Tuesday, June 27, 2017

New Texas GOP Chair puts party platform to use


The Republican Party of Texas elected James Dickey as their new chairman on June 3rd, and he has apparently hit the ground running. One of his big ideas? Asking Texas legislative Republicans to follow the state GOP Platform.

Dickey, elected to fill out the remainder of the chairman's term after the previous chair resigned, lobbied Gov. Greg Abbott to include several proposals from the RPT Platform in his call for a special session next month, and it appears that ten of those planks made it onto the agenda.

Here is what Chairman Dickey sent to House Speaker Joe Strauss (nearly identical letters were sent to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, as well as all Republican members of the Legislature):
It is my honor to reach out to you on behalf of Texas Republicans as we prepare for next month’s special session. I realize this will be a challenging time for you and your staff, and it is my desire to help in any way I can and work together to further the Principles and Platform of the Republican Party of Texas.

Many of the items included in Governor Abbott's call directly reflect planks of the Republican Party of Texas Platform which was approved by more than 5,700 delegates at the 2016 State Republican Convention. The following is a list of those call items and their corresponding planks:

- Municipal annexation reform- Plank 37
- Cracking down on mail-in ballot fraud- Plank 59
- Privacy- Plank 87
- Prohibition of taxpayer funding for abortion providers- Plank 91
- School choice for special needs students- Plank 147
- Strengthening patient protections relating to do-not-resuscitate orders- Plank 100
- Property tax reform- Plank 175
- Prohibition of taxpayer dollars to collect union dues- Plank 197
- School finance reform commission- Plank 120
- Caps on state and local spending- Plank 167

With these in mind, I ask for your help in identifying which House Members would be willing to take point on these items, to author or champion specific bills matching our Party platform. Of course if you prefer, the Members you so designate are welcome to contact me directly about the bills they expect to carry during the special session. I have included my contact information below. The Republican base and the grassroots are ready to encourage them and support their efforts in any way they need.

We would also welcome your assistance and input in working with the Governor’s office to include our remaining Legislative Priorities in the special session call. These Priorities are: constitutional carry, abolition of abortion, replacing property tax, comprehensive school choice in a manner consistent with the platform, and defense of Constitutional religious liberty and freedom of speech (specifically the First Amendment Defense Act).

I look forward to hearing from you soon about how we can work together to further our shared values found in the Texas Republican Platform and make this session a great success for our Party and our State.

This is a welcome departure from the typical operation of most party leaders, who seem to generally view the party platform as an interesting-but-mostly-useless document (and yet ask their convention delegates to put in hard work drafting and adopting said platform).

Here in Oklahoma, there have been numerous attempts at previous state GOP conventions to put our party platform to similar use. They tended to be very poorly worded (i.e. "candidates have to 'mark up' the platform", etc), and failed by large margins. However, the sentiment among party activists has been changing, in large part due to the party platform lip-service paid by elected Republicans at all levels without actual follow-through and results.

What Chairman Dickey is doing is nothing revolutionary or disruptive. He's not threatening elected Republicans, nor is he withholding campaign help. From what I can see, up here north of the Red River, he's respectfully requesting that Republican legislators follow the platform of their chosen political party.

With how Oklahoma's legislative leadership and governor acted this past session, this type of communication is needed from the Oklahoma Republican Party.

Third lawsuit filed over last-minute tax hikes


House Bill 2433 passed in the final hours of the legislative session, putting $123M more in taxes on Oklahomans through adding a 1.25% sales tax on vehicle sales, in addition to other taxes already charged on sales. That measure is now being challenged in court by the Oklahoma Automobile Dealers Association, Battison Honda and Caitlin Cannon of Ponca City.

This becomes the third lawsuit filed that challenges the constitutionality of several last-minute tax hikes passed by the Legislature last month.

The first lawsuit was on the $257M cigarette tax Smoking Cessation Fee (SB 845). The second suit was filed by Republican gubernatorial candidate Gary Richardson, challenging HB 1449 (~$1.4M electric/CNG fuel tax), HB 2348 ($4.4M-$11M standard deduction freeze), and HB 2433 ($123M auto sales tax).

Monday, June 26, 2017

AG says Doerflinger's Rainy Day Fund raid was legal

The official with the longest title in state government, Secretary of Finance, Administration and Information Technology and Office of Management and Enterprise Services Director Preston Doerflinger surprised many officials at the Capitol and observers around the state when news broke in March that he had completely emptied the state's Rainy Day Fund to pay the state's bills. This occurred without anyone in the Legislature being made aware, causing questions to arise from many regarding the legality of the raid.

In the wake of the controversy, Doerflinger requested an opinion from Attorney General Mike Hunter on the matter. Hunter issued his opinion today; here's the "meat" of his statement:
It is, therefore, the Official Opinion of the Attorney General that transfers pursuant to 62 O.S.Supp.2016, § 34.55(A) from the Constitutional Reserve Fund to the General Revenue Cash-flow Reserve Fund as needed to satisfy monthly allocation of appropriations do not violate OKLA. Const. Art. X, § 23, so long as:

1. Such transfers are temporary transfers to other State funds that will be returned to the Constitutional Reserve Fund, and are not permanent expenditures out of the Treasury;
2. Such temporary transfers do not alter the annual budget for the current fiscal year or alter the amounts available for appropriation from the Constitutional Reserve Fund for the next fiscal year, but instead will be returned to the Constitutional Reserve Fund before any funds are expended or transferred from the General Revenue Fund for the next fiscal year;
3. Such temporary transfers are not made to avoid declaring a revenue fai]ure and reducing appropriations as a result of a revenue failure, but instead such transfers are made based on a reasonable estimate that increased revenues later in the fiscal year will be available to both satisfy monthly allocations without reductions and repay the Constitutional Reserve Fund; and
4. Such temporary transfers do not have the practical effect of interfering with the Legislature’s ability to appropriate monies from the Constitutional Reserve Fund.

Doerflinger issued the below statement in response:


Statement by Secretary Doerflinger regarding Attorney General opinion on Constitutional Reserve Fund borrowing

OKLAHOMA CITY — On April 5, Secretary of Finance, Administration and Information Technology Preston L. Doerflinger asked the Attorney General for an opinion on borrowing from the Constitutional Reserve Fund for monthly agency allocations.

Upon today’s issuing of that opinion, Secretary Doerflinger offers the following statement:

“I asked for the opinion to seek clarity for the current administration, future administrations, legislators and the public. We are grateful to Attorney General Mike Hunter for providing that clarity. We were always confident we worked within statutory and constitutional guidelines.

“Hopefully this opinion helps settle the issue and will help leaders focus on the state’s revenue problem that forced us to borrow from the Rainy Day Fund to make allocations to state agencies. An over-reliance on one-time funding sources and the absence of significant structural budget reform promise to make the upcoming fiscal year another challenge.”

BACKGROUND AND UPDATE ON THE RAINY DAY FUND

The balance in the Constitutional Reserve Fund, also known as the Rainy Day Fund, is currently zero. The balance at the beginning of fiscal year 2017 was $240.7 million. The entire amount was borrowed to make monthly agency allocations and keep government running without deepening cuts to agency budgets.

In May, after General Revenue Fund collections were reconciled, $4.2 million was repaid to the Rainy Day Fund and then disbursed to the Department of Human Services per House Bill 2342. The next month, upon receiving and verifying May collections, $60.185 million was returned to the Rainy Day Fund and then distributed to the State Department of Education for ad valorem reimbursement by June 15 as called for by SB 842.

These actions left a balance owed to the Rainy Day Fund of $176,352,678, which will be returned when FY 2017 general revenue is reconciled after the close of the fiscal year.

That amount will be available to satisfy the remaining $83 million of Rainy Day Fund appropriations made by the Legislature and signed by the Governor for FY 2018: $32 million for the Health Care Authority per SB 844, $33 million to the State Department of Education per SB 852 and $18 million to the State Department of Education per HB 2360. That will leave the FY 2018 beginning balance of the Rainy Day Fund at $93.3 million.

Music Monday: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty

This week's Music Monday is the hymn Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, played by Rob Charles, a church organist in Wales.

Enjoy!



