Tuesday, December 10, 2019

U.S. House comes to agreement on USMCA

House comes to agreement on USMCA

WASHINGTON, DC – After more than a year of inaction, the House of Representatives announced an agreement on the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to be voted on in the House. This deal will replace NAFTA as the document governing trade between our North American neighbors.

This morning, Rep. Hern joined fellow members of the USMCA Whip Team on a call with Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, the United States Trade Representative, to discuss the agreements made between USTR and Speaker Pelosi before the vote was announced.

“It’s been a long time coming, but I am glad to finally announce that we are moving forward with the USMCA,” said Rep. Hern. “This is a tremendous step in our relationship with our North American neighbors. The world has changed so much since the creation of NAFTA – e-commerce wasn’t even mentioned! A modern world demands modern updates. It’s a year later than we’d hoped, but I am proud of the work we’ve done to find consensus on the USMCA and bring it to the floor for a vote.”

Background Information:

Last week, the entire Oklahoma delegation released a joint statement in support of the USMCA.

On the one-year anniversary of Trump’s announcement of the deal, members of the Oklahoma delegation released statements urging Congressional action on the USMCA.

OICA Releases 2020 Children’s Legislative Agenda

OICA Releases 2020 Children’s Legislative Agenda

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) has released its 2020 Children’s Legislative Agenda, a series of public policy goals aimed at improving child well-being in Oklahoma. The Children’s Legislative Agenda was drafted with input from attendees at OICA’s Fall Forum, which included experts from state agencies, foster parents and foster care specialists, summer food program professionals, mental health specialists, concerned citizens, and legislators.

The Agenda focuses on four areas of concern:

At-Risk Youth: Oklahoma must address the very high levels of children experiencing traumatic experiences at an early age and offer greater resources to those who do experience trauma. Oklahoma should increase trauma-informed training for teachers, develop a state plan for counseling within schools that includes social emotional learning standards, expand the DHS school-based service worker program, and implement other policies directed towards providing assistance to low-income families.

Education and Early Childhood Development: Oklahoma must improve student outcomes at every level, including college graduation rates, by laying a stronger educational foundation for very young children. That will necessitate changes such as: providing greater assistance to low-income families seeking high quality childcare, improving teacher pay and benefits in early education classrooms, and expanding access to school-based social workers and school counselors.

Criminal Justice Reform: Oklahoma must allow more families to remain intact by reducing the incarceration rate, emphasizing drug and mental health treatment, and reevaluating fines and fees associated with juvenile justice.

Health and Behavioral Health: Oklahoma must increase access to primary and preventative care as well as mental health services. Oklahoma should maximize all available federal matching funds for health care in Oklahoma, remove barriers to the use of telehealth, increase the number of community health centers and take other steps that will improve Oklahoma’s health and mental health infrastructure, particularly in underserved and rural areas.

“The goal of this Children’s Legislative Agenda is to improve living conditions for young people in Oklahoma,” said OICA Board President Mitchell Rozin. “This is not a partisan agenda; it was created at the direction of the men and women who work every day with at-risk youth and struggling families. We urge lawmakers in both parties to work together to help these children and families by implementing these policies. Doing so will help to build a stronger state and a better place to live for all Oklahomans.”

2020: OK Dems open primaries to Independents, OKGOP and Libertarians to stay closed

Political Parties Notify Election Board Secretary About ‘Open’ Primaries

(Oklahoma City) – Every odd-numbered year, recognized political parties in Oklahoma are required to notify the Secretary of the State Election Board whether or not the party will allow registered Independents to vote in its primary elections.

State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax announced today that he has been notified by the Oklahoma Democratic Party that it will allow Independents to vote in its primaries in 2020-2021.

The Oklahoma Republican Party and Oklahoma Libertarian Party have notified Secretary Ziriax that they will close their primaries to Independent voters.

