Friday, November 22, 2019

Insiders Panel on CD5 race: GOP top tier clear, leader still uncertain


As announced earlier this week, I have put together a MuskogeePolitico.com Insiders Panel to discuss certain aspects of 2020 Oklahoma politics with people "in the know". The anonymity of the panel is designed to allow them to more freely express their thoughts, giving an inside look at some behind the scenes moves and trends across the state.

The first topic that the Insiders Panel has discussed is the 5th Congressional District campaign. I posed five questions to the members, and received comment in detail on each.
  1. Which candidates do you view as being in the top tier?
  2. Which candidate would you currently put in the lead?
  3. Which candidate(s), if any, do you think will drop out before filing day? 
  4. Which candidate has the best potential to beat Horn? 
  5. Do you anticipate anyone else of import joining the race?
Let's dive in to the commentary.


1. Which candidates do you view as being in the top tier? 
Panelists were bullish on Terry Neese and Stephanie Bice, with every respondent including the two in their top tier. David Hill was included by four, with some caveats, while two included Janet Barresi.

An Oklahoma City-area panelist had this to say: "Tier 1 would be Neese, Bice, Barresi and Hill in no particular order. Hill may be tier 2 depending on how much of his own money he puts in."

A figure involved in government agreed on Hill's uncertain position. "I see this as a Bice vs Neese runoff right now. David Hill is the wildcard."

A longtime insider said this: "Even though the race for OK-5 has drawn many candidates, I feel there are only 4 viable candidates on the ticket (Neese, Bice, Hill, Barresi). Quite simply the winner will be a combination of who has the most money and who runs the best campaign. This seems like an oversimplified statement but it is actually quite complex in 2020."

Two others, from outside of the 5th District, agreed that Bice, Hill, and Neese make up the top tier, in no particular order. A rural member added Ballard. 

2. Which candidate would you currently put in the lead? 

A Tulsa area activist put it this way: "I'd put Neese in the lead as she's making the clearest pitch to the Republican, pro-Trump, base."

Taking a slightly different angle, this was from an OKC metro activist: "I would put Bice in the lead, just for name ID."

Some expressed concern over the lack of a clear leader: "It’s evenly tilted in my mind. No candidate has truly showed themselves to be the front runner, which is concerning when multiple candidates can put in millions of dollars and the Democrat incumbent has a massive war chest."

This comment came from a person experienced in campaigns: "Bice and Barresi both have bases of support. Granted, Barresi also has serious baggage with pro-education voters. Bice had the highest re-election percentage of any incumbent Senator, running in the 70’s in the primary and general elections in 2018. Stitt won 7 of her 13 precincts, showing she is very strong where known. Neese just hasn’t been on the ballot since 1994. The electorate has changed and I’m sure her name ID starts very low. She has put a lot of money in but Bice has actually out raised her from donors. That's why I would say Bice and Barresi have the edge for now."

A legislator said that Neese was the clear frontrunner. 

3.Which candidate(s), if any, do you think will drop out before filing day? 

An OKC metro panelist made this response: "I don’t think any of those [Bice, Neese, Hill, Barresi] will drop out. This race is headed for a run-off. I'm sure we will get into that more closely to the elections. None of the other candidates are known or raised money to even begin campaigning."

The mentality that the primary will be a jungle leading to a runoff was pervasive. This was a government official: "I doubt many will drop out. No downside for these candidates as filing is cheap."

Most respondents don't expect any of the major candidates to drop out, although several of the lesser-known hopefuls likely will.

4. Which candidate has the best potential to beat Horn? 

Illustrative of the early state of the race, no consensus was reached on this question.

One of the 5th District insiders sees Bice with the inside track: "There is so much time on the clock. I would like to give Hill time to see some more from the campaign. Today I would say Senator Bice is the best match up against the incumbent. They are around the same age but Bice has more actual legislative experience and authored popular legislation not to mention SQ 792 which passed with 66% statewide. While the incumbent is single, Bice has two daughters - one college age and the other in high school. Married with a family is a contrast in backgrounds. Barresi, again, has a base, but I do question how many Republicans she would lose over her history with education. I don’t believe any other [statewide] incumbent has come in 3rd in a primary for re-election. I think Neese and Hill have to introduce themselves and carve out bases, while the other two have a large head start on."

An OKC metro activist had this thought: "I think Neese has the best chance to defeat Horn, because Bice would divide the Republican base. Neese has no voting record and I think she is more conservative."

One of the younger panelists had another opinion: "David Hill if he starts actually coalition building . Right now I haven’t seen it."

A Tulsa member feels optimistic about the odds to flip the 5th: "I think whoever the Republican nominee is, can absolutely win. And not just because it's a traditional Republican seat, but because Horn is underwhelming, and she's trying to appease both conservative and liberal democrats in her district. That doesn't work long-term. Money also matters here. The Republican nominee will have to raise significant dollars. If they don't, I think it's tough."

One of the members involved in government felt that, of all the candidates, Neese has the best chance to defeat Kendra Horn.

5. Do you anticipate anyone else of import joining the race?

A media member thinks the field is mostly set: "I don’t see another significant candidate jumping in. Mick Cornett has told many people he has no interest and its getting late if you already have 4 candidates that will be well funded. This race is headed to a run off and it will be interesting to who runs the best race."

Several others dismissed the Cornett rumor, or felt that nobody of substance would join the race from this point out.



That's all for now. On Tuesday, I'll be publishing a briefing on the top four candidates penned by one of the Insiders panelists. Visit back for some special insights on the 5th District race!

