $22,311.00 on-hand
  • Kevin Stitt: entered race after reporting period began
  • Dan Fisher: entered race after reporting period began

Democrats
  • Drew Edmondson: $300,211.30 raised ($5k loan), $35,551.26 spent, $256,506.89 on-hand
  • Scott Inman: $99,566.44 raised, $32,412.23 spent, $67,154.21 on-hand
  • Connie Johnson: $21,057.60 raised, $6,414.79 spent, $14,358.31 on-hand
  • Norman Brown: $1,421.66 raised, $648.70 spent, $772.96 on-hand

Libertarians
  • Joseph Maldonado: $3,012.60 raised, $102.50 spent, $200.00 on-hand
  • Chris Powell: $234.35 raised, $32.45 spent, $67.55 on-hand

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR
Republicans
  • Matt Pinnell:$304,990.78 raised, $38,105.32 spent, $253,878.44 on-hand
  • Eddie Fields: $100 raised, $100 spent, $0 on-hand
  • Dominique Block: $0 raised, $0 spent, $0 on-hand
  • Dana Murphy: entered race after reporting period began, but closed out her Corporation Commission account by transferring $638,821.71 to her new Lieut. Gov. account

STATE AUDITOR
Republicans
  • Cindy Byrd: $14,890.00 raised, $5,807.09 spent, $7,697.91 on-hand

ATTORNEY GENERAL
Republicans
  • Mike Hunter: $201,424.65 raised, $21,117.06 spent, $179,707.94 on-hand

STATE TREASURER
Republicans
  • Randy McDaniel: $191,724.37 raised, $0 spent, $191,724.37 on-hand

STATE SUPERINTENDENT
Republicans
  • Joy Hofmeister: $18,210.33 raised, $13,394.54 spent, $4,780.79 on-hand

*  all figures are campaign-to-date and may include transfers from previous campaigns
**  "raised" figures include "in-kind contributions"

Holt hits $250k mark in OKC mayoral campaign


Holt OKC Mayor Campaign Tops Quarter-Million Dollar Mark

July 31, 2017 -- The campaign to elect David Holt the next Mayor of Oklahoma City announced that as of July 31st it has raised over a quarter-million dollars ($261,961).   The campaign has only spent less than eight percent of that sum.   The donations have come from 308 donors and 50 zip codes in the Oklahoma City metro.

The $261,961 amount includes all donations received as of today.   The quarterly fundraising report filed by Holt’s campaign today with the Oklahoma City Clerk’s office only includes donations through June 30th.   The report filed today includes donations from dozens of longtime Oklahoma City champions, but most notably Ron Norick, legendary Oklahoma City Mayor and “father of MAPS”.

Continuing the momentum of Holt’s campaign, today’s fundraising announcement almost doubles the amount previously revealed in April, at which time Holt had a 4-to-1 fundraising advantage over the only other candidate.   Holt’s campaign has yet to hold an official fundraising event, but announcement of a kickoff event is expected soon.

The election to decide Oklahoma City’s next Mayor will be held February 13, 2018.   For more information about the campaign to elect David Holt the next Mayor of Oklahoma City, visit HoltForMayor.com.

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Blogging Milestone: 9 Years



9 years ago this evening, I started MuskogeePolitico. I was 18 at the time. A lot has changed in the intervening years -- I've bought a house, gotten married, become a father (with our second now on the way), spent time in the hospital with an emergency appendectomy... and kept on blogging.

Since starting this site, I've published 2,109 posts, and received 1,028 reader comments. In 2011, my blog was named one of the top three political blogs in Oklahoma. Since 2008, my posts have been referenced in major newspapers, and my readers have included sitting members of Congress and state Supreme Court justices.

Through my blogging, I've made friends and connections across the country that I otherwise would not have met. It's been a great experience.

Sometimes, "real" life gets in the way of blogging. Blogging is not how I make a living to provide for my family (but if you'd like to help out and advertise, let me know!), so while my posts may be infrequent at times, I do my best to keep at it regularly.

Whether you agree with my opinions or not, I'm grateful that you stopped by to read them.

Thanks for a great 9 years, and I look forward to more to come!