Lyrics:
Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation!
All ye who hear, Now to His temple draw near;
Praise Him in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen How thy desires e'er have been
Granted in what He ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness, and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew What the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen Sound from His people again,
Glady for aye we adore Him.
gladly forever adore him.

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, June 24, 2017

Mullin compares US debt to... Cavemen and Vikings?

2nd District Congressman Markwayne Mullin recently made a post on Facebook and Twitter drawing attention to the America's sky-high national debt. It's a topic that far too often gets ignored by those in Washington, who keep spending like there's no tomorrow. Our national debt poses a greater threat to America's future than most other, commonly-identified dangers.

However, the way in which Congressman Mullin brought up the topic is rather.... strange. His post read as follows:
The U.S. government currently owes more money than ANY other government in human history! We can't keep going down this path.
The post was accompanied by this image:


Rather than comparing our debt to, say, Greece, France, the United Kingdom, or even past U.S. governments, he decided to go with the "governments" of Colonial, Romans, Vikings, and Cavemen. Beside the Roman Empire, none of those are historical governments, and the graph comparison would indicate that each of those groups owed debts in the trillions.

There's a better way to do this. Next time, use actual figures, not made up numbers with non-historical non-governments.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Richardson to Challenge Tax Hikes in Supreme Court


Richardson to Challenge Tax Hikes in Supreme Court

Tulsa, OK, June 22, 2017–  Gary Richardson held  a press conference at the Tulsa Press Club today at 3 p.m. to announce his plan to file a lawsuit in the Oklahoma Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of House Bills 1449, 2348, and 2433.

House Bill 1449 creates the “Motor Fuel Tax Fee” which charges a fee to owners of electric and compressed natural gas vehicles in order to make up for the fact that they don’t pay the motor fuel tax; House Bill 2348 effectively raises taxes on the millions of Oklahomans who take the standard deduction when filing their tax returns by uncoupling the state deduction rate from the federal rate; and House Bill 2433 adds a new 1.25% sales tax on motor vehicle sales on top on the existing excise tax already charged on car sales.  All three of these laws were enacted in violation of Article 5, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution which was enacted by State Question 640 in 1992.
Transcript of press conference

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.  I’m here today to talk about the recent “tax increases” that were passed by our legislators.

Our state constitution reads in Article 5, that “the people reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and amendments to the Constitution and to enact or reject the laws and amendments at the polls, independent of the legislature.”

In 1907, when writing our State Constitution, our state founding fathers held that the will of the people is “sacred”. They made clear that the legislature only has the legislative powers expressly delegated to it and that all other legislative power is vested in the people exercised by the initiative and referendum processes. It was this holding and right to the use of an “initiative petition” that Norman, Oklahoma attorney Stan Ward headed a citizen’s group to gather enough signatures to put State Question 640, in 1992, to the vote of the people that amended Article 5 of our State Constitution requiring all “revenue increases” to have at least 3/4ths majority of the legislators to pass a tax or to be voted on by the people, that the bill was to originate in the State House, and not to be voted on in the last 5 days of the session.

This past legislative session, our leaders violated Article 5, Section 33 of our State Constitution when they passed House Bills 1449, 2348 and 2433.

In order to attempt to make up for the fact that owners of electric vehicles and compressed natural gas vehicles don’t pay the motor fuel tax, our state legislators passed House Bill 1449, attempting to create a “motor fuel tax fee”.  The authors of the bill knew this wasn’t a fee because they put “tax” in the name of their fee! House bill 1449 failed to get the 3/4ths majority needed to pass legislation that raises revenue in both the state house and senate and it was voted on in the last five days of session, both of which violate Article 5, Section 33 of the Constitution.

House Bill 2348 enacted by our state leaders raised taxes on the 70% of Oklahomans who take the standard deduction when filing their tax returns by freezing the state deduction rate, which normally is increased every year to match the federal rate.  Again, this bill didn’t get the 3/4th votes needed in the State House which violates Article 5, Section 33.

HB 2433 is an effort by our legislators to add a new sales tax of 1.25% tax on motor vehicle purchase.  This, on top of the existing excise tax already charged on car purchases.  This bill, if left unchallenged, would take close to $125 million from Oklahomans purchasing vehicles.  Again, the bill didn’t receive three fourths majority in either the State House or Senate, it was voted on in the last five days of session, and they added an emergency clause to the bill, all in violation of Article 5, Section 33 of our Oklahoma Constitution.

Folks, when our Legislators and Governor willfully disregard our State Constitution, it’s up to the people of our state to take a stand, which is why I am standing here today, for the citizens of our state.

Since 1981, I have been standing as a warrior for the citizens of our state.  First as a United States Attorney, appointed by President Reagan and then in the private practice of law.  I can think of no better way, at this time, to continue the fight than by challenging the constitutionality of these new taxes that are clearly in violation of Article 5, Section 33 of our State Constitution.

This is why I will be filing a law suit in the next few days, on behalf of the citizens of Oklahoma, asking the courts of Oklahoma to invalidate House Bills 1449, 2348 and 2433.  I have hired Norman, OK lawyer Stan Ward, again, the author of Article 5 Section 33, to be my attorney of record in this constitutional challenge.

We are a nation of laws and when our lawmakers refuse to follow our Constitution, then we the people must rise up and ask the courts to defend our Constitution.  It’s not "We the Legislators," it’s "We the People!"

Click here for audio of the press conference.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Rep. Strohm withdraws from SD37 race



TULSA, OK- Representative Chuck Strohm has withdrawn his candidacy for State Senate District 37. The seat is being vacated by Senator Dan Newberry who is resigning. Strohm has represented Jenks, Bixby and areas of South Tulsa in House District 69 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives since 2014.

“I have been humbled by the outpouring of support as people have asked me to step forward and represent District 37 in the Oklahoma Senate.

Part of leadership is the wisdom to recognize when you have made a decision that is not in the best interests of our State.  As Angela and I have prayed and considered the impact to the newly formed GOP Platform Caucus if elected to the Senate, the peace that must accompany every major decision in life has not been there.  Therefore, I am withdrawing my candidacy for Senate District 37.

The GOP Platform Caucus was formed in early April and has 4 key goals including:

  1. Honor God as we Serve the People of Oklahoma.
  2. Judge policy and legislation against a standard that reflects the will of the people; The Republican State Platform
  3. Provide an educational tool by grading legislation per the state platform.
  4. Provide a UNIFIED Conservative voice.

Because we are in the very early stages of implementing these goals and growing the Platform Caucus, I don’t have peace leaving the Oklahoma House at this time.

It is a joy to represent the communities of Jenks, Bixby and the South Tulsa at the state capital and I look forward to serving my House district in this upcoming session. Please join me in prayer as we ask for Gods favor as we elect a new Senator to represent us in District 37.”

Strohm has a strong record of supporting conservative Oklahoma values through positions of leadership in the State House. Strohm currently holds a 97% lifetime conservative rating from The Oklahoma Constitution.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Cindy Byrd launches campaign for State Auditor



CINDY BYRD LAUNCHES CAMPAIGN FOR STATE AUDITOR

June 19, 2017 --  Oklahoma Deputy State Auditor Cindy Byrd officially kicks her campaign this week by announcing her run for State Auditor in her hometown of Coalgate.  Byrd, a Certified Public Accountant, has spent more than 20 years working to provide accountability and transparency for state taxpayers.

    "Voters need to give serious thought to who will be Oklahoma's next State Auditor," Cindy Byrd says.  "This job is one of the most important positions in government.  Public officials must be held accountable for how every dime of taxpayer money is spent.  Of all the officers we elect, I believe none is more directly connected to taxpayers than the State Auditor.  Oklahomans should expect a State Auditor who will work with officials to find efficiencies while also exposing waste and fraud of public funds."

    During her 20 years with the State Auditor’s Office, Byrd has identified waste and exposed corruption at both the state and county level.  She has been highly successful in her role as Deputy State Auditor.  She set forth a plan that cleared five years of backlogged county audits and is credited with identifying the waste of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds through investigations that ultimately exposed serious corruption by public officials.

    Byrd is a fourth-generation Oklahoman who travels our state each week working with county officials to make the most with the funds they have to spend.

