Thursday, February 27, 2020

Senate passes bill to clarify concealed carry rights for medical marijuana cardholders


Senate passes measure protecting gun rights for medical marijuana cardholders

The full Senate voted unanimously Wednesday to protect the Second Amendment rights of medical marijuana cardholders.

Senate Bill 959, authored by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, clarifies that anyone authorized to use medical marijuana would also be allowed to have a concealed carry permit. Even though Oklahoma is a constitutional carry state, some citizens may want a permit if they travel to other states that require them and offer reciprocity.

Current Oklahoma law precludes citizens from being eligible for a handgun license if they have any violation relating to illegal drug use or possession. SB 959 would clarify that this prohibition does not apply for applicants or licensees in possession of a medical marijuana card. The measure would make it illegal for a person to carry or use a gun while under the influence of medical marijuana.

“Our Second Amendment rights outlined in the United States Constitution are very clear – the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed,” Dahm said. “We cannot discriminate against medical marijuana cardholders because of their personal medicinal decisions. All Oklahomans should have their Second Amendment rights protected, and I’m glad my colleagues agree that we must uphold the Constitution.”

The measure now heads to the House of Representatives for a vote. Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, is the House author for the bill.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Bill adding sale of bee-related products to ag tax-exempt status advances through Senate committees


Senate committee passes a honey of a bill

(Feb. 25th, 2020) The Senate Finance Committee has passed Senate Bill 1388, which would incentivize urban gardeners across the state to raise honeybees by giving tax exempt status to any bee product sold. The measure is authored by Sen. Allison Ikley-Freeman, D-Tulsa.

Ikley-Freeman said a food desert in her district forced her to look at alternative ways for constituents to access fresh produce. This examination led her to a pollinating force: honeybees.

“Since much of Senate District 37 is in a food desert, many of my constituents have solved this issue by becoming urban gardeners,” Ikley-Freeman said. “There are several great extension programs available that provide folks with seeds to plant their own gardens, but we are unfortunately missing a key factor for successful gardening, which is pollination.”

Ikley-Freeman said that while many people are attempting to grow their own produce, a lack of pollination can make it a fruitless pursuit. For example, it could lead to zucchini plants that never grow a zucchini, she said. 

“Not only will raising bees increase the success of local gardens, but it will also give Oklahomans an opportunity to make their own honey, candy, soaps and lotions, and then sell those products tax free at their local farmers market,” Ikley-Freeman said.

A producer that sells agricultural products directly from their farm, orchard, garden or dairy is already exempt from sales tax. SB 1388 simply adds bee products to the tax-exempt list.

“I’m hopeful this legislation will encourage people across the state to look into beekeeping,” Ikley-Freeman said. “Something as simple as a honeybee could give many Oklahomans a second stream of income.”

The measure now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee for a vote. [Blogger's note: the bill passed the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday by a vote of 17 to 0. It now heads to the Senate floor.]

House committee passes bill to bring transparency on state lawsuits


O’Donnell Passes Bill  to Bring Greater Transparency on State Lawsuits

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Terry O’Donnell (R-Catoosa) yesterday saw advancement of a bill that would bring greater transparency to the process by which the state hires and pays for outside attorneys or legal agencies to represent its interests.

House Bill 3390 would require the state to make available to the public a list of attorneys and firms furnishing legal services along with a schedule of fees paid. The bill also caps the fees the state would pay to $1,000 per hour or a scale from 2% to 15% depending on the amount recovered from $20 million to less than $10 million with the state payment not to exceed $10 million. Any case that is believed to cost more than $1 million will need to be first submitted to the Legislative Oversight Committee overseeing the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT).

The bill passed in the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 15-0.

“The goal of this measure is to bring transparency to state lawsuits,” O’Donnell said. “A more transparent bidding process is good for everybody in the state.”

HB 3390 also specifies that past or present relationships between legal counsel and the state be disclosed when contracts are proposed and that the reasons for hiring outside counsel be explained to the public. The bill further requires that before entering into a contract for legal representation with private attorneys or firms, an official of the executive branch must receive proposals for three qualified private attorneys or firms with the contract being based on the most economical and the service judged to be in the best interest of the state.

O’Donnell said the bill is still a work in progress and may see further amendments before it is brought to the House floor.

TW Shannon to Dems: Stop promising me 40 acres and a mule


Former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon had some strong reaction to the Democratic presidential debate last night:
This debate is embarrassing at best and disingenuous at worst. Every Time black voters are mentioned someone promises billions of dollars in free stuff. It’s offensive. Black communities like other communities need access to a quality education and job opportunities-not promises of free stuff the federal government can’t afford. The greater the freedom, the greater the prosperity. Stop promising me 40 acres and a mule. #woke

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Initiative petition modernizations pass House Rules Committee



Initiative Petition Modernizations Pass House Rules Committee


OKLAHOMA CITY – The process for state questions would be more transparent and modernized under two bills passed by the House Rules Committee on Tuesday.