Jamison Faught
Blogger, MuskogeePolitico.com

Music Monday: Fanfare for the Common Man

This week's Music Monday is Fanfare for the Common Man, by American composer Aaron Copland.

Enjoy!



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 JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

Clean Pro celebrates 30 years this week, ribbon-cutting Thursday


Clean Pro and owners George and Becky Faught are celebrating 30 years in the carpet cleaning and disaster restoration industry this week. Come join the Clean Pro team on Thursday morning from 11am to noon for a celebratory ribbon-cutting at the greenspace across from the Muskogee Chamber of Commerce. Enjoy cookies and lemonade, and receive a 10% off coupon for your next carpet or tile cleaning.

For more information, call 918-686-0222 or visit facebook.com/CleanProMuskogee.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dana Murphy joins GOP race for Lieutenant Governor

Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy sent this release out earlier today, announcing her candidacy for Lieutenant Governor:


After thoughtful and prayerful consideration, as well as seeking input from my family and those who know me well, I am officially running for Lieutenant Governor.

Over the past couple of years I have faced personal challenges from the unexpected death of my youngest brother to subsequent serious health issues with other family members. The professional challenges have been many as well, from ongoing budget shortfalls to dealing with seismicity to keeping utility rates affordable and reliable for Oklahomans.
My skills as a problem solver have been honed in these times of adversity. Now, more than ever, our state needs an energetic and proven problem solver who is ready to work and partner with others to solve our state's problems.

It is time we address the roots of long-standing problems instead of continuing to treat symptoms of these problems. I am a 5th generation Oklahoma ready to move this position beyond its traditional role to be a part of a new plan for our state that comes from different thinking, planning and resolving.

I can't do this without you. I would be honored to have your support and prayers as I begin this campaign journey. As I have always done, I will be a good steward of your contribution by running a highly efficient, personal and energetic campaign. One I intend to win with your help!

Please help me start strong and build momentum by contributing today. From $1 to $2,700, it all works together to make a difference, just like Oklahomans do. You can donate online or by completing this form and sending it with your check to Friends of Dana Murphy 2018, P.O. Box 7552, Edmond, OK 73013. You can sign up to volunteer here.

Your past support and encouragement, in the best and worst of times, has enabled and empowered me to become the dedicated and proven servant leader I am today. For those of you who have and will continue to support me, I express my deepest and most heartfelt thanks and appreciation.

Gratefully,

Dana Murphy

P.S. Please like my Facebook page.


Murphy joins fellow GOP candidates Dominique BlockEddie Fields, and Matt Pinnell.

Insurance Commish Doak endorses Hern for Congress



Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak Endorses Kevin Hern For Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional Seat

Tulsa, OK – Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak has endorsed Kevin Hern for Oklahoma’s 1st Congressional Seat being vacated by Representative Jim Bridenstine who has declared to not seek re-election in 2018.

"I am proud to endorse Kevin Hern for the 1st congressional seat,” stated Commissioner John Doak. “Kevin is the right man at the right time – we need a conservative, business-minded leader who has the know-how to take the power back from the federal government and return it to the people. I am excited about supporting Kevin because he has the understanding to untangle the healthcare insurance mess with free-market solutions."

John Doak was elected Oklahoma’s Insurance Commissioner in 2010 and was re-elected to his second term in 2014. Doak is a member of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) where he serves as the chairman of both the Property and Casualty Insurance Committee and the Antifraud Task Force.

“I am humbled and encouraged to have received the endorsement of Commissioner Doak in my race for Congress,” said Hern. “The best quality and choice of care is given through a free-market driven healthcare system. It is that type of free-market system Americans appreciate about our options in healthcare, not federal government over-regulation. I have lived this out by creating self-insured programs in my company, and I will take these innovative free-market solutions to Congress.”

As the owner of KTAK Corporation, Kevin leads the operations that own ten McDonald’s restaurants that employ over 400 people in the Tulsa area. Kevin has served in various regional and national leadership positions within the McDonald’s Franchise System. Most recently, he served 5 years as the Chairman of the Systems Economic Team for over 3,000 franchisees that own all 15,000 restaurants across the entire country.