    Cindy Byrd's campaign launch celebration is Thursday, June 22nd, from 6-7:30pm at the Coal County Fair Barn Exhibit Hall in Coalgate.  Several community and business leaders from Southeast Oklahoma will be there and the public is welcome to attend.

     Read her detailed plan to protect tax dollars and expand her efforts to clean up government at every level at www.CindyByrd.com.

Music Monday: A Christian Home

This week's Music Monday is A Christian Home, written by Barbara Hart and sung to the tune Finlandia by Jean Sibelius. The powerful lyrics, posted below the video, describe the model for the Christian home, very much needed in today's society.

Enjoy!



Lyrics:
O give us homes built firm upon the Savior,
Where Christ is Head, and Counselor and Guide;
Where ev’ry child is taught His love and favor
And gives his heart to Christ, the Crucified:
How sweet to know that, though his footsteps waver
His faithful Lord is walking by his side!

O give us homes with godly fathers, mothers,
Who always place their hope and trust in Him;
Whose tender patience turmoil never bothers,
Whose calm and courage trouble cannot dim;
A home where each finds joy in serving others,
And love still shines, though days be dark and grim.

O give us homes where Christ is Lord and Master,
The Bible read, the precious hymns still sung;
Where prayer comes first in peace or in disaster,
And praise is natural speech to ev’ry tongue;
Where mountains move before a faith that’s vaster,
And Christ sufficient is for old and young.

O Lord, our God, our homes are Thine forever!
We trust to Thee their problems, toil, and care;
Their bonds of love no enemy can sever
If Thou art always Lord and Master there:
Be Thou the center of our least endeavor −
Be Thou our Guest, our hearts and homes to share.

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, June 17, 2017

Map: Oklahoma Libertarian Party registration by county

Continuing the Voter Registration Maps series, here is an update to the Oklahoma Libertarian Party numbers after a full year of existence (or, re-existence).

First, the raw total of voters registered under the OKLP:


As of April 1st, there were 4,165 voters registered as Libertarian, heavily centered in the metros. 62.5% of Libertarians are in their top five counties (Oklahoma, Tulsa, Cleveland, Canadian, and Payne). Only three counties have no registered Libertarians, up from 22 last April.

Next, the OKLP as a percentage of registered voters in each county:


Payne County comes in as the top county for Libertarians (percentage-wise) at 0.387%, followed by Canadian County at 0.323%). All other counties are below the 0.3% mark.

Libertarians form a larger percentage of registered voters in central and western Oklahoma than they do in eastern Oklahoma. They fare the worst in "Little Dixie", as well as the Panhandle, and the border counties in the south and west.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Map: voter affiliation changes, April '16 to April '17

Here's the newest edition to my long-running Voter Registration Maps series. Last spring, we took a look at party affiliation changes between the recognization of the Oklahoma Libertarian Party and the pre-election deadline for party affiliation changes. Here, we look at changes between April 1st, 2016, and April 1st, 2017.


When looking strictly at affiliation changes (i.e. no new voters), the OKGOP added 18,428 voters and lost 8,093 to other parties, for a net gain of +10,335. Oklahoma Democrats added 6,780, but lost 17,367 voters for a net of -10,587. The newly-formed OKLP added 1,388 members and lost 53, for a net gain of 1,335. Independents added 8,668 voters and lost 9,751, for a net loss of -1,083.

More tidbits:

  • 53% of the Libertarian additions were Republicans
  • 71.8% of Democrats and 60.8% of Independents who switched parties chose the GOP
  • Contrary to popular thought that Independents are growing primarily at the expense of the GOP, 1,926 more Independents moved to Republican than did Republicans to Independent.
  • 9.7% of Republican party-switchers went to the Libertarian Party, compared to 4.15% of Independents and 1.4% of Democrats (ironic, given that the national and state Libertarians seem to cater to the Democrat voters)
I'll be posting an update to the statewide map of Libertarians soon.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Trump nominates DA Brian Kuester for U.S. Attorney, Eastern District of Oklahoma

District Attorney Brian Kuester made the list of President Trump's first U.S. Attorney nominations today:

President Donald J. Trump today announced his first wave of United States Attorney candidates.  The United States Attorney serves as the chief Federal law enforcement officer within his or her Federal judicial district.  These candidates share the President’s vision for “Making America Safe Again.”  Accordingly, the President today announced his intent to nominate these individuals to serve as United States Attorney:
[...]
If confirmed, Brian J. Kuester of Oklahoma will serve as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.  Brian J. Kuester currently serves as the District Attorney for District 27 in Oklahoma, a position he has held since 2011.  Mr. Kuester was elected in November 2010, and again in 2014.  From 2008 to 2010, Mr. Kuester was a Staff Counsel for Allstate Insurance Company.  Prior to that, Mr. Kuester served as an Assistant District Attorney for the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office.  From 2000 to 2003, Mr. Kuester was an associate at Robinette & Osmond Law Firm.  Prior to receiving his law degree, Mr. Kuester served on two separate police forces in Missouri, in Fulton and in Springfield.  Mr. Kuester received his B.S. from Central Missouri State University in 1990 and his J.D. from the University of Tulsa School of Law in 2000.

Oklahoma's U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford commented on the nomination:

WASHINGTON, DC –Senators James Lankford and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) today applauded President Trump’s nomination of Brian J. Kuester for US Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

“Brian Kuester has dedicated his career to public service. He has served in his community as a police officer, district attorney and now future US Attorney,” said Lankford. “I congratulate Brian on his nomination, and I look forward to his confirmation in the days ahead.”

“Brian Kuester, President Trump’s nominee for US Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, is a great candidate to serve in this role,” Inhofe said. “Since 2011, Mr. Kuester has served as the district attorney for Oklahoma’s 27th District and has a proven track record that is fair and ethical while upholding the highest standard of the law. Mr. Kuester is a good and honest Oklahoman and I look forward to confirming him in the Senate and working with him in his new role.”

Congressman Markwayne Mullin, whose congressional district encompasses three of the four counties in Kuester's DA district, also commented on the news:

Today, Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-2) released the following statement in support of President Trump’s nomination of Brian J. Kuester to be the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.

“President Trump made an excellent choice in nominating Brian Kuester as the Eastern District of Oklahoma’s next U.S. Attorney,” Mullin said.  “I worked closely with Brian when he was the District Attorney for Adair, Cherokee, Sequoyah, and Wagoner counties and I am confident he will serve the people of Eastern Oklahoma with the same high ethical and moral standards in his new role.  I look forward to the Senate’s confirmation of Brian so that he can continue his long-serving mission of upholding the rule of law fairly and justly for all Oklahomans in the Eastern District.”


The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma is the Federal district court whose jurisdiction comprises the following counties: Adair, Atoka, Bryan, Carter, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coal, Haskell, Hughes, Johnston, Latimer, Le Flore, Love, Marshall, McCurtain, McIntosh, Murray, Muskogee, Okfuskee, Okmulgee, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Pushmataha, Seminole, Sequoyah, and Wagoner. It is based out of the Ed Edmondson U.S. Courthouse in Muskogee.

Cong. Bridenstine endorses Brian O'Hara for SD37 special election

Congressman Jim Bridenstine sent out the following email this evening, endorsing his Deputy District Director Brian O'Hara's run for Dan Newberry's newly-vacated State Senate seat:



I am happy to support and endorse Brian O'Hara in his run to serve the people of State Senate District 37. Brian O'Hara is a friend, a conservative, and a man of integrity. I am confident he will serve his constituents with honor in the Oklahoma State Senate, and I am proud to endorse him.

Please join me for a O'Hara for Oklahoma kickoff event at Los Cabos in Jenks on Monday, June 19th, at 6:30 PM.



With Brian O'Hara, we will be electing a conservative that we can trust to get the job done in Oklahoma City.

God Bless,

Jim Bridenstine

State Rep. Chuck Strohm is the only other publicly-announced candidate that I'm aware of.

Chambers gains business endorsements in HD46


NORMAN BUSINESS LEADERS ENDORSE DARIN CHAMBERS IN HD-46 RACE

June 12, 2017 -- Two prominent business leaders in Norman, Todd Booze and Scott Bauman, are encouraging their colleagues in the business community to vote for Darin Chambers in the upcoming special election for House District 46.

