Monday, January 30, 2017

Sen. Yen seeks to regulate, restrict Oklahoma midwives


State Sen. Ervin Yen (R-OKC) has filed two measures that would seriously restrict and regulate the practice of midwifery in Oklahoma. SB 714 [info, bill language] would prohibit the professional use of the term "midwife" unless the individual "meets the licensing requirements for a Registered Nurse license issued by the [Oklahoma] Board [of Nursing]", while SB 747 [info, bill language] would prohibit Certified Nurse-Midwives from performing a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC) outside of a hospital setting (i.e. homebirth). Yen, a former cardiac anesthesiologist, was first elected to the State Senate in 2014.

I contacted Sen. Yen to get his reasoning for the bills. For the other side, I got a response from the Midwives Society of Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Midwives Alliance, and the Oklahoma chapter of the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives.

Yen filed the measures after an incident in November that resulted in the death of a newborn. A Certified Nurse-Midwife had been in the process of a homebirth when the delivery began to have problems related to a breech birth. The midwife took the mother to a labor-and-delivery facility for an emergency c-section. The baby experienced some problems, and was transported to Children's Hospital in Oklahoma City, where it later died. As a result of this one example, Yen wants to require that any VBAC be done at a hospital licensed by the State Department of Health. (I would point out that tragedies occur, even at hospitals.)

According to statistics from the CDC, Oklahoma has the 6th lowest VBAC rate in the nation. Only a handful of hospitals in Oklahoma even offer or allow VBACs (in large part due to malpractice insurance not allowing them), making it difficult for women to obtain them if they so desire.

The Midwives coalition:
VBACs are, indeed, difficult to obtain in Oklahoma hospitals, even though the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agrees that VBAC is safer than a repeat C-section and recommends that trial of labor be offered to most women (Practice Bulletin #115, "Vaginal Birth after Previous Cesarean Delivery," published in the August 2010 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology). As required by the Oklahoma Midwives Alliance and the Midwives Society of Oklahoma’s guidelines, all women who attempt out-of-hospital VBAC are given an informed consent document outlining the small but real possibility of a complication that could result in injury or death to both mother and baby.  Each client’s history and current pregnancy is evaluated to ensure that certain clinical criteria are met in order for her situation to be deemed appropriate for an  out-of-hospital VBAC.
Yen's primary issue with both of these bills is focused on regulating and licensing midwives. "When I look [different types of Oklahoma midwives] up, I can't seem to find any data on their training, they're not licensed by any state entity. And so I decided that's not right. If someone's going to call themselves a midwife and help a woman deliver at home, I think they need to have some standard training. Now, I'm not saying that a woman can't deliver at home. Women have been doing that for eons, since the beginning of time, and I think they should still be allowed to do that, and I think that they can utilize anybody that they want to help them ... In Oklahoma, I just think that you should not be able to call yourself a midwife unless you're one of these Certified Nurse Midwives that is licensed by the state of Oklahoma."

Midwives coalition response:
We believe Sen Yen’s plan to restrict midwifery to only CNMs is not in the public's best interest. The bill erroneously presumes that midwifery and nursing are bound when in fact there are three groups of midwives in the US that hold a national credential:  the Certified Professional Midwife (CPM), the Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM) and the Certified Midwife (CM).  Only the CNM credential has a nursing prerequisite. This bill would prevent other professional midwives from practicing their trade and serving the families of Oklahoma, and would leave most women who choose  out-of-hospital birth without a qualified attendant. 92% of the homebirth midwives in Oklahoma are Certified Professional Midwives (CPMs) and we attend the large majority of  out-of-hospital births. Direct entry midwives have been openly attending births in Oklahoma continuously since statehood. We provide comprehensive prenatal care, report our statistics to and file birth certificates with the state, have public health lab accounts so that we can provide needed newborn screening, and work with various other state agencies to insure our clients receive exceptional care in line with the standard of care in Oklahoma. Additionally, this bill would end the livelihoods of many small business owners who have enormous amounts of time and money invested in their careers. Some have been practicing as long as 35 years, and all of them have made serious sacrifices to attain their positions and serve their communities.
In my conversation with Senator Yen, he returned numerous times to his belief that midwives should be regulated by the State: "If somebody comes to me and can show me that there are other midwives in the state besides these Certified Nurse-Midwives, that are well-trained and can do a good job, I'd say that's fine, but I think that they should be somehow licensed or supervised or certified by the state." Currently, Oklahoma only recognizes and licenses Certified Nurse-Midwives, but does not ban or restrict other midwives from practicing.