Monday, July 24, 2017

State Sen. Eddie Fields announces Lieut. Gov. campaign


Senator Eddie Fields Announces Campaign for Lt. Governor

WYNONA: State Senator Eddie Fields, a rancher and small businessman from Osage County, announced today his intention to run for Lieutenant Governor in 2018. Oklahoma's current Lieutenant Governor, Todd Lamb, is term-limited and seeking the Republican nomination for Governor.

Fields was first elected to the Oklahoma Senate in 2010. Prior to that he served one term in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Rules Committee and Chair of Appropriations Subcommittee of Natural Resources and Regulatory and Vice-Chair of the Appropriations Committee.

"For me public service isn't about a new title or a stepping stone to higher office, but rather about improving the quality of life for every Oklahoman. In the legislature, I have worked hard to advance our shared conservative values, to make Oklahoma a more business friendly state and fought to keep our rural schools strong," stated Senator Fields.

Fields graduated from Oklahoma State University with a degree in Agri-Business. He and his wife Christina have been married for 27 years and are the proud parents of three daughters; Tailor, Jacie and Tristan. Christina has been a public school teacher in Oklahoma for more than 20 years.

Fields went on to add, "as Lieutenant Governor, I'll focus on the things which really matter to the people of our great state: increasing jobs, enhancing economic development, improving healthcare, making government more efficient, promoting Oklahoma's growing tourism industry and working with legislators, parents and teachers to improve our schools.

"I have a unique perspective and trusted record of experience as both a legislator, a small businessman and leader on agricultural issues. Our Lieutenant Governor also serves as the President of the Senate; thereby helping to oversee the Senate and serving as a vital part of the legislative process. I've been on the frontlines in the Oklahoma Legislature for nine years and know how to fight and win the tough battles necessary for Oklahoma to become a better place to live, work and raise a family.  I am proud to call Oklahoma my home," stated Fields.

Fields joins fellow Republican candidates Matt Pinnell and Dominique Block in seeking the position of Lieutenant Governor.

Music Monday: Variations on 'Happy Birthday'

For my daughter's birthday today, this week's Music Monday is Variations on Happy Birthday to You, by pianist/comedian Victor Borge. Borge plays the song in the style of eleven different composers: Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Frederic Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Franz Liszt, Johann Sebastian Bach, Richard Wagner, Ludwig van Beethoven, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Strauss, Irving Berlin & Aram Khachaturian.

Enjoy!



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 JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Former State Rep. Dan Fisher to seek GOP gubernatorial nomination


Former state representative Dan Fisher (R-El Reno) has filed a statement of organization with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission indicating his intent to run for Governor. Fisher served two terms in the State House (first elected in 2012), but did not seek reelection in 2016.

He joins fellow Republican candidates OKC Mayor Mick Cornett, State Auditor Gary Jones, Lieut. Gov. Todd Lamb, and attorney Gary Richardson.

On the Democratic side, candidates so far are attorney Norman Brown, former Attorney General Drew Edmondson, House Minority Leader Scott Inman, former State Sen. Connie Johnson. Libertarians Rex Lawhorn and Joseph Maldonado are also running.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

House Insurance Committee Chair Endorses Glen Mulready


House Insurance Committee Chair Endorses Glen Mulready

TULSA, OK - Chairman of the House Insurance Committee, Rep. Lewis Moore (R-Arcadia), has endorsed Glen Mulready and his bid to be Oklahoma's next Insurance Commissioner.

"Glen Mulready and I have served on the House Insurance Committee together for the last seven years," said Moore. "I worked closely with him when he chaired the committee, and over the last year as I have chaired the committee, to implement numerous legislative reforms aimed at improving our state's business climate while also safeguarding consumers. I cannot think of anyone more knowledgeable when it comes to our state's insurance laws and I am proud to endorse him to be our state's next Insurance Commissioner."

Representative Moore was elected to the Oklahoma legislature in 2008 and represents portions of Oklahoma County, including his hometown of Edmond.

"I am honored to receive Rep. Moore's endorsement," said Mulready. "We have worked closely together in the legislature and his support is humbling. He is an experienced insurance professional and I look forward to continuing to work with him should I be elected to lead the Insurance Department.