"Darin Chambers has the real-world experience to apply reasonable, workable solutions to improve the way Oklahoma government operates," says Todd Booze, founder of Ideal Homes Construction.  "Chambers will work to put money back into the real economy created by working Oklahomans, business owners & operators, and educators inspiring the next generation to meet market needs."

A smart business approach to State Government is exactly what we need, according to Scott Bauman, owner of IMMY, an international medical equipment manufacturer based in Norman.

"Chambers is a fiscally responsible, conservative Republican," says Bauman. "He has the real-world business experience most elected leaders don't have. He is a man with strong character, not beholden to any special interests, and I know he will always look out for the best interests of both Norman and the State of Oklahoma."

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 primary election is July 11th and the general election will be September 12th.

For more information on Darin Chambers and his practical solutions for Oklahoma’s success, please visit his Facebook page at Darin Chambers for State Representative District 46 or www.ChambersforStateRep.com.

Rep. Young (D) endorses Sen. Holt (R) for OKC Mayor



State Representative and Community Leader George Young Endorses David Holt for OKC Mayor

JUNE 12, 2017 --  Following the decision by Mayor Mick Cornett not to seek re-election, Oklahoma House Representative George Young publicly declared his exploration of a mayoral candidacy. Last week, Young announced he will instead seek election to the Oklahoma Senate in 2018. Today, he is announcing that he is endorsing David Holt to be the next Mayor of Oklahoma City.

"After considering a run myself for Oklahoma City Mayor and receiving great encouragement to do that, I have decided to pursue a different path and run for the Oklahoma Senate," said Young. "But I am still passionate about the future of Oklahoma City, and that is why I am endorsing David Holt to be the next Mayor. He is the best candidate. I have worked alongside David in the Legislature, and I know him to be someone who cares about many of the things I care about. I also know from his record of service that he will work hard to include all parts of our city in major decisions, and that's important to me. David and I both envision a strong working relationship in our future roles, and we will collaborate to move all of Oklahoma City forward.”

"George Young is someone I greatly respect and admire," said Holt. "There is probably no one more universally loved by his fellow legislators, and that affection comes from both sides of the aisle. I am deeply grateful that George believes in my campaign and is willing to give it his public support. George will be someone I turn to in the years ahead for advice and counsel. I am also very excited he is seeking election to the Senate, where we always need strong voices fighting for Oklahoma City."

Young is serving his second term in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and he is seeking election to Senate District 48 in 2018. Prior to his elected service, he was a prominent pastor in Oklahoma City, and also actively served as a community volunteer. Young served on the board of the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma, the board of United Way of Greater Oklahoma City, and as commissioner for the Department of Human Services. Young is also a graduate of Leadership Oklahoma and Leadership Oklahoma City. Additionally, he has been nationally recognized for his legislative leadership from the Council of State Governments and the Southern Legislative Conference.

Young's endorsement of Holt continues the momentum of Holt's candidacy, which launched out of the gate with 450 bipartisan endorsements from across OKC, followed by subsequent announcements of support from Oklahoma City's firefighters and former OU football coach Barry Switzer. The election to choose Oklahoma City's next Mayor will be held February 13, 2018. For more information about David Holt's campaign for Mayor, visit holtformayor.com.

Music Monday: Ol' Man River

This week's Music Monday is Ol' Man River, from the 1951 film of the musical Show Boat. The music was composed by Jerome Kern, the lyrics were written by Oscar Hammerstein II, and William Warfield is the singer in the 1951 re-make (previous films in 1936, 1929, and the Broadway stage in 1927).

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, June 8, 2017

State Rep. Chuck Strohm Announces for Senate District 37



TULSA, OK- Representative Chuck Strohm has announced his candidacy for State Senate District 37. The seat is being vacated by Senator Dan Newberry who is resigning. Strohm currently represents Jenks, Bixby and areas of Tulsa in House District 69 and was first elected to serve in the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2014. Strohm and wife Angela have four children and are members of Victory Christian Center in Tulsa. Strohm is a graduate of Oral Roberts University, a research and development engineer of over 27 years, a small business owner and an author.

Strohm serves on the House Education Committee, Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and the Government Modernization Committee. During his time as State Representative, Strohm has supported legislation to increase teacher’s salaries (HB 1114), protect the life of the unborn (HR1004), and to call for performance audits to promote transparency and government efficiency (HB 1511). Strohm has a strong record of supporting conservative Oklahoma values through positions of leadership in the State House. Strohm currently holds a 97% lifetime conservative rating from The Oklahoma Constitution. Additionally, Strohm was one of the founding members of the Oklahoma Republican Platform Caucus in an effort to hold elected officials accountable to the platform they were elected to represent.

“For the last three years I have been honored to serve my constituents in Jenks, Bixby, and Tulsa. During that time I have worked to uphold our conservative values by limiting government, opposing tax increases, and supporting the Constitution. Now it is more important than ever to have strong voices in the State Senate that will stand up for the people against government waste. I have a proven track record of doing just that. If elected, I would be honored to represent the people of Senate District 37,” Strohm said.

The date for the special election for Senate District 37 has not yet bet set. For more information about the campaign and how to get involved visit www.ChuckStrohm.com

Lawsuit filed over new cigarette tax


A lawsuit has been filed to block the new $257M cigarette tax "smoking cessation fee" passed by legislators in the final week of the legislative session last month. The lawsuit was filed by R.J Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Phillip Morris USA (the two largest tobacco companies in the country), along with two convenience stores, a wholesaler, and two individuals.

Specifically noted by the lawsuit:

  • Passage of SB845 violated the Constitution's requirement that revenue-raising measures receive 3/4ths vote majority in both houses
  • Passage of SB845 violated the Constitution's requirement that revenue-raising measures originate in the House, rather than the Senate
  • Passage of SB845 violated the Constitution's ban on revenue-raising measures being passed in the final five days of session

The full brief as filed can be viewed here (courtesy of KFOR-TV).

Conservatives, and even Democrats, warned that this measure (and others) would fail to meet constitutional muster, but Governor Fallin and legislative leaders plowed ahead anyway.

If struck down, it would create a hole in the FY18 budget that would either trigger a special session this summer, create automatic cuts down the road, or mean that legislators would need to pass a supplemental funding bill very early in the 2018 session for the end of FY18.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Newberry resigns from State Senate, creates 7th vacant legislative seat this term

Whether it's failing to oppose unconstitutional tax hikes or simply serving out their entire term in elected office, it appears that the Oklahoma Legislature is full of individuals who are unwilling to fulfill their pledge of service to the people. State Sen. Dan Newberry has submitted his irrevocable resignation from office, to "pursue a promotion in his professional career".

Newberry was re-elected to a four-year last November. Let me say that again - just seven months ago, he spent over $336,000 and asked his constituents to send him to represent them for four years in the State Senate. Voters trusted his offer, and gave him the seat.

This creates the seventh empty seat in the state legislature since the 2016 election. The other vacancies are State Rep. Tom Newell (for a private sector job), State Rep. Dan Kirby (sexual harassment allegations), State Rep. Scott Martin (for private sector job), State Sen. Ralph Shortey (child prostitution arrest), State Sen. Kyle Loveless (campaign finance violations investigation). State Rep. David Brumbaugh's sudden passing created another vacancy requiring a special election.

All have been Republicans; four in the State House, and now three in the State Senate. This is getting out of hand. I hope the State Election Board got a significant boost in funding in the recently-passed state budget since legislators themselves are causing extra expense for them.

Here's the Newberry press release:


Sen. Dan Newberry resigns Senate seat to pursue professional promotion

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, is resigning his seat to pursue a promotion in his professional career. Newberry’s resignation will be effective January 31, 2018. The governor must set a date for a special election to replace Newberry.

“It has been a true honor to serve as the senator from District 37. I want to thank my wife, my children, family and friends for their unwavering support during my service in the Senate,” Newberry said.  “Just as importantly, I want to thank the citizens of District 37 for placing your trust in me to represent you at the Capitol for nearly 10 years.

Newberry was first elected as senator from District 37 in 2008, and was re-elected in 2012 and 2016. He and his wife, Laura, have four children: Claire, Paige, Eva and Alex. Newberry is an executive at the Tulsa Teachers’ Credit Union.

During his time in the Senate, Newberry was known as a conservative champion and an advocate for small business, most recently serving as chairman of the Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee.

