Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Redefined: New Lingo for "Tax Hikes"


With Governor Mary Fallin proposing $2.6 Billion in tax increases, we're starting to see some new terminology regarding taxes coming from some in state government who are following the Governor's lead. Let's remember that as a self-proclaimed "conservative Republican", Fallin campaigned on "right-sizing government" and lower taxes.

So, get your dictionaries out, along with some White-Out, and let's get to work replacing those definitions. Here is the new lingo - these are all some alternative synonyms you can use for the topic of "raising taxes":

BOLD REFORMS FOR RECURRING REVENUES
Source: the Governor's budget proposal. Use this when you want to impress people, because it sounds eloquent and exciting.

BROADEN THE TAX BASE
This comes from former State Sen. Owen Laughlin's A Guide to Liberal Terms for the Legislative Session (pictured above), a flier he would hand out while on the campaign trail in 2010 when he ran for State Treasurer. Definition: "People paying existing taxes are fed up, so we need to find new things to tax for the first time in history." Fits the Fallin sales tax hike perfectly.

EXPAND THE SALES TAX BASE
Source: Governor's column on February 14th."If we expand our sales tax base to better reflect our economy, we could lower the overall sales tax rate or income tax." See related phrase below - REDUCED IN THE FUTURE.

INVEST/INVESTMENT
This one comes from House Appropriations & Budget Chair Leslie Osborn in an article from The Oklahoman: "'Out of 101 people in the House, I've got 70 or 80 pragmatic members that will actually look at this and say it's time to invest (with new revenue).'"  'Osborn, speaking on The Oklahoman's Political State podcast, referred to "pragmatic members" as those who might be willing to vote in favor of a tax increase.'  Problem is..... invest/investing/investment usually implies using money you already have.

NEW RECURRING REVENUE
Source: column by Scott Meacham, posted online by the Governor. A much nicer way of saying "higher taxes".

NEW REVENUE STREAM
Source: Governor Fallin's State of the State address: "I am proposing a new revenue stream by increasing our gas and diesel taxes to the regional state average, but still below the national average." That's..... not a new revenue stream, you just want to increase the rate at which it's taken.

PRAGMATIC MEMBER
Same source as INVEST/INVESTMENT. Osborn defined it for us: "pragmatic members" - those who might be willing to vote in favor of a tax increase.

PROUD
This would describe how Democrats feel when Republicans adopt this terminology to justify and advocate for tax-raising policies.

REVENUE CREATION 

Source: Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger, in a press release belittling OCPA for "cost avoidance versus actual revenue creation." Actual revenue creation,,, is that similar to Actual Physical Control?

REVENUE ENHANCEMENT
Another old-timer from Laughlin's A Guide to Liberal Terms for the Legislative Session.

TEMPORARY
The Oklahoma sales tax started as a temporary one-year tax in 1933. Two years later, it became permanent, and..... now you know the rest of the story. A related phrase is...

     --    REDUCED IN THE FUTURE

Governor Fallin's budget proposal said this after discussing a $1.7B sales tax increase: "Future legislators may even choose to reduce the overall sales tax rate as growth revenue continues over time." She said something similar in her State of the State: "And it may be possible in the future to further lower the sales tax rate." Fallin's chief of staff, former House Speaker Chris Benge, said this in another interview: "The philosophy behind it, or the logic, is that you broaden the base and lower the rate.". If that's the case, then why didn't Fallin propose a lower rate? There is nothing quite so permanent as a government-imposed tax. See above entry under TEMPORARY.


I hope this new lexicon has been helpful. Feel free to add additional entries in the comments section.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Music Monday: When I Can Read My Title Clear

This week's Music Monday is When I Can Read My Title Clear by the great hymn-writer English Isaac WattsPisgah, the most common tune for this hymn (and the one in the video below), originated in Appalachian Tennessee or Kentucky sometime around 1816.

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.

Yen's midwifery bills: one defeated, one shelved


I wrote last month about legislation filed by State Sen. Ervin Yen (R-OKC) that would severely restrict and regulate midwifery in Oklahoma. Today was the deadline for both bills to be heard in the Senate Health and Human Services committee in order to be advanced this session.

Sen. Yen opted to not hear SB714 this session, planning to work on the measure during the interim. This bill would have effectively stopped the vast majority of Oklahoma midwives from being able to practice. Yen intends to pursue some sort of licensing/certification regulation next year.

SB747, which was amended to prohibit Certified Nurse-Midwives from performing vaginal-births-after-caesarian (VBACs), breech births, or delivery of multiple infants (i.e. twins, triplets, etc) outside of hospitals, failed by a vote of 5 to 6. This measure is now dead until the 2018 session.

Voting in favor of SB747 were Sens. Darcy Jech (R-Kingfisher), Greg McCortney (R-Ada), Dave Rader (R-Tulsa), Rob Standridge (R-Norman), and Ervin Yen (R-OKC).

Voting against SB747 were Sens. Kay Floyd (D-OKC), A.J. Griffin (R-Guthrie), Anastasia Pittman (D-OKC), Adam Pugh (R-Edmond), Joseph Silk (R-Broken Bow), and Frank Simpson (R-Springer). Silk was the most outspoken against the measure, and was the only member to debate against.

Pinnell considering running for Lieut. Governor


Could Matt Pinnell become our next Lieutenant Governor? The popular former OKGOP chair is considering a run in 2018 for the post currently held by Todd Lamb (who is term-limited).

Pinnell would be a very formidable candidate. Well-liked and connected from his time both as state party chair and his last three years as National State Party Director with the RNC, Pinnell likely would be able to raise a significant amount of money for a campaign (I believe he set records during his chairmanship).

I think Pinnell would make a great Lieutenant Governor.

State Sen. David Holt to run for OKC Mayor

Following OKC Mayor Mick Cornett's announcement that he would not be seeking a fifth term as mayor next February, State Sen. David Holt (R-OKC) has thrown his hat into the ring:



The election will be February 13th, 2018.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Oklahoma Police Chief speaks at CPAC on Civil Asset Forfeiture

Police Chief Stephen Mills of Lindsay, Oklahoma, spoke at CPAC this morning on the topic of Civil Asset Forfeiture. Here's his speech:



Here's his bio/resume from CPAC. Chief Mills occasionally writes opinion pieces on his Facebook page here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Muskogee County GOP Offers Scholarships


Muskogee County GOP Offers Scholarships

The Muskogee County Republican Party is accepting scholarship applications from graduating high school seniors residing in Muskogee County. Over the years, the MCRP has bestowed at least 30 area students this monetary award, including six in 2016. Several $500 scholarships will be given to students who meet the following criteria:

  •  Have at least a 3 point cumulative grade average their senior year.
  •  If 18 years of age, be a registered Republican.
  •  If student is not 18, one parent must currently be a registered Republican.
  •  Must be a first year freshman Fall 2017 semester.
  •  Must be a resident of Muskogee County.

