The leaders of the associations representing school administrators and suburban school districts offered comments regarding the recent passage of HB 1749 by the State Senate.
HB 1749, if signed into law, would prohibit public schools from offering voluntary payroll deductions to Oklahoma teachers to pay for membership dues in their professional associations.
“HB 1749 is a solution desperately seeking a problem. We agree with Senator Shortey that HB 1749 is ‘a poke in the eye’ of Oklahoma’s public school teachers. HB 1749 represents government overreach into the private and constitutionally protected decisions of public school teachers to affiliate with a professional association. HB 1749 is unnecessary in Oklahoma because we are a right to work state, and while certain groups may organize to represent the interests of their members, Oklahoma employers are never subject to the threat of strikes or organized walkouts.”
“Oklahoma teachers are hard-working, dedicated public servants who deserve our respect and support. HB 1749 is likely unconstitutional and, if signed into law, could expose our state to lawsuits that waste limited taxpayer resources. We ask that Governor Fallin veto HB 1749 and continue to work with parents and educators to address the real problems impacting student achievement; such as having a quality teacher for every student and realizing common sense testing for all students.”
State Chair of the OK GOP, Dave Weston, talks about GOP successes and touts new members who are “fresh blood” into the party.
He talks about the political changes in “Little Dixie” and how the Democratic Party has basically left many voters in S.E. OK.
He also talks about being competitive with Texas and Kansas vis-a-vis personal tax rates.Weston also talks about plans for the party in the near-term, and about his campaign for being reelected as chairman.
Legislation aimed at eliminating payroll deductions for state teachers passed in the Senate today by a vote of 28-16, essentially blocking educators from paying their dues to the organizations that collectively bargains on their behalf directly out of their paychecks. Senator Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City, voted no on HB 1749, calling the measure unfair to teachers.
“I’m disappointed that my party supported HB 1749, as it sends a disparaging message to our state educators,” said Shortey. “Oklahoma is facing a $600 million budget hole and teachers are likely to going to be asked to go yet another year or more without raises or adjustments. I refuse to support legislation that puts yet another hurdle in place for them to jump. They have one of the most challenging jobs in the world and to deny only their group the right to pay for their membership in the organization that is looking out for their best interests is just unacceptable.”
The bill does not exclude collective bargaining, but would prohibit teachers from choosing to have their union dues deducted directly from their paychecks. Other public employees like police and firefighters would not be affected by this legislation.
“If this bill ended all state payroll deductions, that would be have been a much more logical approach,” said Shortey. “However, as it stands now, HB 179 targets only teachers and basically punishes them for choosing to pay dues to the organization that benefits their professional interests. If we’re not going to eliminate similar payroll deduction options for other groups that participate in similar collective bargaining organizations, then we shouldn’t be blocking teachers from choosing to spend their hard-earned money as they see fit.”
Shortey says it’s not the state’s place to stipulate how a teacher chooses to spend their money, and as state lawmakers, it is unacceptable to treat one organization like teachers differently than any other.
“As I’ve said previously, I’d much rather put my arm around a teacher and tell them they’re doing a great job instead of poking them in the eye with more restrictions on how they choose to spend their salary,” said Shortey.
Cleveland County Commissioner Harold Haralson said today he will vote against ACCO dues until the commissioner’s organization complies with the state’s Open Records Act.
“I intend to vote against renewal of payment of dues from Cleveland County to ACCO (Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma) until the organization changes its policy and bylaws to one of compliance with the open meetings and open records requirements of the State of Oklahoma.,” Haralson said in a statement to The McCarville Report.
“I urge Commissioners in other Counties throughout the State of Oklahoma to make the same commitment.”
Commissioner District 3
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s Oil and Gas Conservation Division (OGCD) has issued new directives to disposal well operators in Oklahoma as part of the continuing evolution of the agency’s induced seismicity “traffic light” system.