House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, authored House Bills 3826 and 3827 to improve the initiative and referendum petition processes used to place state questions on the ballot in Oklahoma.

“These common sense improvements make the petition process more transparent and functional for citizens,” McCall said. “Petitions for state questions are increasingly popular, and government needs to handle these petitions more transparently and efficiently than it does now.”

HB 3827 addresses a lack of transparency in campaign finance for state questions.

The current definition of “state question” used by the Ethics Commission says a state question becomes a state question when the governor sets an election date, which allows campaigns for or against state questions to avoid disclosing donations and expenditures until that time. State question campaigns will often have been accepting donations and spending money for months or even years before an election date is set by the governor.

HB 3827 says a state question becomes a state question when the Secretary of State assigns a state question number, which typically occurs shortly after the petition is filed.

“While some initiative petition groups truly are grassroots citizens, many are out-of-state, well-funded, sophisticated political machines. The public deserves to know the finances and interests behind these campaigns when they are considering signing petitions, just like they deserve to know the same of candidates,” McCall said. “Transparency helps voters make better choices.”

HB 3827 treats state question campaigns more like candidates for office, who are required to begin disclosing fundraising and expenditures once they have raised at least $1,000, regardless of whether they have filed for office.

To modernize the petition signature counting process, HB 3826 authorizes the Secretary of State to use electronic signature counting equipment and software so petition signatures can be cross referenced with the voter registration database maintained by the Election Board. Only registered voters are permitted to sign initiative and referendum petitions.

“It shocks most Oklahomans to know that, in the year 2020, signatures are hand-counted and not cross referenced with voter rolls,” McCall said. “There needs to be a more efficient, accurate way to count signatures than the antiquated process used today.”

HB 3826 requires the initiative and referendum signature gathering form to include each signatory’s printed first name, last name, zip code, house number, and month and day of birth. Any entry not matching three of these five criteria during cross referencing with the voter database would not be counted.

The current petition form collects a signature, printed name, address, city and county. Signature gatherers sign an affidavit attesting to the accuracy and eligibility of the signatures gathered. No further verification is done.

“This bill tightens up a very lax process to improve accuracy,” McCall said.

The bills were presented in committee by Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Catoosa.

“Changing the Constitution or state law with a state question is a major action that should not be taken lightly. These bills give voters stronger assurances of transparency and process integrity that are befitting of the magnitude of the matters they may see on their ballot,” O’Donnell said.

The bills now advance to the House floor. If the bills become law, they would take effect in November 2020, meaning they would not affect state questions under consideration this election cycle.

State Senate passes bill requiring seat belts for children in back seats


Senate passes legislation requiring children to wear seat belts

The full Senate prioritized child safety on Monday with the passage of Senate Bill 1303.

Authored by Sen. Roland Pederson, R-Burlington, the measure would require any child under the age of 17 to wear a seat belt while riding in the back seat of a vehicle. Current Oklahoma law only requires children under the age of eight and passengers in the front seat to buckle up.

“Oklahoma is the only state in the entire country that doesn’t require seat belts for kids over the age of eight, and it’s no coincidence that vehicle fatalities are the number one cause of death for children eight and older here in Oklahoma,” Pederson said. “The bottom line is, children are being hurt and dying simply because we don’t require them to wear a seat belt.”

AAA reports Oklahoma ranks 50th in the nation in protecting children in car crashes.

Pederson said he decided to run the measure after speaking with Drummond Family, Career and Community Leaders of America members Danica Jordan and Destiny Hudson. Both girls lobbied for stricter seat belt requirements after experiencing firsthand the lifesaving difference a seat belt can make.

“I’m glad Danica and Destiny brought these troubling statistics to my attention,” Pederson said. “We know seat belts save lives, and it’s past time for our children to buckle up. If we want to be a Top 10 state, we need to take action to protect the safety of our children.

The measure now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration. Rep. Ross Ford, R-Broken Arrow, is the House author for the bill.

Osburn introduces civil service reform measure


Civil Service Reform to be Introduced by Rep. Osburn

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Mike Osburn, R-Edmond, has introduced a major modernization of the state’s civil service system.

The civil service system, also known as merit protection, is essentially the state’s human resources model for the state workforce. It has not received any major update since the early 1980s and is widely viewed as outdated and ineffective.

“Every taxpayer should be interested in this issue because the state’s biggest expense is its workforce. We will do far better for Oklahoma’s taxpayers and state employees alike by modernizing this extremely outdated system,” Osburn said. “The effect of this bill in practice will be more profound than almost any other policy we pass. It empowers the state workforce like never before, which will be truly transformational across the entire government.”

