Thursday, August 31, 2017

Richardson blames Lamb for Car Sales Tax Increase

Richardson Lays Blame of Car Sales Tax Increase on Lt. Governor Lamb

Tulsa, OK, August 31, 2017 – Gary Richardson today expressed his disappointment in the 5-4 decision upholding the Oklahoma Car Sales Tax.  However, Richardson laid the responsibility of the tax increase squarely at the Lt. Governor, Todd Lamb for not doing his job as the President of the State Senate.

"I'm surprised that our State Supreme Court in a 5-4 vote can look at a law which brings millions more into the state coffers and say it doesn't increase revenue," said Richardson.  "But what shouldn't be lost with today's decision is that our Lt. Governor, Todd Lamb, could have stopped this tax from becoming law in the first place."

Richardson then explained how the Oklahoma Lt. Governor is the one constitutionally in charge of the State Senate.  "According to Article 5, Section 28 of the State Constitution, the Lt. Governor is the one who presides over the State Senate," said Richardson.  "Lamb could have taken the gavel of the State Senate and refused to let any of the tax bills be heard."

"If stopping the tax increases was important to our Lt. Governor, believe me, he could have gotten it done and protected the citizens of our state from all of these new taxes," continued Richardson.  Richardson then explained when Mary Fallin was Lt. Governor in 2000, she used the same power that Todd Lamb has to take over the State Senate to have Right to Work legislation heard.

"Now, because of the failure of our Lt. Governor to execute his constitutional duties and the State Supreme Court effectively gutting State Question 640 that was passed by an overwhelming majority of Oklahomans in 1992, the Oklahoma Legislature now has over $10 billion in tax exemptions that they can eliminate without a vote of the people, all in violation of the people's intent when they passed State Question 640," said Richardson.

Richardson continued,  "The one silver lining I take from the Oklahoma Supreme Court's decision today is that they made the stakes for the next Oklahoma Governor crystal clear :  Oklahoma needs Governor who will be a defender of the Constitution;  Oklahoma needs Governor who will audit every State Agency, Trust, and Authority; and Oklahoma needs a Governor who will stand on our conservative principles."

"I believe I am that person and as Governor of Oklahoma, I promise to oppose any attempt by the Oklahoma Legislature to increase revenue without a vote of the people or 3/4 of the legislators' votes," said Richardson.  "I will honor State Question 640 and our Constitution, no doubt about it."

Fallin, Inman comment on Vehicle Sales Tax ruling

Gov. Mary Fallin (R)

Governor Mary Fallin Statement on the Oklahoma Supreme Court Upholding Vehicle Sales Tax

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today issued the following statement after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the vehicle sales tax implemented this year is constitutional:

“I appreciate the Supreme Court ruling on this matter in an expeditious manner. This ruling provides us with clarity in dealing with this fiscal year’s budget. While pleased with today’s ruling, it’s important to keep in mind we must still deal with the immediate problem of the loss of $215 million from the earlier high court ruling that struck down the proposed smoking cessation fee. The $215 million represents just state funds, but with the loss of matching federal funds state agencies estimate the total is nearly $500 million.”

House Minority Leader Scott Inman (D-Del City)

Inman Responds to Supreme Court Ruling on Vehicle Sales Tax

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. and House Minority Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, released the following statement today after the Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld removing a vehicle sales tax exemption as constitutional.

"Today’s court ruling presents a mixed bag for Oklahoma voters. While avoiding another loss of $100 million to the current year’s budget, the ruling has empowered this Republican majority to raise the taxes of middle class families without honoring the will of the Oklahoma citizens who passed State Question 640 in 1992.

"While I disagree with the majority opinion, in that the new car tax was clearly passed exclusively for the purposes of raising revenue, it’s important to note that we still have a $215 million gap for this fiscal year created by the unconstitutional cigarette tax and an even bigger hole to fill when we begin the Legislative session next year.

"A potential silver lining in today’s ruling, it appears the Court has now opened the door to increasing, with only a majority vote in the Legislature, the gross production tax exemption that has served as a road block to the Oklahoma standard rate of 7 percent. The time is right to remove the artificially low gross production tax rate of 2 percent.

"I call upon the governor and Republican leaders of the House and Senate to continue negotiations with House and Senate Democrats and come to an agreement on a long term, bipartisan budget solution for a Special Session that will ensure our teachers and public employees receive a raise, shore up our rural hospitals, protect our public safety, and improve our roads and bridges so that we can rebuild our state from the devastating fiscal policies of the last seven years. Oklahoma cannot continue to wait."

Senate Pro Tem Schulz comments on new vehicle sales tax being upheld

Senate Pro Tem Comments on Win in Vehicle Sales Tax Lawsuit

Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz, R-Altus, released the following statement after the Oklahoma Supreme Court upheld as constitutional House Bill 2433, a bill modifying Oklahoma's vehicle sales tax:

“As the Senate has maintained, this measure is constitutional and it’s gratifying to know that the Oklahoma Supreme Court agrees. With the decision finalized, we now know the full extent of the revenue picture that needs to be addressed during a potential special session. The Senate will continue to work closely with the Governor and the House to finalize a plan to make up the $215 million in revenue lost in an earlier court decision.”

Monday, August 28, 2017

Music Monday: Noah Found Grace In The Eyes Of The Lord

This week's Music Monday is Noah Found Grace In The Eyes Of The Lord, composed by folk musician Robert Schmertz in 1951. This version was performed by "Tennessee Ernie" Ford on his television show in 1965.


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

Bridenstine endorses Rogers County Treasurer Jason Carini for reelection

Congressman Jim Bridenstine with Jason and Jessica Carini

Rogers County Treasurer Jason Carini announced today that he has received the endorsement of Congressman Jim Bridenstine.

"I am proud to endorse Jason Carini for re-election as Rogers County Treasurer," said Congressman Bridenstine. "I've known Treasurer Carini for over 5 years and believe he is a man of strong moral character. I am confident he will continue to serve the people of Rogers Count with integrity."

"It is a privilege to have the endorsement from my friend, Congressman Bridenstine," said Carini. "We have made a lot of positive changes at the Rogers County Courthouse these past couple years. I look forward to the election season next year and am honored to have the support from leaders such as Congressman Bridenstine."

Treasurer Carini was first elected in 2014, defeating a 24-year incumbent. Before being elected, Carini was a small business owner for over 5 years, operating his business debt free. Treasurer Carini and his family reside in Catoosa.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Senate Insurance Committee Chair Endorses Glen Mulready

Senate Insurance Committee Chair Endorses Glen Mulready

TULSA, OK - Chairman of the Senate Insurance Committee, Sen. Bill Brown (R-Broken Arrow), is the latest insurance expert to endorse Glen Mulready and his bid to be Oklahoma's next Insurance Commissioner. Current Insurance Commissioner John Doak and House Insurance Committee Chairman Lewis Moore have previously endorsed Mulready.