State to Appeal Judge Balkman’s Final Order in Opioid Case


State to Appeal Judge Balkman’s Final Order in Opioid Case

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today announced that the state intends to appeal Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman’s final order issued last Friday in the trial against Johnson & Johnson.

The state agrees with Judge Balkman’s final order on a multitude of fronts. For example, the court correctly applied Oklahoma’s public nuisance law to this case, found that Johnson & Johnson is a direct cause of the state’s opioid epidemic, the epidemic is a public nuisance and menace to Oklahoma, and Johnson & Johnson is responsible for abating the nuisance.

However, attorneys for the state take issue with the part of the court’s ruling that only requires Johnson & Johnson to pay for one year of the state’s abatement plan, which was carefully designed by state officials.

“Judge Balkman’s conduct of both pre-trial and trial proceedings was informed and balanced,” Attorney General Hunter said. “His final order was correct and evidence-based as to causation and Johnson & Johnson’s culpability. However, we respectfully disagree with his order where it says Johnson & Johnson must only fund one year of cleaning up the public nuisance he found Johnson & Johnson created, after the company deceived and bombarded our doctors and Oklahomans with lies, leading to the deadliest manmade public health crisis in our nation’s history. This limitation directly opposes evidence presented during trial and the state’s public nuisance law, which requires full remediation of the problem. It is crystal clear under Oklahoma law that once a company is found liable for causing a public nuisance, it must pay what it takes to clean it up until the nuisance is gone.

“During the trial, the state’s expert witnesses repeatedly testified that it could take up to 30 years or more to take our state back to where we were before the crisis began. Our abatement plan was put together by some of the foremost experts in the state and nation on what it will take to overcome this tragedy that continues to grip our state. All of these experts agree that there are dire consequences if we do not end the crisis in its entirety, and that it will get much worse and more Oklahomans will die. Johnson & Johnson had no abatement expert of its own and failed to present a competing abatement plan.”

The attorney general agrees with the position taken by Governor Kevin Stitt, President Pro Tempore Greg Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall in the amicus brief filed on their behalf, that since the Court found Johnson & Johnson created the public nuisance, Johnson & Johnson should be required to fund all abatement costs until the nuisance they created has been abated.

Read the state’s abatement plan: https://bit.ly/34j2rnv.

The state has until Dec. 16 to file its appeal.   

Thursday, November 21, 2019

OCPA Report: Casino compacts should be renegotiated

New report shows Oklahoma’s casino compacts should be renegotiated

OKLAHOMA CITY—A new report by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) highlights the need for Oklahoma to renegotiate its gaming compacts.

“It’s clear from the data, Oklahoma casino operators are getting an incredibly special deal,” said Jonathan Small, OCPA president. “I encourage
 everyone to read this report. After doing so, there should be no doubt about it; Oklahoma’s gaming compacts must be renegotiated.”

The report compares the Oklahoma gaming industry to other states’—specifically looking at exclusivity fees and tax rates.

“Oklahoma’s gaming industry is the third-largest in the nation bringing in $4.4 billion last year. However, the state only collected $153
 million in fees, one of the lowest totals in the country,” said Curtis Shelton, OCPA Policy Research Fellow. “With the gaming industry now the eighth largest industry in the state, it’s clear that these tribal compacts have an enormous impact on all Oklahomans. This study provides a foundation of facts for this important issue.”

As the report points out, the exclusivity fees paid by tribal casino operators in Oklahoma are not only much lower than the tax rates paid by commercial casinos in most other states but are also lower than the fees paid by comparable tribal casinos in other states.

The financial impact created by Oklahoma’s low fees can be seen when comparing how much the state collects on slot machines at casinos versus slot machines at race tracks. The state receives an average $24,000 for each racing machine, but just $2,833 per Class III slot machine in tribal casinos.

Oklahoma casinos also have more Class II machines, which are subject to no state fees, than comparable casinos in other states. While Oklahoma is the third-largest gaming market in the United States behind only Nevada and California, there are 28,640 untaxed Class II machines in Oklahoma casinos compared to just 2,342 in California. Of all untaxed class II games in states where class III compacts have been signed, 80 percent of those machines are in Oklahoma.

“One fact stands out above all others: Oklahoma has more slot machines than all but a handful of states—yet collects less revenue than most,” Shelton said.

About the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs
The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) is a public policy research organization focused primarily on state-level issues. OCPA conducts
 research and analysis of public issues in Oklahoma from a perspective of limited government, individual liberty, and a free-market economy.

Neese endorsed by OK County Commissioner Kevin Calvey


TERRY NEESE SECURES ENDORSEMENT OF OKLAHOMA COUNTY COMMISSIONER KEVIN CALVEY

Oklahoma City, OK – Terry Neese, conservative Republican candidate for Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, has secured the endorsement of Kevin Calvey, former member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and current Commissioner for Oklahoma County. In a statement released today, Calvey praised Neese for being the only true conservative in this race who shares Oklahoma values and who will fight for a smaller, more accountable government in Congress.

“We need a proven conservative like Terry Neese representing our values in Washington, D.C. – not a liberal Democrat or a wishy-washy Republican,” said Kevin Calvey, Oklahoma County Commissioner. “Terry Neese is pro-life, pro-gun, and a Constitutional conservative who shares our values and is committed to fighting for a smaller, more accountable federal government. We need more leaders like Terry in Congress who will work with President Trump to keep our nation moving forward, and I am proud to offer her my full endorsement because I know she will get the job done.”