Osburn, who held an interim study on the topic last year, has worked with several stakeholders to develop a plan to be introduced in House Bill 3094 that will:

  • place all new hires into unclassified civil service, effective Jan. 1, 2021;
  • allow existing classified employees a choice to transfer to unclassified civil service or remain in the existing classified service until they leave their job; and
  • preserve due process for unclassified employee protests of disciplinary actions – including protections for whistleblowers and appeals of alleged politically-motivated actions – that would be heard before independent administrative law judges.

HB 3094 will be heard Wednesday in the House Government Modernization Committee, which Osburn chairs.

“This bill starts the process to make state government a more attractive employer, set employees up to succeed and keep the protections necessary for a strong civil service,” Osburn said. “It will remove mountains of red tape so managers can actually manage, good employees can be rewarded and prospective employees can pursue state service without byzantine application processes.”

Gov. Kevin Stitt identified civil service modernization as a priority in his State of the State speech.

The current civil service system was put in place in 1982 and has not received any significant updates since then. It is overseen by the Merit Protection Commission, a six-person state agency governed by a nine-member commission.

Osburn served on the Merit Protection Commission from 1996 to 1999.

“Even then, the system was a dinosaur that needed to be modernized. That’s even more true today,” Osburn said. “As a commissioner, it was easy for me to observe both the deficiencies and benefits of the system. The needle we are trying to thread is to throw out the deficiencies while keeping the benefits, and I believe this bill does that.”

Under the bill, the Merit Protection Commission would remain in place until no classified employees remained in state government. The bill assigns administration of the new, unclassified civil service system to the Human Capital Management Administration within the Office of Management and Enterprise Services.

If passed, the bill would allow each agency and managers within the agency to set hiring, promotion, pay and other human resources policies for unclassified employees in a manner that meets the needs and resources of each agency.

The state has more than 30,000 employees across more than 100 agencies. Today, about two thirds are classified employees.

“Two thirds of the state workforce can’t be managed with the current best practices in human resources because the archaic civil service system prevents it,” Osburn said. “It’s time to modernize the system and unleash innovation. Ultimately, this leads to better management, better performance, better pay and a stronger workforce that provides improved value to taxpayers.”

House A&B passes bill to expand apprenticeship opportunities


Bipartisan Bill to Expand Apprenticeship Opportunity Passes A&B

OKLAHOMA CITY – A bipartisan-backed bill to expand employment opportunities for Oklahomans has passed the House Appropriation and Budget Committee with a vote of 27 to 1.

House Bill 3378 -- authored by Rep. Meloyde Blancett (D-Tulsa), Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-OKC) and House A&B Chair Kevin Wallace (R-Wellston) -- would offer employers a $1,000 tax credit per registered apprenticeship position. The plan allows each employer up to 10 apprenticeship credits per year.

“Our economy is strongest when everyone has a skill that can earn a good living - with or without a college degree,” said Dollens. “In 2018, Oklahoma had 99 apprenticeship programs and 1,516 active apprentices across the state. I believe we can grow that number to 300 programs with 2,300 active apprentices by 2022. It’s with this goal in mind that I authored HB3378 which allows Oklahoma business owners to claim an apprenticeship credit for expenses related to apprenticeship training programs.”

In order to qualify for the apprenticeship credit, an apprentice position must be registered with the US Department of Labor and meet the quality standards outlined through the federal government. Each industry has its own standards, which are regulated by the US Department of Labor.

“Over the next ten years, Oklahoma’s economy is projected to grow by 135,000 jobs and more than 70 percent of jobs will require some kind of education or training beyond high school,” Blancett said. “Expanding apprenticeships across the state will help to bridge the skills gap and fill jobs in diverse industries such as information technology, healthcare, energy, aerospace, construction, advanced manufacturing, hospitality, financial services, and more.”

The legislation received a boost in support when Wallace signed on as a coauthor.

“With previous decades of pushing four-year college degrees, combined with the aging out of licensed contractors in electrical, plumbing and mechanical trades, we’ve left a gap in our skilled trades,” Wallace said. “Without new recruitment of apprentices, journeymen and contractors, that gap will continue to grow. This bill gives employers the incentives they need to attract and train these future workers, which ultimately results in more and better-paying jobs for the Oklahoma economy.”

House Bill 3378 is now available to be heard on the House Floor.

Second Amendment Sanctuary movement now has 25 county sheriffs on board

Following new declarations over the weekend, 25 Oklahoma counties now call themselves Second Amendment Sanctuaries.

Logan County Sheriff Damon Devereaux started a movement among county sheriffs in Oklahoma last week when he declared his county to be a Second Amendment Sanctuary County. Since Saturday, four new counties have joined with declarations of their own. I also discovered three county commission boards that passed resolutions supporting their sheriff's sanctuary declaration.

