Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Legislation filed to establish ‘Veterans Suicide Awareness Week’


Legislation To Establish ‘Veterans Suicide Awareness Week’ Filed

OKLAHOMA CITY -- State Rep. Jacob Rosecrants (D-Norman) filed legislation for consideration during the 2020 Legislative Session designed to bring awareness to veteran suicide.

House Bill 2891 would establish “Veterans Suicide Awareness Week” in Oklahoma, which would take place the second week of every October. The legislation was prompted by one of Rosecrants’ constituents whose son died by suicide. Damien Eckstein was a US Army veteran of the Iraq War who died Oct. 14, 2013. 

“These men and women were willing to go to some pretty dark places in the world in service to this country. Now, when they are home, they need our help,” Rosecrants said. “As a lawmaker, I feel like its part of my duty to provide support to these individuals anyway I can.” 

According to the 2019 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Annual Report -- published by the  US Department of Veteran Affairs -- the most recent data suggests that veterans are 1.5 times more likely to attempt suicide than men and women who haven’t served. In 2017, 85 Oklahoma veterans died by suicide.

“This legislation is about bringing awareness to this problem and hopefully building some momentum to solve it,” Rosecrants said.

Rosecrants encourages anyone with comments or suggestions on this legislation to call (405)557-7329 or email jacob.rosecrants@gmail.com.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Rep. Fincher files bills aimed at altering Virtual Charter School funding and transfers


Fincher Bills Address Virtual Charter School Funding and Transfers

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Derrel Fincher (R-Bartlesville) has filed two separate bills to address funding and student transfer policies for virtual charter schools.

House Bill 3405 would remove the 1.33 weight attached to each virtual charter school student and would require virtual charter schools to receive their initial allocation each year in July at the same time as other public schools.

House Bill 3414 would address the issue of students transferring between traditional school districts to virtual charters.

“Since the rise of virtual charter schools in Oklahoma, there has been much discussion about making sure the funding between them and our brick-and-mortar schools is equitable,” Fincher said. “At the same time, I’ve talked with many superintendents that would like to see student transfer policies become more transparent.”

On the funding issue, Fincher said the law for virtual charters was initially written so those schools would receive a 1.33 weight for every student for the very first year of operation because they did not have a prior year enrollment count. That formula, however, is still being used. HB 3405 would correct that so virtual charters would receive weighted funds for only those students that qualify, including special education students, English language learners and those who qualify for free or reduced-priced lunches.

In addition, the bill would put virtual charter schools on the same allocation schedule as traditional brick-and-mortar public schools, with both receiving their initial allocation in July.

HB 3414 will address student transfers between their home school districts and virtual charter schools during the school year.

Fincher said in the past, students could only live in one district because districts did not overlap. However, statewide virtual charter schools have their district boundaries defined as the border of the state, so every student in Oklahoma now lives in six districts – their local school district and the five statewide virtual charter school districts. When students enroll in any of these, the current open transfer and emergency transfer laws do not apply because they are only enrolling in a home district and the move is not tracked by the state. Often, schools did not know students had left until they received a request for records from the virtual school.

This change would still allow the transfer but would notify the student’s brick-and-mortar home district. This would give school administrators the opportunity to talk to these students and their parents to let them know of virtual charter options or other services within their districts. Fincher said he learned from an interim study he held on this issue that most districts in Oklahoma have access to part-time or full-time virtual options for their students. The bill also would give districts and the state an accurate way to count student movement in real-time, he said.

Fincher noted that it is hard on a family to make a decision about moving a student during the school year. 

“This bill is about developing good policies for transfers during the school year so that parents, who are the ultimate authority in their child’s education, have complete information when making these decisions,” he said.

Derrel Fincher serves District 11 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes Rogers, Tulsa and Washington Counties.

Sen. Smalley, chairman who obstructed abortion abolition bill, resigns to take private-sector job

The favorite pastime of the Oklahoma Legislator in recent years continues to go on. Another month, another legislative resignation for a job outside elected office. Last month, it was Democrat State Rep. Shane Stone; this month, it's Republican Sen. Jason Smalley.

In the past three and a half years, something like a dozen legislators (only two of which were Democrats) have resigned either in disgrace or to take another job.


Hat tip to NonDoc.com for reporting the news, and uploading Smalley's resignation letter, shown below:


Smalley would have been up for reelection this year, having been elected to the State House in 2012 and then moving to the Senate by winning his seat in the 2014 election.