“I am honored to have the support of Kevin Calvey – a highly respected public servant who shares my commitment to keeping government small and protecting our conservative values at all costs,” said Terry Neese. “The days of having a liberal Congresswoman who supports impeachment and big-government policies are numbered, and I will continue to work hard each and every day to let voters know I am the only conservative in this race who can beat Kendra Horn and deliver the results Oklahoma’s 5th District deserves.”.

World of Warships joins effort to raise funds for USS Batfish


World of Warships, a 'free-to-play naval warfare-themed massively multiplayer online game', is joining the effort to repair the USS Batfish submarine in Muskogee.

Here's the release from the gaming site:

A titan of submarine history needs your help!

Commissioned in August of 1943, USS Batfish is the only Allied submarine to ever sink three enemy submarines in a single patrol. This Balao-class submarine sunk a total of six ships over the course of her career. She received six battle stars for her service during World War II.

Her transformation into a museum ship would begin in 1971. The Oklahoma Maritime Advisory Board acquired the sub and began the long process of transporting up the Mississippi and Arkansas rivers to Batfish's final resting place in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

On May 22, 2019, the Muskogee War Memorial Park experienced the second highest flood in Muskogee history. The USS Batfish was at the center of the disaster! Knocked around and corroded by the flood surge, the legendary submarine is in dire need of repair and stabilization.


How You Can Help
  • Purchase the exclusive USS Batfish Patch bundle below. 100% of bundle sales go to the Muskogee War Memorial Park's Batfish preservation efforts
  • Donate directly via the USS Batfish GoFundMe

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Abolition group calls on Gov. Stitt to take stand on ending abortion

Graphic source: FreeTheStates.org

Free The States, an organization that grew out of Abolish Human Abortion and Dan Fisher's 2018 gubernatorial run, has launched a campaign entitled Stand With Stitt aimed at encouraging the Oklahoma Governor to follow up his pro-life rhetoric by supporting abortion abolition legislation.

Specifically, Free The States has set up an online petition for supporters to sign:

The petition reads as follows:
An Open Letter to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt:
Dear Governor Stitt,

There is a chasm in our culture. It is not between pro-lifers and pro-choicers. It is between those who possess moral opinions about abortion and those who take moral action to stop abortion. It is time to move beyond the profession of a pro-life position and the promise to “protect life.” The only way to truly protect all human beings in the womb is by abolishing abortion. The only way to abolish abortion is by defying the unconstitutional ruling in Roe v. Wade and criminalizing abortion as murder.

Please do more than promise to “sign any pro-life bill “ that makes it to your desk. Dozens of pro-life bills have been signed by pro-life governors in pro-life Oklahoma, and yet thousands of children are still being murdered every year in our state. It is time to move beyond the pro-life strategy of merely regulating abortion. It is time for Oklahoma to become the first Abortion-Free State.

We don’t need another status-quo, pro-life politician for Governor. We need an Abolitionist Governor who will take a stand and use their lawful authority to create a true culture of life in our state by establishing equal justice for all human beings immediately. The murder of innocent children by abortion already violates the highest laws of our land and your executive leadership and action is the key to bringing about the abolition of abortion. There is no need to wait for the courts to change their mind or for the legislature to pass a measure. Your responsibility is to act today.

Will you be that Governor? Will you be our generation’s Wilberforce? Or will you be content to regulate abortion, thereby signing your name in history as the Governor who did nothing to free the state of Oklahoma from its participation in the American Abortion Holocaust? Now is the time to Abolish Abortion in Oklahoma. You can lead the nation in repentance and change the course of human history. Becoming a “top-ten state” will not matter one bit if you choose not to lead in this area.

Be strong and courageous. If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise from another place and bring shame upon you. But perhaps you were appointed for such a time as this! If you stand up, we will support you! We will rally to you! If you seek justice and lead the fight against the lawless and bloody tyranny of the Supreme Court, we will follow you.

You can view or sign the petition here, as well as read additional arguments for the campaign.

Stitt appoints Dustin Rowe to Oklahoma Supreme Court

This is a really good pick by Governor Stitt:


GOVERNOR STITT APPOINTS DUSTIN P. ROWE TO SUPREME COURT OF OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma City, Okla. (Nov. 20, 2019) – Governor Kevin Stitt announced today the appointment of Dustin P. Rowe to the Supreme Court
 of Oklahoma. This is Governor Stitt’s second appointment to the state Supreme Court.

Rowe’s appointment fills the vacancy for District 2 created by former Justice Patrick Wyrick’s appointment to become a federal judge
 on the United States District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma. Rowe was one of three applicants provided by the Judicial Nominating Commission for the governor’s selection.

“Mr. Rowe is an accomplished lawyer and dedicated Oklahoman who has an impressive legal background,” said Gov. Stitt.

“His proven record in both his private practice and as a tribal court judge speaks to his qualifications to join the highest court in Oklahoma. Rowe’s reputation of fairness, passion for the legal system, and heart for his community is evident. I am confident he will serve our state with integrity in order to support and defend
the state’s constitution and uphold the rule of law.”

"I am honored and humbled by the trust Governor Stitt has placed in me,” said Rowe.
“I will work diligently on the Oklahoma Supreme Court to uphold the constitution of our great state."

Dustin P. Rowe has practiced law on Main Street in Tishomingo since 2001, where he owns and manages Rowe Law Firm. Mr. Rowe has represented thousands of Oklahomans, and has practiced in more than 25 of Oklahoma's district courts. Mr. Rowe served as Special Judge of the Chickasaw Nation District Court from 2005 to 2011, and has served as District Judge of the Chickasaw Nation District Court from 2011 to present, where he has presided over more than ten thousand cases, including hundreds of child welfare cases and adoptions.