“This means, there is no change for unaffiliated voters in 2020. As has been the case for the past two years, Independent voters may continue to vote in Democratic Party primaries, but not in Republican or Libertarian primaries,” Ziriax said.

Oklahoma is a closed primary state, meaning only registered voters affiliated with a recognized political party may vote in that party’s primary elections. However, state law gives recognized parties the option to open its primaries to registered Independents by notifying the Secretary of the State Election Board between November 1 and November 30 prior to the election year. The Democratic Party notified the Election Board of its decision before the deadline, which extended the deadline to December 15 for the other recognized parties.

Voters can confirm their party affiliation or make changes to their voter registration online using the OK Voter Portal at: elections.ok.gov/OVP.

Secretary Ziriax reminded voters that state law prohibits changes in party affiliation from April 1 through August 31 of even-numbered years. Party changes submitted during this time period are processed and activated on September 1.

For more information on elections in Oklahoma, visit our website at: elections.ok.gov.

Monday, December 09, 2019

Music Monday: O Come, All Ye Faithful

This week's Music Monday is the old carol O Come, All Ye Faithful, sung by Bing Crosby in 1942 with Max Terr’s Mixed Chorus and John Scott Trotter & his Orchestra.


See below for all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to suggest for a future Music Monday? Email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

December 2nd, 2019: I Saw Three Ships
November 25th, 2019: Count Your Blessings
November 18th, 2019: Poor Wayfaring Stranger
November 11th, 2019: Over There
November 4th, 2019: Great Speckled Bird
October 28th, 2019: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 14th, 2019: Batman Theme
September 30th, 2019: These Are My People (Johnny Cash)
September 23rd, 2019: Pictures at an Exhibition (Great Gate of Kiev)
September 16th, 2019: The Streets of Laredo (Piano Puzzler)
September 9th, 2019: I'm Ready To Go
August 26th, 2019: It Is Not Death To Die
August 5th, 2019: 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)
July 29th, 2019: Let It Be Said Of Us
July 15th, 2019: Bach's "Little" Fugue in G Minor
July 8th, 2019: The Majesty and Glory of Your Name
July 1st, 2019: Medley of Sousa Marches
June 24th, 2019: Seventy-Six Trombones
June 17th, 2019: I Want To Be That Man
June 3rd, 2019: "Les Toreadors" from 'Carmen'
May 20th, 2019: Lonesome Road
May 13th, 2019: Mr. Mom
April 29th, 2019: Have Faith in God (Muskogee's hymn)
April 15th, 2019: The Government Can
March 25th, 2019: Transcendental Étude No. 4, "Mazeppa"
March 18th, 2019: St. Patrick's Day in the Morning
March 11th, 2019: What Wondrous Love is This
March 4th, 2019: Scandinavian Waltz
February 18th, 2019: Adagio for Strings
February 11th, 2019: 'Romance' from 'The Gadfly'
February 4th, 2019: Columbia, Gem of the Ocean
January 7th, 2019: Loch Lomond
December 31st, 2018: Auld Lang Syne
December 24th, 2018: Remember O, thou Man
December 17th, 2018: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
December 10th, 2018: Carol of the Bells (medley)
December 3rd, 2018: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
November 26th, 2018: Happy Birthday
November 19th, 2018: My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness
November 12th, 2018: Hymn to the Fallen