There are at least two other counties where sheriffs have made Sanctuary-sympathetic comments, but I'm waiting until they put pen to paper before adding them to this list.

The following list is in roughly chronological order, with links to each county's official statement.
  1. Logan County SheriffCounty Commissioners
  2. Stephens County Sheriff
  3. Canadian County Sheriff
  4. Haskell County Sheriff, District Attorney
  5. Bryan County Sheriff
  6. Pittsburg County Sheriff, District Attorney
  7. LeFlore County Sheriff
  8. Cimarron County Sheriff
  9. Coal County Sheriff
  10. Cotton County Sheriff, County Commissioners
  11. Kiowa County SheriffCounty Commissioners
  12. Pushmataha County Sheriff
  13. Latimer County Sheriff
  14. Atoka County Sheriff
  15. McCurtain County Sheriff
  16. Major County Sheriff
  17. Johnston County Sheriff
  18. Ottawa County Sheriff
  19. Choctaw County Sheriff
  20. Lincoln County Sheriff
  21. Caddo County Sheriff
  22. Blaine County Sheriff
  23. Creek County Sheriff, County Commissioners 
  24. Carter County Sheriff
  25. Osage County Sheriff

Monday, February 24, 2020

House Committee passes bill requiring issuance of valid state IDs to inmates upon release


Committee Advances Bill Requiring DOC, DPS to Issue Valid State IDs for Inmates Upon Release

OKLAHOMA CITY – The House Public Safety Committee advanced legislation Thursday to require the Dept. of Corrections and Dept. of Public Safety to coordinate to issue valid state identification to inmates upon their release.

House Bill 1310 by Rep. Marilyn Stark (R-Bethany) would create the “Inmate ID Act of 2020.” The act would require the Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections to coordinate with the Dept. of Public Safety to provide REAL ID Noncompliant Identification Cards to all offenders who don’t have a state-issued ID prior to their release.

“The Legislature has taken important steps to aid criminal justice reform, but the changes implemented over the last few years won’t be as effective without focusing on our recidivism rate as well,” Stark said. “A lack of state ID contributes to the struggles our state’s former inmates face upon release. One of the biggest hindrances when a person is released is employment, and they need a state ID to find a job. Without a state ID, they can’t even visit a food bank.”

The Dept. of Corrections would identify inmates expected to leave custody within the next nine months and begin the process of gathering the documentation required to issue a REAL ID Noncompliant Identification Card. The ID cards would be valid for four years from the month of issuance; however, IDs issued to an inmate aged 65 or older would be valid indefinitely from the month of issuance.

The bill also stipulates that if no other form of identification is available, DPS must allow the use of a DOC-issued consolidated record card to serve as a valid identification to obtain a REAL ID Noncompliant Identification Card. Any ID issued through this process would be valid for two years from the month of issuance and would be nonrenewable.

“Inmates can easily lose track of their personal belongings while they’re imprisoned, and sometimes they need a little time after release to track down their birth certificates and other government-issued forms of identification,” Stark said. “However, the state has already identified each person in the system, so a two-year ID would go a long way toward helping an inmate after their release until they can find their original identification documents.”

Under HB1310, if an inmate needing a state-issued ID has been convicted of any offense required to register under the Sex Offenders Registration Act, their ID will be valid for one year from the month of issuance and must be renewed annually during the time they are on the Sex Offender Registry.

Although HB1310 was filed in 2019, Stark held an interim study over state IDs for inmates upon their release in November to learn more about the topic before filing language this session.

HB1310 passed the House Public Safety Committee 13-0. It is now available to be considered on the House floor.

Rep. Marilyn Stark, a Republican, serves District 100 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Her district includes portions of Bethany, Oklahoma City and Warr Acres.

Music Monday: "Nimrod" from Elgar's Enigma Variations

This week's Music Monday is Variation IX (Adagio) "Nimrod" , from Sir Edward Elgar's Variations on an Original Theme, Op. 36 (aka, the Enigma Variations). Jonathan Scott performs this solo organ arrangement on the largest pipe organ in Asia, at the WeiWuYing - National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts in Taiwan.


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.

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

Saturday, February 22, 2020

State Question to modernize Oklahoma’s Constitution advances from Senate committee


Senate committee passes state question proposal to modernize Oklahoma’s state constitution

The Oklahoma Constitution is well overdue for an upgrade. That’s according to State Sen. Joe Newhouse, R-Broken Arrow, who authored Senate Joint Resolution 31, which would give power to the people to decide if the state should call a Constitutional Convention to propose alterations, revisions and amendments to the document. Although it has been amended over the years through state questions, the constitution has not undergone a comprehensive review since it was first drawn in 1906.

The proposal passed the Senate Rules Committee unanimously on Wednesday.