More from NonDoc:
Smalley said he will not be a registered lobbyist for Motorola in Oklahoma but that he will supervise the duties of a registered lobbyist. In his official resignation letter to Gov. Kevin Stitt (embedded below), Smalley said he will “be in charge of [Motorola’s] Oklahoma operations.”
Last session, Senator Smalley received national attention for refusing to give the Abolition of Abortion in Oklahoma Act a fair hearing in the Senate's Health & Human Services Committee, which he chaired. Smalley stood in the way of a measure that sought the same consistent goal that he has repeatedly espoused over the years -- the end of abortion in Oklahoma.

While some of those who advocated for the bill could have followed more advisable methods of urging him to allow the bill to be heard, the fact remains that abortions are being performed today because Senator Jason Smalley took the side of Planned Parenthood and quashed the idea of trying a new strategy to bring abortion to a swift end.

Good riddance.

UPDATE -- Sen. Smalley issued the following press release:

Sen. Jason Smalley announces resignation from District 28 seat


State Senator Jason Smalley announced Tuesday he would resign office effective January 31.

“It has been an honor to serve the people of Lincoln, Pottawatomie, and Seminole counties, and I will always treasure the trust that the citizens of Oklahoma have placed in me,” said Smalley, R-Stroud. “After serving my country in the U.S. Marines for six years and eight years in an elective office, I believe it is the right time and opportunity to enter back into the business world.

Smalley said he would be named Senior Account Manager for the Motorola Solutions Corp., in charge of its Oklahoma operation.

“Motorola Solutions provides critical-mission technologies utilized by our first-responders, ensuring public safety across Oklahoma and the country,” Smalley said. “My experience in public office and as a Marine makes it a great fit and opportunity to continue to improve the communities in Oklahoma.”

Smalley passed the most significant teacher pay raise in state history and was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from Higher Education three times, most notably for his work on reforming the Oklahoma Promise scholarship. Smalley was the first member to raise the income cap in over fifteen years. He also laid the framework to allow ridesharing networks like Uber to operate in Oklahoma.

Smalley was raised in Stroud, graduating from Stroud High School, where he earned a music scholarship to the University of Central Oklahoma. While attending college, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and was deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, where he served multiple tours. Following an honorable discharge in 2006, he received his degree in Social Science from the University of Oklahoma. He was elected to the Oklahoma House of Representative in 2012, and two years later, to the Oklahoma State Senate. Smalley currently serves as the Chair of the Health and Human Services Committee and as a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, Education, General Government, and Rules.

He and C’Anne have been married since 2003 and have three boys, Gideon, August, and Lincoln.

Smalley said he would send his resignation letter, to be effective January 31, 2020, to State Senate Pro-Tempore Greg Treat later today.

Rep. Lowe files bills to repeal Constitutional Carry, ban long-barrel firearms in restaurants

After failing to gather enough signatures to place a repeal of Constitutional Carry on the ballot, Rep. Jason Lowe (D-OKC) is filing legislation to undo it.

Fortunately, this has absolutely no chance at passage.


Lowe Files Legislation Concerning Firearms and Public Safety
Bills would  Repeal Permitless Carry, Ban Long-Barrel Firearms in Restaurants

OKLAHOMA CITY -- State Rep. Jason Lowe (D-OKC) has filed two pieces of legislation focused on making public spaces safer for Oklahomans.

House Bill 3357 would repeal last year’s permitless carry legislation.

“There is no doubt in my mind that if people got to vote on whether firearm safety training should be necessary to carry a firearm in public, where our children are, permitless carry would not be the law,” Lowe said. “This legislation is a product of the hundreds of conversations I have had personally with Oklahomans who don’t want irresponsible gun owners to carry firearms in public.”

House Bill 3897 would ban long-barrel firearms from Oklahoma restaurants. This legislation is meant to make these spaces safer and more welcoming to citizens.

“Having patrons carry long-barrel firearms into a restaurant isn’t good for business or the mental health of the restaurant’s patrons,” Lowe said. “Oklahomans, especially children, veterans suffering from PTSD, people suffering from mental illness, should have the ability to enter a restaurant in Oklahoma and not feel threatened or endangered by the presence of military-style weapons.”

While public safety is paramount, a byproduct of Lowe’s legislation would be a fix to an unintended consequence caused by the passage of permitless carry.