"Glen Mulready and I have worked together in the insurance industry in and around Tulsa for more than 20 years." said Brown. "Furthermore, Glen and I have worked closely together in our roles as House and Senate Insurance Committee Chairs. I have seen firsthand his tenacity when it comes to advocating for insurance reforms in the legislature and I know that he will work just as hard to create a competitive, business-friendly market for the consumers of this state. Glen Mulready is just the kind of experienced conservative Oklahoma needs as our next Insurance Commissioner and I am proud to endorse him.”

Senator Brown was elected to the Oklahoma legislature in 2006 and represents portions of Broken Arrow and Tulsa.

"I am honored to receive Senator Brown’s endorsement," said Mulready. "Senator Brown knows the insurance industry better than most and is a well-respected member of the Oklahoma State Senate. His support is encouraging and I look forward to continuing to work with him should I be elected to lead the Insurance Department.

Mulready spent 13 years on the executive teams of Oklahoma’s two largest health insurance companies and for the last eight years has been self-employed as an independent broker working with businesses of all sizes. He has worked in the insurance industry for more than 33 years.

Mulready was first elected to represent House District 68 as a Republican in the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 2010.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Speaker McCall slams rumored Fallin-Inman tax hike bargain

House Speaker McCall Responds To Minority Leader Inman's Plan To Raise $1 Billion In Taxes

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) issued the following statement today after the McCarville Report posted a story claiming that Gov. Mary Fallin and Democrats in the House of Representatives have agreed to a plan that would raise more than $1 billion in taxes on Oklahoma citizens.

“There is never a shortage of rumor and innuendo surrounding negotiations at the Capitol, so I will add some facts to the discussion. First, there is no way House Republicans will ever pass a billion dollars in tax and revenue increases to fill a $200 million budget hole. Such a plan would be dead on arrival.

“Second, Minority Leader Scott Inman has no interest in negotiating in good faith with the governor or anyone else. He has failed at every turn to deliver Democrat votes for any significant revenue package. He has offered conflicting demands in public and private negotiations. The fact is, Scott Inman is only interested in campaign issues for his governor's race, not real solutions that will help Oklahoma.”

Richardson slams Fallin's new $1B tax increase, issues challenge to Lamb

Republican gubernatorial candidate Gary Richardson sent the following press release out this afternoon, in response to a story from the McCarville Report that Governor Mary Fallin is nearing an agreement on a new $972M to $1.06B tax hike plan with the House Democrats in advance of the expected special session.

Richardson Decries Gov. Fallin's $1 Billion Tax Increase, Calls on Todd Lamb to Take Control of the State Senate

Tulsa, OK, August 24, 2017 – Gary Richardson today called on the state legislative leaders to oppose every one of the $1 billion in new tax increases proposed by Governor Mary Fallin.  "I have said it before and will continue to say it again, we have a spending problem, not a revenue problem," said Richardson.

"That's why I urge Governor Fallin to heed my call to audit every state agency to identify and eliminate any wasteful spending or fraud before sticking a $1 billion tax increase to the people of Oklahoma," said Richardson.

Richardson continued, "Additionally, I call on all of the legislative leaders to oppose any new tax increases to fill the budget gap, including the President of the Oklahoma Senate, Todd Lamb."

Richardson then explained how the Oklahoma Lt. Governor is the one constitutionally in charge of the State Senate.  "According to Article 5, Section 28 of the State Constitution, the Lt. Governor is the one who presides over the State Senate," said Richardson.  "I call on our Lt. Governor, Todd Lamb, to fulfill his constitutional powers as President of the Senate and block any tax increases from Governor Fallin."

Richardson then explained how this wouldn't be the first time a Lt. Governor has presided over the State Senate.  "Previous Lt. Governors in Oklahoma have used their constitutional powers to pass or block legislation," said Richardson.  "It's in the Constitution for a reason."

Richardson continued,  "It's time our Lt. Governor follows the State Constitution and stop these job-killing, billion dollar tax increases."

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Remembering Mark Costello

Today is the second anniversary of the untimely death of Labor Commissioner Mark Costello. I've often wondered what the Oklahoma political scene would have looked like had that fateful night turned out differently.

A stout defender of free market capitalism and conservative governance, I have a feeling that he'd have a thing or two to say about the current state of affairs in Oklahoma City and Washington, D.C.

Costello always had some Zimbabwean bills to hand out, as a reminder of what happens when government gets out of control and destroys an economy.

Mark was a big supporter of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, making a trip to the Badger State to support Walker's re-election, and made early efforts to support Walker's [ultimately short-lived] 2016 presidential campaign. Walker was my first choice for President, as well.

Costello was unafraid to confront "sacred cows" in politics -- something that is missing in much of our government today, both on a state level and on the federal side. From his famous jingle to OKGOP State Convention "gags" (such as the cow above), he had a flamboyant flair that brightened up the political scene in this state.

He had a knack for the personal, remembering details about those whom he met and interacted with. When he heard that we were expecting our first, he sent us a handwritten card and a Republican gift (elephant pacifier). From cards to Zimbabwean bills, he always had a personal touch.

He's definitely missed.

State Senators file line-item budgeting measure

Sen. Stephanie Bice; R-Oklahoma City; Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah; Sen. AJ Griffin, R-Guthrie, and Sen. Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle, discuss line-item budgeting bill at a press conference held Tuesday at the state Capitol.

Seven members of the Oklahoma State Senate have co-authored legislation aimed at increasing transparency and accountability in exactly how tax dollars are being used by the agencies receiving the vast majority of state appropriations each year. Senate Bill 875 would require the Legislature to approve line-item budgets for agencies appropriated more than $100 million in state funds.

Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, is the principal author of the legislation, co-authored by Sen. AJ Griffin, R-Guthrie; Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City; Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud; Sen. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore; Sen. Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle; and Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville. Thompson, who chairs the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Finance, said the legislation would give legislators and their constituents a clearer understanding of exactly how agencies are using their state appropriated resources, and an opportunity to redirect how those resources are allocated to prioritize the needs of citizens.

“The biggest responsibility the Legislature has is writing and passing the budget. One way or another, it impacts every single person in our state,” Thompson said. “By digging deeper and really examining all the programs, services and other expenses these major agencies are funding, the public is going to be more fully informed about how those dollars are being used, and lawmakers will have the ability to be better stewards of those dollars.”

