Saturday, January 18, 2020

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


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

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

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

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

Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

We're only halfway through the plan, too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

State Sen. Bergstrom files bill to unify public safety agencies


Oklahoma Public Safety Unification Act of 2020 is filed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dahm files bill to prohibit sanctuary cities in Oklahoma


Sen. Dahm files legislation prohibiting sanctuary cities in Oklahoma

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 17, 2020

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


Compact Dispute Solution: End the Casino Monopoly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legislators file over 2,200 bills for 2020 legislative session

Bill filing has concluded for the 2020 legislative session, and legislators are set to have a busy four months. A total of 2,201 House and Senate bills were submitted, as well as 39 joint or concurrent resolutions. Additionally, there are hundreds of measures that were filed in 2019 that will also be eligible to be taken up again, with nearly 650 in the Senate alone.


House Completes Bill Filing Process for 2020 Session

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives completed bill filing Thursday for the second session of the 57th Legislature. A total of 1,361 House Bills, 16 House Joint Resolutions and 4 House Concurrent Resolutions were filed.

The full text of the bills, along with additional information including authors and coauthors, can be found online at www.okhouse.gov.

Last year, the Clerk of the House reported 1,733 House bills and 21 House Joint Resolutions were filed. For the 2018 session, 1,193 House bills and 32 House Joint Resolutions were filed.

The House is comprised of 23 Democrats and 77 Republicans, with one vacant seat. The second session of the 57th Legislature will begin Monday, Feb. 3 at noon with the State of the State address from Gov. Kevin Stitt in the House Chamber.



Senate bills filed for 2020 session

The Senate has completed filing bills for the second session of the 57th Legislature.  The deadline was Thursday, January 16 and a total of 840 Senate Bills and 19 Senate Joint Resolutions were filed.  In 2019, 1,040 Senate Bills and 22 Senate Joint Resolutions were filed by the deadline. A total of 645 Senate Bills and Senate Joint Resolutions were carried over from the 2019 session and can still be considered during the 2020 session.

The Thursday deadline did not apply to appropriations bills, which can be filed throughout the session. In addition, Senate rules allow substantive bills to be introduced during the session after the filing deadline. In order for this to occur, the bill is assigned to committee by the Majority Floor Leader and the legislation can only proceed if the committee agrees to become the published author of the bill. Such bills must still be heard on the floor by March 12, the deadline for floor votes on legislation originating in the Senate. Senate rules also allow for bills by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives to be filed throughout the session.  Senate Resolutions and Senate Concurrent Resolutions can be filed throughout the session as well.

Members of the public can read and download current legislation by going to the official State Senate website at www.oksenate.gov and following the link for legislation at the top of the homepage. The Senate website also includes daily agendas, meeting notices, calendars, and other helpful information.

The 2020 legislative session will reconvene on Monday, February 3, 2020. The Senate offers streaming audio and video with closed captioning from the Senate Chamber, and all committee rooms. Wireless Internet access is available to all Capitol visitors throughout the Senate gallery, committee rooms, offices and press rooms.

Hilbert files bill to crack down on telemarketers and scam calls


Hilbert Files Legislation to Crack Down on Telemarketers and Scam Calls

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives will consider legislation to prevent telemarketers from replicating numbers and misrepresenting the origin of a phone call.

Rep. Kyle Hilbert (R-Bristow) on Thursday filed House Bill 3081 to prohibit callers from tampering with information displayed on caller IDs to disguise their identities. This practice is known as caller ID spoofing and is commonly used by telemarketers and scammers.

Hilbert said while the ultimate solution to this problem lies at the federal level, and through the work Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter is doing with federal regulators, Oklahoma should take steps now to cut down on spam phone calls.

“We must do everything in our power as a state to limit these calls,” Hilbert said. “We need to give Oklahoma prosecutors every tool possible to hold accountable the morally bankrupt individuals who run these telephone scams on the elderly and the vulnerable.”

Hilbert said the idea came from a similar bill passed in Texas last year.

Sen. James Leewright (R-Bristow) will serve as the Senate author.

“Every Oklahoman has experienced firsthand how frustrating it is to answer a call with your area code only to be met with an automated telemarketer or scammer,” Leewright said. “Until Washington takes strong action to prohibit these dishonest and unethical practices, Oklahoma needs to take steps to cut down on caller ID spoofing within our state.” 

Joe Ann Vermillion, Oklahoma state volunteer president for AARP, says the organization is in support of the bill.

“AARP is pleased to see Oklahoma legislators taking action on preventing these predatory telemarketing practices that prey upon our citizens,” Vermillion said. “AARP research shows that three in five adults pick up calls from a local area code, and 44 percent will answer calls from an area code where friends or families live. This legislation will empower all Oklahomans to gain an upper hand on the criminals utilizing spoofing to steal our identities and hard-earned money.”

The second session of the 57th Legislature will begin Monday, Feb. 3 at noon with the State of the State address from Gov. Kevin Stitt in the House Chamber.