“We have one of the longest state constitutions in the nation, and it’s filled with archaic topics and concerns that are no longer relevant in today’s world,” Newhouse said. “The document references communication via telegram, spells out the flash point and gravity of kerosene, and even elaborates against railroad monopolies. At one point in history those were important issues, but I think it’s safe to say our state has changed with the times and our constitution hasn’t.”

The Oklahoma Constitution requires a vote of the people every 20 years to decide if it should be revised, amended or re-written, which is evidence the original drafters knew updates would be necessary, Newhouse said.

Contrary to the law, it’s been 50 years since legislators proposed a state question to give voters a voice in the matter.

Although Newhouse acknowledges revisiting a document of such importance can be an overwhelming decision for voters, he said organizing a bi-partisan working group to analyze the document prior to the vote and recommend changes that make sense for all Oklahomans could make the decision easier.

“Oklahoma is transforming to become a Top 10 state,” Newhouse said. “Modernizing our constitution, removing antiquated language and allowing our government to become more efficient for our citizens is vital to ensure our state is successful for years to come. Now is the time to make our state constitution work for us.”

SJR 31 will now go before the full Senate for a vote.

Stitt announces new appointments to OU and OSU/A&M Board of Regents


GOVERNOR STITT ANNOUNCES NEW APPOINTMENTS TO OU AND OSU/A&M BOARD OF REGENTS

Oklahoma City, Okla. (February 21, 2020)— Governor Kevin Stitt announced today the appointment of Anita L. Holloway to the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents and Jimmy D. Harrel to the Board of Regents for the Oklahoma Agriculture and Mechanical Colleges. Both positions require Senate confirmation.

“I am thrilled to appoint two strong leaders and proud Oklahomans to the OU and OSU A&M Board of Regents,” said Gov. Stitt. “Anita is an accomplished accountant and business leader who will bring her professional expertise and passion for OU to the table to support the university’s vision. Jimmy is a successful businessman, agriculture leader and OSU alum who will bring his wealth of experience and commitment to Oklahoma’s students to support the OSU A&M Board of Regents. I have full faith they will serve our universities and state well as we continue to move the needle toward becoming a Top Ten state. 

Anita L. Holloway is filling the seat of Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes, whose term ends March 21, 2020. Holloway will serve a seven year term beginning March 22, 2020 and expiring March 21, 2027.

“Nothing can change a person’s life more than the opportunities and life experiences gained through education,” said Holloway. “I am very much looking forward to working with the Board of Regents and the entire University of Oklahoma family to achieve excellence within the University of Oklahoma educational system, and I want to thank Governor Stitt for the opportunity to serve the University.”

Anita Holloway is the Office Managing Partner of Ernst & Young LLP’s Tulsa office. A native of Stuart, Oklahoma, Holloway has spent the majority of her twenty-seven year career in public accounting in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, working with many of Oklahoma’s largest companies.

Holloway graduated from East Central University in Ada, Oklahoma in December 1992, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting with highest academic achievement and honors and a math minor. She has been a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the State of Oklahoma since May 1993 and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Oklahoma Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Holloway is a strong supporter of the University of Oklahoma. She has served as a member of both the University of Oklahoma Price College of Business Board of Advisors and the OU Energy Institute Board of Advisors. A 2015 inductee into the University of Oklahoma Arthur B. Adams Society, Holloway frequently serves as a guest lecturer for the business school. She has also established accounting and law scholarships through the University of Oklahoma Foundation and is a football and men’s basketball season ticket holder.

“Governor Stitt’s appointment of Anita Holloway to the OU Board of Regents serves the University well into the future. She is a valued and generous supporter of OU and our mission, having served in a variety of advisory roles. She is also an esteemed Oklahoman who prioritizes our state’s interests, and her service to our flagship university will be critical during this pivotal time. We will benefit greatly from her leadership and counsel. I look forward to working with her to advance our important work.” – OU Interim President Joseph Harroz Jr.

“Governor Stitt has made another great decision by appointing Anita Holloway to the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents.  Anita’s financial acumen and calm board room presence assisted Williams through some of its most complex and challenging transactions, and those skills, combined with her love of the University, will be a great asset to the University, the Board of Regents, and our State.” –Alan Armstrong, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Williams Companies, Inc.

“I was thrilled to learn of Governor Stitt’s appointment of Anita Holloway to the OU Board of Regents.  Anita is an accomplished financial professional, having advised many of the largest companies in our state.  She is passionate about the University of Oklahoma and helping new college graduates successfully begin their professional careers.  Serving with her on the OU Energy Institute Board and the Price College of Business Board of Advisors has been a pleasure, and I am excited to see Anita lend her skills in service to the University as a Regent.” – Brian L. Cantrell, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Alliance Resource Partners, LP

Jimmy D. Harrel is filling the seat of Lou Watkins, whose term ends April 4, 2020. Harrel will serve an eight year term beginning April 5, 2020 and expiring April 4, 2028. 

