Rep. Jason Murphey
Last week I described the abuse by which various area government entities have been designing construction specifications so as to limit competition and award a specific vendor. This drives up the cost to you the taxpayer. You may read that article at HD31.org/554.
Senator Clark Jolley and I sponsored Senate Bill 630 in an attempt to slow or end this abuse. You will be happy to know that the bill rapidly advanced through the Legislature and was signed by Governor Fallin on May 7th. Jolley and I had to win at least three votes in committee, two votes on the floor of the Senate and one vote on the floor of the House to pass the bill. Remarkably, I can only recall one vote against the bill throughout this entire process.
This should have been the end of the story. After all, the bill was signed by the Governor and only one person in the entire legislature voted against the bill.
But something was wrong. Passing this bill was much too easy. The ease with which the bill passed almost made me second guess the need for the bill. Surely all of those who are making money off this terrible practice should have desperately fought us at every turn. Why was it so easy?
I would soon find out.
Apparently the lobbyists and the special interests who were making money off this practice and their lobbyists had fallen asleep at the switch and had completely missed the bill. This is a testament to the fact that Jolley and I had not issued any showy press release or launched a PR campaign to pass the bill. We had done nothing to unnecessarily bring attention to our effort.
Not long after the Governor signed the bill the special interests realized what had happened. They immediately responded by asking their high powered lobbyists to pass another bill to undo our bill and restore their ability to write the tight specifications which eliminate competition and drive up prices.
Fortunately, there were only a few days left in the legislative session. And, since new bills must be filed at the start of the session they couldn’t simply file a new bill. They had to find a way to take over/co-opt an already existing bill. Worse still, they couldn’t take over just any bill. They had to find a bill which shared the same subject matter as their proposal. Also problematic, by that late in the year the number of bills which are still alive and viable has greatly dwindled. Even worse, it was going to be extremely hard for them to explain and justify what they were trying to do. What kind of legislator would want to allow this type of corrupt, parasitic proposal into his bill?
At first the lobbyists experienced no success. Legislators simply weren’t willing to give up a bill to them. Watching legislators hold strong against this onslaught reminded me of why I have a generally optimistic outlook about the integrity of many of Oklahoma’s currently elected state officials.
Then, with just five days left in the session, things changed. The Moore tornado struck. Unbelievably, as the disaster workers were still combing through the ruins, they floated the story that their proposal was necessary to help with the Moore tornado recovery. This has of course turned out to not be true and has to be the single most unscrupulous and disgusting technique I have ever witnessed in an attempt to pass legislation. It wouldn’t be their last unscrupulous strategy however and next week I will tell you the final chapter of this story.
The Oklahoma Policy Institute has added three new staff members:
Carly Putnam is a full-time policy analyst. A recent graduate of the University of Tulsa with a BA in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies, she joined OK Policy as an intern in the summer of 2013. She will assume full-time responsibilities in January. A native of Kansas City, Carly is a graduate of the National Education of Women (NEW) Leadership Institute, worked as an editor for the TU campus newspaper, tutored students at Will Rogers High School, and interned with Planned Parenthood. Her work at OK Policy will focus on healthcare, poverty, inequality, and race and gender. Carly replaces Tiece Dempsey, who left us this fall to serve as law clerk for Judge Vicki Miles-Lagrange. Contact Carly.
Kara Joy McKee
Outreach work will be shared by Kara Joy McKee, who will have the title of Outreach Specialist, and Damario Solomon-Simmons, who will be our Legislative Liaison. Kara Joy grew up in Central Oklahoma and moved to Tulsa last year. She is an OU graduate and has been active for years with the Oklahoma Food Cooperative, Oklahoma Sustainability Network, and other community projects. She currently serves as part-time Executive Director of Kendall Whittier Inc., a non-profit that works to improve the quality of life of residents in Tulsa’s Kendall-Whittier neighborhood. Contact Kara Joy.
Damario is a Tulsa native who received both his undergraduate and law degrees at OU, where he was a football letterman and the first African-American to be recognized as Most Outstanding Law Graduate. He is an attorney and lobbyist in practice practice, adjunct faculty member at OU, acclaimed motivational speaker, and diversity consultant to major private sector companies. Contact Damario
Both Kara Joy, who is joining Oklahoma Policy Institute as a half-time employee, and Damario, who will be working on a contract basis, have terrific outreach skills and experience. They will work to strengthen and mobilize our network of advocates across the state through the Together Oklahoma coalition and through direct work with policymakers and community leaders. They replace our former outreach team of Megan Benn and Cindy Cason.
At the same time, OK Policy is reorganizing the duties and job titles of our current staff:
- Gene Perry will be the Policy Director for the organization. Gene has been a policy analyst since joining OK Policy in 2011. As policy director, Gene will supervise policy staff and help with developing and implementing our policy goals, as well as maintaining responsibility for education, criminal justice, and budget and tax issues.