Rep. Kyle Hilbert, a Republican, serves District 29 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Small: Funding doesn’t explain OK education performance


Funding doesn’t explain OK education performance
By Jonathan Small

In recent years, status-quo forces have described Oklahoma’s 2009 per-pupil funding level as a goal for state spending, and argued that the slight reduction in per-pupil appropriations experienced following 2009 is to blame for the state’s education problems.

Rep. Melissa Provenzano, D-Tulsa, is the latest example of this pattern. Provenzano told The Oklahoman she opposes making the state superintendent a gubernatorial appointee, and implied the focus should be simply on spending increases.

“The state of education in Oklahoma, and the work that we’re going to have to do to even get it back to where it once was, is a direct result of severe underfunding by the state Legislature for well over a decade,” Provenzano said.

If spending equals better results, then 2009 should be a high-water mark for educational outcomes in the state. It’s not.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often called the “nation’s report card,” shows fourth grade reading and math scores in 2009 were basically the same as in 2019.

In reading, NAEP found just 28 percent of Oklahoma fourth graders read at grade level or better in 2009. In 2019, the test found 29 percent read at grade level.

Put simply, 2009 levels of spending generated the same basic results as 2019 spending. That doesn’t fit the narrative of those who want no changes in Oklahoma schools’ oversight or expectations.

Neither does the fact that the 20-percent increase in Oklahoma school appropriations over the last two years has had no notable impact on outcomes. Instead, academic results declined in 2019 on NAEP, state academic tests, and the ACT college-entrance exam.

Also contrary to the “only spending matters” crowd, the biggest improvement in outcomes occurred even as education appropriations declined slightly. In 2015, NAEP found 33 percent of fourth graders read at grade level or better.

One reason that reading outcomes improved in 2015 even as per-pupil spending was at a standstill or declining slightly is that lawmakers raised expectations.  A law in force at that time ended social promotion and required students to repeat the third grade if they read at a first-grade level or lower. (That law has since been watered down and outcomes have fallen as a result.)

Money matters, but government structure, accountability, and academic expectations matter too. Under Oklahoma’s current system, gubernatorial candidates from both parties campaign on education issues, but their ability to implement their vision is hampered by their lack of authority over the Department of Education.

Giving the governor authority to appoint a state superintendent will guarantee direct accountability. If things go wrong in Oklahoma schools, the governor will be on the hot seat. Under our current system, no one is really in charge.

Ask yourself: Which system do you think is most likely to generate better academic outcomes? The answer is obvious.

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

Lucas applauds signing of US-China trade deal


Lucas Applauds Signing of U.S.-China Phase-One Trade Deal

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) released the following statement after President Donald Trump and China’s Vice Premier Liu He signed the first phase of a trade deal between the United States and China:

“Beginning in 2015, then presidential-candidate Donald Trump promised to defend America’s farmers and workers and renegotiate the unfair trade policies between the United States and our trading partners. Since then, President Trump and his Administration have stood behind that promise and today, are delivering a strong and enforceable commitment from China leveling the playing field for America’s farmers, workers, manufacturers, and businesses.

The historic agreement signed today takes a strong stand for American jobs and America’s workers. It protects America’s intellectual property, ends China’s unfair technology transfer process, opens financial services markets, and, most importantly, expands American agriculture, energy, and manufacture sales to China.

In 2018, Oklahoma exported $239 million worth of goods to China, including $96 million worth of agricultural products. Today’s agreement is positive news for Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers and begins the process of holding China accountable to its trade commitments.

I commend the President for his work on delivering free, fair, and reciprocal trade between our trading partners and I look forward to working on behalf of all Oklahomans as the Administration expands global markets for our nation’s farmers and workers.”

Background:

The United States and China have reached an historic and enforceable agreement on a Phase One trade deal that requires structural reforms and other changes to China’s economic and trade regime in the areas of intellectual property, technology transfer, agriculture, financial services, and currency and foreign exchange. The Phase One agreement also includes a commitment by China that it will make substantial additional purchases of U.S. goods and services in the coming years. Importantly, the agreement establishes a strong dispute resolution system that ensures prompt and effective implementation and enforcement. The United States has agreed to modify its Section 301 tariff actions in a significant way.

Information on specific chapters of the Phase One agreement is provided below:

Agriculture: The Agriculture Chapter addresses structural barriers to trade and will support a dramatic expansion of U.S. food, agriculture and seafood product exports, increasing American farm and fishery income, generating more rural economic activity, and promoting job growth. A multitude of non-tariff barriers to U.S. agriculture and seafood products are addressed, including for meat, poultry, seafood, rice, dairy, infant formula, horticultural products, animal feed and feed additives, pet food, and products of agriculture biotechnology.

Intellectual Property: The Intellectual Property (IP) chapter addresses numerous longstanding concerns in the areas of trade secrets, pharmaceutical-related intellectual property, geographical indications, trademarks, and enforcement against pirated and counterfeit goods.