October 29th, 2018: A Mighty Fortress is Our God
October 22nd, 2018: Hymn to Red October
October 15th, 2018:  Indian Reservation ("Cherokee People")
October 8th, 2018: Wagner's 'Columbus Overture'
October 1st, 2018: Danny Boy
September 24th, 2018: Dvorak's 'From The New World' Symphony, 4th Movement
September 17th, 2018: Deep River
September 10th, 2018: Muleskinner Blues
September 3rd, 2018: Boomer Sooner
August 20th, 2018: Psalm 23
August 13th, 2018: Ashokan Farewell
August 6, 2018: How the West Was Won
July 23rd, 2018: I Just Can't Wait to Be King
July 16th, 2018: 'Jupiter' from 'The Planets'
July 9th, 2018: Hail to the Spirit of Liberty
July 2nd, 2018: Turn The Tide
June 25th, 2018: Good Guys Win
June 18th, 2018: Watching You
June 11th, 2018: Adoration
June 4th, 2018: March from 'A Moorside Suite'
May 28th, 2018: Taps
May 21st, 2018: Listz's La Campanella
May 14th, 2018: Handful of Weeds
May 7th, 2018: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
April 30th, 2018: Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53 ("Heroic")
April 23rd, 2018: Blow Ye The Trumpet
April 16th, 2018: Asturias (Leyenda)
April 9th, 2018: Old Mountain Dew
April 2nd, 2018: His Life For Mine
March 19th, 2018: See, the Conqu'ring Hero Comes!
March 12th, 2018: Choctaw Nation
March 5th, 2018: Hark, I Hear The Harps Eternal
February 19th, 2018: The Olympic Spirit
February 12th, 2018: Olympic Fanfare and Theme
January 29th, 2018: Hail to the Chief
January 23rd, 2018: Waltz in A-Flat Major, Op. 39 No. 15
January 15th, 2018: Bleed The Same
January 8th, 2018: Saint-Saëns' Symphony No.3 'Organ' (Maestoso)
December 25th, 2017: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
December 18th, 2017: I Saw Three Ships (The Piano Guys)
December 11th, 2017:Who Is He In Yonder Stall
December 4th, 2017: Carol of the Bells (Mannheim Steamroller)
November 27th, 2017: Joy to the World!
November 20th, 2017: We Gather Together
November 13th, 2017: Mansions of the Lord
November 6th, 2017: Träumerei
October 30th: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 23rd, 2017: In Christ Alone
October 16th, 2017: When I'm Knee Deep In Bluegrass
October 9th, 2017: I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb
October 2nd, 2017: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major (Brahms)
September 25th, 2017: Beethoven's Sonata No. 8 in C minor ('Pathétique')
September 11th, 2017: Have You Forgotten?
September 4th, 2017: Bach's Double Violin Concerto
August 28th, 2017: Noah Found Grace In The Eyes Of The Lord
August 21st, 2017: The Heavens Are Telling The Glory of God
August 14th, 2017: Beethoven's 5th Symphony
August 7th, 2017: 'Lift High The Name Of Jesus' medley
July 31st, 2017: Fanfare for the Common Man
July 24th, 2017: Variations on 'Happy Birthday'
July 10th, 2017: Summer (Presto) from Vivaldi's Four Seasons
July 3rd, 2017: Freelance Fireworks Hall of Fame
June 26th, 2017: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
June 19th, 2017: A Christian Home
June 12th, 2017: Ol' Man River
June 5th, 2017: Choctaw Cowboy
May 29th, 2017: Armed Forces Salute
May 22nd, 2017: Double Bass Concerto No.2 in B minor
May 15th, 2017: Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D major
May 8th, 2017: The Army Goes Rolling Along
April 17th, 2017: He Is Alive
April 10th, 2017: Surely He Hath Borne/And With His Stripes/All We Like Sheep
April 3rd, 2017: Here Comes Carolina
March 27th, 2017: 'Spring' from Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons'
March 20th, 2017: Symphony No. 5 ("Reformation") Finale