“This wasn’t an easy decision to make—however, Laura and I have made the difficult but necessary decision to focus on the needs of our family.  While we are optimistic about this new chapter in our lives, we are equally excited for the State of Oklahoma,” Newberry said.  “I am certain the people of District 37 will choose a wise leader to help steward this great state to a prosperous future.  I will miss serving in the senate, but will work with my successor to ensure a smooth transition and uninterrupted representation for the district.”

Newberry said he’d miss the many friends he made during his time in the upper chamber of the State Legislature.

“I can say without any hesitation that the men and women serving in the Oklahoma Senate – regardless of their party affiliation – are some of the most honorable and dedicated public servants who work each day to make Oklahoma an even better place. I will miss my Senate family, but will be praying and cheering them on as they continue to make Oklahoma the best place to work, live, and play.”

Newberry led recent reforms of the state’s unemployment benefits program, lowering unemployment taxes paid by Oklahoma employers. The reforms also strengthened the state’s workforce system and unemployment insurance trust fund which assisted in keeping unemployment low during the recent recession.

He has received multiple awards from Americans United for Life and Oklahomans for Life for authoring legislation which protects the sanctity of human life at all stages. He established the Gold Star Medal of Honor, which is given to the spouse or family members of an American soldier killed in action since 9/11. The Oklahoma Farm Bureau named him a member of the prestigious “100 Percent Club,” and the Oklahoma State Chamber honored him with the Guardian of Free Enterprise award for championing the economic development and growth of business in our state.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Music Monday: Choctaw Cowboy

This week's Music Monday is Choctaw Cowboy, by the Annie Moses Band (a group that has Oklahoma roots).

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.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Winston Churchill, 77 Years Ago: "We Shall Fight"

As the United Kingdom reels from yet another terrorist attack, today marks the 77th anniversary of one of Winston Churchill's greatest orations -- his We Shall Fight speech to the House of Commons.



"We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old."

This seems like a fitting response to the threat posed by the new radicalism threatening Europe and the Western civilization.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

OKC Mayor Mick Cornett announces candidacy for Governor

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett today announced that he will shortly be launching a campaign for Governor:



Cornett, a Republican, has been mayor of Oklahoma City since 2004. He would be joining three other Republicans running for Governor: attorney Gary Richardson, State Auditor Gary Jones, and Lieut. Gov. Todd Lamb.

Gov. Fallin Signs Budget Bill, Highlights 2017 Legislative Session


Governor Mary Fallin Signs Budget Bill, Highlights Successes in 2017 Legislative Session

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today signed the Fiscal Year 2018 budget bill (Senate Bill 860) into law, which closes an $878 million shortfall, maintains common education funding at current levels, and prevents the closings of hospitals and nursing homes. The 2018 fiscal year appropriated budget will be $6,830,177,825. It is $37,782,641, or 0.55 percent less than the revised fiscal year 2017 appropriated budget, which includes supplementals and the revenue failure.

“Developing a budget in this difficult fiscal and political climate is never easy,” said Fallin. “This plan keeps our government from shutting down and, despite challenging circumstances, funds our core mission services. We worked hard to protect key core services – common education, health and human services and public safety. This budget minimizes cuts and puts some recurring revenue on the table. It repeals certain exemptions in the sales tax code.

“It also modifies the incentives on the gross production tax from 1 percent to 4 percent on current producing wells that were drilled between July 1, 2011, and July 1, 2015,” the governor said. “That will provide about $92 million for the 2018 fiscal year budget. Various rebates for the oil and gas industry that cost the state about $46 million a year have been suspended next year. Of the $878 million shortfall facing lawmakers this session, about $140 million is being made up from the oil and gas industry.

“My top priorities remain strengthening education and workforce, reducing the state’s incarceration rates and improving health outcomes.  Whether it’s improving public safety, fixing our roads and bridges, boosting education or raising our health outcomes and indicators, the successes of this session to protect core services in the midst of an energy crisis will help to make Oklahoma a better place to live, work and raise a family,” Fallin said.

“But we missed an opportunity to do more to reform our budget process and find efficiencies,” she said. “We still need to do more to address structural imbalances in the state’s budget, fix problematic tax policies and make available more recurring and stable revenue.

“As this year’s session ends, I’m pleased that legislators approved a fee on cigarettes. Smoking is Oklahoma’s leading cause of preventable death. Lawmakers approving an additional $1.50 per pack is the most important thing they could do to improve Oklahoma’s health ranking,” Fallin said.

2018 Fiscal Year Budget

A Budget that Protects Core Government Services

“It is not an ideal budget, but it avoids draconian cuts to our core services such as education, health and human services, and public safety; unfortunately it leaves many agencies facing cuts for the 6th year in a row. It puts some recurring revenue on the table, but does not address the structural budget challenges that I have been working to fix since I took office. Year after year, I have repeated my warning about our reliance on one-time funding and our eroding tax base, and yet again we have crafted a budget that only fixes some of the defects in our funding formula.

“There is still work to do. When legislators return next year, they will already face a $400 million hole caused by one-time funds and $100 million of obligations coming due over the next 12 months that will need to be paid. Hopefully, in the months that follow they will begin putting together a plan to address the budget and fill that hole.” – Governor Mary Fallin

2017 Policy Highlights

Criminal Justice Reform
  • Senate Bill 603: Requires all offenders receive a validated risk and needs assessment that will guide providers to programs available to offenders, and mandates the Department of Corrections to create an individualized case plan for each offender.
  • SB 604: Provides training for law enforcement relating to domestic violence victim safety at the pretrial stage. (pending governor’s signature)
  • House Bill 2284: Provides training for public defenders, district attorneys and judges. Training is to include substance abuse, behavioral health, and impact and dynamics of domestic violence.
These three measures were the result of recommendations from Governor Fallin’s Oklahoma Justice Reform Task Force. The task force recommended nine other bills, but they failed to win passage, mostly because of resistance from the chairman of the House of Representatives Judicial Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee.

“Our prisons are way over capacity, and our prison population is expected to grow by 25 percent in the next 10 years. Oklahoma’s overall incarceration rate is the second-highest in the country, and we lead the nation in female incarceration – incarcerating women at two-and-a-half times the national average. By 2018, we will have the highest incarceration rate in the country.

“By failing to address these issues, Oklahoma could be forced to build three new prisons over the next decade, at a cost of almost $2 billion to taxpayers if no further action is taken. One of the bills, House Bill 2281, included important sentencing changes to low-level property crimes, and would have had a particularly important impact on our female prison population. Without jeopardizing public safety, with these bills, we could have implemented  smart, data-driven solutions to safely and prudently fix our criminal justice system.” – Governor Mary Fallin

Educational Attainment and Improving Oklahoma’s Schools

“A thriving, prosperous economy must have a skilled, educated workforce. That starts with good teachers in the classrooms providing our children a quality education five days a week. We have to ensure more existing dollars are reaching every classroom by tackling administrative inefficiencies head-on.” – Governor Mary Fallin, 2017 State of the State Address
  • House Joint Resolution 1028: Approves in whole the Assessment and Accountability Report prepared by the state Department of Education and approved by the state Board of Education.
  • HB 1576: Directs the Commission for Educational Quality and Accountability to adopt rules requiring coursework or training in the use of digital and other instructional technologies as a requisite for teacher program accreditation by Nov. 1. The bill also requires public schools to offer professional development training to teachers on the use of digital resources in classrooms.
  • HB 1578: Creates a task force of a cross section of educators, business and political leaders to study multiple facets of the State Aid Funding Formula including formula structure, efficiencies and cost saving measures regarding the footprint of school districts. In addition, it creates the School Finance Review Commission for ongoing oversight of school finance including the school funding formula, teacher compensation, benefits and administration costs. (pending governor’s signature)
  • HB 1693: Revises the A-F school grading system and brings the state into compliance with Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) standards.
  • HB 2155: Allows local schools to create the Individual Career Academic Plan (ICAP) for students in grades 6-12 to strengthen college and career goals through various activities.
  • SB 84 and HB 1760: Increases the accountability measures in the Reading Sufficiency Act (RSA) by requiring a study of students who do not achieve the academic level required to be promoted to the fourth grade; it also makes RSA parent committees permanent and raises the reading level required to pass from limited-knowledge to proficiency in the 2017-18 school year.
  • SB 301: Expands the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program, which provides a scholarship for students to a private school of choice, to children who are in an out-of-home placement with the Department of Human Services (DHS) or Office of Juvenile Affairs; or who were adopted while in the permanent custody of DHS.
  • SB 563: Authorizes school districts, including technology centers, to participate in or administer a cooperative purchasing agreement with one or more public agency.
Improving Health Outcomes