In SB 714, Yen's bill language states that "No person shall use the professional designation of "midwife" [...] unless such person meets the licensing requirements for a Registered Nurse license issued by the Board.", however, according to his numerous statements it seems his intent is that the requirement should be CNM-level (Master's degree) rather than RN-level (Bachelor's degree).

  • Yen: "If my bill were to pass, if you wanted to be called a 'midwife', you would need to be one of these Certified Nurse Midwives."
  • Yen: "In order to call themselves a midwife, they'd need to be a CNM. Anybody else can help a woman deliver, but they just cannot call themselves a midwife. Again, if these other non-Certified-Nurse-Midwives can show me that they have reasonable training, I'll consider adding them, but they're going to have to do that, and I think they need to be somehow licensed by the state."
  • Yen: "In order to call yourself a midwife, you'd need to be a CNM. And again, I am open to including others in there if they're properly trained, and if they're licensed and certified by the State of Oklahoma."

I pointed out the discrepancy between his statements of requiring CNM status when the bill language appears to require RN status instead. He said, "Well, that's not the intent. The intent is that you cannot call yourself a midwife unless you are a Certified Nurse Midwife; that's a RN that has had midwifery training. Now if the bill doesn't read that way, I promise you that we will fix it."

The Midwives coalition responded to Yen's idea: "Direct-entry midwives of Oklahoma have traditionally done an excellent job of self regulating, all without additional expense to our clients or the state. Many Oklahoma CPMs prefer to remain unregulated at this time, though most would be comfortable working under some kind of state oversight as long as it recognizes the legitimacy of midwives who are aligned with the international standards for midwifery and is managed by a pro-midwifery body. History has shown us that there is a legitimate concern that the state may place unfair and unreasonable restrictions on the practice of midwifery, effectively removing the right of birthing women to choose what kind of care they receive and from whom. If it comes to this, there are many excellent models in the US, as 30 states currently recognize CPMs. It is important to note that not one state has ever repealed their CPM licensing legislation."

To his credit, Senator Yen said multiple times that he'd be more than happy to discuss his legislation with the Oklahoma midwives, and could be open to some alterations of the final language. The midwives group said that they are working to set up a meeting with Yen.

A Facebook group supporting midwifery in Oklahoma was started in response to Yen filing the bills; over 5,200 people are currently members, and supporters have raised about $4,000 to fund their activities (including potentially hiring a lobbyist to monitor legislation that would affect midwifery).

Today, the Daily Oklahoman editorial board came out against SB 747 (the VBAC measure). I oppose both of Yen's bills. We planned to have a midwife-assisted homebirth with our baby girl, but after problems surfaced ended up at the hospital for an emergency c-section. When the need arose for more extreme measures, our midwife (a CPM) didn't hesitate to move things to a hospital (as all responsible midwives are prepared to do). She wasn't going to jeopardize my wife and baby's health just to have a homebirth like we had planned. Midwives exist to care for both the mother and baby, and have a vested interest in their best health and successful delivery, even if they end up not being the one to deliver the baby.

Midwifery in Oklahoma isn't broken. Midwives provide vital services to many families across the state, and have since before statehood. In some cases, VBACs in particular, they offer options that are simply not available at most hospitals. While the vast majority of mothers will continue to utilize more common methods, let's continue to allow the freedom for others to seek accessible midwifery if they see fit.

Music Monday: Hail, Columbia

In honor of new Vice President Mike Pence, this week's Music Monday is the standard musical greeting for the Vice President of the United States: four Ruffles and Flourishes, followed by the Vice Presidential Anthem, Hail, Columbia.

Enjoy!



Click to go below the page break to see all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to submit for a future Music Monday? Email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Desolation of Obama: 2009 voter registration vs 2017

In this edition of the Voter Registration Maps series, we'll compare several different maps comparing voter registration around the inaugurations of Barack Obama (January 2009) and Donald Trump (January 2017). The desolation wrought in Oklahoma on the Democrat Party is tremendous.