- Kate Richey will assume the position of Project Coordinator for the Oklahoma Assets Network, a statewide coalition that promotes proven tools to help all Oklahomans save and invest for the future. Since joining OK Policy in 2011, Kate has been a policy analyst and has led the Oklahoma Assets Network since 2012.
- David Blatt, who has been OK Policy’s director since 2010, assumes the title of Executive Director.
Our Office Manager, Shiloh Kantz, continues in that position.
With the new hires and job responsibilities, OK Policy continues to grow our capacity to produce credible, data-driven policy information and help build the case for policies that ensure fair and adequate funding of public services and expansion of economic opportunity.
For full information on our staff, visit the staff page.
Dec 18 2013 | Posted in General
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~ Joe Dorman as gubernatorial candidate: In a matchup with Fallin, could he get 30 percent?
~ Year of decision: 2014 likely will see a decision by Senator Tom Coburn. No, not whether he’ll seek reelection (he won’t) but whether he’ll serve out his current term. (What are the odds?)
~ Top political stories of 2013. We’ve asked some of the state’s leading political lights for their nominations. Story coming up soon.
~ Nomination for fastest commentator on anything: Insurance Commissioner John Doak.
~ Most bizarre: Ed Shadid’s campaign for mayor of Oklahoma City. Is there no sin to which he won’t confess?
Dec 18 2013 | Posted in General
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Dave Bond, CEO of OCPA Impact, Inc., released the following statement today after the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s decision to declare unconstitutional an income tax rate reduction passed and signed into law in May by state policymakers:
“While many are frustrated by this court decision, it does present an opportunity to even further reduce Oklahoma’s penalty on work, our state’s personal income tax. Oklahoma’s income tax puts an unnecessary burden on families and job-creators who live and work in our state.
“For two years in a row, the state of Kansas has reduced its tax rate below Oklahoma’s, while at the same time zeroing-out income tax on small-businss profits and increasing funding for Kansas public schools. This has placed Oklahoma uncomfortably in an income-tax sandwich between our neighbors to the north and south. And Texas, a state with no income tax, has responded to tax competition from other states by reducing its tax burden on employers
“Oklahoma’s positive economic growth experience with income tax rate cuts since 2005 has been a significant factor in our state’s current renaissance. And, in the recently ended fiscal year, Oklahoma saw the largest total tax collections in state history. But we still penalize work and job-creation more than many of our fellow states
“Now, Oklahoma policymakers in the executive and legislative branches have been given a chance to make our state even more competitive in the global race for jobs and economic opportunity.”
Reps. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City, and Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow, issued the following statements today after the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional House Bill 2032, which improperly logrolled funding for Capitol repairs with a very desirable tax cut:
“I am very pleased that the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in favor of the state Constitution today, despite the fact that the bill included a tax cut that would have helped all Oklahomans. At the end of the day, it is far more important that Legislators abide by their oath to defend the Constitution as the state Supreme Court has done with this ruling,” said Ritze. Ritze removed his name as a coauthor of the bill when the language was added on Capitol repairs.
Rep. Reynolds said, “This was a very simple case for the Court to decide, as the measure obviously violated the Constitution’s ‘single-subject rule.’ I’ve been disappointed in House leadership constantly attacking the Supreme Court’s decisions on the single-subject rule. It would have been very easy to pass the tax-cut bill without the leadership’s pet project of Capitol improvements. That’s why the founders created the single-subject rule. This ruling was a victory for transparency, and I applaud the Court’s decision.
During debate on the floor of the House, Reynolds spoke of the fact that he fully expected Mr. Jerry Fent to file this lawsuit and warned the members of the outcome. “Today all Oklahomans have lost a tax cut – not due to a ruling of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, but due to the refusal of the Legislature to abide by the Constitution,” Reynolds concluded.
Speaker T.W. Shannon is disappointed and questions the ruling made by the Oklahoma Supreme Court on a measure that would lower the tax burden on citizens and provide funds for much needed repairs at the Capitol.
The Supreme Court struck down House Bill 2032 under the Oklahoma Constitution’s single-subject rule, also known as the ‘logrolling’ provision.
HB 2032 called for a series of tax cuts and created a tax revenue source that would repair the crumbling Capitol without taking on bonded debt.
“Today’s ruling was a huge blow to Oklahoma families who have been expecting tax relief, and I’m deeply disappointed the Supreme Court has once again ruled against the interests of those families,” said Speaker Shannon, author of HB 2032. “The good news is, help is on the way. I am prepared to act quickly with legislative leaders and the Governor to restore what the Supreme Court has undone.”
Rep. Joe Dorman today announced the formation of a gubernatorial campaign exploratory committee.
“After talking with my family, and listening to hundreds of Oklahomans express their desire to see me run for Governor, I have decided to take this initial step of forming an exploratory committee to raise the resources and build the campaign organization needed to pursue the highest office in our state,” the Rush Springs Democrat said.