“I am very excited and humbled that Governor Stitt would ask me to serve on the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents,” said Jimmy Harrel. “I look forward to working with the Governor and the A&M Regents to improve higher education and make sure students are ready for their careers. I, along with many of my immediate family members, now my grandson, attended Oklahoma State and it holds a dear place in my heart.”

Jimmy D. Harrel is a rancher, farmer and banker. In 1985, he became an owner of the Bank of Western Oklahoma in Elk City, Oklahoma, and developed it into one of the premium agriculture lending banks in the state. The Bank of Western Oklahoma is now located in Weatherford, Woodward, Vici, Cordell, Elk City, and Geary, Oklahoma. Prior to this, Harrel served as high school principal, vocational agriculture instructor and basketball coach at Taloga Public Schools.

A native of Leedey, Oklahoma, Harrel earned a bachelor's degree in animal science and vocational agriculture education from Oklahoma State University. He has served on a number of boards and committees, including serving as a former member of the State Board of Agriculture, Board of Regents for A&M Colleges, Board of Regents of Higher Education, and the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission. Harrel is an active member of the OSU Alumni association and was inducted into the Oklahoma Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2019.

Harrel has been instrumental in promoting youth and agriculture across Oklahoma and has worked with Governors of Oklahoma and Secretary of Education to keep vocational agriculture a vital part of the public school curriculum.

 “Jimmy Harrel is a fixture of banking, farming and ranching in Oklahoma, and a loyal and true supporter of Oklahoma State University. He’s an ardent supporter of both higher education and common education. I know he will do a great job as a regent for OSU, and I congratulate him on this appointment.” – Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City

“Jimmy Harrel has been a driving force in Oklahoma agriculture, finance and beyond for his whole life. Bringing his experience, skill, and charisma back to his alma mater is a major victory for Oklahoma State University and the entire state. I know Jimmy will thrive in this role and commend Governor Stitt for an excellent selection in this very important position for our state.” – House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka

“A rancher and Ag lender from Western Oklahoma, Mr. Jimmy Harrel, will bring a wealth of agriculture knowledge to the OSU A&M Board of Regents.  An OSU Regent with a strong agricultural background and rural perspective is incredibly beneficial to agriculture producers across the state. I look forward to working with Governor Stitt, Mr. Harrel and the OSU Regents as we advance agriculture and higher education in Oklahoma.” –Oklahoma Secretary of Agriculture Blayne Arthur

Caddo County Sheriff declares 2A Sanctuary, bringing statewide total to 21 counties

More news on the Second Amendment Sanctuary front: Caddo County's sheriff has become the 21st to join the growing movement.
Logan County Sheriff Damon Devereaux started a movement among county sheriffs in Oklahoma last week when he declared his county to be a Second Amendment Sanctuary County. This has been a rapidly developing news story, as new counties are added with each passing day.

Yesterday, Caddo County Sheriff Spencer Davis posted his declaration of intent to establish his county as a Second Amendment Sanctuary County, bringing the statewide total up to 21.
The current list is as follows, in roughly chronological order, with links to their statements:
  1. Logan County
  2. Stephens County
  3. Canadian County
  4. Haskell County
  5. Bryan County
  6. Pittsburg County
  7. LeFlore County
  8. Cimarron County
  9. Coal County
  10. Cotton County
  11. Kiowa County
  12. Pushmataha County
  13. Latimer County
  14. Atoka County
  15. McCurtain County
  16. Major County
  17. Johnston County
  18. Ottawa County
  19. Choctaw County
  20. Lincoln County
  21. Caddo County

Friday, February 21, 2020

1889 Institute: OK's Secretive Process of Selecting Judges Needs Sunshine


Oklahoma's Secretive Process of Selecting Judges Needs Sunshine
By Benjamin Lepak

Oklahoma has an unnecessarily secretive judicial appointment process. Consequently, it is subject to capture by special interests, and the public has no meaningful way to scrutinize it.

It does not have to be this way. Other states are vastly more transparent, and operate with consistent rules and public accountability.

When a judicial vacancy arises in Oklahoma, the Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) gets the first veto over candidates, narrowing the pool to a list of three. The governor is required to appoint from that list, giving the JNC considerable power over the process, as the governor’s hands are tied if the JNC sends him candidates he dislikes.

Lawyers enjoy disproportionate influence in this process. Forty percent of the JNC’s members must be members of the Oklahoma Bar Association (OBA), even though lawyers make up less than one percent of Oklahoma’s population. This is troubling, since the OBA exists to advance its members’ interests, and its membership is made up of lawyers who regularly appear in front of the judges the JNC selects. It is unsurprising, then, that the Oklahoma Supreme Court regularly legislates from the bench, often favorably to the financial interests of trial lawyers.