First up, the registration leads by county:

Democrats went from leading in 54 counties when Obama took office, to leading in 40 counties when Trump took office. Where in 2009 Democrats had 13 counties with leads greater than 60% (Pushmataha was the largest at a 74.62% lead - 84.51% D to 9.89% R), now they have none over 60%.

Second up, the percentage swings:
Every county moved toward the GOP by at least 5%, with the smallest gains coming in the metros and college counties. 57 counties had at least a 20% swing to the Republicans, with Cotton (+47.51%) and Tillman (+40.52%) in southwest Oklahoma posting the most massive change.

Lastly, the majority and plurality party by county:

Currently, Republicans are the majority party in 26 counties (13 in 2009), and plurality party in 11 counties (10 in 2009). Democrats are majority in 33 counties (49 in 2009), and plurality in 7 counties (5 in 2009).

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Chili's cancels Planned Parenthood fundraiser after catching flak


National restaurant chain Chili's came under fire yesterday after franchises in Indiana and Kentucky partnered with abortion giant Planned Parenthood for a "Give Back" fundraising program. 15% of pre-tax purchases would have gone to the abortion corporation under the 3-month promotion.

Pro-Lifers and customers from across the country contacted Chili's to express their outrage, and today, Chili's stopped the program.

I was one of the many who contacted the restaurant chain, and to my surprise received a response with their public statement of reversal:


From their statement, it looks like Chili's learned a lesson, and will make an effort to prevent similar events in the future. Score a win for pro-lifers.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Voter Registration Maps: Party Growth, 1/16 to 1/17

Continuing my Voter Registration Maps series update, here are maps representing the growth by county of Republicans, Democrats, and Independents as a percentage of  each county's registered voters.

First, the Democrats:

Once again, no county had positive percentage growth for Oklahoma Democrats. Their smallest losses came in Tulsa County (-1.003%), Beaver County (-0.98%) and Oklahoma County (-0.62%). Losses were heavy in southeastern Oklahoma (with an average loss there of around -4.9%) and southwestern Oklahoma (average loss of about -5.7%).

Second, the Republicans:

Republicans gained percentage in every county except Cleveland (-0.37%), Garfield (-0.004%), Oklahoma (-0.85%), Payne (-0.07%), and Tulsa (-0.48%). In each case, those drops came as a result of Independent and Libertarian growth, not Democrat increases. The greatest growth occurred in southwestern and southeastern Oklahoma.

Lastly, the Independents:

Independents gained percentage in all 77 counties, with widely varying growth. The weakest area was in the Panhandle and northwest, while strongest percentages tended to be on the east side of the state.

Libertarians were not a recognized party last January, so they don't have a January-to-January map yet. I'll have a separate map for them later.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Oklahoma Voter Registration Map, January 2017

(click image to view larger)

It's that time again - updates for my Voter Registration Maps series are coming up over the next several days.

Republicans continue making major gains across the state, and now sit at 45.76% of all registered voters. Democrats have fallen below 40% for the first time ever, numbering just 39.43% statewide. In every past map I'v done, they had at least one county with a 60% lead; that is no longer the case. Independents are at 14.62%, and Libertarians have 0.18% (3,967 voters).

Republicans took the lead in Beckham, Delaware, Nowata, Pawnee, Pottawatomie, and Stephens counties. Three other counties totter on the brink, with Democrats holding razor-thin margins in Mayes County (2.28% lead), Osage County (1.94% lead), and Washita County (0.94% lead)

I'll be getting more updates posted on this series soon.

"Prenatal care": yet another Planned Parenthood lie exposed

Abortion giant Planned Parenthood likes to claim that they provide women with vital services such as prenatal care, so LiveAction went out to fact check. Watch this video for what they found out:



92 out of 97 Planned Parenthood locations said they do not provide prenatal care, using some of the following words:
Tempe, AZ - "Planned Parenthood offers abortions, so they don't offer prenatal care"

Merrillville, IN - "I mean, it's called Planned Parenthood, I know it's kind of deceiving"

Albany, NY - "No Planned Parenthood does prenatal care, hon."

Santa Fe, NM - "No, see, we don’t see pregnant women as a way of giving prenatal care, we see pregnant women, um, you know, if they are considering other options."
Read more from LiveAction here.