Technology Transfer: The Technology Transfer chapter sets out binding and enforceable obligations to address several of the unfair technology transfer practices of China that were identified in USTR’s Section 301 investigation. For the first time in any trade agreement, China has agreed to end its long-standing practice of forcing or pressuring foreign companies to transfer their technology to Chinese companies as a condition for obtaining market access, administrative approvals, or receiving advantages from the government. China also commits to provide transparency, fairness, and due process in administrative proceedings and to have technology transfer and licensing take place on market terms. Separately, China further commits to refrain from directing or supporting outbound investments aimed at acquiring foreign technology pursuant to industrial plans that create distortion.

Financial Services: The Financial Services chapter addresses a number of longstanding trade and investment barriers to U.S. providers of a wide range of financial services, including banking, insurance, securities, and credit rating services, among others. These barriers include foreign equity limitations and discriminatory regulatory requirements. Removal of these barriers should allow U.S. financial service providers to compete on a more level playing field and expand their services export offerings in the Chinese market.

Currency: The chapter on Macroeconomic Policies and Exchange Rate Matters includes policy and transparency commitments related to currency issues. The chapter addresses unfair currency practices by requiring high-standard commitments to refrain from competitive devaluations and targeting of exchange rates, while promoting transparency and providing mechanisms for accountability and enforcement. This approach will help reinforce macroeconomic and exchange rate stability and help ensure that China cannot use currency practices to unfairly compete against U.S. exporters.

Expanding Trade: The Expanding Trade chapter includes commitments from China to import various U.S. goods and services over the next two years in a total amount that exceeds China’s annual level of imports for those goods and services in 2017 by no less than $200 billion. China’s commitments cover a variety of U.S. manufactured goods, food, agricultural and seafood products, energy products, and services. China’s increased imports of U.S. goods and services are expected to continue on this same trajectory for several years after 2021 and should contribute significantly to the rebalancing of the U.S.-China trade relationship.

Dispute Resolution: The Dispute Resolution chapter sets forth an arrangement to ensure the effective implementation of the agreement and to allow the parties to resolve disputes in a fair and expeditious manner. This arrangement creates regular bilateral consultations at both the principal level and the working level. It also establishes strong procedures for addressing disputes related to the agreement and allows each party to take proportionate responsive actions that it deems appropriate.

Walke files bill to protect Oklahomans' email data


Walke Legislation Would Protect Email Data of Oklahomans 

OKLAHOMA CITY -- State Rep. Collin Walke (D-OKC) filed legislation this session to protect email users’ data from being collected by corporations.

House Bill 2810, dubbed “The Oklahoma Email Communication Content Privacy Protection Act,” would make it illegal for companies, like Google or Microsoft, that host email servers to glean information from users.

"Tech companies have profited off of our private information for years, and it's time we start reclaiming our privacy," Walke said. "House Bill 2810 is what I hope to be the first of many steps toward a more balanced and fair use of private information. 

“In its infancy, email was a quick and efficient communication tool.  However, in today's world, email is a necessity, and we should not have to choose between participating in modern society or having our personal information exploited. I no more want the United State Postal Service knowing when and how I read my mail than I do Google my email.  If tech companies want to be treated as public goods, then ensuring that they do not harness our information for their own personal benefit is an absolute necessity."     

Thursday, January 16, 2020

State Sen. Dahm files bill to create "MAGA" license plates

While I generally agree with him more than almost every other member of the state senate, I'm getting the feeling that the majority of State Sen. Nathan Dahm's bills this year are either just memes, or specifically written to trigger as many liberals and get as much publicity as he possibly can. Several of them are the equivalent of legislative clickbait. Just callin' it as I see it...


Legislation filed to create “Make America Great Again” and “Keep America Great” license plates

“Make America Great Again” and “Keep America Great” license plates may soon be cruising by in a lane near you.

Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, has filed Senate Bill 1384, which would create special “Make America Great Again” and “Keep America Great” Oklahoma license plates. Sen. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore, is co-author of the bill.

“With the introduction of these specialty license plates, we are providing Oklahomans with the option to show their support for America,” Dahm said. “The added benefit of these special license plates is the proceeds from their sale will support two veteran groups here in Oklahoma that President Trump has donated to in the past.”

Each purchase of the specialty license plates would donate $10 to the Folds of Honor Foundation and $10 to the Warriors for Freedom Foundation.

The fee for special license plates is $35 per year, in addition to all other registration fees required by the Oklahoma Vehicle License and Registration Act. Twenty dollars of the plate fee supports the charity, foundation or fund designated by the special plate. There are currently 98 special license plates available in Oklahoma.

“I believe these license plates could be very popular with Oklahomans,” Quinn said. “Our president has been very supportive of our veterans, and these plates are a great way to give back to some very deserving Oklahoma veteran groups.”