“The business owners I have spoken with don’t like being drug into this highly controversial issue,” Lowe said. “When we told store owners that they could decide who could and couldn’t carry in their place of business, we forced them to pick sides and alienate customers. Our government should make laws that help small businesses not hurt them.”

Oklahoma Voter Registration Map, January 2020



In the latest installment of my long-running Voter Registration Maps series, we will once again take a look at voter registration across the state. These statistics are from the annual January 15th report from the State Election Board. (For nostalgia purposes, Democrats can look at my first map and see how much of Oklahoma was still blue and dark-blue in 2013)

Since last January, the GOP has taken the lead in Roger Mills County (6.63% GOP lead), Cotton County (4.34% lead), and neighboring Comanche County (0.74% lead). Democrats still cling to narrow margins in Marshall County (0.13% Democrat lead), Kiowa County (1.46% lead), Pontotoc County (1.55% lead), Ottawa County (1.8% lead), Tillman County (2.58% lead), Bryan County (2.75% lead), Seminole County (5.21% lead), and Jefferson County (5.34% lead).

Coal (68.78%), Latimer (61.24%), and Pushmataha (60.35%) are the lone counties with over 60% registered Democrats. Even in Coal County, however, the Democratic lead over GOP registration has dropped to 47.07%; a decade ago, that lead in Coal County was 70.38%, with 82.53% of registered voters being Democrats.

Major County is the most polarized county, with 77.6% Republicans and 13.9% Democrats.

Comanche County has the highest percentage of registered Independent voters at 20.03%, while Payne County has the highest percentage of registered Libertarians at 0.754%. Incidentally, Comanche County has the highest percentage of voters outside of the two main parties, with 20.62% registered Independent or Libertarian -- 1.55% higher than the next closest county (Carter, 19.14%). That's the largest such gap in the rankings.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Music Monday: Music for the Royal Fireworks

This week's Music Monday is Music for the Royal Fireworks, by the great 18th-century Baroque composer George Frideric Handel. This recording is from the 2012 BBC Proms, and was played on historically accurate baroque instruments - hence the dramatically different appearance and technique on the brass and wind instruments in particular.


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.

January 13th, 2020: Overture from The Cowboys
January 6th, 2020: I Am Resolved
December 23rd, 2019: Angels We Have Heard On High
December 16th, 2019: I Wonder As I Wander
December 9th, 2019: O Come, All Ye Faithful
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

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Pack the Union: leftist proposal to admit DC as 127 states in order to rewrite the Constitution


Just when you think you've seen it all, some more profound lunacy comes rolling down the track.

Earlier this month, an anonymous column was published by the Harvard Law Review -- anonymous because no reasonable person would ever want to be publicly associated with the extreme idiocy contained within it -- entitled Pack the Union: A Proposal to Admit New States for the Purpose of Amending the Constitution to Ensure Equal Representation.

Appalled at the constitutional framework set up by our founders, some leftist academic came up with a bright idea: let's admit Washington D.C. to the union to add to the Democratic membership in Congress and make it easier to amend the Constitution for radical, transformative change.

Did I mention that the plan calls for DC to be admitted as one hundred and twenty seven individual states?

Yeah.

127 new states, 127 new members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and 254 new members of the U.S. Senate, nearly all guaranteed to be Democrats (or outright Socialists).

Nothing says insane proposal more than calling to increase the number of states by 354%.