Rowe is Chairman of the Johnston County Bar Association. He is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the Chickasaw Nation Supreme Court, and the United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Oklahoma.

Rowe is a lifelong resident of Tishomingo, Oklahoma. He earned his B.A. with honors from East Central University in 1998 and his Juris Doctor from the University of Oklahoma College of Law where he was named a Lee B. Thompson Scholar in 2001. He is an alumnus of the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada and maintains active participation in continuing legal and judicial education.

Rowe and his wife, Nicole, have two grown children and live in Tishomingo, Oklahoma.
In April 1994, at the age of 18, Rowe was elected Mayor of Tishomingo, Oklahoma, while still a senior in High School, where he served
 two terms as the state's youngest mayor.

LtGov Pinnell coming to Muskogee for trivia night fundraiser for USS Batfish repairs


As a result of the record flooding in May, the USS Batfish submarine located at Muskogee's War Memorial Park was severely damaged, breaking loose of her moorings and had to be secured to prevent it from slipping downstream. The damage is estimated to cost at least a half million dollars, possibly more.

Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell is gallantly pitching in on the effort to raise funds to restore and repair the Batfish, an Oklahoma treasure that deserves the attention.

From the Friends of the Muskogee War Memorial Park:

Please join us for Save the Batfish: Trivia Night W/ LT. Gov Matt Pinnell at the Muskogee Civic Center!

The USS Batfish was severely damaged in the record-level flooding of May and the Friends of the Muskogee War Memorial Park have banded together with local businesses and Oklahoma's Lieutenant Governor - Matt Pinnell to test our minds at trivia and raise money for good cause!

November 22, 2019
Happy Hour: 5:00 pm
Trivia: 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Muskogee Civic Center 425 Boston Street
Cash Bar • Snacks • 50/50 • Dessert Auction & More!

Individual tickets are $40 and a table of 8 may be purchased for $300

Sponsorships are available!

Enlisted ($500)
•Receive table of 8 for Save the USS Batfish Trivia
•Logo on all advertisements
•5 mulligans for trivia gameplay

Officer ($750)
•Exclusive Meet and Greet with Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell (Before Event)
•Logo displayed during trivia intermissions
•8 USS Batfish T-shirts for your crew!
•Receive table of 8 for Save the USS Batfish Trivia
•Logo on all advertisements
•5 mulligans for trivia gameplay

Admiral (Two Available) $1500
•Exclusive Meet and Greet with Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell (Before Event)
•Logo displayed on all trivia slides during event
•Logo sign placed at entry to USS Batfish for calendar year
•Logo displayed during trivia intermissions
•8 USS Batfish T-shirts for your crew!
•Receive table of 8 for Save the USS Batfish Trivia
•Logo on all advertisements
•5 mulligans for trivia gameplay


For more information please contact brent@warmemorialpark.org | 918.682.6294 or find us on Facebook at facebook.com/ussbatfish.

*tickets, sponsorships, and donations are eligible for a tax write off.

As a trivia nut, this sounds like a great event, and if I wasn't already going to be headed out of town I'd try to make it!

Senate President Treat: no change in position following BGCO support of abolishing abortion


Last week, "messengers" (basically delegates) to the 2019 Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, the annual denominational meeting for Southern Baptist churches in the Sooner State, overwhelmingly passed a resolution calling on the Oklahoma Legislature to "enact legislation for the immediate end of abortion without exception or compromise." 

This was big news on the abortion front, as BGCO staff had publicly opposed a 2019 bill (SB13) by Sen. Joseph Silk (R-Broken Bow) that aimed to abolish abortion entirely.

Other than the BGCO, three men were primarily responsible for Silk's bill being scuttled: Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat (R-OKC), Senate Health and Human Services chairman Jason Smalley (R-Stroud), and Oklahomans For Life president Tony Lauinger.

I emailed each of them for their reaction to the BGCO resolution. So far, I have received a response from only Senator Treat's office. Aaron Cooper, Director of Communications for President Pro Tempore Treat, responded to my inquiry on Senator Treat's behalf.

Q1: Do you have any comment on the BGCO resolution?
Cooper: Senator Treat was not surprised that Oklahoma Baptists took steps to maintain their longstanding commitment to protecting the life of the unborn.

Q2: Do you have anything to add to your previous position on bills like Silk's?
Cooper: Senator Treat has nothing new to add.

Q3: Silk's bill aside, do you intend to push for some other pro-life measure in the 2020 legislative session that would restrict or eliminate abortion in Oklahoma?
Cooper: Like he has nearly every year he’s served in the Legislature, Senator Treat plans to pursue legislation in 2020 to advance protection of the sanctity of life.

Notice that no detail is given, even though Senator Treat authored a bill last session that made no movement after passing the Senate. Originally, it was supposed to be a replacement for Silk's abolition bill -- a trigger that would revert Oklahoma to pre-Roe laws (i.e. abortion being illegal) should the Supreme Court or Congress reverse course -- but then was watered down even further into a state constitutional amendment to "clarif[y that] no provision of the [Oklahoma] Constitution secures or protects a right to perform or receive an abortion." I doubt any effort has been put into coming up with new changes since that time -- "out of sight, out of mind".