Lawmakers comment on eliminating surprise medical billing


Lawmakers Comment on Surprise Medical Billing

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Reps. Marcus McEntire (R-Duncan), Chris Sneed (R-Muskogee) and Tammy Townley (R-Ardmore) commented today on the ongoing discussions to eliminate surprise medical billing in Oklahoma.

A surprise medical bill is a bill an out-of-network health provider issues to a covered insured person for health care services in an amount greater than the patient’s cost-sharing obligation that would apply for the same services by an in-network provider. What makes these bills surprising is the patient has no knowledge the provider rendering his or her health care services is out of the patient’s network.

"Surprise bills commonly occur when a patient receives care from an out-of-network physician in an in-network hospital," McEntire said.

Negotiations about surprise billing between the Legislature, the Oklahoma Insurance Department, health care providers, and health insurers occurred in earnest last session, but neither consensuinsuras nor a compromise could be reached before the session ended.

“After the last session, we were discouraged about the pace of the surprise billing negotiations,” McEntire said. “However, we are extremely pleased with the pace of negotiations over the interim. We are happy to announce an agreement with health providers and insurance companies to hold enrollees harmless to surprise bills and prohibit the practice of surprise billing. Both the insurance companies and health providers emphatically stated in our meeting that patients should be held harmless.”

Townley said, “It was wonderful to see health insurance companies and health care providers come to the table in a positive environment and work on the legislation for surprise billing in Oklahoma. Our goal from day one was to take care of our Oklahoma consumers! I am so proud of the efforts that have been made in regard to surprise billing.”

Sneed added. “We are excited to be moving forward for Oklahomans with surprise medical billing this session. The majority of parties involved have been to the table numerous times during the interim to work on the issue.”

McEntire said, “We intend to run a bill prohibiting surprise billing during the early part of the upcoming session, but there is still hard work and tough decisions ahead. The difficult challenge is to find an agreed-to method for insurance companies to compensate out-of-network providers. We have encouraged health care providers and insurance companies to negotiate a fair system of compensation or a mediation process and bring it to us. We want to see a payment system on which both sides can agree and a system that does not cause insurance premiums or the cost of health care to rise more than it already is.”

State Election Board releases official 2020 voter registration statistics


State Election Board Releases Official 2020 Voter Registration Statistics

(Oklahoma City) – Official Oklahoma voter registration statistics released yesterday show 2,090,107 Oklahomans are registered to vote heading into the 2020 election cycle. Oklahoma’s official voter registration statistics are counted every year on January 15.

"These statistics continue a decades-long trend of growth for Independents and Republicans as a share of the Oklahoma electorate," said State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax. "And although they are relatively small in overall numbers, Libertarians now have more than 11,000 voters for the first time in state history."

The largest number of Oklahoma's voters are Republicans, who make up more than 48.3% of registered voters. Two years ago, Republicans accounted for 46.8% of registered voters.

Democrats are the second-largest party at 35.3% of registered voters, down from 38.2% in January 2018. Democrats had long been the largest political party in Oklahoma, but were passed by Republicans in January 2015.

Independents, or "no party" voters, are now 15.9% of Oklahoma voters, up from 14.8% two years ago.

The Libertarian Party, which gained recognition in 2016, now has 11,171 registered voters, more than double the number in January 2018.

Oklahoma’s registered voters:

                                        JAN. 15, 2020                                  JAN. 15, 2018
DEMOCRATS                 738,256….35.3%                             769,772….38.2%
REPUBLICANS              1,008,569….48.3%                          942,621….46.7%
LIBERTARIANS              11,171….less than 1%                     4,897….less than 1%
INDEPENDENTS            332,111….15.9%                             298,867….14.8%
TOTAL                              2,090,107                                        2,016,157

HISTORICAL VOTER REGISTRATION IN OKLAHOMA

The State Election Board began recording statewide voter registration statistics by party in 1960.

YEAR                 DEM                    REP                  IND          OTHER                          
1960                   82.0%                 17.6%                0.4%        N/A
1980                   75.8%                 22.8%                1.4%        N/A
2000*                  56.7%                 35.0%                8.3%        *
2020*                  35.3%                 48.2%               15.8%       * 

*Minor parties account for less than 1 percent of voters in Oklahoma.

View voter registration statistics at: elections.ok.gov. Audio is available at this link.

State Rep. Tom Gann announces bid for third term


Oklahoma State Representative Tom Gann Announces His Run for a Third Term

Oklahoma State Representative Tom Gann, House District 8, announces his run for a third term with the Oklahoma House of Representatives.  First elected in 2016, Gann became one of only two elected state representatives that do not take lobbyist or PAC money.  Gann has remained true to that pledge and will continue to represent the 8th House District by principled voting.

In 2018, Gann served on the House Special Investigative Committee where waste and mismanagement by the Oklahoma Department of Health was exposed.  In 2019, Gann followed up on the audit findings of that committee by co-authoring Senate Bill 316 with Senator Nathan Dahm. Senate Bill 316 requires greater transparency of agencies with regards to state funds and the relationships agencies form with each other.  The bill was signed by Governor Stitt and became law November 1st, 2019.