Agencies that would be subject to this legislation include the Department of Education; CareerTech; Department of Transportation; the Oklahoma Health Care Authority; the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse; the Department of Human Services; and the Department of Corrections. While annual appropriations to Higher Education are more than $100 million, the state constitution restricts the Legislature from specifying how the appropriation is allocated.

“Line item budgeting is not a new concept. It was done through 2009 and then was ended in order to give agencies more flexibility in times of limited resources,” Thompson said. “But the bottom line is lawmakers are the representatives of the people—we are making decisions on their behalf and are accountable to them in ways state agencies are not. This is our responsibility, especially as we face continued budget challenges.”

Monday, August 21, 2017

Lt. Gov. Lamb to hold town hall in Muskogee on Wednesday

Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb will be making a stop in Muskogee on Wednesday, visiting an area manufacturer, and closing the day with a public town hall at the Muskogee Public Library at 3:00pm.

Lamb is one of six Republicans running for Governor. Fellow Republican candidate Gary Richardson spoke to the Muskogee County Republicans at an event several weeks ago.

Music Monday: The Heavens Are Telling The Glory of God

In honor of today's solar eclipse, this week's Music Monday is The Heavens Are Telling The Glory of God, by the 18th-century Austrian composer Joseph Haydn. The song comes from his oratorio The Creation, and the lyrics are lifted from Psalm 19:1-2.


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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bridenstine to NASA? Rumors heat up

NASA Watch, a news site focused on the space agency, and Arstechnica, a tech/science news site, are both reporting that Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine will likely be announced in the coming weeks as the Trump administration's pick for NASA Administrator.

From NASA Watch:
The exact date and venue for the formal announcement of these NASA leadership nominations has not been set. NASA HQ has liked to do events with a lot of pomp and flair so we'll see what they do for this announcement. Sources have told me that a post-Labor Day announcement was being planned but it may be moved up now. Or maybe it won't.

Looking at where NASA is - and where the Trump folks seem to want it to go - a pairing of Jim Bridenstine with John Schumacher make a lot of sense. Bridenstine's views seem to resonate well with a lot of what seems to be buzzing around inside the heads of TrumpSpace people. Schumacher has a long resume in senior positions at both NASA - so he'll give Bridenstine a lot of managerial support. Bridenstine has a lot of interest in emerging space commerce opportunities while Schumacher has a solid aerospace background - another way that their skillsets complement one another.

From Arstechnia:
John Logsdon, a noted space historian and author of several books, including After Apollo? Richard Nixon and the American Space Program, said he has been hearing the same names. "Appointing [US Representative] Jim Bridenstine and [Aerojet Rocketdyne Vice President] John Schumacher as the top two NASA officials is an intriguing and potentially very productive move," Logsdon told Ars, via e-mail. "Bridenstine, for several years, has been conceptualizing what is needed for, as he suggests, an 'American Space Renaissance' and has been testing his ideas with multiple audiences. Schumacher is a Washington space community veteran, with years of both senior NASA and space industry executive experience. Together, they can bring both fresh ideas and a sense of political and policy realism to the space agency."
The Arstechnia article goes into more interesting details about both men as it relates to potential space policy, as well as implications of the picks. Read more here.

A Bridenstine appointment would mean a special election in the 1st District, which already has at least five candidates vying for the seat, which Bridenstine was vacating to his self-imposed term limit (you know, actually keeping his word, unlike another Oklahoma congressman). A special election would likely take place at the end of this year or beginning of next year, leaving the eventual victor a mere three or four months before turning around to run for the full term.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fallin will call special session to adjust appropriations

Governor Mary Fallin Says Special Legislative Session Necessary to Adjust State Appropriations 

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today said the Legislature must return in special session to deal with the $215 million shortfall caused by a proposed smoking cessation fee being struck down.

“No money can be spent from any state fund unless the Legislature specifically appropriates it,” said Fallin. "Let's be clear. The director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) does not have the authority to transfer monies to the affected agencies from different sources without legislation directing him to do so.”

Article 5, Section 55 of the Oklahoma Constitution states that no money shall be paid out of the state treasury, except through an appropriation by law.

Fallin said state law (Title 62, Section 34.55) allows the director of OMES to borrow money from treasury funds to satisfy monthly allocations of appropriations made from the General Revenue Fund, but the appropriation has to be made by the Legislature.

The three agencies that received the bulk of the money from the proposed cessation fee are the Department of Human Services (DHS), the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (DMHSAS), and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA).

DMHSAS would have received $75 million (about 23 percent of its total appropriation), OHCA would have received $70 million (about 7 percent of its total appropriation), and DHS would have received $69 million (about 10 percent of its total appropriation).

Without legislative intervention, DMHSAS said it would run out of state appropriations in November. OHCA said it would run out of state funds in January and DHS said it would out of state funds in May.

The funding shortfall is the result of the Oklahoma Supreme Court last week striking down a smoking cessation fee approved this past legislative session.

Fallin said she and her staff have been discussing options with legislative leaders of both parties.

“A special session is the best option,” the governor said. “Failure to meet in special session would mean $215 million would be cut mostly from these three state agencies. These agencies and the people they serve cannot sustain the kind of cuts that will occur if we do not find a solution.”

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

REID names Mark Williams as new president


OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, August 15, 2017 – The Research Institute for Economic Development (RIED) has named Mark Williams as president succeeding Susan Winchester who resigned recently to become chief-of-staff to Lt. Governor Todd Lamb. Williams joins RIED after a 36-year career with AT&T Oklahoma, serving since 2010 as Director-Legislative Affairs where he led the AT&T Oklahoma external affairs team on legislative matters at the state Capitol. Williams joined Southwestern Bell Telephone Company, now AT&T, in 1981.

“I am excited to join RIED and to work with our outstanding officers and directors as we continue to produce Oklahoma’s pre-eminent analysis of legislative voting patterns on business, job creation and economic development issues,” Williams said.  “For the past 20 years, RIED has established a respected reputation at the state Capitol, with the annual ‘RIED Report’ commonly anticipated following the end of the legislative session.  RIED’s positive impact since its inception is illustrated by the fact that legislative advocacy for business, job creation and economic growth has improved from 32% in 1998 to over 60% in 2017.”

Greg Love, RIED board chairman said, “I want to express how pleased we are to have another accomplished individual fill the position of RIED president. Mark has been involved with the state legislature for many years, and we are very confident he will do great work in his new position. Lastly, the RIED board thanks Susan Winchester, and wishes her success in her new position with Lt. Governor Lamb.”