Mulready spent 13 years on the executive teams of Oklahoma’s two largest health insurance companies and for the last eight years has been self-employed as an independent broker working with businesses of all sizes. He has worked in the insurance industry for more than 33 years.

Mulready was first elected to represent House District 68 as a Republican in the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2010 and currently serves as a Majority Floor Leader.

State Rep. Carol Bush (R) endorses Horn (D) for Congress

photo credit: @JustinWingerter

On Thursday, July 13th, Democrat candidate Kendra Horn kicked off her campaign for Congress in the 5th District, seeking to unseat incumbent Republican Congressman Steve Russell.

State Rep. Carol Bush (RINO-Tulsa) attended the event to give her endorsement to the Democrat candidate, calling Horn "authentic" (according to a reporter from the Oklahoman).

Bush made headlines at the end of last year when she gave an interview that sounded like a left-wing Democrat. After sending an apology to the Republican caucus for her comments, she then claimed to have been misquoted -- something the publisher strongly disputed.

source: Kendra Horn for Congress

Bush defeated a conservative Republican in the 2016 primary, then showed her true Republican In Name Only colors after the election. Hopefully, a real conservative will challenge and defeat her in the 2018 election.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Brief Blogging Bullets

Blogging has been on partial-hold due to vacation, so here are some brief blogging bullets to catch up on some of what's happened in the week or so.


  • Democrats won both special elections on Tuesday, July 11th:
    • Democrat Michael Brooks defeated Republican Joe Griffin in SD44 by a vote of 54.6% to 45.4%. The district has a Republican District Rating of 49.6 (30th most-Republican/18th most-Democrat; 11 GOP-held seats have lower scores, 1 Democrat seat has a higher score), and combining past history with the tremendous baggage of ex-Sen. Ralph Shortey's scandal means this outcome wasn't exactly shocking.
    • Democrat Karen Gaddis defeated Republican Tressa Nunley in HD75 by a vote of 52.3% to 47.7%. The district has a Republican District Rating of 56.3 (40th most-Republican/61st most-Democrat), making this the most Republican State House seat held by Democrats. Gaddis' victory caught many people by surprise, but again, this special election was the result of another scandal. The Democrats have an unbeaten record in recent years in scandal-caused special elections, but will it translate into more widespread victories in the regularly-scheduled general election? Only time will tell.
  • Edmond education activist and self-described Republican Angela Clark Little "joined with former Gov. David Walters and a who's who of Democratic luminaries to help raise money for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmondson."
  • Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt has joined the GOP race for Governor. Stitt is the founder and CEO of Gateway Mortgage Group.
  • State Rep. Leslie Osborn was replaced as A&B Chair by Speaker McCall today. A&B Vice-Chair Kevin Wallace will be the new budget chairman. Ironically and rather bizarrely, Democrat leaders are speaking out in support of Osborn.
  • A new Oklahoma Republican political consulting firm has launched - Tomahawk Strategies principals include former AFP-OK director and Trump campaign leader Stuart Jolley.
  • State Rep. John Michael Montgomery is running for SD32, the lone Democrat-held seat west of I-35 (open seat in 2018 due to term limits)
  • Lieut. Governor candidate Matt Pinnell raised over $300k in his first ten weeks as a candidate, including donations from all 50 states.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Doak, Bridenstine endorse Mulready for Insurance Commissioner


State Rep. Glen Mulready, Republican candidate for Insurance Commissioner, announced two major endorsements in the past week:


Insurance Commissioner John Doak Endorses Glen Mulready  

TULSA, OK – Today, Insurance Commissioner John Doak endorsed Glen Mulready and his bid to become his successor at the Oklahoma Insurance Department.

“I cannot think of anyone more suited to be our state’s next Insurance Commissioner than Glen Mulready,” stated Insurance Commissioner John Doak. “I have known and worked with Glen for many years in the insurance industry. In his role as the Chairman of the House Insurance Committee, we have continued to work together on many legislative reforms aimed at safeguarding consumers and creating a more robust business climate. Glen Mulready is the kind of experienced, trusted conservative we need as our next Insurance Commissioner and I am honored to support him.”