It is way past time that this vile, genocidal organization stops receiving taxpayer dollars.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Music Monday: Hail to the Chief

In honor of President Donald Trump's inauguration last Friday, this week's Music Monday is the standard musical greeting for the President of the United States: Ruffles and Flourishes (the President gets four drum "ruffles" and brass "flourishes", while most dignitaries get less and none get more), followed by the Presidential Anthem, Hail To The Chief.

Enjoy!



Click to go below the page break to see all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to submit for a future Music Monday? Email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Trump-Pence Inauguration Livestream


Today at noon Eastern Time, Donald Trump will be officially sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America, with Mike Pence being sworn in as the 48th Vice President shortly beforehand. The Inauguration activities kick off around 11:30am ET/10:30am CT.

The video below is supposed to live-stream the Inauguration, for those unable to watch elsewhere:


To quote former President Gerald Ford from his inauguration,

“My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over.”

Let's pray that President Trump exceeds our expectations.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Rep. Kirby should resign or be expelled

State Rep. Dan Kirby (R, Dist. 75)

State Rep. Dan Kirby (R-Tulsa) has now been accused of sexual harassment by two of his former legislative assistants. The House Rules Committee is reviewing those claims, as well as allegations against other members of the House. That investigation should continue.

The first accusation against Kirby was settled out of court, at a cost to taxpayers of nearly $45,000. After news reports uncovered the secret settlement, Kirby announced that he would resign, only to rescind that resignation several days later.

Kirby claims that the first allegation is groundless and that he will be found innocent, and that he had no idea of the situation until it hit the news. I find that hard to believe. He acknowledges that major details of the second allegation, portions of which were reported on today by the Oklahoman, are true. This includes a "consensual" (according to Kirby) relationship with his legislative assistant -- which is against the rules and practice of the House.

Kirby acknowledges conduct that is unbefitting of an Oklahoma state legislator, and is an abuse of his office as an elected official. He should resign.

If he fails to do so, the House of Representatives should follow Article V, Section 30 of the Oklahoma Constitution and expel him for disorderly and inappropriate conduct.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Andy Coleman announces for 1st District, makes term limits pledge



Owasso – Andy Coleman is pleased to announce his candidacy for U.S. Congress, to represent Oklahoma’s First Congressional District. The district is currently represented by Congressman Jim Bridenstine, who previously announced his intention not to seek reelection following the current term.

The Republican primary election for this seat, in which Coleman would compete, is not scheduled until 2018. “I realize I am announcing extremely early, but I feel the need to do so because of my unique background that has kept me out of the public eye,” Coleman said. “I need more time to introduce myself to the voters and share my message.”

For the last several years, Coleman led all field efforts in the Middle East for The Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), a Bartlesville-based Christian ministry that helps persecuted Christians in the world’s most difficult countries. This sensitive work required Coleman to maintain an extremely low profile. He travelled throughout the region 80 to 100 days each year to encourage and equip local Christians facing intense pressure. In his role, Coleman oversaw a portfolio totaling millions of dollars annually, broken out over hundreds of individual field projects.

Before joining VOM, Coleman served in many different capacities. He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he double majored in Foreign Area Studies and Political Science. Upon graduation, Coleman served as a military intelligence officer and focused on threat trends throughout North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Europe. He deployed to Baghdad, Iraq with the U.S. Army during the surge of 2007 and 2008.

Apart from his military service, Coleman attended the University of Kansas School of Law. As a law student, he served as an editor on the Law Review, and as a leader of the school’s Christian Legal Society and Federalist Society chapters. He also became a Blackstone Fellow with the Alliance Defense Fund. Coleman briefly entered private legal practice with a large, international law firm, but soon felt himself called into full-time ministry with VOM.

“None of this would have been possible without my wife, Liz,” conceded Coleman. He and Liz have been married fourteen years and are blessed with three wonderful children. You can learn more about Andy Coleman and his campaign by visiting www.AndyColeman.org.



Owasso – Andy Coleman, who recently declared his candidacy for U.S. Congress, announced a term limits pledge on Sunday afternoon.  Should he be elected to represent Oklahoma’s First Congressional District, Coleman pledged to serve no more than four full terms.

Coleman delivered his term limits pledge to approximately 80 supporters at his campaign’s kickoff event, held at the Owasso Community Center.  He is running to replace Congressman Jim Bridenstine, who previously announced his intention not to seek reelection following the current term.