Students meeting the above criteria may mail a completed application, along with a copy of their high school transcript and either a photocopy of their Voter Registration card or their parent’s Voter Registration card proving Republican registration to MCRP 2017 Scholarship Committee P.O. Box 2014, Muskogee, OK 74402, or e-mail it to MuskogeeRepublicans@gmail.com no later than Friday, March 24th. An appointment will then be set for a mandatory interview with the MCRP Scholarship Committee to be held prior to April 13th.

Public announcement of scholarship winners will be made at the 2017 Lincoln-Reagan Dinner hosted by the Muskogee County Republican Party on Friday, April 21st , at the Indian Capitol Technology Center (ICTC). The keynote speaker will be Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb. Scholarship recipients are requested to attend this event and will receive free admission for themselves and their parents.

Applications are available at every Muskogee County high school or via email: MuskogeeRepublicans@gmail.com.

Robert Aery announces bid for OKGOP State Chair



Aery will bring conservative leadership for the future of OKGOP

Tulsa, Okla. (Feb. 22, 2017)– Attorney, business owner and committed conservative, Robert Aery today announced his candidacy for State Chair of the Oklahoma Republican Party. Aery’s resume brings a depth of experience in all aspects of Oklahoma politics to the race.

“I am looking forward to traversing the state, meeting fellow conservatives and discussing my vision for the future of the OKGOP,” Aery said. “Voters across Oklahoma have given members of our party vast legislative majorities and every statewide elected office.  It is now critically important to not only build a strong state party operation that will be necessary to defend our gains in 2018, but to also begin the essential work of creating a long-term party infrastructure that will ensure conservative victories for future generations of Oklahoma Republicans.”

Under former Chairman Matt Pinnell, Aery managed the Tulsa field office and organized campaign operations for northeast Oklahoma. More recently, Aery completed a stint as the Deputy State Director of Americans for Prosperity Oklahoma during which he maintained daily operations and managed the state chapter’s policy agenda, field program, and community outreach.

Aery has served as a member of the Tulsa County Republican Party Executive Committee for multiple chairmen, is an officer of the Tulsa Republican Club, an associate member of the Tulsa County Republican Women’s Club, a lawyer member of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies and a member of the National Rifle Association.

“If elected, my first priority will be to enhance the state party’s ground capabilities for 2018 through updated field technology and increased data utilization,” Aery added. “Throughout this campaign, I will be reaching out to current and former supporters of the state party to discuss the importance of equipping our ground game with the modern campaign tools necessary to effectively identify, persuade, and mobilize voters, so that if I am elected, we can immediately get to work on the task.”


For more information, visit robert4chair.com.

AFP-Oklahoma joins fight against Fallin tax hike

Americans for Prosperity Oklahoma is joining the fight against Mary Fallin's proposed $1.7B sales tax expansion:


From the AFP-OK website:
There is an impending tax frenzy on everything from babysitting to Netflix. Gasoline, soft drinks, foot surgery, even funeral services will be taxed under the new plan proposed by Governor Fallin. All in all, $2 billion in new taxes are being proposed. This approach is not just misguided, it’s unfair.

View the itemized list of tax increases HERE.

While the state is busy handing out money to special-interests our budget deficit has grown to a whopping $870 million. We are calling on legislators to cut wasteful programs and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely before they consider the tax frenzy that will take more money out of Oklahomans’ wallets.

Many of the tax hikes will be especially tough on hard-working Oklahoma families. If you are sick of seeing your bring-home income go down as your taxes go up it is time to act! Contact your legislator here and tell them to oppose the tax frenzy.

Contact YOUR Legislator Now!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Opposition to Fallin’s Tax Hike Grows in Legislature

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: State Rep. George Faught
Office: (405) 557-7310

Opposition to Fallin’s Tax Hike Grows in Legislature

OKLAHOMA CITY- Opposition continues to grow in the State Capitol over Gov. Mary Fallin's proposed $1.7 billion sales tax expansion, with 13 legislators adding their names in opposition. 27 legislators are now publicly on the record against the Fallin sales tax hike.

In her State of the State address, Governor Fallin presented a plan that would tax 164 different categories of services provided by Oklahoma small businesses and entrepreneurs. By the governor's own estimate, this would result in a tax hike of more than $1.7 Billion.

"We have been elected to represent our constituents and make the hard choices necessary to run state government. Their voice is loud and clear: no new taxes," said State Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee. "I'm proud to stand with my fellow legislators in the fight to protect Oklahomans from higher taxes."

"This would be the largest tax increase in Oklahoma since at least 1985," said State Rep. Dustin Roberts, R-Durant. "Expanding or raising the sales tax is absolutely the wrong idea."

"Oklahoma families and small businesses are taxed enough already,” said State Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville. "I am completely against this tax increase."

"Oklahoma voters have already said that they don't want more sales taxes," said State Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair. "We have to acknowledge their wishes and look elsewhere for the solution, even if it is a tough choice."

"This massive tax increase would have a terrible impact on Oklahoma families, especially considering the weakness of our current economy," said State Rep. Jeff Coody, R-Grandfield. "Let's not punish consumers and small businesses by burdening them with more taxes."