March 13th, 2017: The Pigeon on the Gate
March 6th, 2017: Finlandia
February 27th, 2017: When I Can Read My Title Clear
February 20th, 2017: William Tell Overture - Finale
February 13th, 2017: 'Romance' from 'The Gadfly'
February 6th, 2017: White Winter Hymnal
January 30th, 2017: Hail, Columbia
January 23rd, 2017: Hail to the Chief
January 16th, 2017: Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
January 2nd, 2017: Auld Lang Syne
December 26th, 2016: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
December 19th, 2016: I Wonder as I Wander
December 12th, 2016: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
December 5th, 2016: A Christmas Festival
November 28th, 2016: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
November 21st: Beethoven's 'Hymn of Thanksgiving'
November 14th: Hymn to the Fallen
November 7th: This World Is Not My Home
October 31st, 2016: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 24th, 2016: 'Mars', from 'The Planets'
October 17th, 2016: My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
October 10th, 2016: Spain
October 3rd, 2016: International Harvester
September 26th, 2016: 'The Imperial March' from Star Wars
September 19th, 2016: Awake the Trumpet's Lofty Sound
September 12th, 2016: Before the Throne of God Above
September 5th, 2016: The Hunt
August 29th, 2016: Liberty
August 22nd, 2016: Summon the Heroes
August 15th, 2016: Bugler's Dream
August 8th, 2016: Olympic Fanfare and Theme
August 1st, 2016: 'Prelude' and 'Parade of the Charioteers' from Ben-Hur
July 25th, 2016: How The West Was Won
July 18th, 2016: Six Studies in English Folk Song
July 11th, 2016: From Everlasting To Everlasting
July 4th, 2016: The Stars and Stripes Forever
June 27th, 2016: Rule, Britannia!
June 20st, 2016: Bugler's Holiday
June 13th, 2016: Ride of the Valkyries
June 6th, 2016: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54, Allegro Vivace
May 30th, 2016: Armed Forces Salute
May 23rd, 2016: Paid in Full (Through Jesus, Amen)
May 16th, 2016: Overture from 'Carmen'
May 9th, 2016: L'Arlesienne Suite No. 1 - Prelude
May 2nd, 2016: My God Is a Rock
April 25th, 2016: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
April 18th, 2016: Paganini's Caprice No. 24 in A Minor
April 11th, 2016: Fantasia on a 17th Century Tune
April 4th, 2016: Hark The Sound/I'm a Tarheel Born
March 28th, 2016: Rustle of Spring
March 21st, 2016: 'Ode to Joy' sung by a 10,000-voice choir
March 14th, 2016: Hard Times Come Again No More
March 7th, 2016: 'The Suite' from Downton Abbey
February 29th, 2016: Moonlight Sonata
February 22nd, 2016: Liebestraum No. 3
February 15th, 2016: Help Is On The Way
February 8th, 2016: God of Grace and God of Glory
February 1st, 2016: 'My Story'
January 25th, 2016: Israeli Concertino
January 18th, 2016: What Grace is Mine
January 11th, 2016: "Meditation" from Thaïs
January 4th, 2016: Praeludium and Allegro
December 28th, 2015: Appalachian Carol
December 21st, 2015: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
December 14th, 2015: O Holy Night
December 7th, 2015: Christmas Fantasy
November 23rd, 2015: Simple Gifts
November 16th, 2015: Preacher Tell Me Like It Is
November 9th, 2015: Armed Forces Salute
November 2nd, 2015: Amazing Grace
October 26th, 2015: The Harmonious Blacksmith
October 19th, 2015: Liberty Fanfare
October 12th, 2015: The Majesty and Glory of Your Name
October 5th, 2015: Elgar's 'Enigma' Finale
September 28th, 2015: Stayed on Jesus
September 21st, 2015: Great Gate of Kiev
September 14th, 2015: Nearer, My God, To Thee