Dorman, accompanied by a long-time political supporter and friend, retired U.S. Army Maj. Ed Pulido, filed the requisite paperwork at 10 a.m. today with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission.
Dorman pledged that he would be a Governor for all Oklahomans and provide leadership on critical issues such as the construction of school storm shelters, education, economic opportunity, public safety and infrastructure.
“I look forward to continuing my conversations throughout the state, listening to Oklahomans tell me about their challenges and how they need – and want – leadership.”
Dorman, 43, will hold a series of listening sessions and live, interactive “telephone town halls” across the state. His first telephone town hall meeting will be this Thursday.
Channel maintained its grip on the cable-news network ratings prize in 2013, drawing more viewers than the combined averages of CNN
and HLN.It was a down year in terms of overall audience, as every newsie but HLN showed primetime declines from their Presidential Election-driven tallies of 2012.
According to Nielsen data through Dec. 8, Fox News Channel averaged 1.774 million viewers in primetime (down 13% from 2012) and 297,000 adults 25-54 (down 30%). It was followed by MSNBC with 645,000 viewers and 203,000 adults 25-54 (down 29% in both); CNN with 578,000 (down 15%) and 187,000 adults 25-54 (down 16%); and HLN with 403,000 total viewer (up 21%) and 142,000 in the demo (up 27%).
Among all basic cable networks in 2013, FNC ranked sixth in primetime while MSNBC was 29th and CNN was 31st. In total day, Fox ran fourth while CNN was 28th and MSNBC ran 30th; in 2012, CNN finished behind MSNBC. CNN and HLN showed some year-over-year gains on a total-day basis, while FNC and MSNBC were down.
Fox and CNN both made some significant changes to their lineup in 2013, with FNC’s revamped primetime lineup, introduced on Oct. 7, posting gains in both total viewers and adults 25-54 vs. the block’s 2013 season-to-date average. The newest program, “The Kelly File” with Megyn Kelly, has improved the 9 p.m. hour by 23% in total viewers and 13% in adults 25-54, and “The O’Reilly Factor” is the top show in cable news (2.78 million, 439,000 adults 25-54).
Also of note outside of primetime, “The Five” (5-6 p.m. ET) and “Red Eye” (3-4 a.m. ET) had their most-watched years to date.
Best news for CNN, which is on pace for its least-watched year on record in primetime, was that it was able to hold steady or rise a bit in various total-day categories, like afternoon show “The Lead With Jake Tapper,” which is second among the cable news nets in its timeslot. Morning show “News Day” is up a bit vs. last year in total viewers but is averaging less than 300,000 daily and is down vs. what the net was drawing in the time period earlier this year.
Elsewhere at CNN, the reboot of “Crossfire” has struggled, averaging 400,000 viewers, but the net made some noise — especially in the 25-54 demo — with some of its CNN Films specials.
Dec 17 2013 | Posted in General
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Attorney General Scott Pruitt Monday commented on the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling upholding the state’s new workers’ compensation law. The Attorney General’s Office successfully defended the law against a challenge that said the law was unconstitutional because it violated the “single subject” rule and other provisions of the state constitution.
“The decision by the court is a victory for the reform of workers’ compensation in Oklahoma and those who desired to see our antiquated system changed,” Attorney General Pruitt said. “I am thankful that our office was able to play a significant part in upholding the changes made by the Legislature by successfully defending the constitutionality of the law. Our attorneys worked diligently and professionally, both in the briefing and oral argument of the case. I am proud of their collective effort, and most thankful for the outcome of the case.”
Speaker T.W. Shannon praised the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s ruling on Senate Bill 1062, Oklahoma’s workers’ compensation reform bill.
SB 1062 changes Oklahoma’s current judicial workers’ compensation system to a modern administrative system. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that the new system is constitutional and does not violate the Oklahoma Constitution’s ‘single subject rule’.
“I am pleased that the Supreme Court has taken the time to consider the constitutionality and the merits of this new system,” said Speaker Shannon, author of SB 1062. “These reforms create a new and modern system that protects workers and is fair to Oklahoma businesses. The archaic and confrontational system this state has relied on in the past did little for workers, hurt business and only benefited the handful that profited from such a dysfunctional system. This ruling ensures Oklahoma is moving in the right direction.”
The current workers’ compensation system will now be phased out in favor of the new administrative system which will go into effect in February of 2014.
“This ruling will allow us to implement a system that will make sure workers are quickly compensated and treated so that they can get back to work, “ said Representative Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang. “My fellow Republicans and I applaud the Supreme Court for their fair and quick ruling on a bill that will truly make a positive impact on Oklahoma businesses and individuals.”
“I am very pleased that this decision remains consistent with past rulings that it is the duty of the Legislature to reform and create better and more efficient systems,” said Representative Mark McCullough, R- Sapulpa. “I hope that the Supreme Court will provide similar deference as the House faces future challenges.”