Citing their fundamental disagreements with Gov. Fallin's proposed tax hike, the following conservative legislators pledged to do what they can to stop this tax increase from becoming law:

State Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw)
State Rep. David Brumbaugh (R-Broken Arrow)
State Rep. Kevin Calvey (R-Oklahoma City)
State Rep. Bobby Cleveland (R-Slaughterville)
State Rep. George Faught (R-Muskogee)
State Rep. Kevin McDugle (R-Broken Arrow)
State Rep. Lewis Moore (R-Edmond)
State Rep. Mike Ritze (R-Broken Arrow)
State Rep. Chuck Strohm (R-Jenks)
NEW: State Rep. Rande Worthen (R-Lawton)
NEW: State Rep. Dustin Roberts (R-Durant)
NEW: State Rep. Scott McEachin (R-Tulsa)
NEW: State Rep. John Enns (R-Enid)
NEW: State Rep. Dale Derby (R- Owasso)
NEW: State Rep. Casey Murdock (R-Felt)
NEW: State Rep. Scooter Park (R-Devol)
NEW: State Rep. Jeff Coody (R-Grandfield)
State Sen. Mark Allen (R-Spiro)
State Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow)
State Sen. James Leewright (R-Bristow)
State Sen. Marty Quinn (R-Claremore)
State Sen. Anthony Sykes (R-Moore)
NEW: State Sen. Micheal Bergstrom (R-Adair)
NEW: State Sen. Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville)
NEW: State Sen. Bill Brown (R-Broken Arrow)
NEW: State Sen. Ralph Shortey (R-Oklahoma City)
NEW: State Sen. Joseph Silk (R-Broken Bow)


OCPA presents "First Steps" state budget ideas to save $413M


First steps on the road to balancing Oklahoma’s state budget 
without increasing taxes on working Oklahomans

Across Oklahoma, many citizens are undoubtedly grateful that numerous state lawmakers have expressed a desire for state government to become more efficient with the tax dollars already taken from Oklahomans, as opposed to further increasing their constituents’ taxes.

In order to help close the budget gap for Oklahoma’s state government, the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs proposes the following 13 ideas. These are the FIRST STEPS state lawmakers should consider taking before tax increases on working Oklahoma families and entrepreneurs are even considered.

Download PDF

Medicaid Enrollment Audits
Most states, including Oklahoma, have programs to prevent fraud by providers who are reimbursed by Medicaid. Many states, however, lack robust procedures to verify that Medicaid enrollees are and remain legally eligible. A number of states, including Illinois and Pennsylvania, have implemented Medicaid enrollment audits and eligibility verification efforts to remove Medicaid participants who are no longer eligible. If Oklahoma applies these reforms, the annual savings based on the experience of other states would be $85.6 million.

HealthChoice Enrollment Audits
Due to the generous benefit structure of Oklahoma’s self-insured state and education employee health coverage plan, some participants do not withdraw when no longer eligible. If HealthChoice implemented robust procedures to verify that enrollees remain eligible and remove those that are not, the annual state savings would be $6 million.

HealthChoice Select Provider Reform
Following the example of Oklahoma County, other municipal governments, and private sector employers, lawmakers passed legislation in 2015 authorizing cost savings incentive programs that reward employees if they seek low cost providers. HealthChoice finally completely implemented the program last month and projected annual savings will be $65 million.

3-Year Moratorium on Agency “Swag,” Advertising, Memberships, Sponsorships, and Transportation Project Art
State agencies spend more than $39.8 million a year on advertising, memberships, sponsorships and transportation project art. This includes funding for an organization that lobbied for Obamacare, the “Stimulus Package” and radical climate change policy initiatives. In previous tough years for state government, the state has placed a moratorium on non-essential spending like the requirement that new road and bridge projects include art. A 3-year moratorium on non-essential agency advertising, memberships, sponsorships and arts on transportation projects (unless required as a condition of federal law) would save annually $39 million.

Consolidation of Administrative and Back Office Functions of Higher Education
Former Rep. David Dank was most known for his work to highlight the vast administrative growth in higher education. He regularly noted that Oklahoma has 52 higher education centers and a number of state colleges and universities far higher than many other states. Oklahoma’s higher education non-teaching overhead (as a percentage of the private-sector workforce) is an astonishing 61 percent greater than the national average. If Oklahoma eliminated non-instructional higher education positions to reach the national average, it would result in elimination of 12,000 positions and save $328 million in wages and salaries. By cutting just 10 percent of this total number and consolidating back office functions, eliminating non-essential administration such as the numerous former politicians and political staffers who have made their way to higher education, the state would save annually $32.8 million.

Repeal Sales Tax Exemption for Tickets to NBA and NHL Games Effective on July 1, 2017
Repealing the sales tax exemption for tickets to National Basketball Association and National Hockey League Games would save annually $2.2 million.

Repeal Sales Tax Exemption for Admission to Professional Sporting Events Effective July 1, 2017
Repealing the sales tax exemption for admission to professional sporting events would save annually $492,000.

Repeal Zero Emission Tax Credit for Any New Projects or Activity Effective on July 1, 2017
Repealing the Zero Emission Tax Credit for any new projects or activity effective July 1, 2017 or after would conservatively save $15 million per year.

Cap Zero Emission Tax Credit Liability Payout at $15 million Annually Effective July 1, 2017
Capping the annual payout of the zero emission tax credit existing liabilities at $15 million (the same level for economically at-risk wells) would conservatively save the state $50 million, since the total annual liability is conservatively estimated at $65 million. This reform would save annually $50 million.

Cap Ad Valorem Reimbursement for Wind at $15 million Effective July 1, 2017
Wind energy developers made multiple representations to lawmakers and the public when wind incentives were first adopted that the cost of the incentives would be very low. In fact, payment of the incentives has caused the state to borrow from other funds for 33 percent of the most recent fiscal year. Wind facilities were given a special carve-out to be added for the purposes of ad-valorem reimbursement by state taxpayers and the wind projects increased significantly the amount state taxpayers are on the hook for ad-valorem reimbursement for wind. Capping the ad valorem reimbursement for wind at $15 million would conservatively save the state $15 million, since the total annual ad-valorem reimbursement for wind is approximately $30 million. This reform would conservatively save annually $15 million.

Repeal Sales Tax Exemption on Wind Turbine Sales Effective July 1, 2017
The Oklahoma Incentive Review Commission has noted that Oklahoma has already exceeded its renewable energy goals. The Commission also found “that a significant portion of the expected new development in wind facilities is to provide energy for transmission to users in other states. In this case, there is no real benefit for Oklahoma consumers in subsidizing the generation of this electricity.” Given these findings and the substantial amount that taxpayers are on the hook for wind tax credits, it makes sense to repeal this sales tax exemption to help balance the state budget. FERC interconnect filings show that as many as 3,152 new turbines are planned for Oklahoma. Since the total liability is estimated at $284 million for 2017, repealing this sales tax exemption would conservatively save the state $40 million.

Repeal the “Hollywood Subsidy” Film Incentive Effective July 1, 2017
The state of Oklahoma pays a subsidy for films made in Oklahoma. It’s absurd to ask Oklahomans to subsidize Hollywood while threatening Oklahomans with tax increases. This program is capped at $5 million a year so savings from this reform would save annually $5 million.