Stitt names Michael Cawley to OU Board of Regents


Oklahoma City, Okla. (Dec. 9, 2019) – Governor Kevin Stitt announced today the appointment of Michael A. Cawley to the University of Oklahoma (OU) Board of Regents, a position that requires Senate confirmation.

“Mr. Cawley is a successful businessman, attorney and OU alumni, with a career dedicated to serving rural Oklahoma,” Stitt said. “Mr. Cawley served for 20 years as president of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, leading a team that raised funds to publish research advancing the agriculture industry in Oklahoma and nationwide. He will bring a wealth of experience and a strong network to support the OU Board and the University’s vision to continue growing as reputable national research institution.”   

“Governor Stitt has shared with me his desire for higher education excellence,” Cawley said. “I am honored to have the opportunity to work with the Board of Regents and university teams to bring that desire to fruition.”

“I was thrilled to learn that Governor Stitt appointed Michael Cawley to the OU Board of Regents,” said OU Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr. “He is a dedicated servant to our University having spent decades committed to our mission in a variety of roles. His appointment to the Board speaks to his interest in and advocacy for higher education in Oklahoma. The Board, and the institutions it governs, will be better for his leadership, counsel, and insight. We’re proud to have another OU alumnus serve as a member of this distinguished body and I look forward to working with him.”

Michael Cawley serves as a director of Noble Energy, Inc., an independent oil and gas exploration and production company. He served as President, CEO, and Trustee of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc. from 1992 until his retirement in 2012. Prior to 1992, he practiced law for nearly 20 years following his service to the United States Army.

Cawley received undergraduate degrees in Economics and English Literature as well as a law degree from the University of Oklahoma. Cawley and his wife, Betty Jane, live in Ardmore, Oklahoma. They have two children and eight grandchildren.

Cawley serves on the boards of the Merrick Foundation, the Dean A. McGee Eye Institute, the Dean A. McGee Eye Institute Foundation, the Oklahoma Golf Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, and the State Fair of Oklahoma. He also serves on the Investment Committee of the Oklahoma Arts Institute.

Additionally, Cawley has assisted his alma mater as chairman of the Board of Trustees of the OU Foundation, chairman of the University of Oklahoma Associates Council, and chairman of the fundraising efforts for the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Course and the Charlie Coe Teaching Center. He also served on the search committee for the hiring of Joe Castiglione, the University’s Athletic Director. Cawley received the University of Oklahoma Regents’ Alumni Award in 1996.

The Oklahoma University Board of Regents is the official governing body of The University of Oklahoma, Cameron University, and Rogers State University. The board is composed of seven citizens appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the State Senate. Each Regent serves a seven-year term

Sunday, December 08, 2019

Public invited to Governor's Christmas Tree Lighting on Monday


Due to ongoing construction at the State Capitol, the annual tree lighting will be held at the Oklahoma History Center.

Oklahoma City, Okla. (Dec. 6, 2019) – Governor Kevin Stitt, First Lady Sarah Stitt, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister invite the public to attend the annual Governor’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 9 at the Oklahoma History Center, a new location to accommodate ongoing construction at the State Capitol. 

Prior to the lighting ceremony, students from 25 public schools across Oklahoma will design ornaments and decorate indoor, four-foot-tall Christmas trees with a theme of choice. The trees will be on display inside the Oklahoma History Center following the 5:30 p.m. public tree lighting. 

“Sarah and I look forward to celebrating the Christmas season with Oklahoma students and families on Monday,” Stitt said. “This is an unique opportunity for us to come together as a state and commemorate a holiday season that promotes hope and peace for all.”

“The annual tree lighting ceremony is one of my favorite events of the year,” Hofmeister said. “It is always a pleasure to see the creativity and excitement of our students and teachers, and the lighting of the tree is an excellent reminder of the joys of the season and the importance of family and community.”

The annual Governor’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is sponsored by the Office of the Governor, the State Department of Education, and the Oklahoma Arts Council.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

OKGOP Chairman: Beware of Nat'l Democrats pushing redistricting petition

Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman David McLain is out with an op-ed pushing back on Democratic efforts to put redistricting reform on the ballot, which is part of a nationwide effort by leftist groups.

National Democrats Seek Inroads in Oklahoma With Redistricting Push
by OKGOP Chairman David McLain

Democratic Party leaders that include former President Barack Obama and former Attorney General Eric Holder are spearheading a national effort to change the way congressional and state legislative districts are drawn. Their motives are partisan and ideological.