From the proposal:
Recent events have highlighted some of the ways in which federal elections in the United States are profoundly undemocratic and, thus, profoundly unfair.
The Electoral College — when it contravenes the popular vote — is an obvious example of this unfairness. But it is just one of the mathematically undemocratic features in the Constitution. Equal representation of states in the Senate, for example, gives citizens of low-population states undue influence in Congress. Conversely, American citizens residing in U.S. territories have no meaningful representation in Congress or the Electoral College.
As is typical for leftists today, a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose of both the Senate and the Electoral College, along with an elevation of the meaningless "national popular vote".
While a step in the right direction, these proposals [to admit Washington DC and Puerto Rico as states] are inadequate. To create a system where every vote counts equally, the Constitution must be amended. To do this, Congress should pass legislation reducing the size of Washington, D.C., to an area encompassing only a few core federal buildings and then admit the rest of the District’s 127 neighborhoods as states. These states — which could be added with a simple congressional majority — would add enough votes in Congress to ratify four amendments: (1) a transfer of the Senate’s power to a body that represents citizens equally; (2) an expansion of the House so that all citizens are represented in equal-sized districts; (3) a replacement of the Electoral College with a popular vote; and (4) a modification of the Constitution’s amendment process that would ensure future amendments are ratified by states representing most Americans. [emphasis mine]
 After complaining about the disparity in congressional representation between Wyoming's 580,000 citizens and California's nearly 40,000,000, they then propose to create 3 members of Congress for every 4,500 people in Washington D.C. The intellectual disconnect is mind-boggling.
In the 2018 midterms, for example, Democratic congressional candidates won the House popular vote by the largest midterm margin of victory ever. Republican candidates for Senate received a total of 38% of votes cast, while Democratic candidates received 58%. And yet, Republicans not only retained a majority in the chamber, they actually increased it.
This particular comment is ridiculously uninformed and pointless. California's 2018 Senate race was literally between two Democrats, because their jungle primary rules are designed to eliminate Republican candidates from making it to the general election. Other states had noncompetitive elections. The "national popular vote" for congressional races has no bearing on the composition of Congress.

After detailing some absurd arguments for so-called problems with the political system in America, the unnamed and faceless author then goes on to discuss their proposed solution.
Article V provides two mechanisms for amending the Constitution. Congress may propose an amendment with a two-thirds majority in each chamber, or two-thirds of the states may call for a constitutional convention and propose new amendments there. In either case, three-fourths of the states must subsequently ratify any new amendments before they take effect. These thresholds make it highly unlikely that the problem of unequal representation will be fixed through the normal amendment process.
Given these challenges, some might say that the problem of unequal representation is simply an intractable part of the U.S. political system — something impossible to fix, or something to try to work around. [...]
An “easier” way to amend the Constitution would be for Congress to admit a large number of new states whose congressional representatives would reliably ally with the existing majority in sufficient numbers to propose and ratify new amendments fixing the problem of unequal representation. Because Congress can admit new states with a simple majority, this would provide a more attainable political threshold.
Much like the current Democratic calls to "pack the Supreme Court" to get their way, this author's genius suggestion is to "pack the Union" in order to attain the goals of the political and cultural Left.

Noting that Washington, D.C, is "the ideal location to enact this proposal", they make the following three points:
First, Washington, D.C., is not currently part of any state, so creation of new states there would not require action by or dismemberment of any presently existing state. Second, every measurable subdivision of D.C. voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic party in the 2016 election, so the Democratic caucus in Congress could be confident that new states created within the District would elect like-minded delegations to Congress. Third, the neighborhoods of D.C. provide a reasonable starting point for the new state boundaries; they are numerous enough to provide the votes necessary, but not so great that they would allow the new delegations to pass amendments or legislation on their own [emphasis mine]
This proposal is so incredibly stupid my head hurts.

We're only halfway through the plan, too.

So now that they've shrunk the Federal District and created 127 brand-new states, the author moves on to the four new Constitutional amendments this plan was crafted to produce.

  1. Transfer the Senate's Power
  2. Expand the House to Include Territories and Replace the Cap of 435 Members with an Amendment Ensuring a Minimum Size.
  3. Abolish the Electoral College in Favor of a Popular Vote.
  4. Remove the Influence of States in the Amendment Process. 
Regarding the first amendment, the proposal goes like this:

[1. Transfer the Senate's Power] ... The Senate’s duties could be changed without modifying its composition. Imagine, for example, a system where the Senate resembles the House of Lords, the largely ceremonial upper chamber in the United Kingdom. The Senate could review legislation passed by the House but not prevent it from becoming law. Its formal powers would be transferred either to the House or to a new, equitably apportioned body.
Seems like it would just be easier to eliminate the Senate and go to a unicameral legislature, but that's evidently too extreme of a proposal for the author...... the same author who proposed 127 new states from one city and the most transformative set of amendments to the Constitution in history.

Moving on.
[2. Expand the House to Include Territories and Replace the Cap of 435 Members with an Amendment Ensuring a Minimum Size] An amendment to fix the House of Representatives would do two things. First, it would ensure that the body represents all Americans, not simply those who live in states. This could be done by treating each territory “as a state” for purposes of congressional representation and presidential elections.
Second, it would constitutionalize a minimum size for the House of Representatives, such that the representative-to-population ratio for House districts would be determined by the population of the smallest-population state. This “Wyoming Rule” would ensure that small states do not receive undue influence in Congress by virtue of the Constitution’s guarantee of at least one representative per state
I'm surprised they don't just go ahead and do away with territories altogether and make them all states. At this point in the proposal, what's the point?