Under the new directives, disposal well operators in “Areas Of Interest” that inject into the Arbuckle formation (the state’s deepest formation) have until April 18, 2015, to prove to the OGCD that the disposal well is not disposing below the Arbuckle formation. There is broad agreement among seismologists that disposal below the Arbuckle poses a potential risk of causing earthquakes, as it puts the well in communication with the solid “basement” rock.
Operators who do not show that the well is not disposing below the Arbuckle and who do not have an approved plugging plan will be required to reduce their disposal volume by 50 percent.
The directive applies to 347 of the approximately 900 Arbuckle disposal wells in Oklahoma.
At the same time, the definition of “Area Of Interest” (AOI) is evolving to include “seismic swarms.”
“Swarm” is defined as an area consisting of at least two events with epicenters within .25 miles of one another, with at least one event with a magnitude 3.0 or higher.
b. “Area Of Interest” is a ten kilometer area (approximately six miles) with the central mass of the swarm serving as the area center.
Previously, a ten kilometer circle around a 4.0 magnitude earthquake constituted an AOI. The change will more than double the number of disposal wells within an area of interest.
The “traffic light” system was first put in place in 2013 in response to the concerns over the possibility of earthquake activity being caused by oil and gas wastewater disposal wells in Oklahoma. It has been in a state of constant evolution since then, as new data becomes available.
Other elements of the traffic light system include:
The “yellow light” permitting program that requires seismicity review for any proposed disposal well and requires special permitting based on seismicity concerns for any well:
§ proposed within three miles of a stressed fault, even in the absence of seismicity
§ proposed within ten kilometers of an earthquake “swarm” or magnitude 4.0 event
Rules increasing from monthly to daily the required recording of well pressure and volume from all Arbuckle wells in the state
Rules requiring Mechanical Integrity Tests for wells disposing of volumes of 20,000 barrels a day or more have increased from once every five years to every year, or more often if so directed by the Commission
Full review of disposal well operations in an Area of Interest
None of these elements should in any way be viewed as a final step. The traffic light system will continue to
The Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women will hold its biennial Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony Thursday, April 9, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Oklahoma History Center, 800 Nazih Zuhdi Dr.
Admission to the event is free and open to the public.
The Women’s Hall of Fame, established by Governor George Nigh in 1982, recognizes women who have made a significant contribution to Oklahoma, serve or have served as role models to other Oklahoma women, have championed women’s issues, or have served as public policy advocates for issues important to women.
This year’s honorees are:
La Donna Harris, Native American leader;
Mary Mélon, president and chief executive officer of The Foundation for Oklahoma City Public Schools and former publisher of The Journal Record newspaper;
Dr. Marion Paden, vice president for enrollment and student services at Oklahoma City Community College;
Thelma Parks, civil rights, education and community leader;
Dr. Ramona Paul (posthumous), education leader;
Patty Roloff, former Oklahoma City 89ers baseball club owner;
Three members of the congressional delegation issued statements following approval of the U. S. House budget plan.
Here are their statements:
Congressman Steve Russell (OK-5) joined with 228 members to pass the House budget. As written, this budget cuts $5.5 trillion in spending and would balance within 10 years, as opposed to President Obama’s proposed budget that never balances. Even with these cuts, the budget would provide our military with the resources needed to protect and defend our nation, honor the service of our veterans by providing sufficient benefits, while simplifying the tax code and repealing Obamacare in full. Congressman Russell released the following statement:
“One of the most important aspects of the national budget is to make sure our military is fully funded and operational. This budget provides improved funding for our Armed Forces, and thus better reflects the commitment we should have to our men and women in uniform. Also, through a process called budget reconciliation, this is a huge first step in delivering a full repeal of Obamacare to the President’s desk.”
Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) today voted for the U.S. House of Representatives plan to balance the federal budget in less than 10 years. The bill includes no tax increases and a provision to completely repeal Obamacare, setting the stage for patient-centered health care reforms.