First, these “reformers” seek to reverse the Republican advantage in state politics brought on by widespread disaffection with the Democrat Party’s lurch to the left. Republicans have unified control over the legislative bodies in 29 of 50 states (including Oklahoma), compared with just 19 for Democrats. Leftist leaders know that simply redrawing these districts may produce faster gains for the Democratic Party than doing the hard work of winning elections. That is why the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC), chaired by Holder, is working to redraw these lines exclusively in red states and areas where Republicans have experienced electoral success.

The NDRC is ideological in nature and understands the stakes are high. Its website cites global warming, gun control, and abortion rights as policy priorities and implores like-minded people and groups to join their cause.

In Oklahoma, they have found a taker: a coalition called “People Not Politicians” that is backed by out-of-state liberal interest groups and in-state Democrat political operatives. They have filed Initiative Petition 420, a precursor to State Question 804, which could appear on the ballot in Oklahoma if the group can overcome legal challenges and acquire the necessary number of signatures.

SQ 804 would remove control over the redistricting process from our elected officials and place it in the hands of unelected activist judges who would then assemble their own “independent” election commission. These new commissioners, unlike the bipartisan legislative committees that today control redistricting, would be held accountable to no one.

How has this worked in other states? Writing on the works of “independent” judges in Pennsylvania, The Wall Street Journal opined in July: “The judges substituted their own map that helped Democrats gain three seats in Congress last year. That’s not democracy. It’s judicial usurpation of democracy.”

Furthermore, the maps created by many of these independent commissions look as bad or worse than the corkscrew- or hockey stick-shaped maps that many legislative bodies produce. The difference, of course, being that activist judges are contorting districts into positions that accompany the “correct” numbers of urban, liberal, LGBTQ+, or whatever other left-leaning affiliation that might benefit Democrats. In Oklahoma, the redistricting proposal explicitly mirrors that kind of leftist “social justice” commitment, citing gender identification and sexual orientation as factors that should be taken under consideration when assembling the new commission on redistricting.

Finally, the Oklahoma proposal is designed in a way that will almost certainly benefit urban pockets in Oklahoma City and Tulsa at the expense of rural areas. Our legislators have taken pains to create legislative districts that empower the state’s rural voters, knowing that power will otherwise flow disproportionately to our bigger, wealthier cities. By contrast, the Oklahoma petition includes provisions that will undercut rural districts by changing, for instance, how the state counts incarcerated inmates. Under our current system, inmates count as residents in the community that houses them, most of which are in rural areas. SQ 804 would change that by counting them based on their address pre-incarceration, meaning thousands of inmates in rural prisons would be counted as residents of Oklahoma and Tulsa counties.

Ultimately, this is really about control. Our current system places the state Legislature in control of our elections, as envisioned by the Founding Fathers, outlined in the Constitution and later approved by the U.S. Supreme Court. State Question 804, by contrast, sees the results of our democracy in action and says, “no thanks.” It replaces the will of the people and their representatives with the will — and the whims — of unelected judges and a new commission that will answer to no one.

Low casino fees a problem for Henry administration too

Low casino fees a problem for Henry administration too
by Ray Carter
Director, Center for Independent Journalism

(December 6th, 2019) -- Gov. Kevin Stitt has said Oklahoma casinos are not paying market rates for geographic monopoly rights to operate gambling facilities, which significantly reduces state government funding. Stitt isn’t the first statewide officeholder to raise this issue.

In 2008, former State Treasurer Scott Meacham, who negotiated the state’s gaming compacts on behalf of former Gov. Brad Henry, opposed the opening of a tribal casino because it would result in a loss of revenue to state government, pointing to the lower fees paid by tribal casinos compared to the rates paid by state racetrack casinos, or racinos.

In a June 9, 2008 letter sent to the U.S. Department of the Interior, Meacham wrote that if the Shawnee Tribe was allowed to open a casino in Oklahoma City, the state would “be harmed” because of a loss in “direct gaming revenue” as gambling shifted from the racetrack to the tribal casino.