John Doak was elected Oklahoma’s 12th Insurance Commissioner in 2011 and was re-elected to his second term in 2015. He is active in the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) where he serves as the Chair of the Property and Casualty Insurance Committee and the Antifraud Task Force. Doak is also a member of the Association’s Government Relations Leadership Council, the International Relations Leadership Group and is an NAIC representative to the International Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Prior to being elected, Doak worked in the insurance in Tulsa for 30 years.
“I am honored to receive Commissioner Doak’s endorsement,” said Mulready. “It is encouraging to know that he believes I am the right candidate to fill his shoes at the Insurance Department and I look forward to visiting with Oklahomans across the state about my vision for the department over the coming months.”

Commissioner Doak’s endorsement comes just three days after Mulready was also endorsed by 1st District Congressman Jim Bridenstine.

Mulready spent 13 years on the executive teams of Oklahoma’s two largest health insurance companies and for the last eight years has been self-employed as an independent broker working with businesses of all sizes. He has worked in the insurance industry for more than 33 years.

Mulready has also led numerous efforts to reform our state’s insurance laws in his capacity as a state legislator. He was first elected to represent House District 68 as a Republican in the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2010 and currently serves as a Majority Floor Leader.


On the 11th, Mulready sent out the following endorsement announcement: 


Congressman Bridenstine Endorses Glen Mulready for Insurance Commissioner

TULSA, OK – Congressman Jim Bridenstine has endorsed Glen Mulready for Insurance Commissioner after he announced last week that he had filed his Statement of Organization to form a campaign committee with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.

"I am proud to endorse Glen Mulready for Insurance Commissioner,” stated Congressman Jim Bridenstine, “Glen is a principled leader with more than 33 years of experience working in the insurance industry and seven years as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Glen Mulready will be a great Insurance Commissioner."

Congressman Jim Bridenstine was elected to represent Oklahoma’s First Congressional District in 2012. He is a veteran of the United States Navy, where he flew combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. After leaving active duty and prior to being elected to Congress, Bridenstine returned to Tulsa to serve as the Executive Director of the Tulsa Air and Space Museum and Planetarium.

“I am honored to have received the endorsement of Congressman Bridenstine in the first few days of my campaign for Insurance Commissioner,” said Mulready. “He is a respected lawmaker and his support is humbling and encouraging as I begin traveling the state and visiting with Oklahomans about my experience and vision for the Insurance Department in the coming months.”

Mulready spent 13 years on the executive teams of Oklahoma’s two largest health insurance companies and for the last eight years has been self-employed as an independent broker working with businesses of all sizes. He has worked in the insurance industry for more than 33 years.

Mulready has also led numerous efforts to reform the state’s insurance laws in his capacity as a state legislator. He was first elected to represent House District 68 as a Republican in the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2010 and currently serves as a Majority Floor Leader.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Economist Brian Jackson to run against Mullin following term limits violation


Economist Brian Jackson Vies for Mullin’s Seat


Muskogee, OK—In March of 2017, Brian Jackson soft launched his campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives from OK District 2, the seat currently held by Representative Markwayne Mullin. Dr. Jackson is currently a professor at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah with a Ph. D. in Economics from Oklahoma State University.


While Brian is thankful to have had a fellow Republican in Congress since 2013, he believes it is time for the second district to elect a new, more conservative representative. He intends to prevent Rep. Mullin from breaking his term-limit pledge by defeating him during the Republican primary election expected in June of 2018.

‎ Brian will be releasing a promotional video to advertise on his Facebook page later today. Although production for the video began on July 3, it is expected that Rep. Mullin’s announcement on July 4 will encourage voters to share the video, as Brian’s message will present a viable alternative to the incumbent. He explains that he wants to fight “for free markets and a free people” by “[going] to Washington to fight for, protect, and defend those freedoms that were handed to us from our parents, so that we can in turn hand them to our children: the right to free speech, assembly, and the practice of religion; the right to bear arms; and the right to life in the first place—even for the voiceless preborn child.”


Following the release of the video, Brian will be speaking at the 2nd Congressional District Republican Meeting on Saturday, July 15. The event will take place at the Northside Assembly of God Church in McAlester, OK and is scheduled for 11:00am to 1:00pm.


###

‎ For further information, please contact Brian directly at brian@jacksonforcongress.com, or visit his campaign website or Facebook page.