Williams presently serves as Chairman of the Board of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits and Chair-Elect of the Oklahoma City All Sports Association.  He is the past board chairman of the American Red Cross of Central Oklahoma, the Northwest Chamber of Commerce and the Oklahoma Baptist University Alumni Association.  He has, or is currently serving on the boards of the First Tee, Leadership Oklahoma, Youth Leadership Exchange, Sooner State Games and the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City, where he is also a Life Member.

Williams is a native Oklahoman, receiving a B.A. in Economics from Oklahoma Baptist University and a J.D. from Oklahoma City University. He is married to Carol Cathey Williams and they have two daughters and five grandchildren.

Research Institute for Economic Development was founded in 1997 and is a non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting economic growth through the evaluation of business, job and economic growth issues considered annually by the Oklahoma Legislature. RIED does not lobby issues or endorse candidates.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Lamb names 'Oklahoma Economic Diversification' advisory committee

Oklahoma Business Leaders to Support Efforts to Grow Oklahoma Exports

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – August 14, 2017 – Republican gubernatorial candidate Todd Lamb announced today the formation of his Oklahoma Economic Diversification Committee. The group of Oklahoma business leaders will advise on issues to help diversify Oklahoma’s economy through greater worldwide trade.

“Growing and strengthening Oklahoma’s economy, both within our borders and beyond, is a central component of my Renew Oklahoma plan,” Lamb said. “To that end, I am pleased to announce that prominent Oklahoma business leader Chuck Mills will serve as chairman of my Oklahoma Economic Diversification Committee. Chuck is chairman of the OK District Export Council and president of Mills Machine Company, a third-generation manufacturer located in Shawnee. I am honored to have his business expertise, experience and counsel, as well as that of the other committee members as I pursue the governor’s office.”

Mills commented, “I am excited to help Todd Lamb formulate an advisory committee that will assist him in creating economic development opportunities throughout Oklahoma and beyond. The goal of the committee is to explore all avenues to create broader awareness and opportunities for Oklahoma companies to showcase, and ultimately export, their products. Todd Lamb has the vision and real-life business experience to be a tremendous advocate for Oklahoma businesses, large and small, as Oklahoma’s chief executive officer.”

Committee members include:

  • Keith Briem – Choctaw Global, McAlester
  • Dr. Don Drew – Oklahoma Christian University, Edmond
  • C.R. Freeman – Premium Beef and Grain, Lone Wolf
  • Johnny “Bump” Grant - Consolidated Turbine Specialists, LLC., Bristow
  • Alfred Hernandez – Lopez Foods, Inc., Oklahoma City
  • Heidi Hughes – GEFCO, Inc., Enid
  • Eric Kunkel – CCK Strategies, PLLC., Tulsa
  • George Lee – Red Devil, Inc., Pryor
  • Chuck Mills – Mills Machine Company, Shawnee
  • Dick Morris – Advantage Controls, Muskogee
  • Alfonso Nieves – BuildBlock Building Systems, LLC., Oklahoma City
  • Joe Smith, Jr. – Ditch Witch, Perry

Lamb said additional Oklahoma leaders will be announced in the coming weeks to lead other
advisory committees.

2017 Republican District Ratings for Oklahoma Legislature

Here's the 2017 update to my Republican District Ratings, the 2016 version of which can be viewed here.

This rating system is to determine how "Republican" each state house and state senate district is. The formula is comprised of three elements: federal-level (most recent Republican presidential nominee's in-district vote percentage), state-level (most recent Republican gubernatorial nominee's in-district vote percentage), and local-level (in-district voter registration).

If a district might be rated 50.0, that does not mean the Democrat rating would also be 50.0, as I didn't split the remaining portion up between Democrat, Libertarian and Independent. This system simply rates on "Republican-ness". Perhaps another way of putting it is this: a generic Republican candidate should be able to get no less than the RDR in his district.

Have a look at each full list. Given the massive turnover last year, I marked which members are freshmen (i.e. elected in 2016). I'll post the 2017 Conservative Performance Index soon, where we'll examine each legislator's conservative score (an average of two different conservative rating systems) and compare it to their district's Republican rating.

Up first, State House:

Northwest Oklahoma has the top three Republican district; HD61 maintained top-status with 71.0%, while HD59 (69.8%) and HD58 (69.1%) leapfrogged from 6th and 7th place last year. Broken Arrow's HD80 comes in fourth with 68.2%, and #5 goes to HD41 (a gerrymandered district running from Enid to the edge of OKC) with 67.3% .

The five least Republican districts are HD73 in north Tulsa (10.3%), HD99 (16.6%) and HD97 (22.9%) in Oklahoma City, OKC's HD88 (27.9%), and HD72 (29.7%) in north Tulsa.

The average rating for all House seats is up 0.3 points to 52.2%. For Republican-held seats, it actually fell overall by 0.4 points to 56.7%, while Democrat-held seats also fell 0.5 points to an average of 40.4%.

The five most Republican seats held by Democrats are HD6 (56.0%) in the northeast, recent special-election snag HD75 (54.3%) in Tulsa, HD7 (51.1%) in the far northeast corner, OKC's HD85 (49.4%; a 2015 special-election steal), and HD86 (48.5%) in Adair County.

The six least Republican seats held by Republicans are HD13 (39.5%) in Muskogee and McIntosh counties, HD62 (41.8%) and HD64 (42.3%) in Lawton, HD71 (43.7%) in Tulsa, and HD19 (44.5%) in the southeast.

Now, let's look at the State Senate:

The most Republican district is again in far northwest Oklahoma and the Panhandle - SD27 at 69.5%. Next are SD25 (65.8%) in south Tulsa, SD19 (63.8%) in the Enid area, SD22 (63.6%) in northwest OKC, SD29 (62.7%) around Bartlesville.

The five least Republican districts are SD11 in  north Tulsa (26.5%), SD48 (27.2%) and SD46 (37.5%) in Oklahoma City, SD9 (41.1%) in Muskogee and Cherokee counties, and SD16 (42.3%) in Cleveland County.

The average rating for all Senate seats is up 1.4 points to 53.5%. For Republican-held seats, it's up 0.2 points to 55.5%, while for Democrat-held seats it's up 3.5 points to 41.8%.

The three most Republican seats held by Democrats are SD34 (an early 2016 special-election stunner) at 59.1%, SD44 (51.8%; the most recent special-election grab), and SD32 (47.9%).

The five least Republican seats held by Republicans are all in southeast or east-central Oklahoma -SD9 (41.1%), SD7 (43.9%), SD8 (44.7%), SD5 (44.9%), and SD6 (47.3%).