“The state receives 4 to 6% of tribal gaming receipts but receives 10 to 30% of horseracing gaming receipts,” Meacham wrote. “Therefore, state dedicated gaming revenues for education will also be harmed.”

In 2000, Congress passed the Shawnee Act, which restored the Shawnee Tribe’s federal recognition and gave it the right to secure land outside the assigned lands of other Oklahoma tribes. That meant much of the state was off-limits to the tribe, but property in Oklahoma County was available.

In 2005, tribal officials publicly discussed their desire to purchase land and build a casino in downtown Oklahoma City or Bricktown. By 2007, the tribe had a contract to buy property and announced plans to build a casino on 104 acres fronting Interstate 35 between Britton Road and Wilshire.

That effort drew opposition from the Remington Park racetrack and casino.

In a Feb. 28, 2008 letter sent to Meacham by Scott Wells, the general manager at Remington Park, Wells said the racetrack’s “business was negatively impacted by the opening of the Riverwind and Fire Lake Grand casinos in 2006.”

While that competition had been expected, Wells said racetrack officials did not expect to face competition from “a giant tribal casino 1.7 miles away from Remington Park ...”

Under legislation approved in 2004, slot machines at Oklahoma racetracks are taxed at rates between 10 percent and 30 percent. In contrast, under the various gaming compacts signed with tribal governments, the state receives only an “exclusivity fee” of 4 percent to 6 percent for slot machines at tribal casinos. The fee paid by tribal casinos is provided in exchange for the state barring competition in an area, which gives a tribal government monopoly rights to casino activity in that area.

In his letter opposing tribal casino operation in Oklahoma City, Meacham noted that if the proposed Shawnee Tribe casino lured gamblers away from Remington Park’s slot machines, state government would receive much less money due to the lower fee imposed on tribal slot machines.

The Shawnee Tribe’s effort to open an Oklahoma City casino fell by the wayside and the tribe eventually opened a casino near Guymon in the Oklahoma panhandle, more than 300 miles from the tribe’s headquarters in northeastern Oklahoma.

Meacham and Wells’ letters are both preserved in state archives.

The large gap in rates paid to the state on slot machines continues to be an issue and plays a large role in the current dispute between Stitt and tribal casino operators.

Tribal gaming compacts include language stating that each compact “shall have a term which shall expire on January 1, 2020.” Stitt says the compacts must be renegotiated before that expiration date, and has said the exclusivity fee paid by tribes should be increased to more closely match the rates paid in other states with similar casino markets. According to one estimate, 44 percent of tribal gaming compacts nationwide involve fees of 10 percent or greater, and Oklahoma’s casino market is far larger than most. Oklahoma is currently the nation’s third-largest state casino market and home to the world’s largest casino.

Despite the expiration date Stitt notes, tribal casino operators claim the compacts auto-renew every 15 years and have refused to negotiate.

United for Oklahoma, a publicity campaign funded by the state’s tribal casino operators that opposes renegotiation of the fees paid on slot machines, estimates tribal casinos’ total combined payments to Oklahoma state government since 2006 are more than $1.5 billion.

In addition to exclusivity fees, United for Oklahoma states that tribal casino operators also provided $80.5 million for tribal education programs, scholarships, and donations to Oklahoma education institutions in 2017. Combined with the share of exclusivity fee payments earmarked for education, the tribes report providing $198 million for education in 2017.

However, the amount paid through exclusivity fees and other forms by tribal casino operators is dwarfed by the payments that would have occurred had tribal casinos and racinos been placed on equal footing, records show.

In 2018 the 1,000 racino slot machines paid $24 million to state government. In contrast, the estimated 42,000 class III tribal casino slot machines paid a total of $119 million in state revenue share.

Broken down, that averages about $24,000 for each racino machine, but just $2,833 per Class III slot machine in tribal casinos. And tribal casinos pay no state fee on more than 28,000 Class II (Bingo-style) slot machines in their facilities.