In explaining his decision to make the pledge, Coleman shared that it “preserve[s] [his] ability to be as effective a representative and leader for the families of the First District as possible.”

Coleman, a military veteran and former international fielder leader for a Christian ministry, acknowledged there were thoughtful arguments against taking a term limits pledge.  But after significant thought and prayer, Coleman felt it was critical to his ability to remain a servant leader.  You can learn more about Andy Coleman and his campaign by visiting www.AndyColeman.org.

Music Monday: Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy

This week's Music Monday is Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy, a great classic hymn, to an old American folk tune ("Restoration"). Here are three very different versions of the song: the first is an Irish/bluegrass setting by Keith & Kristyn Getty, and the second is an a capella choir from Thailand, and the third is a instrumental/singing group with the Galkin Evangelistic Team. I don't ordinarily do three videos, but I thought each merited inclusion, as they bring the hymn from different perspectives.

Enjoy!

First up, the Getty version:

Next, the a capella choir:

Finally, the Galkin team:


Here are the lyrics, and they preach quite the sermon:
1. Come ye sinners, poor and needy,
Weak and wounded, sick and sore;
Jesus ready stands to save you,
Full of pity, love, and pow'r.

Chorus:
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms.

2. Come, ye thirsty, come and welcome,
God's free bounty glorify;
True belief and true repentance,
Ev'ry grace that brings you nigh.
[Chorus]

3. Come ye weary, heavy laden,
Lost and ruined by the fall;
If you tarry till you're better,
You will never come at all.
[Chorus]

4. Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
Verses three and four in particular speak great truths.We are all sinners in need of a Savior. That Savior is Jesus Christ. We have been ruined by sin, and are unable to save ourselves from eternal judgment for that sin, but "Jesus ready stands to save you." His gift of salvation is free, but urgent, as we are not guaranteed tomorrow. "If you tarry till you're better, you will never come at all." Now is the day of salvation - learn how more about becoming a Christian at this link.


Click to go below the page break to see all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to submit for a future Music Monday? Email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Carol Bush says she was misquoted; publisher disagrees

State Rep. Carol Bush
In a December interview with TheTulsaVoice.com, freshman State Rep. Carol Bush (R-Tulsa) made a series of comments on her policy views that were... unorthodox for a Republican, to say the least. The HD70 representative took liberal positions on taxes three times, said ObamaCare was the "wrong execution of the right idea", and leaned left on social issues like abortion, marriage, and assisted suicide. She also said she was recruited to run for office by now ex-representative Jeannie McDaniel (D-Tulsa), who was one of the most liberal Oklahoma  legislators in recent memory.

After her statements caught attention on social media and my post here, Rep. Bush sent an apology to members of the House Republican caucus, obtained by SoonerPolitics.org:


Bush pleads "misquoted" and "taken out of context" for her liberal positions.

Joshua Kline, editor of TheTulsaVoice.com, responded to Bush's claim with this statement:
"We stand by Barry Friedman's story, which presented Rep. Bush in her own words. Bush is welcome to contact us directly if she seriously believes she was misquoted or "taken out of context." We'd be happy to go over the audio with her and sort this whole thing out."
The tone of the original article was that of a conversation between old pals; in fact, the author started off with a disclaimer noting that he and Bush have been friends for 35 years. I think the truth of the matter isn't "misquoted" or "taken out of context", but rather that, at ease in a friendly environment, Bush was simply caught voicing her real thoughts on these policy issues.

At least it gives conservatives a heads-up about another legislator to keep a watchful eye on.

Monday, January 9, 2017

House Passes Lucas-Bridenstine Weather Forecasting Bill


Lucas-Bridenstine Weather Forecasting Bill Passed in the House

Washington, DC, January 9, 2017 --  Today the U.S. House unanimously approved H.R. 353, the Lucas-Bridenstine Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act.  This legislation prioritizes protecting lives and property.

‘Every minute counts in the lead up before a major storm or tornado,” said Congressman Frank Lucas. “This legislation helps to give those in harm’s way additional disaster preparation time which could ultimately be the difference between life and death or thousands of dollars in property damage. I am encouraged that the House has taken action on this critical matter and hope to see these life-saving policies enacted soon.”