“Our overall health ranking has improved from 49th in the country at the beginning of my term, to 46th today. That’s progress, but none of us are going to settle for a ranking of 46th. Together, we can continue to improve our health. As Oklahomans, we can do better. We all know that we’re facing a tight state budget in the upcoming fiscal year. But that doesn’t mean we shift our focus from our health and wellness. It helps all of us – who are able – to be physically active. It keeps us in shape, helps us deal with stress and improves our chances of being healthy. – Governor Mary Fallin
  • HB 1703: Establishes a program to promote, incentivize and provide support for pregnancy resource centers, also known as “crisis pregnancy centers,” which assist pregnant women by providing counseling, ultrasounds, prenatal care, parenting classes, maternity clothes, adoption options, and other goods and services.
  • HB 2039: Allows for Naloxone, a drug that can save lives from opioid overdose, to be prescribed and dispensed by a licensed pharmacist. It also allows pharmacists to dispense medication so as to save people from taking numerous trips to the pharmacy.
  • HB 2406: Authorizes the development of health insurance stabilization tools in order to reduce or maintain individual premiums, increase health insurer competition in the marketplace, and stabilize the individual market to enable Oklahomans to continue to access health insurance. (pending governor’s signature)
  • HB 2389: Authorizes a bond issue to finance the construction of a new Department of Health laboratory to replace the department’s antiquated and dilapidated laboratory, which is in danger of losing accreditation.
  • SB 748: Allows the Department of Human Services (subject to funding) to create a pilot program to improve socioeconomic outcomes for children in state custody.
  • SB 229: Allows juveniles in the care of the Office of Juvenile Affairs to receive appropriate treatment for mental illness where applicable.
  • SB 632: Streamlines the process for transfer and/or enrollment of students in state care, including timely delivery of records. It also establishes the Education Compact for Students in State Care Advisory Committee.
  • SB 773: Directs the development of a Request for Information (RFI) for care coordination models for newborns through children 18 years old who are in the custody of the Department of Human Services.    
  • SB 734: Expands the entities that can employ behavioral health case managers and peer recovery support specialists to include tribal facilities and Department of Veterans Affairs facilities. Also removes the two-year history of addiction time limit placed on an opioid substitution treatment program.
  • SB 816: Directs medical education residency programs to give priority to in-state students with good academic standing when assigning clinical rotation.
  • SB 845: Smoking Cessation and Prevention Act of 2017 - The purpose of this legislation is to prevent people, especially children, from taking up smoking.
  • SB 870: Adds outcome incentive payments to the list of services a parent or legal guardian must pay if a court orders such for their child who is in the custody of the Office of Juvenile Affairs.
Public Safety
  • HB 1845: Brings Oklahoma into compliance with the federal REAL ID Act while protecting the privacy and freedom of our citizens. Those Oklahomans who are concerned about privacy and liberty will be allowed to opt out and receive a state-compliant ID, but those citizens who need access to federal installations or who desire to travel uninhibited can receive a federally compliant ID.
  • HB 1468: Creates the hidden predator act; modifies the statute of limitations for rape and forcible sodomy against children to be at the 45th birthday of the alleged victim.
  • SB 35: Allows for concealed or unconcealed carry for individuals 21 or older with a handgun license or valid military ID or honorably discharged service members. 
  • SB 397: Makes exceptions for firearms carried for self-defense in regards to bus transportation.
  • SB 643: Improves statewide law enforcement ability to fight impaired driving, per recommendation from the Governor’s Impaired Driving Prevention Advisory Council (GIDPAC). (pending governor’s signature)


Veterans and Military

  • HB 1198: Directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to create a registry of all veterans in the state, which will include any person who served on active duty in the armed forces, was discharged, or released with an honorable discharge. This creates an accurate listing of veterans in the state, which could have numerous advantages, including more efficient provision of services, reducing fraud, and accurate statistics.
  • SB 543: Authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to establish and maintain a State Veterans Cemetery. Funding will be sought through the Veterans Cemetery Grants Program provided for by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Such grants will be used by the state of Oklahoma to provide a final resting place for Oklahoma veterans in commemoration of their service to our nation.
  • SB 690: Instructs the State Regents for Higher Education, Oklahoma Military Department, and schools of social work to develop a Guard advocacy program for Oklahoma National Guard soldiers and airmen.  The program will allow Oklahoma universities with social work programs to partner with the Oklahoma National Guard to allow social work students to assist National Guard soldiers and airmen through behavioral health issues while working on their required social work practicum.
Government Efficiency

“Government can always find ways to save taxpayer dollars by operating more efficiently and effectively. The reforms we continue to pursue on a state level will help to produce more flexible and responsive state agencies, eliminate government waste and save money.” – Governor Mary Fallin
  • HB 1533: Requires the state bond adviser office and the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to create a debt affordability study to analyze Oklahoma’s debt position.
  • HB 1720: Allows insurance companies to provide a discount, rate reduction or other related adjustment for new insurable property built to resist loss due to tornado or catastrophic windstorm events, only when the company determines the discount or reduction to be actuarially justified.
  • HB 1833: Abolishes the Council of Firefighter Training and transfers those duties to the state fire marshal’s office.
Energy
  • HB 2298: Sunsets the tax credits for the wind industry on July 1, 2017.
  • SB 867: Expands laws for horizontal drilling, adds rights for vertical well owners and creates protections for mineral rights owners.
Agriculture
  • HB 1388: Modifies the nuisance provisions for agricultural operations.  The purpose of modifying these provisions is to provide protection to farmers and ranchers from frivolous and malicious lawsuits against their operations should they expand or introduce new technology to the operation.
  • HB 1431 and HB 1994: Completes the process or privatization for the Oklahoma Sorghum Commission and the Oklahoma Oilseed Commission. Privatizing the commissions to a non-appropriated agency saves money in the state budget and gives the commission freedom to retain any earned income.
  • SB 326: Prohibits the possession or importation of exotic swine. This bill protects Oklahoma’s domestic livestock and native wildlife from foreign diseases. In addition, it guards against the potential threat exotic swine pose to private and public property, historic landmarks and the ecosystem by rooting near waterways, causing increased erosion and contamination of water sources.
  • SB 595: Provides protection to farmers' markets registered with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.  It also adds an assumption of risk for farmers’ market attendees so they cannot hold the market responsible for inherent risks.
Tourism
  • SB 153: Removes the requirement that the Tourism and Recreation Department use monies collected from entrance or day-use charges at state parks for capital improvements.  This allows the revenue to be used for operations in parks where the fees are generated.
  • SB 872: Moves ownership of the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum to the city of Oklahoma City, relieving the state of its future financial responsibility.
Economic Development and Commerce
  • HB 1681: Directs the Oklahoma Aeronautics Commission to administer an airport inspection program for all public-use airports in the state of Oklahoma.
  • HB 2351: Allows every county, not just those with populations of 500,000 or more, to establish a tax incentive district. This helps level the playing field for suburban and rural counties seeking to attract new industries.
  • SB 120: Maintains the job-generating tax incentive to employers and employees in the aerospace industry by extending sunset date on the tax credit until Jan. 1, 2026.

Barry Switzer Endorses David Holt for OKC Mayor


Barry Switzer Endorses David Holt for Mayor of Oklahoma City

(Oklahoma City, May 30th) -- For as long as anyone can remember, legendary OU and Dallas Cowboys football coach Barry Switzer has fought for Oklahoma City’s future.   In 1993, he stood next to Mayor Ron Norick and campaigned for passage of the original MAPS.   Ever since, whether it’s advocating for OKC’s kids, supporting new quality of life amenities, or simply handing out medals at the Memorial Marathon, Coach Switzer has always answered the call.   “The King” has always believed that what happens in Oklahoma City affects the whole state.