Tobacco Settlement Reforms
(Does nothing to take away from any existing TSET programs, grant commitments or the current endowment)
This reform would require a vote of the people at a special election. All future payments to the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust from the Master Settlement agreement would be directed to a rural healthcare infrastructure fund. This fund would be used for the cost of health care reimbursement to rural areas that struggle with revenue stream diversity for their hospitals and have suffered actual dollar losses. The fund would also be used to fund the Physician Manpower Training Commission and shore up nursing home provider rates. This would not change any of TSET’s current activity and would allow them to keep their existing endowment, earnings and current commitments. Annual settlement payments to the endowment are approximately $57 million. Shifting those funds to these new initiatives will allow for replacing funds that will be cut from the unsustainable Medicaid budget to prevent unwarranted tax increases on Oklahomans. This reform will annually save $57 million.

Total Savings: $413 million

Gary Richardson forms gubernatorial exploratory committee


Gary Richardson Announces Exploratory Committee for Governor of Oklahoma 

Tulsa, OK, February 21, 2017–  Former Reagan-appointed U.S. Attorney and small business owner Gary Richardson has announced the formation of his exploratory committee for Governor of Oklahoma.

"The current budget crisis in Oklahoma proves to me that Oklahoma isn't a poor state but a state run poorly." said Richardson.  "It's important that the people of Oklahoma have a Governor who will make the right decisions to get our state out of this budget crisis without raising taxes."

Richardson shared the next steps of his exploratory committee. "In the following months, I will travel across the state to visit with Oklahomans and listen to their concerns about taxes, education, and the economy of our state," said Richardson.  "Oklahomans know what is best for our state.  It's time their leaders heed their concerns."

Richardson has asked the following Oklahomans to serve on his exploratory committee:  Todd Dean, Oklahoma City; Dr. James Higgins, Tulsa; Steve Money, Broken Arrow; Bob Nail, Tulsa; Jeff Reasor, Tahlequah; and Jim Weaver, Tulsa.   Together with the input from Oklahoma voters and his committee, Richardson will explore the viability of a run for the GOP nomination for Governor in 2018.

Gary Richardson is a founding member of the law firm, Richardson, Richardson, and Boudreaux.  Gary and his wife, Lanna, reside in Tulsa. Together, they have five children and eleven grandchildren. They are active members of South Tulsa Baptist Church.  To learn more, please visit GaryRichardson.org.

Here's his video announcement:

Monday, February 20, 2017

Music Monday: William Tell Overture - Finale

This week's Music Monday is Finale from the William Tell Overture by 19th century Italian composer Gioachino Rossini.

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, February 17, 2017

Tulsa GOP Chair slams Fallin tax hike

From TheOkie - Tulsa County GOP Chairman Mike Ford sent this email out:


It’s Time to Cut Wasteful Spending, NOT Raise Taxes

Fellow Republicans,

Today, Lt. Governor Todd Lamb announced his resignation from Governor Fallin’s cabinet, making the following statement:

“Governor Fallin deserves to have someone in her cabinet who can be a strong advocate for her agenda, and that is something I am unwilling to do.  While I respect the determination with which Governor Fallin met her obligation to present a balanced budget to the legislature, I cannot support her proposed tax increases.  This proposal will adversely harm Oklahoma’s small businesses and families, especially those in our service industry.  While Governor Fallin and I have disagreed on issues from time-to-time, our differences on this important topic are so significant they preclude me from continuing to serve on her cabinet.”

As Chairman of the Republican Party of Tulsa County, I do not have the authority or the right to voice my opinions on behalf of all Tulsa Republicans. Very seldom (if ever) should an elected officer of the Republican Party make public statements criticizing our elected Republican officials, but I feel this is definitely an exception. We must stand strong on the conservative principles defined in our Platform. Governor Fallin has asked our Republican lawmakers to raise taxes on a massive scale in attempt to balance the Oklahoma budget. This plan not only defies one of the foundational pillars of Republicanism, but it also defies the basic fundamentals of economics. Oklahomans are already burdened with some of the highest taxes in our region; and yes, fees, permits, licensing, tolls, and other regulatory burdens on our businesses and families are indeed taxes.

Our Republican legislators ran for office by advocating for lower taxes and limited government, so something’s got to give. If Republicans continue kicking the can down the road by refusing to cut those hundreds of Million$ (if not Billion$) in government waste, and by taxing Oklahomans more, we will continue to alienate our base constituency (who expects Republican lawmakers to govern the way they campaigned), and we will surrender our majorities in both houses in 2018.

Governor Fallin campaigned as a fiscal Conservative, chaired the RNC Platform Committee and even signed pledges with tax reform organizations (see photo below) not to do so, yet she is proposing an tax policy that is destined to fail us as a Party, and its economically and electorally dangerous. Our Republican legislators cannot entertain her proposal and ignore the responsibility to make massive spending cuts in areas where we are literally wasting hundreds of Million$ in taxpayer dollars.

Long after governor Fallin is gone, the members of our state legislature will be left with the responsibility of governing, and with managing the consequences or benefits of fiscal decisions made by the Republican majority this year. It is for this reason that I applaud Lieutenant Governor Lamb’s actions today to object to these policies, and I encourage our elected Republicans in both the State House and State Senate to respectfully resist the governor’s call for tax increases.

Furthermore, I encourage Oklahoma’s elected Republicans (including Governor Fallin) to become emboldened with the resolve necessary to advance the conservative principles defined in our Party’s Platform. I implore them to think outside the box, daring to make history by utilizing our brightest people, disregarding the status quo, and reinventing government. It’s time to throw everything on the table (including your own sacred cows, and especially those of lobbyists and special interest groups) making tough, necessary decisions in the best interest of all Oklahomans.

We’ve had a supermajority since 2010. There is nobody else to blame for Oklahoma’s failure to offer reformed tax rates that end corporate welfare and create a fair, opportunistic and competitive economic environment to rival those of surrounding states. The opportunity has been there all along to develop a more diverse economy and broad tax base, which would end the turbulent instability of revenue shortages we experience every time the price of oil plummets.