The second portion actually isn't a terrible idea. Fellow Oklahoma conservative blogger Michael Bates has commented on this very idea in the past, noting that the cap of 435 seats has essentially been set since 1911.
[3. Abolish the Electoral College in Favor of a Popular Vote] A third amendment would abolish the Electoral College and create a system where the President and Vice President are elected by a pure popular vote. In the event that states are unable to conclusively certify election results, or the results of the election are otherwise disputed, the House of Representatives, voting as individuals, could determine the next President and Vice President.
Leftists who favor the National Popular Vote fail to recognize that the Electoral College is a two-tier system of popular votes: fifty state-level popular vote contests are held, then the popular vote of the fifty states (decided by popular vote) is the victor. Voila, problem solved. We already have a national popular vote.
[4. Remove the Influence of States in the Amendment Process] A fourth and final amendment would ensure that these changes could not be undone by an opposition Congress following the same playbook. The language in Article V that allows for two-thirds of the states to call a constitutional convention and that requires three-fourths of the states to ratify new amendments should be changed to ensure that those states actually represent a majority (or supermajority) of the total population. In other words, once a fair system of representation is established, the possibility that a small fraction of the population would once again control the federal government should be removed. [emphasis mine]
This is the wildest of the proposals, as insanely crazy and harebrained as they are. After creating an absurd scenario to recraft the nation in their own image, the author thinks it wise to preclude any future use of the same scenario.

I hope no tax dollars go to this individual's salary, because this entire thing is too stupid for words.

You can read the rest of the ludicrous proposal at this link.

State Sen. Bergstrom files bill to unify public safety agencies


Oklahoma Public Safety Unification Act of 2020 is filed

Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, has filed Senate Bill 1602, also known as the Oklahoma Public Safety Unification Act of 2020, which would create the Oklahoma Public Safety Agency.

The new agency would unite state law enforcement and public safety agencies to more efficiently and effectively enforce public safety laws and deter crime. The following entities would become divisions within the new Oklahoma Public Safety Agency:

  • Oklahoma Highway Patrol (OHP)
  • Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI)
  • Oklahoma State Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (OBN)
  • Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training
  • State Fire Marshall
  • Homeland Security
  • Oklahoma Emergency Management
  • Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement (ABLE)

All functions currently performed by the OHP, OSBI, OBN, Office of the State Fire Marshall, Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security and Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management would remain under their respective divisions preserving the historic identity, specialization, and mission of each original agency. 

“The purpose of this legislation is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our state law enforcement and public safety agencies serving and protecting Oklahoma citizens,” Bergstrom said. “This unification will allow for better communication between the state and local law enforcement agencies and departments, as well as between these state entities and the general public.”

Under SB 1602, the director of the Oklahoma Public Safety Agency would be appointed by the Governor and approved by the Senate. The director would have the power to affirm current directors or chiefs of the divisions within the agency, or appoint a new director or chief if the position is vacant.

Director duties would also include formulating and implementing a unified law enforcement and public safety strategy, administering budgetary activities for each division, preparing rules and regulations necessary for the agency to operate, and entering into contracts with public or private organizations for research and special projects, among other duties.

The bill would also create the Oklahoma Public Safety Agency Revolving Fund, consisting of state and federal funds for the agency to operate. All money in the account would be budgeted and appropriated by the Oklahoma Public Safety Agency.

Bergstrom said while this legislation is unifying our law enforcement entities under one agency, it is not expanding the state’s police powers.

“By unifying these agencies, we are making them more efficient and allowing them to better provide the services our citizens deserve and depend on,” Bergstrom said. “Developing unified training for our law enforcement officers will elevate their skills and professionalism.”

SB 1602 would also create the Investigation Oversight Commission, which would consist of seven members including the Oklahoma Attey General; Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court; Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector; one member appointed by the governor; one member appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate; one member appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives; and one member appointed by the District Attorney’s Council.

The Investigation Oversight Commission would have the ability to investigate political and public corruption.