Now, Coach Switzer is asking the voters of Oklahoma City to continue Oklahoma City’s renaissance and elect David Holt the next Mayor of Oklahoma City.

“I strongly endorse David Holt to be Oklahoma City’s next Mayor,” said Coach Switzer.   "He is by far the most qualified candidate.   To keep the Oklahoma City renaissance going, let’s elect David Holt!"

“I am honored to receive Coach Switzer’s endorsement,” said Holt.  “There’s a short list of people who have been as committed to OKC for as long as Coach Switzer. I am humbled that Coach Switzer believes in our campaign.”  

The election to choose Oklahoma City’s next Mayor will be held February 13, 2018.   For more information about David Holt’s campaign, visit holtformayor.com.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Lt. Gov. Lamb to headline Shelley Brumbaugh for HD76 fundraiser



LT. GOVERNOR TODD LAMB TO HEADLINE KICKOFF FUNDRAISING RECEPTION FOR SHELLEY BRUMBAUGH FOR STATE HOUSE DISTRICT 76

May 30, 2017 -- Shelley Brumbaugh, candidate in the special election for House District 76, is kicking off her campaign with a fundraising reception this Thursday, June 1, with special host Lt. Governor Todd Lamb.

She stated, "Directly after I announced my candidacy at the State OK GOP Convention, I was honored to receive a public announcement of support from Lt. Gov. Lamb to the crowd. I am thankful to him for not only offering his verbal support, but also rolling up his sleeves and working alongside me on the campaign trail as we share our principles and invite our community and friends to join the campaign."

Lt. Governor Todd Lamb stated, "I am pleased to give my support to Shelley Brumbaugh, as she seeks to continue the fine service her late husband gave our state. Shelley is a businesswoman who has a demonstrated history of service to her community, integrity in her actions, and a work ethic that will ensure that her district will have continued stability in quality representation for their priorities."

The Shelley Brumbaugh for State House campaign fundraiser kickoff will take place Thursday, June 1, 2017, from 5:00pm-6:30pm, at  Indian Springs Country Club, 16006 E. 131st Street South, Broken Arrow. To attend please RSVP either online or at 918.833.1400. Please consider a generous donation to advance her conservative cause.

For more information on Shelley Brumbaugh, please visit her Facebook page.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Music Monday: Armed Forces Salute

This week's Music Monday is Armed Forces Salute, arranged by Bob Lowden. I played this awesome arrangement many Memorial Day Sundays with the Tulsa Bible Church Orchestra.

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, May 27, 2017

Severe weather possible this evening

The National Weather Service is forecasting a high potential for severe weather this evening for much of eastern Oklahoma, western Arkansas, and southern Missouri. The risk is for destructive winds, very large hail (baseball to grapefruit size), and possible strong tornadoes.

The charts below are from the National Weather Service office in Tulsa:

Probability of area being under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning this evening
Probability of area being under a Tornado Warning this evening
Severe weather advice
Stay safe this evening!


Friday, May 26, 2017

Sine Die: Legislature passes budget, new taxes, adjourns


"There is nothing that will upset a state economic condition like a legislature. It's better to have termites in your house than the legislature [in session]."

"The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn't get worse every time Congress meets."

"Never blame a legislative body for not doing something. When they do nothing, they don't hurt anybody. When they do something is when they become dangerous."

The above quotes from Will Rogers, Oklahoma's favorite son, come to mind when thinking about the potential from the 2017 legislative session that adjourned sine die today.

The House passed the $6.8B FY2018 budget by a vote of 57-42, with 16 House Republicans (mostly from the conservative wing) and all 26 Democrats voted against it. The Senate had previously passed the appropriations bill on Wednesday. Shortly after that vote, the House narrowly passed a $257M cigarette tax smoking cessation fee 51-43. 18 Republicans and 25 Democrats opposed that measure, which I believe fails to meet constitutional muster.

On the Senate side, they passed a $123M tax hike on vehicle sales, which also likely fails the constitutionality test. 14 Republicans and 4 Democrats voted against that bill, which passed 25-18.

Conservative think-tank OCPA had fairly positive comments about the end of session, noting that "the Legislature deserves credit for passing a budget that minimizes damaging tax increases on Oklahomans compared to what was called for at the start of session."

Governor Mary Fallin kicked off the year with proposals to raise a variety of taxes by nearly 2.6 billion dollars. While she did get her cigarette tax smoking cessation fee increase of $257M, she didn't get her $635M fuel tax increase, or her $1.7B sales tax hike. That is a positive that we can take from this session.

However, a real and very dangerous question must be answered by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. The Legislature very clearly and brazenly defied Article 5, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution, which states that "No revenue bill shall be passed during the five last days of the session," as well as "Any revenue bill originating in the House of Representatives may become law without being submitted to a vote of the people of the state if such bill receives the approval of three-fourths (3/4) of the membership of the House of Representatives and three-fourths (3/4) of the membership of the Senate and is submitted to the Governor for appropriate action." The aforementioned tax/fee hikes were passed within that 5-day window and without 3/4ths approval, clearly breaking the spirit and letter of the law, which is in the State Constitution by virtue of the Oklahoma voters passing State Question 640 in 1992 in response to the Legislature passing tax increases.

If the courts do not clearly respond to this action, future legislatures will be able to raise revenue at any time and in any manner with complete impunity.

Three takeaways:
  1. It was not a good legislative session. There were difficulties resolved in poor ways.
  2. It could have been much worse. Even greater damage was averted.
  3. It could be much worse in the future if Article 5 Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution is not properly enforced.

Oklahoma Senate Pro Tem comments on 2017 session

Sen. Pro Tempore Mike Schulz (R-Altus)
Oklahoma Senate Pro Tem comments on 2017 session
Says REAL ID, energy jobs policy wins during challenging budget year

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz commented on the 2017 session, saying great policy bookended a session dominated by a $1 billion budget shortfall.

“The Oklahoma Senate worked this session with the goal of ensuring the policies we enacted had long-term vision and set Oklahoma on the path to success now and years down the line. Despite a session that was dominated by the $1 billion shortfall, the Senate was able to enact important policies that will help grow our economy, create jobs and generate wealth, and yield new revenues for the state budget. The Energy Jobs Act of 2017 will help kick start oil and gas drilling, allowing the industry to help lead Oklahoma’s economic recovery. And getting Oklahoma in compliance with the federal REAL ID law ensures Oklahomans can maintain access to military bases to support our service men and women and board domestic flights with state issued ID,” said Schulz, R-Altus.

“The budget process was difficult this year. The Oklahoma Senate showed its willingness to compromise – passing a revenue bill that would have meant $514 million in new, recurring revenue for the state. But without compromise from others in budget negotiations, we couldn’t reach a deal and moved forward. Initially, 18 – 20 percent cuts were feared at the outset of the year. But the budgets of common education, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Human Services, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, and the Department of Public Safety were kept whole while other agency cuts average less than five percent. Like most budgets passed by the Legislature, the FY’18 budget is not a perfect bill but it is an incredible accomplishment considering the Legislature had to deal with a budget hole of $1 billion and some refused to compromise.”

“This was a challenging session, but I’m proud of every member of the Oklahoma Senate for their dedication to our state and willingness to put our state above partisan politics. I’m proud to lead this chamber and want to thank each senator for their service to Oklahoma.”

Below is a list of some of the 2017 legislative accomplishments of the Oklahoma Senate:

BUDGET REFORMS:

  • HB 2298 (Schulz):  accelerates the sunset date of the zero-emissions tax credit for wind energy to July 1, 2017, saving the state millions of dollars in future budget years.
  • HB 2343 (David):  expands parameters for which the Oklahoma Tax Commission can target entities for noncompliance with certain sales tax laws. The measure is expected to generate $17 million in new revenue.
  • SB 170 (Thompson):  eliminates the automatic income tax cut trigger, preserving lawmakers’ ability to pursue income tax cuts at a future date.
  • HB 2311 (Schulz):  commission to conduct independent performance audits of top 20 appropriated state agencies in order to identify ways in which tax dollars can be used more efficiently and services delivered more effectively.
  • HB 2344 (David): reduces the maximum for the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program by $1 million.
  • HB 2348 (David): “decouples” the standard deduction on state tax returns from federal deductions. The measure is estimated to raise $4 million currently, and prevent millions in an anticipated shortfall if the federal government changes the federal standard deduction. 
  • HB 1427 (Leewright):  authorizes the creation of a dedicated division within the Oklahoma Tax Commission to focus solely on out-of-state vendors who may not be in compliance with Oklahoma tax code.