We won’t get another chance in 2018. There won’t be popular presidential candidate or political rock stars running for U.S. senate or congress to excite the base for our down ticket legislative candidates. WE WILL LOSE DOZENS OF SEATS in 2018 if Oklahoma Republicans do not reduce the size of government, improve K-12 teacher pay, fix roads and bridges, and balance the budget. We CAN NOT raise taxes, but must instead REFORM this broken tax structure within the next 18 months. These issues were on the ballot last year. Republicans said (again) they had solutions to fix these problems (which they do), and the fortitude to carry out necessary reforms (which remains to be seen). These issues will be on the ballot again in 2018, with no political cover this time around.

It’s time for Oklahoma Republicans to make history by implementing the conservative principles we preach, proving to our citizens (and the rest of the country) that these principles work. It took us 100 years to earn this opportunity. We may never again have an opportunity like this, so the void of leadership and collective vision must be filled now.

Please call the office of Governor Mary Fallin and tell her “It’s time to cut wasteful spending, NOT raise taxes!

Local: (405) 521-2342
Fax: (405) 521-3353
Oklahoma State Capitol
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Room 212
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Thank you,

Mike Ford, Chairman
Republican Party of Tulsa County

Rep. Bobby Cleveland: we’re just one bill away from a cattle gas tax

State Rep. Bobby Cleveland (R-Slaughterville)
A taxing proposal

There’s been a whole lot of talk about our $868 million budget hole this year and ways the lawmakers could fill the gap.

One idea driving a lot of the conversation: raising taxes.

Now I might be old fashioned, but I believe it’s my job as a lawmaker to cut government, not to hike taxes. So when people float proposals to increase the motor fuel tax or expand taxes to include services like child care, legal fees and utility services, my antenna goes up. There’s got to be a better way.

Fortunately, I’m not the only one who believes this. Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb has stepped out in opposition to the new tax proposal, and I stand with him 110 percent.

Before we consider taxing our taxidermy or lawn services, shouldn’t we look at our own spending? Shouldn’t we do everything we can to avoid allowing the government to take even more of our hard-earned money out of our pockets? If the answer to that question isn’t “yes,” then I don’t know what I’m doing up here at the Capitol.

Look at agencies like the Department of Public Safety, the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. These agencies could easily be consolidated into a single department, and it would result in a more efficient system, ease the flow of information between departments and ultimately save the taxpayers money. We’re one of a handful of states whose public safety departments still operate separately, and it’s high time we rethink our organizational charts.

So before we go and start taxing dead people, we need to look at cutting spending and current tax credits. The wind isn’t going anywhere in Oklahoma, and neither are the companies who harvest it. That’s an easy credit we could eliminate.

I understand the cigarette tax is an alluring idea for some. Smoking is terrible, and it costs the state money. But to increase taxes by $1.50 per pack would largely impact low-income Oklahomans more than others, and that’s just not right.

The Oklahomans I’ve heard from in the past week are adamantly opposed to new taxes. And voters in November flat-out rejected the notion of an increased sales tax. You sent a resounding message to the Legislature. And what is the loudest idea that’s surfaced so far at the Capitol? New taxes.

I refuse to believe this is the best option in front of us. But if it is, I’m surprised we haven’t gone ahead and started regulating cattle farts like they have in California. In an attempt to lessen methane emissions, the liberal state decided it would be wise to target greenhouse gasses from cattle.

With all of these proposed taxes for Oklahoma, I’d say we’re just one bill away from a cattle gas tax. And do we really want to be like California?

Fallin responds to Lamb's cabinet resignation


Governor Mary Fallin Statement on Resignation of Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb from Her Cabinet

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today issued the following statement after Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb announced his resignation from her Cabinet, where he served as small business advocate:
“I was disappointed and surprised to learn from a press release that Lt. Gov. Lamb had decided to quit serving as a member of my Cabinet.

 “I have always valued Todd’s independent voice. I valued it when we first came into office when we dealt with a similar financial crisis and I value his independent voice today. I’ve never been afraid to have dissenting voices at the table. I think the people of Oklahoma benefit from that. There will always be a seat at the table for his independent voice.

 “Leading a state is never easy, especially when there are so many challenges and we are faced with a prolonged economic downturn. But through ideas, hard work, long hours and making tough decisions, we can find solutions to those challenges our state faces. We have to.

 “As governor, I have provided a reality check of doing the same thing over and over with the structural deficits of our budget and expecting a different outcome. If we want to educate our children, a teacher pay raise and ensure the health and public safety of our citizens as well as improve our roads and bridges, we must fix the structure of our budget so we don’t keep having budget shortfalls and uncertainty.”

Fallin says she heard about Lamb's resignation from reading his press release. That's interesting. Lamb told KFAQ radio host Pat Campbell, and the Tulsa World reported as well, that Lamb's chief of staff Keith Beall met with the Governor's chief of staff Chris Benge Thursday morning before his announcement went out... so it sounds like either Governor Fallin is being dishonest, or her staff hid it from her. Campbell said on air that it reminded him of Barack Obama's "I learned about it like you did, on the TV news."

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Conservative Legislators Applaud Lamb's Opposition to Sales Tax Hike

Here's a news release from the office of State Rep. George Faught (R-Muskogee):


Conservative Legislators Applaud Lamb's Opposition to Sales Tax Hike

Oklahoma City – A group of conservative Oklahoma legislators today expressed support for Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb's decision to resign from Governor Fallin's cabinet over her plan to dramatically increase Oklahomans' sales tax burden.

Lamb stepped down from his cabinet position as Small Business Advocate, saying, "While I respect the determination with which Governor Fallin met her obligation to present a balanced budget to the legislature, I cannot support her proposed tax increases.  This proposal will adversely harm Oklahoma’s small businesses and families, especially those in our service industry."

In her State of the State address, Governor Fallin presented a plan that would tax 164 different categories of services provided by Oklahoma small businesses and entrepreneurs. By the governor's own estimate, this would result in a tax hike of over $1,700,000,000.00.

"Those of us in the legislature who are small business owners understand the devastating impact this would have on small businesses, the backbone of the Oklahoma economy, and on consumers," said State Rep. George Faught (R-Muskogee). "We need to fight for those we represent and stop this tax increase dead in its tracks."

"Putting a massive, 1.7 billion dollar tax increase on Oklahomans will serve to hurt our economy just as it is beginning to recover, " said State Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow). "This approach is fundamentally flawed."

"Tax increases kill jobs. Just as families must trim their budgets when their income goes down, government should trim spending when revenue dips, instead of raising taxes. Too many politicians lack the courage to say NO to big-spending government bureaucrats," said Rep. Kevin Calvey (R-Oklahoma City).