“Our aim is to have zero deaths from tornadoes and other extreme weather events,” said Congressman Jim Bridenstine. “This bill gets us closer to that day.  I thank my House colleagues for their support, and anticipate swift Senate passage and that the President will sign it into law.”

This legislation is the product of a bipartisan effort.  It directs the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to focus resources and effort to:

  • Rebalance NOAA funding to place a higher priority on weather-related research and activities;
  • Emphasize developing accurate forecasts and timely warnings of high impact weather events;
  • Create programs to extend warning lead times and improve forecasts for tornadoes and hurricanes;
  • Develop a plan to utilize advanced technology to regain U.S. superiority in weather modeling and forecasts;
  • Increase focus and continue development of seasonal forecasts and how to maximize information from these forecasts; and
  • Enhance coordination among various federal government weather stakeholders.

 The legislation also authorizes and extends a NOAA pilot program already under way thanks to a partnership between the House Science Space and Technology and the House Appropriations Committee. Under this pilot program, NOAA has already issued two contracts to procure commercial satellite weather data. This pilot program could bring about a paradigm shift in how NOAA makes decisions about future procurement of critical weather data.

House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith added, "Americans from coast to coast will now be better prepared for severe weather with the passage of the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act.  This bill has been four years in the making and is long overdue.  It will transform our nation’s weather gathering efforts and help save lives and property.  This legislation strengthens the underlying atmospheric science while simultaneously advancing innovative technology and reforming operations to provide better weather data, models, and forecasts.  America can thank Reps. Lucas and Bridenstine for leading this innovation initiative.  We look forward to the Senate approving this bill soon."

The Washington Post called this “the first major piece of weather legislation adopted since the early 1990s.”  The legislation, originally introduced in the House in 2013, passed the House in 2015, and last December the Senate approved an amended version.  Provisions in the bill approved today are nearly identical to the Senate version, so we can anticipate swift passage again in the Senate and presentation to the President for signing into law.

Links to videos of remarks on the House floor:

Congressman Lucas- https://youtu.be/FmXeb1z7RTw
Congressman Bridenstine- https://youtu.be/tvR19_RzbDw
Chairman Smith- https://youtu.be/bWvm6IeBZns

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Pruitt begins winding down fundraising committees


In advance of his upcoming EPA confirmation hearings, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has begun to wind down his campaign committee and related super PACs.

Before Trump picked him to take over the Environmental Protection Agency, Pruitt had three political committees raising and spending funds: his 2014 reelection committee, Liberty 2.0 (a super PAC), and Oklahoma Strong Leadership PAC. The PACs had been formed to support Pruitt's future political endeavors, widely thought to have been a 2018 gubernatorial run.

In 2016 (through September 30th), his reelection committee raised about $10,000, and spent over $30,000, ending with about $25,000 in the bank. Through November 28th, Liberty 2.0 raised $450,000, spent around $300,000, and still had about $146,000 on hand. Through November 28th, Oklahoma Strong Leadership PAC raised $391,000, spent $333,000, and had $57,000 on hand.

All told, Pruitt's committees raised over $850,000 in 2016, spent around $667,000, and still have about $230,000 left.

Pruitt came under some scrutiny over the committees' expenditures earlier this year, with hundreds of thousands of dollars being spent on consultants and travel, with relatively little of the PAC funds being given to candidates. Liberty 2.0 made zero expenditures on behalf of candidates, while Oklahoma Strong Leadership PAC gave $22,000 to Oklahoma candidates and Republican groups, and $7,330 to out-of-state candidates -- just 7.5% of what the PAC raised, and 3.5% of the combined PAC/super-PAC fundraising. In comparison, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe's leadership PAC gave roughly 60% to other candidates.

From the Oklahoman:
Two federal political action committees formed to support Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and conservative causes will shutter operations this month ahead of his planned Senate confirmation hearings for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Charlie Spies, an attorney for Pruitt's leadership PAC, Oklahoma Strong, and an independent super PAC, Liberty 2.0, said the two groups are in the process of filing termination reports with the Federal Election Commission.