 ECONOMY:  A MORE PROSPEROUS OKLAHOMA

  • SB 867 (Schulz):  Energy Jobs Act of 2017 allows horizontal drilling in all rock formations, while maintaining protections for other producers. The bill is estimated to generate millions for state and local governments, and foster the creation of thousands of oil and gas jobs. 
  • HB 1845 (Schulz): brings Oklahoma into compliance with the federal REAL ID law ensuring Oklahomans can use their state-issued licenses to gain entry to federal buildings and military installations and to board commercial flights.
  • SB 147 (Schulz): allows concentrated feeding animal operations (CAFO) to be located within a town if the municipality's governing body executes a written waiver of the setback for the particular CAFO, ensuring CAFO’s can continue operations while allowing municipalities to hold them accountable.
  • SB 120 (David):  extends the successful aerospace engineers tax credit.
  • SB 211 (Bice):  allows Sunday alcohol sales if approved by county voters.
  • SB 174 (Bice): allows spouses of liquor retail store owners to own separate stores.
  • SB 593 (Schulz): Protects property rights, puts Oklahoma in line with the other 49 states in regards to private airstrips, and allows FAA to make the determination of setbacks to keep the area safe for air travel.
  • HB 2186 (Holt) (pending): allows movie theatres to serve alcohol provided they receive the appropriate permits.

EDUCATION:  INVESTING IN FUTURE GENERATIONS

  • SB 514 (Stanislawski):  creates task force to study ways to reduce administrative costs and improve financial stability of school districts. Another effort to ensure more dollars make it into the classroom to support students and teachers.
  • SB 15 (Bice):  directs the OSDE and State Regents for Higher Education to implement a targeted teacher recruiting program.
  • SB 84 (Bergstrom):  extends the probationary period for a student who cannot pass the third-grade reading test to the 2022-2023 school year.
  • SB 244 (Stanislawski):  requires virtual charter schools to track attendance.
  • SB 301 (Griffin):  exempts children in out-of-home placements with DHS from the requirement to attend a public school regarding the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program.
  • SB 445 (Newhouse):  Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Education Scholarship Act tax credits.
  • SB 529 (Smalley): increases the family income limit for eligibility under the Oklahoma’s Promise program and expands the tuition scholarship to include more CareerTech programs.
  • HB 1693 (Stanislawski):  puts into place a new framework and basic components for a new A-F school accountability system, ensuring Oklahoma is compliant with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
  • HB 1578 (Stanislawski):  creates the School Finance Review Commission which will study all matters related to school finance in an effort to provide understanding and accountability in school finance.

PUBLIC SAFETY:  A SAFER OKLAHOMA

  • SB 603 (Treat): requires the Department of Corrections to administer a risk and needs assessment for each prisoner. The agency must develop a plan of action based on said assessment. (pending approval by governor)
  • SB 604 (Treat) requires the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training to include personal safety planning necessary at the pretrial stages of a potential criminal case.
  • SB 52 (Fry): requires drivers to physically turn over their driver's license on demand from a peace officer.
  • SB 90 (McCortney):   requires the sheriff or a CLEET-certified deputy sheriff to accompany a reserve force deputy sheriff unless said deputy sheriff received 240 hours of training. Requires them to complete said training in 6 months.
  • SB 252 (Griffin): allows victims impact panel programs to have multiple presenters.
  • SB 273 (Smalley): extends forcible sodomy laws dealing with public employees to include subcontractors and their employees.
  • SB 342 (Holt): creates a task force to examine costs and fees assessed on persons interacting with the criminal justice process.
  • SB 786 (Shaw) reduces charges associated with burglary if no person is present in the home.
  • SB 38 (Thompson):  increases the Forensic Science Improvement Assessment fee from $5 to $10 to support the upkeep of state forensic lab equipment.
  • SB 303 (Smalley) authorizes the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to submit fingerprints to the FBI Rap Back System.

A HEALTHIER OKLAHOMA

  • SB 741 (Standridge): subject to the availability of funds, directs Oklahoma Health Care Authority to develop and administer a program to encourage participants in the Medicaid program to use primary care services in lieu of emergency room visits in order to drive down health care costs. 
  • SB 765 (Yen): prohibits minors from utilizing tanning beds.
  • SB 773 (David):  directs the OHCA to initiate a request for proposal for care coordination models for children 0-18 years of age.
  • SB 828 (Griffin): creates the Nursing Facility Supplemental Payment Program Revolving Fund under the OHCA which will be used to make supplemental payments of Medicaid and administrative expenses.

PROTECTING CHILDREN AND SUPPORTING FAMILIES

  • HB 1703 (Treat):  “Choosing Childbirth Act," which establishes a program to promote, incentivize, and provide support for crisis pregnancy centers.
  • SB 34 (David): strengthens anti-trafficking laws by stating "lack of knowledge of the age of the (trafficking) victim" shall not constitute a defense to human trafficking of a minor.
  • SB 217 (Griffin):  requires a sex offender who is given a suspended sentence to report to local law enforcement and the DOC parole office in their district.
  • SB 717 (Griffin): broadens scope of the Child Care Restricted Registry to include people with a substantiated finding of child abuse.
  • SB 723 (Griffin): broadens the scope of background checks for those applying to be child care providers.
  • SB 726 (Griffin): subjects physicians engaging in telemedicine to the same standards in person healthcare experts are expected to adhere to.
  • SB 748 (Griffin): allows DHS to create a pilot program that focuses on improving socioeconomic outcomes for children in state custody.
  • SB 30 (Griffin):  requires DHS to publicly post information regarding pregnancy help centers contingent on funding being appropriated specifically for this program.
  • HB 1894 (Sykes): helps protect vulnerable patients from being denied life-preserving care by creating a hierarchy of individuals who can make health decisions for someone that is consistently unconscious, incompetent or otherwise mentally or physically incapable of communicating.
  • HB 1468 (Holt): modified the statute of limitations on criminal charges so that minors can now charge the perpetrator until their own 45th birthday.
  • HB 1470 (Holt): modifies the statute of limitation on civil suits regarding sexual assault so that minors can now charge the perpetrator until their own 45th birthday.

SUPPORTING VETERANS AND MILITARY FAMILIES

  • SB 35 (David): allows active military members and those who are in the Reserves or National Guard who are 21 years of age or older to carry a handgun without a handgun license.  Military members’ extensive training with weapons makes the requirement of having a gun license unnecessary.
  • SB 227 (Simpson): increases service members’ financial and contractual rights by allowing members in the Armed Services or National Guard to cancel services like cell phone contracts, utilities, and health club memberships without penalty when mobilized or deployed.
  • SB 233 (Simpson): adds provision stating that hourly employees shall not miss out on the first 240 hours of their pay when called to active service.
  • SB 543 (Simpson): directs ODVA to establish a state cemetery for veterans addressing a national shortage of space for veterans’ cemeteries and providing a way to honor veterans with a dignified final resting place.
  • SB 730 (Simpson): strikes the requirement for veterans’ centers to implement non-smoking measures by January, 2018.

GENERAL POLICY AND REFORMS

  • SB 145 (Fields): allows presidential electors to be chosen at a party convention, but not necessarily a statewide convention. Changes the petition requirements to file for an independent bid of the Presidency to include the number of signatures required to form a party.
  • SB 148 (Fields): states that Oklahomans who renew their license must be provided with voter registration services as required by the National Voter Registration Act. Changes of address on the license shall change the address on the registration.
  • SB 153 (Fields):  allows state parks to spend monies collected from entrance or day-use charges at state parks for general improvement of the park.
  • SB 287 (Griffin): directs the Oklahoma Corporation Commission and Department of Environmental Quality to obtain authorization from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to administer all programs regulating oil and gas discharges into the waters of this state.
  • SB 360 (Holt): directs state Election Board to develop a system to allow voters to electronically change information on voter registration.