“Oklahoma’s state law enforcement is fragmented,” Bergstrom said. “The reason I first became interested in this unification project was because of a conversation I had with a police officer in my district about the issues he saw in our law enforcement agencies and the way they work together. This legislation is aimed at fixing this problem. As this plan moves forward, I intend to ensure our law enforcement stakeholders, sheriffs and police chiefs are at the table to make this the best bill possible for Oklahoma and our law enforcement agencies."

Dahm files bill to prohibit sanctuary cities in Oklahoma


Sen. Dahm files legislation prohibiting sanctuary cities in Oklahoma

Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, wants to crack down on the state’s sanctuary city policies.

Dahm recently filed Senate Bill 1459, which prohibits any municipality in Oklahoma to adopt a sanctuary policy. Under the bill, any city or town that enacts such a policy would be ineligible for state funding through agencies and grants.

“In the past, we have had cities say they would willingly violate federal immigration laws by declaring their cities a sanctuary for those law-breaking foreigners,” Dahm said. “Senate Bill 1459 says no such sanctuary policy can be implemented in our state, and any government entity that violates these laws would be subject to loss of funds until they uphold the law.”

Sanctuary policies include prohibiting municipality officers from verifying or reporting the immigration status of any alien within the municipality to federal agencies or officials; granting illegal aliens the right to a lawful status within the municipality that is a violation of federal law; preventing law enforcement officers from asking any individual his or her citizenship or immigration status; or knowingly providing special benefits, privileges or support to illegal aliens.

SB 1459 would allow legislators to request a legal opinion from the Attorney General’s office upon receiving a complaint that a municipality is violating federal immigration laws. If funding is revoked for a city under this bill, the Attorney General would have to certify the municipality is in compliance with the law to restore funding. 

“Every government entity in Oklahoma has an obligation to uphold the Constitution and federal laws in conformity with the Constitution,” Dahm said.

Friday, January 17, 2020

1889 Institute's solution to gaming compact dispute: end the casino monopoly


Compact Dispute Solution: End the Casino Monopoly

With Governor Stitt and Oklahoma’s tribes at loggerheads over the gaming compact, it’s a good time to reconsider the tribes’ gambling monopoly altogether. While there is only one Las Vegas, Oklahoma is a casino state. Regardless of the compact dispute’s outcome, Oklahoma will remain a casino state. The question is, why should the tribes be exclusive operators of casinos?

Casino gambling exclusively allowed of tribes in other states arose from a legitimate need for impoverished reservations to generate some cash flow. In Arizona, where I lived for several years, I found reservations to be sad, undeveloped, poverty-stricken places with a few poorly-exploited natural attractions. But Oklahoma does not have reservations. Consequently, tribal members have integrated into the prevailing culture, apparently becoming just as prosperous as any other group of people.

Congress still recognizes Oklahoma’s reservation-less tribes, and this grants the tribes some privileges others of us do not enjoy. Given history, this might well be justified, but it is not apparent that there was ever a justification for a grant of a monopoly over an industry other than that it happened elsewhere.

Casinos in this state are not restricted to specific territories, although the laws and regulations on permissible locations can be restrictive, confusing, and arbitrary. Thus, casinos in Oklahoma are fairly ubiquitous. When headed north out of Texas on I-35 or I-44, it can be quite the adventure dodging vehicles with Texas plates slowing for casino exits. After the casinos, traffic clears.

That’s the reason casino gambling will not end in Oklahoma, despite the current dispute. Casinos bring too much money into the state, even with tribes the primary beneficiaries of surrounding states’ inhabitants’ gambling habits.

If casino gambling is not going away and it’s already all over the place, why should the tribal monopoly continue? A more competitive casino gambling industry will bring even more money into the state. Competitive industries are generally larger and richer than monopolized ones. The head-to-head competition that made Las Vegas great is relatively muted in Oklahoma by its limitation to tribes.

This is not just a practical issue but a moral one. As Howard Hughes pointed out to a U.S. Senator in the movie, The Aviator, granting monopolies is un-American. For those who have a moral problem with gambling, keep in mind that while casino gambling exploits a vice, so does selling liquor in a bar and selling state-sponsored lottery tickets out of a convenience store. If people want to keep casinos out of their communities, the legal means to do so can be more effective against a Steve Wynn than against tribes.

Let’s end the tribal monopoly over casino gambling in Oklahoma and open the industry to anyone willing to compete.

Byron Schlomach is the Director of the 1889 Institute, a non-profit education and research organization.