Oklahoma's legislature continues to be missing in action on the fight to end abortion. What measures will be allowed to get a vote in 2020? Senator Silk's abolition bill is still eligible for a hearing. Most likely, though, Senate leadership will push some afterthought bill that does nothing except attempt to placate pro-lifers ("we did something") and check a box on the get-elected to-do list.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Gov. Stitt testifies before US Senate committee on EPA rule


GOV. STITT TESTIFIES BEFORE THE U.S. SENATE EPW COMMITTEE ON CLARIFYING EPA RULE IMPACTING CRITICAL INTERSTATE PROJECTS

WASHINTON, DC (Nov. 19, 2019) – Governor Kevin Stitt testified today before the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in a hearing titled, “The Water Quality Certification Improvement Act of 2019, and Other Potential Reforms to Improve Implementation of Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.” A guest of U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Gov. Stitt testified on a panel with Governor Mark Gordon (R-Wy.) and Laura Watson, Assistant Attorney General in the Washington State Attorney General’s office.

His testimony is as follows:

"Chairman Barrasso, Ranking Member Carper, and senior member Senator Inhofe, thank you for inviting me to testify on why it is important for my state of Oklahoma to have clarity and certainty around Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

As you may be aware, I am 11 months in to being governor of the great state of Oklahoma. Less than one year ago, I was in the private sector building a business in two of the most regulated sectors in the United States – banking and mortgage lending. I started that company from scratch and built it into 41 states and 1,300 employees.

I say this, because I want to share that as a former CEO I understand the importance of common-sense regulations. I know what motivates and incentivizes businesses to come into compliance in a timely fashion. I believe businesses want to do the right thing and they welcome baseline rules where necessary. They want to take care of their employees and the communities where they do business.

Efficiency and certainty from state and federal regulators allow a CEO to put more of his or her focus on creating jobs and growing an economy. Anything short of regulatory certainty and predictability stifles job creation, chills capital markets and slows down innovation for advances that make us a better and stronger society.

Today, serving as governor of the great state of Oklahoma, I have had the honor and opportunity to view the regulatory environment from the side of the government. I can speak with great assurance that regulations are best left to the states as often as possible. We know our people. We know our geography. We know our economies. And we know best when innovation demands regulatory flexibility and when protecting our citizens requires action.

Oklahoma is a huge success story for state’s rights and federal partnership, and I am here today to share with you why we must continue to strike this balance by modernizing and clarifying Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.

As you all know, Oklahoma has a long and storied history of leadership and innovation in the production of traditional fossil energy. We are proud to claim that we discovered hydraulic fracturing in 1949 in Duncan, Oklahoma, and we are proud of our pioneering spirit that has allowed our natural resources to fuel and feed the world and to make America energy independent. We are grateful to Senator Inhofe who has been a champion for our state on these issues.

Today, Oklahoma is #3 in natural gas production, #4 in oil production, and a leader in natural gas liquids that form the building blocks for the products Americans use every day. We are home to the largest oil reserves and we are considered the pipeline capitol of the world.

Oklahoma is Top Ten in all aspects of energy as well as in the environment. We are enjoying some of the cleanest drinking water in our state’s history. We have the most practical regulatory framework and some of the most efficient permitting review times in the country. We are meeting our obligations and certifying water quality standards within 60 days of the application, well under the one-year timeline proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Thanks to Oklahoma-produced natural gas, and the shale revolution, my state has also reduced emissions in SO2, NOX, and CO2 at more than double the national average. The national average for CO2 reduction is nearly 15% since 2005, while Oklahoma has reduced its CO2 emission in the power sector by more than 37% since only 2011 and made even greater reductions in SO2 and NOX.

We have made major advancements in environmental quality while also maintaining our #1 ranking for delivering the cheapest electricity to the customer.

As a result, Oklahoma is the leading generator and exporter of power in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), which is our Regional Transmission Organization (RTO).  In fact, 28% of the power produced in Oklahoma is sent out across transmission lines in the SPP exporting Oklahoma’s emissions-reducing energy to our neighboring states.

Oklahoma is the epicenter of America’s energy dominance. And we want our success to be shared with our neighbors and our fellow states as far north as Maine and as far south as the ports of Houston, Texas, and beyond.

Unfortunately, the misuse of Section 401 threatens Oklahoma’s potential and the endless opportunities for our 4 million residents. It prevents Oklahoma from achieving all it can be because a loophole within Section 401 is allowing a small handful of coastal states to dictate the future for all 40-plus states. That is unacceptable.

This point was absurdly exemplified last winter when a Russian tanker of liquefied natural gas was sitting in the Boston Harbor providing for the Northeast U.S. – where pipeline development has been stalled – from losing its heat during last winter’s Polar Vortex. Those needs could have been met safely and reliably with a steady supply of clean burning natural gas from Oklahoma. Imagine what that picture communicates to hard-working residents in my state? Do we really want our jobs and tax dollars to needlessly be given to Russia?

For that purpose, I support the actions taken by EPA and members of this committee to restore certainty to the Clean Water Act permitting process and certification under Section 401. A clear scope and a reasonable timeline are not invasive to states’ rights. The current proposed rule, and the opportunity to strengthen it legislatively, does nothing to prevent Oklahoma’s regulators from properly and scientifically considering whether a project negatively affects water quality in our state.

It has been almost 50 years since this regulation has been reviewed, and I support creating a reasonable baseline for Clean Water Act permitting and certification of interstate infrastructure, whether it be transmission line, pipeline or an interstate highway, to get Oklahoma’s products to market.

Once again, I want to thank you for this wonderful opportunity to speak to you today and to highlight the great state of Oklahoma. I look forward to taking your questions."

Sen. Dahm, Rep. West file resolution condemning Trump impeachment hearings


Resolution Condemning U.S. Congress Impeachment Hearings
Filed by Rep. Kevin West, Sen. Nathan Dahm

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Kevin West (R-Moore) and Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) filed a House Concurrent Resolution asking their colleagues in both the House and Senate to condemn the actions of the U.S. Congress for pursuing impeachment proceedings against President Donald J. Trump instead of performing the serious work prescribed to them by the Constitution, which the people elected them to fulfill and which each member swore to uphold.