"Just three months ago, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly voted down a $615,000,000 sales tax increase," said State Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw). "That message should be heard loud and clear by the Governor and by legislative leadership: Oklahomans don't want more taxes."

"I am excited to see our conservatives being willing to make the tough decisions instead of taking the easy way out in taxes. We have got to deal with the tax credits and the spending for unnecessary functions of our Government. I fully support Todd Lamb and appreciate his bold stand," said State Rep. Kevin McDugle (R-Broken Arrow).

"Last session, I vehemently fought against a service tax because it will add an incredible burden on our service industry. The Governor's proposal is asking our small business owners to work all day and then come home and spend another hour or two on unnecessary paperwork rather than spending time with their families. I applaud Lamb's decision." says Rep. Chuck Strohm (R-Jenks).

"Republicans opposed a similar Democrat plan in 2003, saying 'This is a job-killing proposal that would damage the weak Oklahoma economy'", said State Sen. Marty Quinn (R-Claremore). "What was true back then is true now, and Republicans should oppose this plan as well."

Citing their fundamental disagreements with Gov. Fallin's proposed tax hike, the following conservative legislators pledged to do what they can to stop this tax increase from becoming law:

State Rep. John Bennett (R-Sallisaw)
State Rep. David Brumbaugh (R-Broken Arrow)
State Rep. Kevin Calvey (R-Oklahoma City)
State Rep. Bobby Cleveland (R-Slaughterville)
State Rep. George Faught (R-Muskogee)
State Rep. Kevin McDugle (R-Broken Arrow)
State Rep. Lewis Moore (R-Edmond)
State Rep. Mike Ritze (R-Broken Arrow)
State Rep. Chuck Strohm (R-Jenks)
State Sen. Mark Allen (R-Spiro)
State Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow)
State Sen. James Leewright (R-Bristow)
State Sen. Marty Quinn (R-Claremore)
State Sen. Anthony Sykes (R-Moore)

Richardson Applauds Lamb's Resignation over Fallin's Tax Plan


Richardson Applauds Lamb's Decision to Follow in Opposing Service Tax

Tulsa, OK, February 16, 2017–  Below is a statement from Gary Richardson about Lt. Governor Todd Lamb's decision to resign from Governor Fallin's cabinet over her proposed service tax.

"I am glad that Lt. Governor Lamb has finally decided to follow my call to oppose Governor Fallin’s proposed tax on the service industry," said Richardson.

"I encourage Lt. Governor Lamb and the rest of the Republican members of the Oklahoma Legislature to join me in standing on Republican values by opposing all of Governor Fallin’s proposed tax initiatives including her proposed hike on tobacco and gasoline taxes.  Only then can we all work toward a comprehensive solution that eliminates waste in our state government and funds our state agencies without raising taxes."

Lamb's resignation comes one day after Richardson released a video highlighting all of the industries that would be taxed under Governor Fallin's proposed plan, which has been viewed over 16,000 times in just 24 hours on Richardson's Facebook page .  Click here to watch the video.

Lamb breaks with Fallin, resigns from Cabinet over sales tax proposal

BOOM:


Lamb Breaks with Fallin on Tax Policy

Oklahoma City- Lt. Governor Todd Lamb today announced his resignation from Governor Fallin’s cabinet, where Lamb has served as the state’s Small Business Advocate, one of many roles the Lt. Governor fills.  This resignation does not affect Lamb’s role as Lt. Governor.

“In Oklahoma, the Governor and Lt. Governor are separately elected positions. While both are Republicans, at this time Lieutenant Governor Lamb believes it is best for him to vacate the cabinet position,” stated Lamb’s Chief of Staff, Keith Beall.  “His decision to resign was made after yesterday’s cabinet meeting in which Governor Fallin maintained her support for taxing 164 services affecting every Oklahoma small business and family,” Beall concluded.

Lt. Governor Lamb made the following statement

“Governor Fallin deserves to have someone in her cabinet who can be a strong advocate for her agenda, and that is something I am unwilling to do.  While I respect the determination with which Governor Fallin met her obligation to present a balanced budget to the legislature, I cannot support her proposed tax increases.  This proposal will adversely harm Oklahoma’s small businesses and families, especially those in our service industry.  While Governor Fallin and I have disagreed on issues from time-to-time, our differences on this important topic are so significant they preclude me from continuing to serve on her cabinet.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Gary Richardson slams Fallin's sales tax hike

Gary Richardson, the 2002 Independent candidate for Governor and exploring a run in 2018 as a Republican, posted this video today slamming Governor Mary Fallin's proposed $1.7 billion sales tax expansion.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Music Monday: 'Romance' from 'The Gadfly'

This week's Music Monday is Romance, an orchestral piece by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich, written for the 1955 Soviet film 'The Gadfly'.

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.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Ouch.


This is from Tom Coburn's Restore Accountability foundation. If you don't follow their updates, you should. Coburn is continuing his invaluable work rooting out and exposing government waste.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Pollard seeks reelection to full term as OKGOP chair


Pam Pollard seeks Re-Election for Oklahoma Republican Party State Chairman

Republican State Chairman Pam Pollard said today she will be a candidate for election to a full two-year term at the GOP State Convention in Moore on May 6.

“Oklahoma Republicans won at every level in 2016 because our message of conservative common sense government resonates with voters,” Pollard said. “I intend to keep that good thing going as State Chair if the delegates will give me that opportunity on May 6.”

A resident of Midwest City, Pollard was elected to lead the party in October 2015. She is a former Oklahoma County GOP chairman and was President of the Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women and also served a short time a Treasurer of the National Federation of Republican Women, resigning that position when she became Chairman of the State Party.

Under her leadership, state Republicans swept the Presidential and Congressional races in 2016, saw Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy re-elected without opposition and won every contested state Senate race to build an unprecedented GOP legislative majority. In all, the GOP won 92 of 98 statewide and legislative contests for a 94% win rate.

Speaking about the teamwork in the 2016 elections, Chairman Pollard said, "Working together we won the White House, the U.S. Senate and the House. Together, we now have Jeff Sessions as US Attorney General,  Scott Pruitt in charge of the EPA (if confirmed by the full Senate) and General “Mad Dog” Mattis as Secretary of Defense. Together, we will Make America Great Again!"

“Registered Republicans now outnumber Democrats in Oklahoma by almost 100,000 voters,” Pollard said. “That did not happen overnight. It took years of effort. As a party we cannot rest on those laurels. I intend to continue the party building work that got us here during my full term as State Chairman, if the delegates to the state convention approve. We are known as the reddest state in America partly because of the hard work of those who came before us, and that is a tradition I intend to continue.”