Of note, the least-Republican Republican-held House and Senate districts both cover the city of Muskogee and most of Muskogee County, and both were won in 2016.

If you'd like to see maps to show where all the different districts are, go here for State House maps and here for State Senate maps.

Below the break, I've added two more sheets: one showing all House and Senate districts together for comparison, and the other showing the percentage changes each district had since the 2016 rating.

Music Monday: Beethoven's 5th Symphony

This week's Music Monday is the first movement to Symphony No. 5 in C Minor, by the great 19th-century German composer Ludwig van Beethoven.


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

Friday, August 11, 2017

Small: Misleading statements by Osborn, Boren are harmful

Free Market Friday: Misleading statements harmful

Former House Appropriations and Budget Chair Leslie Osborn recently stated Oklahoma is “50th in the nation in tax collections.” Calling for more tuition and fee increases on working Oklahoma families, University of Oklahoma President David Boren made a similar dead-last claim regarding state support for higher education.

Despite Boren’s claims, the actual data show that Oklahoma ranks 31st in total state support for higher education. When adjusted for cost of living, on a per capita basis Oklahoma actually ranks 26th in state support for higher education.

Just as the actual data contradict President Boren’s claim, the undisputed data from the United States Census Bureau contradict Rep. Osborn’s statements, proving that we are far from being the lowest-taxed state.

Regarding Osborn’s assertion, the actual data show Oklahoma is not 50th in the nation. According to the latest available data from the Census Bureau, Oklahoma collects more in state taxes than Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Thus, Oklahoma ranks 31st, not 50th. Per capita, Oklahoma ranks 38th in tax collections. When adjusted for cost of living, Oklahoma ranks 36th in per capita tax collections.

What’s really astonishing is that the state managed to collect this level of revenue despite being in a recession while most states were not. Oklahoma lost 21,800 energy and manufacturing jobs, resulting in a loss of more than $13 billion in taxable income. Oklahomans reduced purchases subject to sales tax and use tax to the tune of $4.1 billion just to survive, according to available Oklahoma Tax Commission data. Given this, state government should not complain, and Oklahomans should be thanked for their sacrifice.

Throughout the 2017 legislative session, tax consumers tried to get lawmakers and the public to support more than $2 billion in tax increases. Despite these attempts, no tax increases were constitutionally passed by the Legislature.

It’s understandable why tax consumers are working so hard to get taxpayers to believe the 50th and dead-last mantra: They want Oklahomans to be in the psychological condition to support and accept massive tax increases.

While I believe Rep. Osborn cares about Oklahoma, misleading statements from public officials such as Osborn and Boren are harmful to efforts to find viable, long-term solutions.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs ( This column originally ran in the Journal Record.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

House, Senate Democrats respond to cigarette tax ruling

The House and Senate Democratic caucuses have now issued statements over the Oklahoma Supreme Court striking down SB 845, the Cigarette Tax Smoking Cessation Fee.

House Democratic Caucus Releases Statement in Response to Oklahoma Court Ruling

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that Senate Bill 845 is unconstitutional.

SB845 was projected to raise more than $200 million for the current state budget by charging cigarette wholesalers a $1.50 per pack tax. During the legislative session, however, House Democrats warned Republicans that passing the unconstitutional legislation would have a detrimental impact on our state budget and state agencies. The measure passed the House with a partisan vote of 51 to 43.

The proposed revenue from the tax affects 7 percent of the appropriated budget to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, 10 percent of the appropriated budget to the Department of Human Services, and 23 percent of the appropriated budget to the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.

The court’s ruling will likely prompt a special session, costing the state an additional $30,000 per day, and requiring lawmakers to return to the capitol to fix the now incomplete budget.

“In order to appease special interests, Republicans made a decision to ignore the House Democratic Caucus, Oklahoma citizens and the Oklahoma Constitution,” said Rep. Monroe Nichols, D-Tulsa. “As a result of that decision, we are now facing a $200 million hole in our current budget. It is time for the Republican Leadership to stop playing political games and to start working on real solutions to fund state government. As we have been all year, the Democratic Caucus stands ready to negotiate a long-term solution to fix Oklahoma’s funding crisis.”

Rep. Collin Walke, D- Oklahoma City, a freshman Legislator said that he was elected to work for every day Oklahomans, and reiterated, “The Democratic Caucus will not support a solution that depends on regressive taxes while wealthy individuals and corporations continue to receive government handouts through tax credits, exemptions, and a decade of irresponsible tax cuts. It is time for the Republican majority to realize that an investment in the people of Oklahoma is an investment in the future of our state and it is absolutely imperative that the cycle of crisis created by negligent budgeting practices end.”

House Democrats held a public budget forum in the House Chamber on August 3rd, inviting all members of the House to listen to statements regarding the importance of these now threatened core services and to begin the work to reach an agreement in the event any of the revenue raising measures were struck down.

After the Forum, Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman stated, “We were sent to the Capitol to act in the best interest of the people, to provide core services for those most in need, to fund our schools, and build infrastructure for growth. The Democratic Caucus released a compromise budget plan that incorporated stable revenue to not only fill the budget shortfall, but also began the process of restoring cuts that have taken place over the last ten years. We put out a call to ask the Majority Caucus to come to table and prepare for Special Session. Not a single member of the Republican Caucus showed up.”

The House Democratic Caucus is urging the Governor to call a Special Session immediately. Several members are requesting legislation be drafted reflecting proposals contained in the Restoring Oklahoma Plan, released in March of this year, with the intention to maximize the time used in a Special Session to not only restore cuts tied to the cigarette tax but also to put Oklahoma on a better path forward.

Oklahoma Senate Democrats Issue Statement on Today’s Supreme Court Ruling Declaring “Cigarette Fee” Unconstitutional

The Oklahoma Senate Democratic caucus issued a statement Thursday through their leader, Sen. John Sparks, D-Norman, commenting on the Supreme Court’s ruling striking down the “cigarette fee” and declaring it an unconstitutional tax:

“The opinion issued today by the Oklahoma Supreme Court finding that the so-called “cigarette fee” passed by the legislature was, in fact, an unconstitutional tax comes as no surprise. We knew this tax was unconstitutional when it was passed by the legislature back in May. We made the same arguments that the Court has articulated in today’s opinion when Republican leadership at the Capitol was playing partisan political games and pushing this desperate revenue measure through during the last hours of the 2017 regular session.

“This kind of unconstitutional legislation is nothing new from the Republican leadership at the Capitol. Unfortunately, we are used to wasting money paying lawyers to defend their unconstitutional bills. What makes this situation new, and worse, is that now we are going to have to spend hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in a special session doing the job that should have been done back in May.