"The leadership of both groups are working on a plan for shutting them both down and disbursing remaining funds," Spies told The Oklahoman on Friday. "We would like to have them formally shut down before his hearings so political opponents can't use their existence as an excuse to attack him."
Read more here.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Mullin Reintroduces POWERS Act to Rein in Federal Overreach


Mullin Reintroduces POWERS Act to Rein in Federal Overreach

WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-2) reintroduced a bill on Tuesday to rein in the overreaching federal regulations enacted by the Obama Administration and its bureaucracy.  H.R. 41, The Preventing Overreach Within the Executive Rulemaking System (POWERS) Act of 2017, echoes one of the primary priorities of the 115th Congress: limiting federal overreach.

“The start of the 115th Congress gives us a chance to wipe the slate clean and start fresh,” Mullin said.  “With eight years of rules and regulations from the Obama Administration hanging over our heads, one of our first priorities as a unified Republican government is to cut back on the red tape that is suffocating our small businesses.  Time and time again, we saw President Obama overreach his executive power and bypass the legislative branch to create regulations that are detrimental to small businesses and individuals.  To restore the legislative branch’s constitutional authority, we need the POWERS Act.”    

The POWERS Act provides transparency and accountability to the federal rulemaking process before a rule is finalized.  Congress gives federal agencies the power to create rules, so it is also Congress’ responsibility to ensure that the rules proposed by federal agencies fit within the legislative boundaries set by Congress.

“Federal agencies have too much freedom and too little oversight in their rulemaking authority,” Mullin added.  “A federal agency is responsible for executing the policy Congress creates through a transparent, accountable, and public process.  They are not the legislative hand of the executive branch, and so they shouldn’t have the power to create rules and enact policies that affect Congress’ constituents, without any say from their elected representatives.”

With the POWERS Act, federal agencies will be required to respond to any formal Congressional inquiry about a proposed rule during the public notice and comment period.  The rulemaking will not be allowed to move forward until the agency has responded to Congress.  Presently, agencies are not required to respond to a submitted comment from the public or from Congress – making the public comment period insignificant.

“By requiring federal agencies to respond to comments and questions from Congress during the rulemaking process, the federal agencies will have to answer to Congress and the people Congress represents,” Mullin said.  “I am confident that the POWERS Act will return lost legislative power back to Congress and hold federal agencies accountable for the unwarranted rules and regulations they create.  I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to see that the POWERS Act provides the oversight necessary to prevent federal agencies from enacting policies that are harmful to our nation.”            
     
H.R. 41, The Preventing Overreach Within the Executive Rulemaking System (POWERS) Act of 2017, was introduced to the 115th Congress on January, 3, 2017 with 17 cosponsors.  It was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary for consideration.  

Bridenstine, Lucas comment on passage of REINS Act


Today, the U.S. House voted to pass H.R. 26, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of 2017. The bill, introduced by Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), would increase accountability for and transparency in the federal regulatory process by requiring Congress to approve all new major regulations (more from the Heritage Foundation here). Oklahoma's House delegation all voted in favor (in fact, no Republicans voted against the measure). Here are comments from Congressmen Jim Bridenstine (OK-01) and Frank Lucas (OK-03):



Congressman Jim Bridenstine Votes for Reining in Bureaucratic Regulations

Today, Congressman Jim Bridenstine voted for H.R. 26, the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act or the REINS Act.  The bill passed the House of Representatives 237/187.

Under the Obama Administration, unelected bureaucrats have used expansive and intrusive new regulations to fundamentally remake the American economy.  The REINS Act would help restore Congress’s constitutional power to make law, by requiring an up-or-down vote in Congress and the President’s signature to approve any major regulation which has an annual economic impact of over $100 million.

Congressman Bridenstine said: “Congress has ceded too much power to the executive branch, leading to an avalanche of red tape and new rules which are strangling economic growth, punishing job creators, and making life harder for families.  The REINS Act will help rebalance the scales and give Congress a bigger voice in the regulatory process.”

Today’s vote marks the third time the House has passed the REINS Act since 2012. President-Elect Trump has confirmed he will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.



Lucas Votes to Strengthen Congressional Review of Costly Government Regulations

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-3) today voted to pass the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act, legislation to increase the role of Congress in the oversight and review of executive agency rulemaking. The bill requires congressional approval for any major executive action that impacts the U.S. economy by an amount greater than $100 million or would drastically increase prices on consumer goods for Americans.

“The Obama administration’s regulatory regime of the past eight years has cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars,” said Congressman Lucas. “A big part of getting our economy back on track and Americans back to work is to remove the regulatory burdens that are restraining growth and opportunity.”