Those figures indicate the state of Oklahoma would today receive payment of more than $1 billion annually from tribal casino operators had the fee on Class III slot machines in tribal casinos been equal to the rates imposed on the same slot machines in Oklahoma racinos, based on current per-machine averages.

In response to Stitt’s call for renegotiating compacts, officials with 29 tribal governments in Oklahoma signed a letter saying they believe the compacts “automatically renew” on Jan. 1, 2020 and that “rates under the present Gaming Compact should not change.” The chief of the Shawnee Tribe was among the signatories.

Hern applauds new food stamp work-requirement rule for able-bodied adults without dependents

Hern applauds new USDA rule strengthening requirements for SNAP recipients

WASHINGTON, DC – This morning, the United States Department of Agriculture published a final rule entitled “Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP): Requirements for Able-Bodied Adults without Dependents.”

In February, Rep. Kevin Hern (OK-01) sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in support of this proposed rule with the support of 64 Members of Congress.

“I’ve been a strong supporter of this new rule since the moment they announced it,” said Rep. Hern. “There is nothing quite as empowering as a job. No federal program has the power to pull a person out of poverty, no government handout can help a person find independence and success. Only through gainful employment can a person find true stability. We should be encouraging our people to work, contribute to the economy, and put themselves on the path to independence rather than chaining them to the crutch of social programs. Programs like SNAP were never meant to be a long-term solution, but merely a temporary assistance. This ruling will help the American people rise up from poverty and find a better life for themselves. I applaud Secretary Perdue’s commitment to reforming this program!”

Background Information:

The rule promotes work for able-bodied adults (ABAWDs) between the age of 18-49 without dependents and does not apply to children and their parents, those over 50 years old, those with a disability, or pregnant women. The Food and Nutrition Act limits the amount of time ABAWDs can receive SNAP benefits to three months over a 36-month period, unless recipients work or participate in an employment workfare program for minimum hours.  The law allows states to apply for waivers of this time limit due to economic conditions. The waivers resulted in 3.8 million ABAWDs on SNAP in 2016, 2.8 million of which were not working at all. The final rule adjusts the criteria for when and where state may waive these limits.  Under USDA’s rule, states retain flexibility to waive the time-limit in areas of high unemployment and to exempt a percentage of their ABAWD caseload.

You can find more information on these changes here.

Gov. Stitt appoints Scott Crow as new director of ODOC


Oklahoma City, Okla. (Dec. 6, 2019) – Governor Kevin Stitt announced today the appointment of Scott Crow as the next agency director for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC), a position that will require Senate confirmation in the 2020 legislative session.

“While interim director, Scott Crow stepped forward as a visionary and strong leader for the Department of Corrections,” Stitt said. “Crow successfully led the agency to accomplish major initiatives, such as the inaugural re-entry fairs ahead of the HB 1269 commutation release. Crow is strengthening morale among employees and setting goals to modernize operations, and he is the right person to receive the appointment to be the next director of ODOC.” 

“It is an honor to serve Governor Stitt, the people of Oklahoma and staff of this great agency,” Crow said. “This is a post I accept with humility, a sense of duty, no illusions of the work that lies ahead - and an eye toward what works in corrections. I look forward to continue assisting the governor as we manage and improve this critical agency, and help make Oklahoma a Top Ten state – and ODOC a Top Ten state correctional agency.”

Since June 2019, Crow has served as ODOC Interim Director. Crow has been with the agency since April 1996, when he was hired as a Special Investigator Supervisor. Before ODOC, he worked in law enforcement in southwest Oklahoma, from officer-level up to leadership, including as a captain with the Comanche County Sheriff’s Department and Assistant Police Chief for the City of Cache.

As director, Crow will continue to lead the agency’s more than 4,300 employees working in its 24 facilities stretched across Oklahoma, as well as Probation and Parole Services and Community Corrections.

As of Thursday morning, the system was home to 25,168 inmates, with another 31,915 under community supervision and 548 in county jails awaiting housing in prison.