West and Dahm invite any member of the Oklahoma Legislature to sign onto House Concurrent Resolution 1009 as a co-author. They will request the resolution be considered during the Second Session of the 57th Legislature, which commences Monday, Feb. 3, 2020. Copies of the resolution will be dispatched to President Trump, the clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives and the secretary of the U.S. Senate as well as the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation.

“This Concurrent Resolution condemning the Congress of the United States for pursuing impeachment proceedings against a duly elected President is about the blatant disregard for due process and should shock and terrify every American citizen,” West said. “The partisan attacks on our President have blinded many members of Congress, and they are refusing to do the jobs they were elected by their constituents to do. Congress is sent to our nation’s Capitol to represent the constituents of their districts, protect American interests and protect American citizens. What is happening right now in Washington D.C. is an embarrassment to our country and a full assault on our United States Constitution. We cannot stand by and allow this abuse of power to continue.”

Dahm added, “For far too long members of Congress have blatantly ignored the Constitution and the rights protected in it. We’ve seen numerous laws passed and introduced that violate due process, and now this new attack on the President is another example of how little regard is being shown for the protections in our Bill of Rights. If there are those willing to violate these rights in going after a duly elected President, the future of what may be used against our citizens is of great concern. We must take a stand for our rights.”

The resolution sets out that the American people expect and deserve an efficient and hard-working federal government, free of distracting bias and politically driven theatrics. It posits that many of the current membership of the United State Congress are not abiding by the merits of the Republic as espoused by our nation’s founders, forefathers and the intent of the U.S. Constitution.

The resolution further explains there are many serious issues Congress is responsible for addressing, including protecting taxpayers’ money from waste, maintaining our nation’s military for times of declared war, securing our borders through proper immigration and naturalization laws, and leaving all unenumerated powers to the control of the individual states.

West and Dahm state in the resolution that the current actions of the U.S. Congress are unconstitutional in that they would prohibit the accused from facing his accuser, they reject witnesses in the accused’s defense, and that pushing a predetermined political impeachment inquiry violates due process and only serves to foster divisiveness and an atmosphere of distrust that is counterproductive to keeping the United States the greatest nation in the world.

They further state that President Trump was duly elected by the people of this great nation in accordance with the requirements of the U.S. Constitution, and members of Congress should respect their oath of office and the will of the people.

The introduced version of House Concurrent Resolution 1009 can be read here: http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf_pdf/2019-20%20INT/hres/HCR1009%20INT.PDF.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Coming Soon: MuskogeePolitico Insiders Panel to comment on 2020 politics



As we draw closer to the 2020 election, campaigns are beginning to heat up. There will be a lot of activity in the next seven to twelve months, with the chance for some major changes in Oklahoma politics.

To comment on some of the more prominent races and rumors, I am putting together a Muskogee Politico Insiders Panel, made up of about a dozen individuals from all across the state. These people have a wide range of experience and access, and come from just about every ideological camp of the Republican party.

Each congressional district is represented on the panel. Panelists come from the private and public sector, and have varying degrees of past and present activism within the Republican Party.

Members have no idea who else is on the panel, and most likely have never met everyone else or ever been in the same place at the same time. Due to the nature of some topics they will be discussing, as well as the arenas the panelists are involved in, each member will remain anonymous.

The first topic on deck -- the 5th Congressional District race. Stay tuned for the first comments by the panel!

Have a news tip, or something you'd like the Insiders Panel to consider discussing? Feel free to contact me via email.

Music Monday: Poor Wayfaring Stranger

This week's Music Monday is the old folk hymn Poor Wayfaring Stranger, sung here by 'Tennessee Ernie' Ford.

Enjoy!



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.

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, November 16, 2019

Frix Hosts Study on Cost of Living Adjustment for State Pensioners


Frix Hosts Study on Cost of Living Adjustment for State Pensioners

OKLAHOMA CITY (Friday, Nov. 15th, 2019) – State Rep. Avery Frix (R-Muskogee) today hosted a bipartisan interim study examining Cost of Living Adjustments (COLAs) for those in Oklahoma’s seven pension plans. Several lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle joined today’s study, which was held before the House Banking, Financial Services and Pensions Committee.

Frix ran legislation last year that would have given state retirees a COLA. The legislation passed the House overwhelmingly but was not picked up in the state Senate. Instead, the Senate requested an actuarial analysis to see how the state’s retirement systems would be affected by a 2% COLA. The House made a request for an analysis of 4%. Those reports are due Dec. 1.

“My hope is to show that our state retirement systems have improved dramatically over the past decade, and we are now in a position to give our retirees the COLA they deserve and have been promised,” Frix said. “This remains a priority for the House, and we hope our colleagues in the Senate also recognize a cost-of-living adjustment is long overdue.”

State retirees last received a COLA in 2008. Since then, inflation has increased 19.5%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

State Rep. Kyle Hilbert (R-Depew) added, “Our public retirees spent their lives and careers dedicated to serving our state, and after 11 years of waiting, they deserve the long-term stability that a COLA would provide. The strength of our retirement systems is vastly improved compared to 11 years ago and I hope today's interim study will move us one step closer to delivering results for these state retirees.”

State Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-Oklahoma City) said, “House Democrats are appreciative of House Republicans for acknowledging retired public employees, including teachers, firefighters, and police officers deserve a long over-due cost-of-living adjustment. We look forward to continuing to work with our colleagues across the aisle to find a long-term solution for COLAs going forward.”