“As one of the first bills of the 115th Congress, the REINS Act is a serious step toward curbing overregulation and returning to common sense in the way we govern.”

Calvey Questions Hofmeister Budget Request


Calvey Questions Hofmeister Budget Request

OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 4th, 2017) – State Rep. Kevin Calvey today criticized the budget presentation made by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister.

“In a year in which we are facing a revenue deficit close to $900 million dollars, Superintendent Hofmeister offers no real solutions for streamlining our education system to make it more efficient and to target student needs,” said Calvey, R-Oklahoma City.  “Instead she presented a plan replete with big-ticket funding of districts without accountability for how those dollars are spent related to education results.”

Hofmeister and staff from the State Department of Education were asked to present their fiscal year 2018 budget request before the Oklahoma House of Representatives Appropriations & Budget Committee in an open meeting in the House Chamber. Calvey was among a number of legislators that attended and asked questions about the department’s budget.

Due to time constraints, legislators were not permitted to ask direct questions or follow-up questions of Hofmeister, but instead submitted questions.

“I appreciate House budget leaders for arranging for this presentation, and I look forward to being able to question Superintendent Hofmeister directly in future budget presentations,” Calvey said.

After listening to the more than 5-hour presentation and question-and-answer session, Calvey issued the following list of concerns:

  • Superintendent Hofmeister did not answer questions about emails revealed in the felony charges against her, emails she sent which demonstrate her prior knowledge of felony violations of state campaign finance laws, or why legislators should trust her to lead an $8 billion agency, given such evidence of corruption.
  • Superintendent Hofmeister declined to address the problem of excessive administration and other non-classroom teacher staff in Oklahoma public schools. Over 50 percent of Oklahoma school employees are not full-time classroom teachers, one of the worst such rates in the U.S.
  • Superintendent Hofmeister placed great stress on being able to recruit teachers from leaving for other states, yet incredibly seemed unaware that Oklahoma’s affordable cost of living has a great competitive advantage over other states, a fact which places Oklahoma as 30th among the states for cost-of-living-adjusted teacher compensation, rather than nearly last as Hofmeister claimed.
  • Superintendent Hofmeister admitted that this fiscal year the Education Department actually had MORE money available than in any previous year.  Yet she also claimed that funding was down from the previous fiscal year.
  • Superintendent Hofmeister claims that external indicators show growth in reading proficiency, citing the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). However, these results were based on training of students in reading without recent provisions that allow for social promotion of these children. Her representation is misleading.
  • By Superintendent Hofmeister’s own admission, the money requested for a rework of the state data system would cost the state more than three times what the original system cost. This would yield data around an accountability system that has received considerable criticism with charges of racial disparity in applying different levels of expectations for children of color as opposed to their white counterparts. Superintendent Hofmeister has asked the state to fund this data system rework with millions of dollars without receiving approval by the Legislature or the U.S. Department of Education (USDE), which is now headed by new leadership. 
  • Superintendent Hofmeister falsely claimed that the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) law for education “requires” that Oklahoma develop an entirely new accountability system.  In fact, the new law requires no such new system nor the additional taxpayer money sought by Superintendent Hofmeister for this purpose.
  • Superintendent Hofmeister is asking for money for a duplicative pilot program that would help coach teachers on the very things that they are supposed to be taught while in their colleges of education. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Music Monday: Auld Lang Syne

This week's Music Monday is Auld Lange Syne, performed by the BBC Symphony and 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 submit for a future Music Monday? Email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!


2016 has drawn to a close, and as 2017 (!) begins, I'd like to take a few moments to thank you for reading my Musings over the past eight years. Writing a blog has been an enjoyable hobby, but it wouldn't have been as good an experience without you, the readers.

As crazy and interesting as 2016 was, 2017 will probably give it a run for the money. Keep an eye here for my take on whatever happens this year, and be sure to check out the various links I've posted and the blogs on the right sidebar for more news and information.

2 Corinthians 5:17 is a good scripture verse to reflect on as we enter a new year: 'Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.'  Much like a new year illustrates a new beginning, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ results in a new beginning, a changed life, a blessed eternity. It is my prayer that if you have not experienced the salvation that comes through Christ, you will do so this year.

Once again, thanks for reading!

Jamison Faught
Blogger, MuskogeePolitico.com