Pollard said she has staffed full time positions to further strengthen the GOP message, including a party communications director and a liaison to work with county party organizations. The focus of 2017 will be on fundraising and Party Leadership development.

To contact Pam, please email pampollardgop@aol.com.

Russell Turner: Don't bite Fallin's "bait"


A LITTLE MINNOW 

It has been quite a while since I have had the time to go fishing, but fishing is like riding a bicycle, once you have done it you always know how. I can remember going crappie fishing on Lake Tenkiller; the most effective way to catch the big one was to put a minnow on your hook and wait for mister slab to come along. From my perspective going fishing has a lot in common with today’s politics.

A couple of days ago our Oklahoma Governor gave her State of the State Address. While her speech had the usual feel good line, there were several items in the speech that I have some serious concerns about. In her speech she proposed to eliminate the state sales tax on groceries; she made the claim that removing the state sales tax would save the average family something over 300 dollars per year. While many people may think that is a good thing, there are other parts of the speech that will have some very serious ramifications. She proposed increasing several existing taxes on cigarettes, gasoline and diesel while also creating new taxes on other items. While she was a little vague on the idea of taxing services, she did make the comment that she wanted to revamp our tax system because our system, in her words, is shifting to a service economy. There are proposals before the legislature that would impose taxes on services that all Oklahomans use such as barbers, auto mechanics and nearly everything we all use on a daily basis.

Governor Fallin and I are both republicans, but I am going to be very blunt on the reasons why I cannot support her proposals. I am a conservative, to me that is more than just something that is printed on some slick, colored brochure. Conservatism is the belief of less government and personal freedom; I also believe that the more money we can keep in the private sector the more our economy will flourish. Her plan to remove the state sales tax on groceries is nothing more that bait. Her and her kind are planning on the uninformed citizen to bite at that hook while ignoring the massive tax increases that all of us will be facing. I can guarantee you that if the tax on services passes we will all be paying far more than any saving we may get from not having to pay state sales tax on groceries. Throughout all parts of our state there are individuals we all rely upon who work on our autos repair our houses, and cut our hair; these individuals would be forced to start collecting a sales tax on their labor. Many of them will simply go out of business because they don’t want the headache of dealing with the paperwork. I have known several people that started their businesses out of their garage; not all, but some of them, eventually grew into a full time business. It seems every year or so this same ill-conceived idea rolls around, the government in its insatiable desire for more money is discouraging the very people that eventually will build our economy. I can also guarantee you that when the oil and gas industry thrives again none of these new taxes will ever be repealed.

Before we Oklahomans bite into the bait of the cheaper groceries, we need to remember what happens to the old slab crappie that bites the little minnow.      

Russell Turner is a businessman, farmer, and conservative activist from Adair County, where he served one term as county commissioner.

Fallin pushes $1.7B sales tax hike

Mary Fallin's proposed sales tax hike. Can't read all the newly taxed areas?
Click to enlarge, or view at this link.

In her State of the State speech on Monday, Governor Mary Fallin unveiled her budget plan for FY2018. One of her proposals to close the budget gap was to dramatically expand Oklahoma sales tax collections to include services, something which has never been done as far as I've been able to find.

Mike McCarville of the McCarville Report said "it appears Governor Fallin wants to tax everything that isn’t nailed down," and pointed out that Fallin is proposing "massive taxation with 164 new levies".

According to Fallin's estimates, applying sales tax to services would bring in $1,703,879,742 (that's 1.7 Billion dollars with a B) to government coffers. Of that, the state government would receive $934,247,035, county governments would get $648,274,017, and cities would collect $121,358,690.

This is essentially a 10% tax hike on small businesses and consumers across the state, as the cost of doing business and obtaining services will go up about 10%.

Fallin lists 164 different categories she wants taxed. This includes all manner of construction-related contracting services, cable TV, pet grooming, carpet cleaning, business and legal services, utilities for residential use, funeral services, medical services... the list is very long, and you can view it here.

To make it more... palatable for legislators, the Governor proposes the elimination of the state (not the county/city tax) sales tax on groceries (estimated loss of $235M) and the corporate income tax (estimated loss of $140M). She also wants to raise the cigarette tax by $1.50/pack (estimated hike of $260M) and the gasoline tax $0.07-$0.10 per gallon (estimated hike of $635M).

Who could have imagined the day that a Republican governor in Oklahoma would be requesting tax increases of nearly $2,600,000,000 (2.6 Billion with a B)...

I ran across something that may be of interest regarding this proposal of Fallin's.


On May 8th, 2003, Senate Republicans (then in the minority) held a press conference to blast House Democrats for pushing a similar sales tax expansion. Here's the press release discussing the topic.

 Here are a few choice quotes:

  • “House Democrats have proposed a wide list of new sales taxes on everything from title and abstract services for homebuyers to employment services to parking lots. This is a job-killing proposal that would damage the weak Oklahoma economy. Senate Republicans cannot in good conscience support placing this additional burden on Oklahoma taxpayers who are already hurting in a tough economy,” stated Senate Republican Leader James Williamson, R-Tulsa.
  • “The bipartisan state budget agreement already includes nearly a quarter-billion dollars in revenue enhancements without increasing taxes. Combined state and local funding for education will be at the highest level ever next year. Health care funding is being increased in the budget. Total state spending is being reduced, but by less than one-percent from this year. Do House Democrats really believe this is a crisis that justifies hurting Oklahoma families and businesses with a major tax increase?” queried Assistant Senate Republican Leader Scott Pruitt, R-Broken Arrow.
  • Williamson disputed the Democrats’ claim that their proposal is exempt from State Question 640, which require a ¾ legislative majority or a vote of the people to increase taxes.
Fallin's Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger (and presumably also Fallin) believe that they can accomplish this massive tax hike without the required supermajority vote ("Doerflinger noted his office’s belief that repealing sales tax exemptions would not require such a supermajority, but other efforts likely would." - link).

I've got news for you. This is a massive tax increase. If something's never been taxed, and it starts to get taxed, that's a new tax.