The conflict of interest presented by the lawyer dominated process is made worse by the JNC’s closed process. The JNC does not put its votes on the record where the public can see.

Oklahoma law provides virtually no rules of operation for the JNC. If the JNC follows any written rules at all, they are not public. It is not even required by law to actually interview anyone.

What’s more, unlike every town council and rural school board in the state, the JNC does not adhere to the Open Meetings Act, despite being wholly supported by public funds and not specifically exempted from the Act. We have no idea what is discussed among JNC members, questions asked of candidates, or of outside lobbying of members.

This is no way to appoint one of the three branches of our state government.

Nearly all other state nominating commissions have written rules and require advance public notice of meetings. Other states also invite public comment on the candidates.

Even better, a majority of state nominating commissions hold open public meetings. For many, this includes candidate interviews. Several states stream the proceedings of their nominating commissions online.

Others interview candidates or deliberate in closed session, but do everything else in public. Perhaps the JNC should be allowed to deliberate privately so members can speak candidly without harming candidates’ reputations, but should the entire proceeding be secret?

Appointments to Oklahoma appellate courts have effectively become lifetime appointments. Candidate privacy does not outweigh the public's interest in ensuring the process is above board.

Some sunshine for Oklahoma's judicial selection process is in order.

Benjamin Lepak is Legal Fellow at 1889 Institute. He can be reached at blepak@1889institute.org.

Small: Stitt's rapid about-face on Medicaid expansion


A rapid about-face
By Jonathan Small

In the past decade, Republican governors in several states, eager for Obamacare federal dollars but aware their constituents opposed Obamacare, adopted “modified” versions of Medicaid expansion that included very minimal work requirements or premiums.

Almost all subsequently trashed those “conservative” reforms, usually after left-wing groups threatened to sue.

The same pattern can now be seen in Oklahoma, but at a much faster pace. Reportedly at the urging of Vice President Mike Pence and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, Gov. Kevin Stitt told lawmakers Feb. 3 that he wanted Oklahoma to expand Medicaid through a federal waiver that would allow “moderate premiums and work requirements” for the estimated 628,000 able-bodied adults added to the welfare program, similar to Pence’s expansion of Medicaid in Indiana.

But by Feb. 16, Oklahoma Watch reported that Stitt’s deputy secretary of health said the state would actually expand Medicaid on July 1 with no work requirements or cost-sharing provisions. “After that, he said, the state plans to apply for a federal waiver that would incorporate many of the ideas in Stitt’s SoonerCare 2.0 plan,” Oklahoma Watch reported.

Thus, proposed “conservative” Obamacare/Medicaid expansion was abandoned in near-record time in Oklahoma—about three weeks. Sadly, the rapid abandonment of promises made to Oklahoma voters is what too often passes for government efficiency in Oklahoma.

These events prove Oklahoma’s Medicaid-expansion effort has never been about improving health outcomes or fiscal prudence. Instead, state politicians and special-interest groups cared only about getting federal money.

In the weeks ahead, we will witness lawmakers tap dance around another major Obamacare issue: Embracing Medicaid expansion means Oklahoma must come up with as much as $374 million annually to pay for it at a time the state already faces a shortfall of $85 million. Among the funding idea is, no surprise, a de facto tax increase: a hospital “fee.” The Democratic leader of the Senate had the candor to note that fee (which is being touted by Republicans) will drive up the costs of premiums for Oklahomans. Her GOP counterparts change the topic when that fact comes up.

The results of an Oklahoma embrace of Obamacare are obvious. Taxes will go up and so will health care costs. But health outcomes will remain unchanged, as can be seen by the experience of other states that expanded Medicaid like Colorado, Indiana and Arkansas. Indiana had to spike a teacher pay raise last year due to rising Medicaid costs, and citizens in those states now face higher medical bills, as even left-wing organizations concede in Colorado.

Oklahoma Republicans say they must offer an “alternative” to a Medicaid expansion plan scheduled for a public vote this year, but so far their alternative is almost a carbon copy of the ballot measure. A true alternative would involve rejecting Obamacare and focusing on real solutions, not me-tooism.

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

Lowe's repeal of Constitutional Carry fails 1 to 11 in committee vote


State Rep. Jason Lowe (D-OKC) has been the leading figure in efforts to repeal Constitutional Carry. Back in August, Rep. Lowe filed an initiative petition to put a repeal on the statewide ballot. That drive fell far short of the requisite number of signatures.

Lowe filed a bill (HB 3357) this session to repeal the Constitutional Carry law. HB 3357 received a hearing in the House Public Safety Committee yesterday. It was shot down in a bipartisan vote, with 11 opposed and just one in favor.