“We need to approach a special session thoughtfully with real plans for revenue measures that can fill the $215 million budget hole which has been created at the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, the Oklahoma Healthcare Authority and the Department of Human Services. We need to set clear priorities, take hard votes and make tough choices with all revenue options on the table for open, transparent discussion and debate. This is a time for cooperation and compromise. This is the time for a plan of action, accountability and real results. This is what our constituents demand of us and what they deserve from us with no exceptions and no excuses.

“We cannot continue to let the most vulnerable Oklahomans suffer because of a continued lack of leadership among the Republicans at the Capitol and their unwillingness to do the hard work and take the hard votes necessary to properly and fully fund our healthcare agencies.”

Lamb, Richardson comment on Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling

Continuing comments on the Supreme Court striking down the Cigarette Tax Smoking Cessation Fee, here are statements from two of the top Republican candidates for governor: current Lieut. Gov. Todd Lamb and attorney Gary Richardson:

Lamb Issues Statement Regarding OSC Ruling on Cigarette Fee Proposal

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - Lt. Governor Todd Lamb issued the following statement this
morning regarding the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling that a proposed fee increase on
cigarettes is unconstitutional:

“I am not surprised by the court’s ruling regarding the cigarette fee measure as I believe it
contradicts the intent of SQ 640. With the ruling, the legislature must now focus first and
foremost on identifying existing state funds to allocate to the healthcare-related programs that
were scheduled to receive appropriations from the cigarette fee measure. It is my belief this can
be done without drastic cuts to agencies. State government can and must operate more
efficiently, and this ruling provides an excellent opportunity to start that process.”

Richardson Issues Statement in Response to Supreme Court Striking Down Tobacco Tax 

Tulsa, OK, August 10, 2017 – Gary Richardson issued a statement today in response to the Oklahoma Supreme Court striking down the revenue raising portion of SB 845, which levied a $1.50 per pack "fee" on cigarettes.  "We are encouraged by the Supreme Court upholding the intent of SQ 640, which was passed by the voters in 1992 to require either a supermajority of the legislature to raise revenue or send the measure to a vote of the people," said Richardson.  "We were fully supportive of this challenge as it violates Article 2, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution just like the three bills I challenged in court."

Richardson then highlighted part of Justice Wyrick's opinion in paragraph 49, which stated the following:
"If this quintessential excise tax can be transformed into a fee merely by calling it a fee and adding some regulatory gloss to the measure enacting it, then the promise of Article V, Section 33-a promise made to citizens in 1992 when they went to the polls and enacted the amended version-will be an empty one. The 'tax relief' to be expected from the requirement that all 'future bills "intended to raise revenue" . . . be approved by either a vote of the people or a three-fourths majority in both houses of the Legislature' will have been illusory. And that, we think, would be an abject failure to carry out 'the manifest purpose of the framers and the people who adopted it.'"
"It is heartening to see the Supreme Court bring clarity to this issue," said Richardson.  "We hope that Supreme Court will view our challenges to the car sales tax, electric and hybrid vehicle fees, and the decoupling of the standard deduction through the same lens when they release their decision on the other challenges to the revenue-raising measures."

Fallin, McCall, Schulz comment on Cigarette Tax ruling

State leaders are starting to weigh in on the Oklahoma Supreme Court striking down the Cigarette Tax Smoking Cessation Fee. First up, the three members of state government who pushed the unconstitutional tax and were named in the lawsuit: Governor Mary Fallin, House Speaker Charles McCall, and Senate Pro Tem Mike Schulz.

Governor Mary Fallin Statement on the Oklahoma Supreme Court 
Striking Down Smoking Cessation Fee

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today issued the following statement in response to the Oklahoma Supreme Court striking down a smoking cessation fee approved this past legislative session:

 “I am disappointed to hear the Supreme Court struck down the smoking cessation fee, but I certainly respect the justices’ authority. I will be discussing with legislative leaders from both parties the need to address the $215 million shortfall this will create for the Department of Human Services, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the three agencies that received the bulk of the money that was to be generated by the cessation fee.

“These agencies and the people they serve cannot sustain the kind of cuts that will occur if we do not find a solution. My belief is we will have to come into special session to address this issue.”

House Speaker McCall Releases Statement after Court Ruling

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Speaker Charles McCall issued the following statement today regarding the Oklahoma Supreme Court's decision on Senate Bill 845.

"The Court has made their ruling and now it is up to the Governor and legislative leaders to agree on the best course of action moving forward.

"It is important to remember that the reason our budget has been suffering is because Oklahoma families and businesses have been struggling.  State revenues are a reflection of the people of our
state.  When our citizens have less money in their pockets to spend the state will realize less revenues.  I am a firm believer that government must live within its means.

"The tobacco fee for health care was passed in an effort to avoid significant budget cuts. After House Democrats refused time and again to support increased revenue measures, the fee was our only opportunity to balance the budget without deeper cuts. The minority party decided to play games with the budget, and now that opportunity has passed.

"I look forward to working with the Governor and the Senate to overcome this latest challenge."

Senate Pro Tem comments on Supreme Court ruling

Statement from Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz on Thursday’s Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling regarding the cigarette fee.

“While I disagree, I appreciate the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s quick ruling allowing the governor and the Legislature to immediately address the matter. There are several options available to us, and Senate leadership will continue to work with the governor’s office and House on deciding the best move forward.” – Pro Tem Mike Schulz, R-Altus

Oklahoma Supreme Court strikes down cigarette tax

In a swift and unanimous decision, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the Cigarette Tax Smoking Cessation Fee passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Fallin violated the Oklahoma Constitution.

Here's the summary from the opinion (which can be read in full at this link):
Petitioners, who are manufacturers, wholesalers, and consumers of cigarettes, challenged Senate Bill 845, alleging that it is a revenue bill enacted outside of the procedure mandated in Article V, Section 33 of the Oklahoma Constitution. The parties agree that the passage of SB 845 did not comply with Article V, Section 33; so the case turns on whether SB 845 is the kind of "revenue bill" that Article V, Section 33 governs. Applying the test we have utilized since 1908, we conclude that the primary purpose of Sections 2, 7, 8, and 9 of SB 845 is to raise new revenue for the support of state government through the assessment of a new $1.50 excise tax on cigarettes and that, in doing so, SB 845 levies a tax in the strict sense. As such, Sections 2, 7, 8, and 9 of SB 845 comprise a revenue bill enacted in violation of Article V, Section 33 and are unconstitutional.
The scathing opinion was written by Justice Patrick Wyrick, the newest addition to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, and came less than 48 hours after the Court heard oral arguments on the case.