With the election of Governor Stitt, stronger oversight and accountability was established by the legislature by giving the executive branch authority over key agencies. Gann said, “Governor Stitt’s leadership is changing the culture of State Government from a patronage culture to one of performance.” Recently, Governor Stitt issued an executive order requiring state agencies to reduce regulations by 25%. Gann said, “As Chairman of the Administrative Rules Committee that deals directly with the regulatory code for Oklahoma, I support the initiative to reduce the regulatory burden on business and industry. In House District 8, the emerging industry along the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System and in the MidAmerica Industrial Park in Pryor, could be the first to feel the impact of those reductions.”

A press release on October 19, 2019, from Speaker of the House, Charles McCall, announced the House will be increasing its own efforts at responsible oversight. Speaker McCall has assigned House members to committees to regularly monitor governing boards of more than 36 state agencies.  Speaker McCall said, “The legislature has been too deferential and hands-off with these governing boards for most of state history, and the House is going to change that.”  Gann said, “The initiative of leadership to monitor governing boards of state agencies meets the public’s expectation for elected leaders to perform and assume their rightful role over state agencies.”

“It would be a privilege to continue to represent the voters of the 8th House District.  With your vote and support, I will keep working diligently to reduce the size of and scope of government interference in the lives of Oklahomans.” Gann added.

Tom and Debbie Gann have been married for 41 years. They live on a small acreage in Inola, Oklahoma.  Tom retired from Tulsa International Airport where he served as the Airport Auditor for 10 years. Tom and Debbie have 3 children and 8 grandchildren.

The 8th House District covers Wagoner, Rogers and Mayes Counties.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

First Year: Stitt signs 774 commutations, 290 pardons, 101 paroles


GOVERNOR STITT SIGNS 774 COMMUTATIONS, 290 PARDONS, 101 PAROLES IN FIRST YEAR

OKLAHOMA CITY (January 14, 2020)— On the one-year anniversary of Governor Kevin Stitt’s inauguration, Gov. Stitt announced today he signed 62 commutations, 93 pardons and 23 paroles, bringing the total signed during his first year to 774 commutations, 290 pardons and 101 paroles.

“This has been a historic year for criminal justice reform in Oklahoma,” said Gov. Stitt. “Under new leadership in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections and at the Pardon and Parole Board, the Board’s favorable recommendations increased by 225% over last year. I applaud everyone’s hard work and thorough management of a significant increase in casework without needing additional funds. The most impactful changes come when the right leaders are in place in state agencies, operating with a shared vision. My administration remains committed to pursuing bold changes in criminal justice reform over the next few years, to include reforming the criminal code and changing the culture in state prisons to help people return as productive members of society.”

On November 1, 2019, Gov. Stitt signed the largest single-day commutation in U.S. history, commuting the sentence of 523 non-violent, low-level offenders that were recommended by the Pardon and Parole Board under the HB 1269 docket.

This historic commutation docket was the result of months-long collaboration between the Governor’s Office, the Department of Corrections, the Pardon and Parole Board, non-profit volunteers and other state agencies. On November 4, 2019, Gov. Stitt and First Lady Sarah Stitt greeted the 55 women at the Eddie Warrior Correctional Facility that were released through the HB 1269 docket.

With the leadership of the Governor’s Office, Pardon and Parole Board, and dozens of nonprofits, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections also held its first-ever transition fairs for inmates at 28 facilities across the state. More than 200 people from 45 community partners, nonprofits and state agencies attended the fairs to help provide inmates with the support and resources needed in order to successfully reintegrate into society. These fairs connected 781 inmates with information and tools to help them prepare to leave the criminal justice system and return to their families and friends.

Additional criminal justice reform highlights from Gov. Stitt’s first year in office include:

  • Invested in drug courts and diversion programs in the FY 20 budget. 
  • Reformed in the FY 20 budget how District Attorney Offices are funded so they are not reliant on high fines, fees and court costs.
  • Called for and signed into law HB 1373, implementing licensing reform to help remove a major barrier for former offenders to access work opportunities.
  • Called for and signed HB 1269, approving an expedited commutation process to release offenders currently incarcerated on low level drug possession crimes or any other felony that would now be considered a misdemeanor due to changes in law.
  • Provided correctional officers with a $2 per hour pay increase.
  • Issued EO 2019-41 to address the crises of contraband cellphones in state prisons across Oklahoma.

Democrat State Rep files bill to end Oklahoma's death penalty


Dunnington Legislation Looks to End Oklahoma’s Death Penalty

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Jason Dunnington (D-Oklahoma City) on Tuesday filed House Bill 2876 for consideration during the 2020 legislative session. If passed and signed into law, the measure will remove the death penalty from among the options in Oklahoma for sentencing in capital cases.

“I’m proud to be a part of the important progress we’ve made toward criminal justice reform,” Dunnington said. “Oklahomans are becoming more aware of the wasted costs of capital punishment, a system that provides no deterrent to crime while flushing millions down the drain that could be better spent on responses to violence that actually work.”