Another initiative petition has been filed by Lowe and his anti-gun allies. If it receives enough signatures (about 90,000), it would become State Question 809.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Lincoln County becomes 20th Second Amendment Sanctuary County


Logan County Sheriff Damon Devereaux started a movement among county sheriffs in Oklahoma last week when he declared his county to be a Second Amendment Sanctuary County. This has been a rapidly developing news story, as new counties are added with each passing day.

Yesterday, Lincoln County Sheriff Charlie Dougherty posted his declaration of intent to establish his county as a Second Amendment Sanctuary County, bringing the statewide total up to 20.

The current list is as follows, in roughly chronological order, with links to their statements:
  1. Logan County
  2. Stephens County
  3. Canadian County
  4. Haskell County
  5. Bryan County
  6. Pittsburg County
  7. LeFlore County
  8. Cimarron County
  9. Coal County
  10. Cotton County
  11. Kiowa County
  12. Pushmataha County
  13. Latimer County
  14. Atoka County
  15. McCurtain County
  16. Major County
  17. Johnston County
  18. Ottawa County
  19. Choctaw County
  20. Lincoln County

Edmond First Baptist Pastor: give SB13 a fair hearing


Pastor Blake Gideon of Edmond First Baptist Church released a public statement yesterday, calling on the Oklahoma Legislature to give a hearing to "all bills with the intent of ending abortion", including Senate Bill 13, the Abolition of Abortion in Oklahoma Act.


A month ago today, Pastor Gideon delivered a strong message on the sanctity of human life, including this statement: "I'm tired of incrementalism... I'm tired of kicking the ball down the field... it's time that we end the game! It's the fourth quarter, ten seconds left on the clock, we're in the redzone, we're down by one, it's time to punch the ball the ball across the goal line and end abortion in the state of Oklahoma!"


Gideon is the President of the Oklahoma Baptists (formerly called the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma), but is speaking personally and in his role as EFBC Pastor. A BGCO statement would be from Executive Director Dr. Hance Dilbeck.

WATCH: Silk deftly handles criticism of abortion abolition bill in TV interview


Last week, State Sen. Joseph Silk (R-Broken Bow) went on Oklahoma City's KOCO news for an interview about his Senate Bill 13, the Abolition of Abortion in Oklahoma Act. During the segment he answered viewer questions about the measure, handling the queries in a calm, compassionate and collected manner.

Watch below:


SB13 is still awaiting a hearing in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee.

Bice promoted to NRCC Young Guns "Contender" status


Stephanie Bice Advances to Next Round of NRCC Young Guns Program

OKLAHOMA CITY (February 19, 2020)  - Stephanie Bice, conservative Republican candidate for Congress in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, has advanced to 2020 NRCC Young Guns Contender, the second tier of the 2020 Young Guns program.

Bice, the only Oklahoma candidate promoted to Contender, was named an “On the Radar” Candidate in August during the first round of the NRCC Young Guns program.

“I’m grateful that the NRCC has recognized the hard work of the Bice for Congress team,” Bice said. “We’re on the ground in the district everyday listening to voters, building a grassroots army and doing everything we can to return the fifth district to Oklahoma Republicans.” 

Throughout the campaign, Bice has met the stringent benchmarks set forth by the NRCC. In the fourth quarter, Bice raised more than $290,000. Since entering the race in May 2019, she has raised more than $643,000. The campaign had 2,500 individual contributors in the fourth quarter, and to date, over 4,400 individuals have donated to the campaign.

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said the NRCC Contenders candidates have proven their ability to run strong, competitive campaign operations.

 “We’re going to ensure these contenders are victorious in November by forcing their Democratic opponents to own their party’s radical socialist agenda,” McCarthy said.

Earlier this month, Bice was endorsed by Rep. Elise Stefanik and named a “Rising Star” by E-PAC, Stefanik’s Leadership PAC dedicated to electing more Republican women to Congress.

The NRCC’s Young Guns program requires candidates to work toward specific goals and meet benchmarks throughout the election cycle to ensure their campaigns remain competitive, well-funded and communicative within their districts.

Bice is a life-long resident of Oklahoma’s Fifth Congressional District and has a proven track record of supporting Oklahoma’s conservative ideals with her votes as an Oklahoma State Senator.

Blogger's note: fellow 5th District candidate Terry Neese is also in the NRCC Young Guns program, but as of publication is on the lower "On the Radar" level. 

"On the Radar candidates are individuals running in competitive congressional seats.  They have met the minimum threshold in campaign organization and show potential to achieve greater status in the program as the cycle progresses. Contender is the second level of the Young Guns program. Contender candidates have completed stringent program metrics and are on the path to developing a mature and competitive campaign operation.  They are in congressional seats that appear favorable to the GOP candidate." (taken from the NRCC Young Guns website)