This absurd proposal needs to die a quick death. 2018, come quickly, and bring us a real Republican to sit in the Governor's office. Even Democrat Governor Brad Henry didn't put forward such a monstrous tax increase.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Fallin appoints Patrick Wyrick to Oklahoma Supreme Court


Governor Mary Fallin Names Patrick Wyrick to Fill Vacancy on Oklahoma Supreme Court

OKLAHOMA CITY - Governor Mary Fallin today named Patrick Wyrick to serve as a justice on the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Wyrick, 35, succeeds Steven Taylor, who retired from the bench last year.

Wyrick has served as solicitor general in the Oklahoma attorney general’s office since 2011. As solicitor general, Wyrick represented the state of Oklahoma before the U.S. and Oklahoma supreme courts, and other federal and state courts. He also authored attorney general opinions and served as a key legal adviser to a variety of state officials.

“Patrick Wyrick is well positioned to tackle the difficult constitutional questions the Oklahoma Supreme Court must confront,” said Fallin. “He has litigated several significant constitutional law cases involving almost every frequently litigated provision in our state constitution. I have confidence he will perform his new duties with integrity and professionalism.”

The Supreme Court appointment is Fallin’s first on the nine-member court.

Supreme Court justices serve on the court as long as they are able and must appear on the ballot and be retained by voters every six years, according to state statute.

Fallin selected Wyrick from three applicants submitted to her by the Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission. The governor must choose from those three.

Applicants had to be 30 or older and a practicing attorney or judge for at least five years.

Wyrick, a fourth-generation Atoka native, has deep ties in the 2nd Judicial District, and has remained involved in the family business, Wyrick Lumber Co., which has locations in Atoka and Hugo.

“It is the honor of a lifetime to represent my hometown district as a member of the Oklahoma Supreme Court,” Wyrick said.  “I will continue to work hard and do my best to serve the people of this great state. I have committed myself to public service, and my years as Oklahoma solicitor general have offered me the opportunity to routinely litigate cases before the Supreme Court. I am uniquely familiar with the high court’s jurisprudence.”

Wyrick earned his bachelor’s degree in sociology/criminology from the University of Oklahoma and his juris doctorate from OU’s college of law.

Before joining the attorney general’s office, Wyrick worked as an associate attorney at the law firm of GableGotwals and as a law clerk to Judge James Payne in the U.S. District Court of Eastern Oklahoma in Muskogee.

Wyrick and his wife, Jamie, have three children, twins Cole and Carter, and Claire.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Music Monday: White Winter Hymnal (Pentatonix)

This week's Music Monday is White Winter Hymnal performed by Pentatonix. Our eighteen month-old loves this song for some reason, and will mimic their hand motions and claps surprisingly well.

The writers of the song say the lyrics have no meaning, but I'm convinced they subconsciously are referring to the French Revolution (my wife disagrees)... what do you think?

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.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Facing expulsion vote, Kirby resigns (for real, this time) [UPDATED]


State Rep. Dan Kirby (R-Tulsa) has released a statement saying that he will resign from office, just a few days in advance of an expected vote to expel him from the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
"I cannot, in good conscience, continue to fight against unfounded accusations and what I believe to be unreasonable committee recommendations when the end result will ultimately be that the people of House District 75 will not have a voice at the State Capitol for the next two years. The committee has ensured that this would have been a lose-lose situation for me and my district."
Legislative leadership had said that a vote to expel Kirby would be taken before any legislation would be considered. The legislative session begins Monday, so any action would happen then (after the Governor's 'State of the State') or Tuesday.

UPDATE 1

Here is Kirby's resignation letter, which raises more questions for me:


His resignation "shall become effective Wednesday, March 1st, 2017", rather than immediately, or even before the legislative session kicks off on Monday. Will the House still move to expel?

UPDATE 2

I spoke with Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols (R-OKC) about the resignation date and a vote on expulsion. While legislative leadership has not met about the issue since Kirby's resignation announcement earlier today, Rep. Echols said that if Kirby intends to still show up and participate in voting and legislative deliberations, he would expect a expulsion vote to be scheduled and taken before any major action is taken on legislation.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Committee recommends expulsion for Kirby, training and restrictions for Fourkiller

The House Rules Committee investigating sexual harassment allegations against sitting representatives is recommending expulsion for embattled State Rep. Dan Kirby (R-Tulsa) and sensitivity training for State Rep. Will Fourkiller (D-Stillwell) as well as a prohibition from interacting with the House Page program for one year.

The news just broke on Twitter (first posted) by @OklahomaWatch after a press conference that began at 1pm, and is still going on at this moment.


Here is the full press release:

Committee Recommends Expulsion for Rep. Kirby, Reprimand for Rep. Fourkiller

The bipartisan Oklahoma House of Representatives’ Special Investigation Committee released a report of its findings and recommendations today following a nearly month-long investigation into the circumstances that lead to the wrongful termination settlement agreement paid to a former employee in November out of House funds.

The Investigation Committee recommended the expulsion of Rep. Dan Kirby (R-Tulsa) from the House of Representatives.

The Committee also recommended that Rep. Will Fourkiller (D-Stilwell) attend sensitivity training and be prohibited from interacting with the House Page Program for one year.

Specifically, the Committee made the following recommendations regarding Rep. Kirby:

  • Expulsion from the House of Representatives,
  • Loss of Committee Chairmanship,
  • Loss of Committee appointments,
  • Bills authored removed from consideration,
  • Loss of privileges to a legislative assistant,

Specifically, the Committee made the following recommendations regarding Rep. Fourkiller:

  • Attend one-on-one sensitivity training on appropriate workplace conduct,
  • Prohibited from contact with the House Page Program  for one year (though Rep. Fourkiller will still be allowed to host student pages from his district in his Capitol office.)

“This has been a difficult process, and I am thankful for the members of the Committee who participated and meticulously investigated this matter,” said Committee Chairman Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette. “This was a bipartisan effort, and every member who participated took this matter seriously and received all of the evidence with an open mind. It was a fair and thorough investigation, and the members of the Committee believe our recommendations are appropriate.”

In addition, the Committee found that the House has the legal authority – and acted upon that authority – to expend operational funds to settle the wrongful termination claim brought by a former employee.

The Committee also recommended that the Speaker establish a bipartisan committee of members to review and vote on any future legal settlements that may arise.

House Speaker McCall yesterday acted upon that recommendation, going a step further by creating the bipartisan House Expenditure Oversight Committee and authorizing it to review and authorize all large capital and/or extraordinary expenditures that exceed $15,000.

The recommendations of the Committee will now be considered by the full body of the House of Representatives. Expulsion from the House requires a two-thirds majority vote of the body, or 68 members.