Dunnington’s legislation found support from The Most Rev. Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City.

“This is a bold proposal that addresses the disturbing realities and inequity of capital punishment,” Coakley said. “We don't end the cycle of violence by committing more violence. In all of these crimes, we lost a life, and the death penalty only serves to further devalue human dignity. When available, we should choose non-lethal ways to ensure justice and protect society.”

“This is neither a partisan nor an ideological proposal,” Dunnington said. “The profound problems with the death penalty are a concern for all Oklahomans, indeed for all Americans. That is why Republicans and Democrats from Alabama to Oregon are increasingly embracing the call for a repeal of the death penalty.”

Dunnington detailed the primary objections to continued use of the death penalty:

  • For every 10 inmates executed on death row in the US since 1976, one inmate has been exonerated;
  • The taxpayer cost of incarceration for death row inmates is more than twice that of inmates with life sentences;
  •  There is no evidence to support that use of the death penalty is an effective crime deterrent;
  •  Families of victims routinely testify that executing the convicted offers little consolation for their pain and loss.

The measure will be assigned for a committee hearing in February.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Music Monday: Overture from The Cowboys

This week's Music Monday is Overture from the 1972 film The Cowboys, composed by John Williams and played here by the Boston Pops Orchestra.

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.

January 6th, 2020: I Am Resolved
December 23rd, 2019: Angels We Have Heard On High
December 16th, 2019: I Wonder As I Wander
December 9th, 2019: O Come, All Ye Faithful
December 2nd, 2019: I Saw Three Ships
November 25th, 2019: Count Your Blessings
November 18th, 2019: Poor Wayfaring Stranger
November 11th, 2019: Over There
November 4th, 2019: Great Speckled Bird
October 28th, 2019: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 14th, 2019: Batman Theme
September 30th, 2019: These Are My People (Johnny Cash)
September 23rd, 2019: Pictures at an Exhibition (Great Gate of Kiev)
September 16th, 2019: The Streets of Laredo (Piano Puzzler)
September 9th, 2019: I'm Ready To Go
August 26th, 2019: It Is Not Death To Die
August 5th, 2019: 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)
July 29th, 2019: Let It Be Said Of Us
July 15th, 2019: Bach's "Little" Fugue in G Minor
July 8th, 2019: The Majesty and Glory of Your Name
July 1st, 2019: Medley of Sousa Marches
June 24th, 2019: Seventy-Six Trombones
June 17th, 2019: I Want To Be That Man
June 3rd, 2019: "Les Toreadors" from 'Carmen'
May 20th, 2019: Lonesome Road
May 13th, 2019: Mr. Mom
April 29th, 2019: Have Faith in God (Muskogee's hymn)
April 15th, 2019: The Government Can
March 25th, 2019: Transcendental Étude No. 4, "Mazeppa"
March 18th, 2019: St. Patrick's Day in the Morning
March 11th, 2019: What Wondrous Love is This
March 4th, 2019: Scandinavian Waltz
February 18th, 2019: Adagio for Strings
February 11th, 2019: 'Romance' from 'The Gadfly'
February 4th, 2019: Columbia, Gem of the Ocean
January 7th, 2019: Loch Lomond
December 31st, 2018: Auld Lang Syne
December 24th, 2018: Remember O, thou Man
December 17th, 2018: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
December 10th, 2018: Carol of the Bells (medley)
December 3rd, 2018: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
November 26th, 2018: Happy Birthday
November 19th, 2018: My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness
November 12th, 2018: Hymn to the Fallen
October 29th, 2018: A Mighty Fortress is Our God
October 22nd, 2018: Hymn to Red October
October 15th, 2018:  Indian Reservation ("Cherokee People")
October 8th, 2018: Wagner's 'Columbus Overture'
October 1st, 2018: Danny Boy
September 24th, 2018: Dvorak's 'From The New World' Symphony, 4th Movement
September 17th, 2018: Deep River
September 10th, 2018: Muleskinner Blues
September 3rd, 2018: Boomer Sooner
August 20th, 2018: Psalm 23
August 13th, 2018: Ashokan Farewell
August 6, 2018: How the West Was Won
July 23rd, 2018: I Just Can't Wait to Be King
July 16th, 2018: 'Jupiter' from 'The Planets'
July 9th, 2018: Hail to the Spirit of Liberty
July 2nd, 2018: Turn The Tide
June 25th, 2018: Good Guys Win
June 18th, 2018: Watching You
June 11th, 2018: Adoration
June 4th, 2018: March from 'A Moorside Suite'
May 28th, 2018: Taps
May 21st, 2018: Listz's La Campanella
May 14th, 2018: Handful of Weeds
May 7th, 2018: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
April 30th, 2018: Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53 ("Heroic")
April 23rd, 2018: Blow Ye The Trumpet
April 16th, 2018: Asturias (Leyenda)
April 9th, 2018: Old Mountain Dew
April 2nd, 2018: His Life For Mine
March 19th, 2018: See, the Conqu'ring Hero Comes!
March 12th, 2018: Choctaw Nation
March 5th, 2018: Hark, I Hear The Harps Eternal
February 19th, 2018: The Olympic Spirit
February 12th, 2018: Olympic Fanfare and Theme
January 29th, 2018: Hail to the Chief
January 23rd, 2018: Waltz in A-Flat Major, Op. 39 No. 15
January 15th, 2018: Bleed The Same
January 8th, 2018: Saint-Saëns' Symphony No.3 'Organ' (Maestoso)
December 25th, 2017: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