State Rep. Chelsey Branham (D-Edmond) said, “On the surface, the low unemployment rate in Oklahoma seems like a testament to our success, but in reality the number of underemployed and multi-employed Oklahomans turn that statistic on its head. Cost of living continues to go up and our minimum wage continues to be stagnant, which is forcing Oklahomans to have two and even three jobs to keep up. This is especially true of our retired state employees, who are struggling to balance the benefits of retirement from a life of service with post-retirement employment just to make ends meet. This COLA will be a big lift for the state, but ensuring that Oklahomans have a high quality of life is our duty. I am thankful for my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, who understand the COLA is a smart investment in moving our state forward.”

Both Hilbert and Branham serve on the House Banking, Financial Services and Pensions Committee.

The heads of all of the state’s pension and retirements systems – state firefighters, police, justices and judges, law enforcement, teachers and public employees’ – were invited to take part in the study.

Presenters gave a financial status report of the retirement systems, a history of how they are funded and the impact a 4% COLA would have on the systems’ funding ratios. Tyler Bond, research manager with the National Institute on Retirement Security, also spoke on the economic impact of retirees across Oklahoma. Tom Spencer, executive director of the Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System, also spoke on the Oklahoma Pension Legislation Actuarial Analysis.

Frix urges the state Senate to take up the legislation to grant state retirees a COLA in the upcoming legislative session. He said the state is in much better financial shape today than the last time a COLA was given. Teachers have been given a pay raise two years in a row as have other state employees. The state’s financial rankings also have improved. Several of the state’s pension plans are now more than 100% funded and most are 80% funded, which is indicative of solvency.

Frix said retired state employees are every bit as concerned about the overall performance of their benefit plans as anyone.

“Retirees don’t want to harm their own benefit plan, but they want the COLA they were promised when the plans were established,” he said. “Some retired employees have seen health insurance premiums rise at a rate that has outpaced their retirement benefits. Retirees have to pay into the plan just to pay their premiums.”

During the study, Frix also discussed retirees’ loss of buying power since they last received a COLA and the many retirees who do not receive Social Security.

Small: how long are Oklahomans to wait for promised improvements in academic results?


The waiting game
By Jonathan Small

As I’ve noted in recent weeks, Oklahoma school appropriations have surged by 20 percent over the last two legislative sessions, but outcomes continue to decline, as has become apparent with the release of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the ACT exam and state testing results. When I point this out, I’m often told to “give it time,” that one cannot expect school performance to change in just one or two years.

Fair enough. But the problem is this pattern extends for decades. Oklahomans have steadily increased school funding through the years, but the outcomes produced by the school system are often unchanged from prior decades—or even worse.

In 1990, a host of tax increases were passed for education as part of House Bill 1017. Since then, Oklahoma has legalized the lottery and casinos, and increased taxes again, all to boost school funding. And, contrary to the political spin from some activists, the amount spent on education in Oklahoma has increased significantly over that time.

In 1990, Oklahoma’s per-pupil expenditure was $7,934. By the 2018 state budget year that figure reached $9,094, an increase of nearly 15 percent. (Both figures are adjusted for inflation.)

The problem is that we’re often getting the same or worse results, just at a higher cost.

Oklahoma’s NAEP score on fourth grade reading in 1992 was 220 (prior-year outcomes were not immediately available on the NAEP site). In 2019, the score was 216.

Oklahoma’s average composite ACT score in 1989, before HB 1017’s tax increases passed, was 19.9. In 2019, Oklahoma’s average composite ACT score was 18.9.

Just how long are Oklahomans supposed to “wait” for those promised improvements in academic results? Surely a quarter-century is long enough to conclude that spending increases alone are not getting the job done.

But what is the alternative to waiting and hoping as yet another generation of Oklahoma children gets left behind? One proven solution is to increase school choice.

Low-income urban students often enter charter schools two grades behind, but finish performing at grade level or better and go on to obtain college degrees. The parents of children with special needs who now attend private schools thanks to state-funded scholarships will tell you of lives changes, dramatically, for the better.

To increase spending on a government system does not change outcomes. But harness spending increases to parental choice, and then you have a formula for improvement and upward mobility. No government system is going to care for a child more than that child’s family or guardian, and simply spending more money to get the same (or worse) results is not progress.

It’s time for this decades-long waiting game to end. State lawmakers should put Oklahoma on a path to true academic improvement by not only boosting education funding, but also giving parents the ability to choose their child’s school.

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

Friday, November 15, 2019

National Young Republicans schedule new state convention for Oklahoma YRs


Back in September, the Oklahoma Young Republicans met for their state convention, intending to elect a new slate of officers. The convention broke down in chaos as two factions met an impasse over credentialing. One side simply walked out, while the other side carried on with business.

Following this, the Young Republican National Federation requested that the OKYRs hold a new convention with oversight by the YRNF to ensure no irregularities occur.

Sources indicate that outgoing chairman John Roberts failed to schedule a new convention as requested by the YRNF, so the YRNF voted at their fall meeting to essentially take over the duties of the Oklahoma YR chair in the interim. They have now set a date for a convention re-do to take place in Oklahoma City:

Dear Oklahoma Young Republicans:

The 2019 Oklahoma Young Republican's State Convention will be held on Saturday, December 14th in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  A specific location and time will be sent out in the near future.

In response to issues from the attempted state convention in September, the Young Republican National Federation has agreed to mediate the dispute by hosting the 2019 Oklahoma YR state convention to ensure leadership is duly elected prior to the new year as required by the rules.