Some nuggets from the opinion:
[ś22] As a threshold matter, Petitioners present compelling contextual evidence in support of their claim that the Legislature's primary purpose in enacting SB 845 was to raise new revenues. The State Respondents urge us to ignore that evidence, and understandably so; it strongly indicates SB 845's passage was motivated by the Legislature's need to raise revenue so that it could satisfy its constitutional obligation to enact a balanced budget. We agree that a measure's purpose must be measured by its actual operation and effect, rather than by any legislator's statements as to what motivated his or her vote for the measure. But this dispute over the relevance of contextual evidence is ultimately of no consequence because SB 845's text-and text alone-conclusively demonstrates that the primary operation and effect of the measure is to raise new revenue to support state government.
[ś42] The position taken by the State Respondents is, in this regard, extraordinary. In their view even a measure that explicitly levies a massive new tax, can evade Article V, Section 33's "revenue bill" requirements so long as the tax is enacted for a "regulatory" purpose. In this respect, the State Respondents are willing to go even further than the House of Representatives because, under their view, even a measure which explicitly levies a new excise tax on cigarettes - like the four failed House measures - could have been enacted with a bare majority vote. This is so, insist the State Respondents, because the purpose of the new $1.50 assessment has always been to discourage smoking. The logical end point of this position is that the Legislature can impose by bare majority any tax whose purpose is to discourage behavior disfavored by the government. One can imagine the gasoline tax being doubled "to reduce traffic congestion and wear and tear on our roads, the costs of which are overburdening the Department of Transportation," or the income tax on the top 1% being tripled "to reduce the societal ills that arise from income disparities among our citizens." Surely the people did not intend that the Legislature could blatantly tax them without complying with Article V, Section 33, by merely wordsmithing their bills to describe some "regulatory" purpose for the tax. Thus, we reiterate that whether a measure is "intended to raise revenue" must be the overarching consideration in determining whether a measure is a "revenue bill." If so, the Legislature must either muster enough votes to satisfy Article V, Section 33, or submit the measure to the people for their approval.

[ś49] Lastly, were we to hold otherwise, the distinction between fees and taxes-and thus the protections against taxation provided by Article V, Section 33-would be meaningless. The State Respondents tell us that this is a common refrain from those raising such challenges, and one we should thus ignore. But despite any prior false alarms, this cry of "wolf!" rings true. If this quintessential excise tax can be transformed into a fee merely by calling it a fee and adding some regulatory gloss to the measure enacting it, then the promise of Article V, Section 33-a promise made to citizens in 1992 when they went to the polls and enacted the amended version-will be an empty one. The "tax relief" to be expected from the requirement that all "future bills 'intended to raise revenue' . . . be approved by either a vote of the people or a three-fourths majority in both houses of the Legislature" will have been illusory. And that, we think, would be an abject failure to carry out "the manifest purpose of the framers and the people who adopted it." 

Read the full opinion here.

This end result was very clear to anyone who was not dead-set on raising taxes on Oklahomans this past legislative session. The constitutional provisions regarding raising taxes are not rocket science, they're crystal clear, and it is beyond the pale that the Legislature (with some exceptions) and Governor sought to so blatantly violate the Constitution and the will of the people of Oklahoma.

If this measure was not struck down, the Legislature would have been given unlimited ability and power to raise taxes. The Supreme Court made the absolute right decision.

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Rosino gains GOP nomination in SD45, Ford in HD76

Primaries were held today for the special elections in House District 76 and Senate District 45.

In HD76, vacated by the death of Rep. David Brumbaugh, Republican Ross Ford eeked out a 19-vote victory over Rep. Brumbaugh's widow Shelley, winning 30.76% to 29.85%. A third candidate received 28.52%, with two others in single digits. Democrat Chris VanLandingham took 54.18% in a two-way Democratic primary.

In SD45, vacated by Sen. Kyle Loveless, Paul Rosino emerged victorious out of 7 GOP candidates, gathering 32.61% to the nearest competitor's 21.12%. He will face Democrat Steven Vincent, who defeated his one opponent with 92.22% of the Democratic primary vote.

The general election for both races will be held on November 14th.

Supreme Court hears tax lawsuits today, watch livestream here


OKLAHOMA CITY - With the assistance of the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA), the Oklahoma State Court Network (OSCN) website will provide a link for the oral arguments to be held before the Oklahoma Supreme Court on the recent challenges to revenue measures enacted in the 2017 legislative session.

The rare same-day scheduling of three oral arguments on issues of statewide interest will take place in the Supreme Court Courtroom at the State Capitol on Tuesday, August 8 at 9:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., and 11:00 a.m. Due to an anticipated overflow crowd, the House of Representatives has made available Conference Room 206, where a live stream will be provided to those who cannot find seating in the courtroom.

No other photographers or video cameras will be allowed in the Supreme Court Courtroom.

OETA will make available a raw video for broadcast television media in the State of Oklahoma following the proceedings. For more information, contact Jessi Crino at (405) 408-8435 or at

The link to the live-time feed will be found Tuesday on the OSCN website.

* * UPDATE **

Link for the livestream is HERE.

This may also work:

Monday, August 07, 2017

Cole endorses Chambers in HD46 special election


August 7, 2017 -- Congressman Tom Cole, United States Representative for Oklahoma's Fourth District, is endorsing Republican candidate Darin Chambers in the upcoming House District 46 special election.  Cole is encouraging voters on both sides of the political aisle to join him in supporting Chambers on September 12th.

"The legislature desperately needs the expertise of a successful businessman and Darin Chambers is the answer," says Congressman Tom Cole.  "His conservative credentials, as both a military veteran and a Fortune 500 efficiency expert, make him the ideal candidate to represent House District 46."

Darin Chambers considers this endorsement an honor because of Congressman Cole's long history of bipartisan support from the voters of HD-46.

"I am reaching out to all conservative voters regardless of political affiliation,"  Darin Chambers says.  "I want to take my business experience and expertise, along with the values of our district, to the State Capitol. Business problems call for business solutions and the voters of HD-46 know how badly Oklahoma needs that right now. Solid business sense is what I will deliver."

"Darin Chambers has the experience, integrity and vision Oklahoma needs right now," Congressman Cole says.  "I am holding a fundraiser for Darin on August 17th because, even if you don't live in his district, he still needs your support. I'm asking every voter in HD-46, both Republican and Democrat, to get to the polls on September 12th and vote for Darin Chambers.  The stakes are too high to stay home."