December 18th, 2017: I Saw Three Ships (The Piano Guys)
December 11th, 2017:Who Is He In Yonder Stall
December 4th, 2017: Carol of the Bells (Mannheim Steamroller)
November 27th, 2017: Joy to the World!
November 20th, 2017: We Gather Together
November 13th, 2017: Mansions of the Lord
November 6th, 2017: Träumerei
October 30th: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 23rd, 2017: In Christ Alone
October 16th, 2017: When I'm Knee Deep In Bluegrass
October 9th, 2017: I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb
October 2nd, 2017: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major (Brahms)
September 25th, 2017: Beethoven's Sonata No. 8 in C minor ('Pathétique')
September 11th, 2017: Have You Forgotten?
September 4th, 2017: Bach's Double Violin Concerto
August 28th, 2017: Noah Found Grace In The Eyes Of The Lord
August 21st, 2017: The Heavens Are Telling The Glory of God
August 14th, 2017: Beethoven's 5th Symphony
August 7th, 2017: 'Lift High The Name Of Jesus' medley
July 31st, 2017: Fanfare for the Common Man
July 24th, 2017: Variations on 'Happy Birthday'
July 10th, 2017: Summer (Presto) from Vivaldi's Four Seasons
July 3rd, 2017: Freelance Fireworks Hall of Fame
June 26th, 2017: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
June 19th, 2017: A Christian Home
June 12th, 2017: Ol' Man River
June 5th, 2017: Choctaw Cowboy
May 29th, 2017: Armed Forces Salute
May 22nd, 2017: Double Bass Concerto No.2 in B minor
May 15th, 2017: Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D major
May 8th, 2017: The Army Goes Rolling Along
April 17th, 2017: He Is Alive
April 10th, 2017: Surely He Hath Borne/And With His Stripes/All We Like Sheep
April 3rd, 2017: Here Comes Carolina
March 27th, 2017: 'Spring' from Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons'
March 20th, 2017: Symphony No. 5 ("Reformation") Finale
March 13th, 2017: The Pigeon on the Gate
March 6th, 2017: Finlandia
February 27th, 2017: When I Can Read My Title Clear
February 20th, 2017: William Tell Overture - Finale
February 13th, 2017: 'Romance' from 'The Gadfly'
February 6th, 2017: White Winter Hymnal
January 30th, 2017: Hail, Columbia
January 23rd, 2017: Hail to the Chief
January 16th, 2017: Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
January 2nd, 2017: Auld Lang Syne
December 26th, 2016: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
December 19th, 2016: I Wonder as I Wander
December 12th, 2016: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
December 5th, 2016: A Christmas Festival
November 28th, 2016: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
November 21st: Beethoven's 'Hymn of Thanksgiving'
November 14th: Hymn to the Fallen
November 7th: This World Is Not My Home
October 31st, 2016: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 24th, 2016: 'Mars', from 'The Planets'
October 17th, 2016: My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
October 10th, 2016: Spain
October 3rd, 2016: International Harvester
September 26th, 2016: 'The Imperial March' from Star Wars
September 19th, 2016: Awake the Trumpet's Lofty Sound
September 12th, 2016: Before the Throne of God Above
September 5th, 2016: The Hunt
August 29th, 2016: Liberty
August 22nd, 2016: Summon the Heroes
August 15th, 2016: Bugler's Dream
August 8th, 2016: Olympic Fanfare and Theme
August 1st, 2016: 'Prelude' and 'Parade of the Charioteers' from Ben-Hur
July 25th, 2016: How The West Was Won
July 18th, 2016: Six Studies in English Folk Song
July 11th, 2016: From Everlasting To Everlasting
July 4th, 2016: The Stars and Stripes Forever
June 27th, 2016: Rule, Britannia!
June 20st, 2016: Bugler's Holiday
June 13th, 2016: Ride of the Valkyries
June 6th, 2016: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54, Allegro Vivace
May 30th, 2016: Armed Forces Salute
May 23rd, 2016: Paid in Full (Through Jesus, Amen)
May 16th, 2016: Overture from 'Carmen'
May 9th, 2016: L'Arlesienne Suite No. 1 - Prelude
May 2nd, 2016: My God Is a Rock
April 25th, 2016: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
April 18th, 2016: Paganini's Caprice No. 24 in A Minor
April 11th, 2016: Fantasia on a 17th Century Tune
April 4th, 2016: Hark The Sound/I'm a Tarheel Born
March 28th, 2016: Rustle of Spring
March 21st, 2016: 'Ode to Joy' sung by a 10,000-voice choir
March 14th, 2016: Hard Times Come Again No More
March 7th, 2016: 'The Suite' from Downton Abbey
February 29th, 2016: Moonlight Sonata
February 22nd, 2016: Liebestraum No. 3
February 15th, 2016: Help Is On The Way
February 8th, 2016: God of Grace and God of Glory
February 1st, 2016: 'My Story'
January 25th, 2016: Israeli Concertino
January 18th, 2016: What Grace is Mine
January 11th, 2016: "Meditation" from Thaïs
January 4th, 2016: Praeludium and Allegro
December 28th, 2015: Appalachian Carol
December 21st, 2015: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
December 14th, 2015: O Holy Night
December 7th, 2015: Christmas Fantasy
November 23rd, 2015: Simple Gifts
November 16th, 2015: Preacher Tell Me Like It Is
November 9th, 2015: Armed Forces Salute
November 2nd, 2015: Amazing Grace
October 26th, 2015: The Harmonious Blacksmith
October 19th, 2015: Liberty Fanfare
October 12th, 2015: The Majesty and Glory of Your Name
October 5th, 2015: Elgar's 'Enigma' Finale
September 28th, 2015: Stayed on Jesus
September 21st, 2015: Great Gate of Kiev
September 14th, 2015: Nearer, My God, To Thee