Please plan to attend the state convention on Saturday, December 14th!

Best,
Rick Loughery
YRNF Chairman

Details will be coming when announced by the YRNF.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Oklahoma's Southern Baptists call for abolition of abortion at annual meeting


Hallelujah.

The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma held its annual state meeting on Monday and Tuesday in Oklahoma City. The state affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention authorized a re-branding to simply Oklahoma Baptists, elected new officers, and passed several resolutions, the most prominent of which called on the Oklahoma Legislature to "enact legislation for the immediate end of abortion without exception or compromise."

During the 2019 legislative session, leadership of the BGCO publicly opposed an Abolition bill by State Sen. Joseph Silk (R-Broken Bow), sparking uproar among many Oklahoma Baptists and ultimately led to this resolution by convention delegates (or "messengers" from churches).

To my knowledge, this is the first Southern Baptist state affiliate to move beyond a generic pro-life stance and adopt a pro-abolition position.

Here is the text of the resolution, posted in the image above:
We, the messengers to the 2019 Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, meeting at Quail Springs Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, November 11-12, 2019, believe in the sanctity of human life, that every person—born and unborn—is created in God’s image and deserves life. We are thus deeply grieved that the barbaric practice of abortion continues in Oklahoma. We are horrified to know the abortion rate is increasing in Oklahoma, recognizing the loss of each one of these unborn children is a tragedy. We are calling on Oklahoma Baptists to unite toward positive and effective efforts that build a culture of life and that work to end abortion. Through fervent prayer, preaching, legislative efforts, education, volunteering and more, we pledge to renew our efforts to promote life and protect the unborn. With God’s help, we will work to see a day in which every unborn child in Oklahoma and America is protected. Finally, we call upon the Oklahoma State Legislature to enact legislation that calls for the immediate end of abortion without exception or compromise.
Will the BGCO leadership adhere to the voice of Oklahoma Baptists and support an abolition bill this coming legislative session? Time will tell.

As of 2017 there were 1,785 BGCO-affiliated congregations with 579,476 members across the state.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Relative of Mexican massacre victims: hold onto your guns


Last Monday, nine American citizens were gunned down in Mexico by a drug cartel, caught in an ambush on a highway in the northern state of Sonora. The caravan of three vehicles was headed from one Mormon community to another for a family wedding; six of the victims were children ranging from eight months old to twelve years old. Eight children survived and were eventually rescued after hiding in the brush.

Kendra Lee Miller, a sister-in-law of one of the victims, went on CNN last week and had this to say (17:10 mark):
“I don’t know where you’re standing on the whole, people-trying-to-take-the-away-guns-in-America right now, but I say, fight for those guns,” she told Cooper. “These things are happening here in Mexico because the people can’t protect themselves, because by law they’re not allowed to own these guns. So since the government isn’t doing their job of protection in the way that they should, these cartels can just wreak havoc and the people are left defenseless. So I say, hold onto your guns, people.” [transcript courtesy of Disrn.com]
When a people is disarmed, and unable to legally protect themselves, anarchy and oppression by barbaric criminal elements such as exists in Mexico is the ultimate end. All the more reason for Americans to cling to their guns and resist efforts by Leftists to disarm us.

1889 Institute: End the "car dealer licensing cartel"



THE CASE FOR ENDING NEW CAR DEALER LICENSING
New car dealer regulations are anticompetitive, at the expense of Oklahomans

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (November 13, 2019) – “There may not be a clearer example of naked protectionism in the laws of Oklahoma than the protection afforded to car dealers,” says a new study by 1889 Institute Research Fellow, Mike Davis.

The 1889 Institute study, entitled “Fully Loaded: Oklahoma’s Car Dealer Licensing Cartel,” points out that the law:

  1. Makes car brokering (buying on behalf of someone else for a fee) illegal, making it impossible for most Oklahomans to have experienced car buyers act on their behalf, and denying opportunity to those who would like to do so. This means car dealers always have the advantage in deal-making.
  2. Forces car manufacturers to sell only through dealers not owned by the manufacturer (except for those that existed prior to 2000, begging the question of who the law is meant to protect). This means Oklahomans, by law, must pay a middleman in order to buy a car.
  3. Forces car manufacturers to grant dealerships in perpetuity, not allowing a manufacturer to end a dealership agreement unless it shows “good cause” as approved by a body consisting mostly of car dealers. This means manufacturers find it difficult to reorganize business to compete for buyers, which means buyers lose.
  4. Grants new car dealerships exclusive rights to sell in specific geographic territories. This means buyers are dealing in a market with less potential competition.
  5. Explicitly states that its purpose is to prevent new car dealers from going bankrupt. Financial challenge is often a result of competition, with costly, uncompetitive companies being forced to change or make way for efficient companies – a benefit to consumers – and a benefit denied to Oklahomans buying new cars. This is an explicit goal in state law.

“Since Oklahoma’s new car dealer franchising laws are of, by, and for car dealers, instead of being written for Oklahomans in general, it is easy to recommend their complete repeal,” said the study’s author, Mike Davis. “The law is written to allow out-of-state manufacturers and the vast majority of Oklahomans to be preyed upon by new car dealers,” he said.

About the 1889 Institute
The 1889 Institute is an independent Oklahoma think tank advancing public policy ideas to promote the flourishing of all Oklahomans through limited, responsible government, robust civil society, and free enterprise. The publication, “Fully Loaded: Oklahoma’s Car Dealer Licensing Cartel” can be found on the nonprofit’s website at https://1889institute.org/licensing.