Darin Chambers is a Navy veteran, graduated from OU with an Electrical Engineering Degree in 1991, and earned his MBA from UCLA in 1999.  Chambers now teaches upper-level engineering classes at OU, drawing on his experiences as a general manager for a global services firm working with top executives to improve efficiency, reduce costs and increase productivity.  He and his wife, Dianne, live in Norman with their two daughters and two foster children.

The House District 46 special general election will be September 12th.

For more information on Darin Chambers visit his Facebook page at Darin Chambers for State Representative District 46 or

Music Monday: 'Lift High The Name Of Jesus' medley

This week's Music Monday is Lift High The Name Of Jesus / The Legend Of Saints And Snakes, a "greengrass" (Irish+Appalachian bluegrass) medley from Christian songwriters' Keith and Kristyn Getty's Greengrass Session album.


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

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Darrell Weaver to run for Senate District 24

Darrell Weaver announces Senate candidacy

Darrell Weaver, former Director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control, announced today that he will be a Republican candidate for State Senate, District 24.

The Moore-based seat is currently held by Sen. Anthony Sykes, who will term out of office in 2018.

“It’s not enough for Republicans to win elections. We must also show true leadership and advance conservative policies that improve life in Oklahoma, particularly when our state faces the kind of challenges we see today,” Weaver said. “I’ve spent my career tackling some of our toughest societal challenges. Now is the right time in my life to take that skill set to the legislature and represent the people of District 24. I will spend the time necessary to knock on every door in the district and ask voters to send me to the State Capitol to work for their interests.”

Weaver is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and was commissioned as an agent with the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics in 1987. He rose through the ranks to become Director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control in 2006, and retired after serving the Bureau for 28 years. In 2014, he was inducted into the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Hall of Fame.

Weaver was a long time elected trustee of the Oklahoma Law Enforcement Retirement System (OLERS) and a member of the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training (CLEET) governing council.

Weaver has been active in the community in numerous ways, including his current work as the CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Oklahoma. A man of faith, Weaver is a Christian author who has been a speaker at men’s groups, youth camps, and church gatherings across the state of Oklahoma. He is a long-time volunteer youth football and basketball coach.

Weaver’s wife, Kim, is a physician. They are small business owners active in the Moore and South Oklahoma City Chambers of Commerce. Weaver serves as the Chair of the Government Affairs Committee for the Moore Chamber.

The Weavers have five children and attend Harvest Church in Moore.

Weaver graduated from Cameron University with a Bachelors of Accounting, and later earned an MBA from Oklahoma Christian University where he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Pharmacy. He is an alumnus of Leadership Oklahoma Class XXVIII, Leadership Oklahoma City Class XXIX and the 2013 Leadership Moore Class.

“My faith and my family are the center of my life. The things I want for my family are things I know other families want as well – a more prosperous future for our children and a society that places greater value on higher things than mere material things,” Weaver said. “If you share that vision, I would be honored to have your support.”

For more information about Darrell Weaver, go to

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Cathy Costello announces campaign for Labor Commissioner


August 2, 2017 -- Conservative Republican Cathy Costello, widow of former Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, announces her candidacy today for Oklahoma Labor Commissioner in 2018.  Costello is a successful business owner and nationally-renowned mental health advocate.

"Mark and I had a consistent formula that allowed us to succeed in business - Hard work, solid values and diligent planning," Cathy Costello says. "That is exactly what I will bring to the job as Oklahoma's next Labor Commissioner. I do not want anyone's vote because of the tragedy of my past. I am asking for everyone's vote because of my vision for the future."

Costello plans to implement reforms to improve workplace safety, promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education to cultivate Oklahoma's future workforce, and reduce the loss of wealth and productivity due to untreated mental illness.

"Mental illness is the leading cause of lost workplace productivity and accounts for 30% of disability costs," says Costello.  "One in four Oklahomans suffers from mental illness which takes a tremendous toll on Oklahomans both personally and financially.  The Labor Commissioner has a statutory obligation to promote the health and welfare of every worker in Oklahoma.  Under my administration, mental health will be taken as seriously as physical health.  It's a win-win for employers and employees alike."

Cathy Costello is a lifelong Republican, resident of Edmond, and the co-founder of several international businesses.

The Republican primary for Labor Commissioner is scheduled for June 26, 2018 and the general election will be held November 6, 2018.

For more information on Cathy Costello and her plans for Oklahoma, visit her website at

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Latest fundraising figures for statewide candidates

The latest campaign reporting period has come to a close, and candidates have submitted their contributions and expenditures reports to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. You can search the reports by race here. Below are the figures for the statewide races:

  • Todd Lamb: $2,094,045.47 raised, $102,400.62 spent, $1,983,998.68 on-hand
  • Gary Richardson: $185,729.00 raised ($175k loan), $179,567.87 spent, $5,757.13 on-hand
  • Mick Cornett: $181,000.00 raised, $2,915.95 spent, $178,084.05 on-hand
  • Gary Jones: $22,585.28 raised, $274.28 spent, $22,311.00 on-hand
  • Kevin Stitt: entered race after reporting period began
  • Dan Fisher: entered race after reporting period began

  • Drew Edmondson: $300,211.30 raised ($5k loan), $35,551.26 spent, $256,506.89 on-hand
  • Scott Inman: $99,566.44 raised, $32,412.23 spent, $67,154.21 on-hand
  • Connie Johnson: $21,057.60 raised, $6,414.79 spent, $14,358.31 on-hand
  • Norman Brown: $1,421.66 raised, $648.70 spent, $772.96 on-hand

  • Joseph Maldonado: $3,012.60 raised, $102.50 spent, $200.00 on-hand
  • Chris Powell: $234.35 raised, $32.45 spent, $67.55 on-hand

  • Matt Pinnell:$304,990.78 raised, $38,105.32 spent, $253,878.44 on-hand
  • Eddie Fields: $100 raised, $100 spent, $0 on-hand
  • Dominique Block: $0 raised, $0 spent, $0 on-hand
  • Dana Murphy: entered race after reporting period began, but closed out her Corporation Commission account by transferring $638,821.71 to her new Lieut. Gov. account

  • Cindy Byrd: $14,890.00 raised, $5,807.09 spent, $7,697.91 on-hand

  • Mike Hunter: $201,424.65 raised, $21,117.06 spent, $179,707.94 on-hand

  • Randy McDaniel: $191,724.37 raised, $0 spent, $191,724.37 on-hand

  • Joy Hofmeister: $18,210.33 raised, $13,394.54 spent, $4,780.79 on-hand

*  all figures are campaign-to-date and may include transfers from previous campaigns
**  "raised" figures include "in-kind contributions"