Oklahomans to rally for abolition of abortion on Feb. 11


Oklahomans Will Rally For Abortion’s Total and Immediate Abolition on Feb. 11

The Abolition of Abortion in Oklahoma Act (SB13) has been introduced by Oklahoma State Senator Joseph Silk (R-Broken Bow) each of the last four legislative sessions. It’s important to note that it isn’t simply an anti-abortion bill among many. When passed and enforced, SB13 will completely abolish abortion in the state and strip from the courts the authority to unconstitutionally force Oklahoma to allow the murder of preborn human beings. The bill reads:

“It is the intent of the Legislature to provide to unborn children the equal protection of the laws of this state; to establish that a living human child, from the moment of fertilization upon the fusion of a human spermatozoon with a human ovum, is entitled to the same rights, powers, privileges, justice and protections as are secured or granted by the laws of this state to any other human person; and to treat as void and of no effect any and all federal statutes, regulations, executive orders and court rulings, which would deprive an unborn child of the right to life.“

On Tuesday, February 11 at 10 a.m. Oklahomans are going to gather at the State Capitol to demand SB13’s passage. Each year, the bill has gained more traction than the year prior, with roughly 1,000 people at the Capitol to support abortion’s abolition last year.

Momentum is building behind SB13 in other ways as well. Two Christian denominations in the state have passed resolutions supportive of the bill in the past eight months. Last May, the Oklahoma Free Will Baptists passed the following resolution:

WHEREAS, God’s Word clearly declares that all human life is a sacred gift from our sovereign God and that His Law is supreme over mankind and man’s law, and therefore that all abortion is wrong and usurps God’s sovereignty; and,

WHEREAS, since Roe v. Wade, 60 million innocent unborn babies have been legally murdered in the United States and approximately 5,000 innocent unborn babies are legally murdered in Oklahoma every year; and,

WHEREAS, government is not instituted to grant rights but to protect our unalienable, God-given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as recognized in the Declaration of Independence and Article 2, Section 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution; and,

WHEREAS, traditional pro-life laws do nothing to abolish abortion and, in fact, merely establish regulatory guidelines for how to obtain a legal abortion and, in so doing, simply facilitate the murder of innocent unborn children; and,

WHEREAS, Roe v. Wade will never be overturned unless a state enacts a law abolishing human abortion; therefore,

BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the Oklahoma Association of Free Will Baptists, call upon the Legislature, Governor, and Attorney General of Oklahoma to pass, sign, and enforce legislation abolishing the practice of human abortion at all gestational stages and for all reasons in Oklahoma.

The resolution was authored by Tim Gillespie, pastor of Stroud Free Will Baptist Church, and the vote in favor was unanimous according to Oklahoma Free Will Baptists Executive Director Mike Wade.

Oklahoma Baptists (the Oklahoma affiliate of the Southern Baptist Convention) passed a resolution at their annual convention on Nov. 12, 2019 adding language to the convention’s platform on abortion calling for the immediate end of abortion in the state.

“Finally, we call upon the Oklahoma State Legislature to enact legislation that calls for the immediate end of abortion without exception or compromise.”

The resolution, introduced by pastor Bill Ascol of Bethel Baptist Church in Owasso, OK and passed by a majority of representatives of the various Southern Baptist churches in Oklahoma, was a direct rebuke from member churches to the leaders of Oklahoma Baptists who publicly opposed the Abolition of Abortion in Oklahoma Act during the 2019 legislative session.