“Prosperity for our children’s future means ensuring that they are not saddled with today’s debt,” said Mullin. “I am proud to support this responsible, good-government budget that prioritizes the future of America. Even more, it removes one of the greatest government overreaches in history, what we all know as Obamacare.”
The House plan also calls for reforms that would create a simpler, flatter tax code and provide more transparency and accountability within the federal regulatory system. Mullin, a second-term lawmaker from Westville, Okla., has been strongly supportive of such initiatives.
“As a business owner, I have seen how misguided laws and heavy-handed regulations are hurting jobs,” said Mullin. “What’s worse is that small businesses are being crippled in compliance costs from a ridiculously complex and unfair tax system. The ultimate price is decreased job growth across the country. The Obama administration must be held accountable for these heavy weighted burdens and overreaches.”
The House budget comes only weeks after the White House financial plan, which never reaches a balance and calls for roughly $1 trillion in tax increases. Mullin has firmly opposed the president’s plan, calling it irresponsible and out of touch with the priorities of Oklahomans.
“I was disappointed, but not surprised, when the president offered a budget that never balances and raises $1 trillion in new taxes,” said Mullin. “It is beyond time for the president to listen to the real concerns of Oklahomans and come to the negotiating table on getting our country’s fiscal house in order. Americans do not want more taxes or government mandates. They want a responsible budget that sets our country on the right path.”
Mullin also voted this week for an alternative conservative budget that achieved balance in six years.
Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H. Con. Res. 27, to establish the federal government’s budget for fiscal year 2016. The House proposal recommended by Republicans would balance the budget in less than 10 years, cut spending by $5.5 trillion, provide funding to maintain a strong national defense, repeal Obamacare, reform both the tax code and entitlements—like Medicare and Medicaid—and present real solutions to grow the economy.
“For the fifth consecutive year, I am pleased that House Republicans have passed a responsible budget that offers real solutions for changing the trajectory of our debt,” said Cole. “As it has in previous years, the House proposal actually achieves a balanced budget, unlike the president’s budget that raises taxes and still never balances. By making the necessary yet difficult decisions today, the House plan again reaffirms our commitment to protecting American prosperity and opportunity for future generations.
“As I have said quite often since both chambers unveiled their budgets last week, it is important to realize that these blueprints, including the one passed today, represent the starting positions for negotiating something we can all agree on. Just as we worked out the differences in our initial starting position through committee mark-up last week and this week during floor consideration in our own chamber, finding the same common ground is still required in the days ahead, especially as we face reconciliation with the Senate’s opening position,” concluded Cole.
To read a transcript and watch Congressman Cole’s remarks on the House floor during consideration of the rule for H. Con. Res. 27, click here.
A group of lawmakers in the House of Representatives have issued a statement today after the recent termination of General Counsel Clay Bruner by the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma (ACCO).
The ACCO is currently under investigation by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) and the state Auditor’s Office following allegations of fund misappropriation.
Reps. Bobby Cleveland (R-Slaughterville), Lewis Moore (R-Edmond), Jason Murphey (R-Edmond), Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City), Travis Dunlap (R-Bartlesville) and Dan Fisher (R-El Reno) released the following statement:
“The action taken by ACCO to terminate Clay Bruner is both shocking and outrageous. Mr. Bruner blew the whistle on what he believed to be wrongdoing and the wasteful spending of public money. This has led to investigations by the State Auditor and Inspector and the Oklahoma County District Attorney.
“The public deserves to know how its funds are being spent. Transparency – not secrecy – should be the foreword of every entity transacting the public’s business. As legislators, we are offended by ACCO’s action to hire an attorney to write a twenty-page letter to the state Attorney General arguing against openness in government. The public’s trust in government has been badly eroded and actions firing those who have enough courage to speak out against wrongdoing further damages public confidence.
“ACCO’s precipitous and retaliatory action in terminating Mr. Bruner cannot be condoned.”