Friday, June 30, 2017

Richardson Issues Statement in Response to Denial of Car Sales Tax Stay


Richardson Issues Statement in Response to Denial of Car Sales Tax Stay 

Tulsa, OK, June 30, 2017 – Gary Richardson issued a statement today in response to the Oklahoma Supreme Court denying his stay on the implementation of the car sales tax before the case is heard on August 8th.  “I’m extremely disappointed that the justices didn’t stay the implementation of 1.25% sales tax on auto sales,” said Richardson.

Richardson discussed the impact of the tax increase and how it will affect the small business owners who run the auto dealerships across the state.  “Folks, this decision will depress auto sales and potentially stall our fragile economy hurting small businesses and consumers across the state. This is why I filed the lawsuit to challenge the car sales tax in the first place.”

“Hundreds if not thousands of Oklahomans are now going to have to make the difficult decision of whether to pay a higher tax at their local, Oklahoma car dealer or wait until after the court hearing in August.  Until then, Oklahoma suffers,” said Richardson.

The Supreme Court will hear the challenge to the car sales tax along with the other two revenue bills being challenged by Richardson on behalf of the Oklahoma taxpayers on August 8th at 11 a.m.

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.