Rep. Will Fourkiller
Rep. Will Fourkiller, a Democrat from Adair County, is considering a race to challenge principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation Bill John Baker, sources tell The McCarville Report.
The race now features a rematch between Baker and former Chief Chad Smith. Four years ago, the race between Smith and Baker was so close that a recount couldn’t determine a winner and a new election had to be held.
The race also featured a battle in federal court over whether the Cherokee Freedmen, the descendants of Cherokee slaves, would be allowed to vote.
Also in the race for chief is a member of the Cherokee Council, Cara Cowan Watts, from Claremore.
The election is in June and Fourkiller would not have to give up his House seat to run and perhaps not to serve. Another Democrat House member, Rep. Chuck Hoskins of Vinita, is Baker’s chief of staff at the Cherokee Nation.
Former State Rep. Corey Holland on Facebook
Fact 1: Only 13 states pay their state legislators more than Oklahoma pays. 47 states pay their teachers more than Oklahoma pays. When asked about bills filled to lower the pay of legislators, Speaker Jeff Hickman was quoted as saying, “The truth is you get what you pay for.” I agree completely. Fact 2: A new Oklahoma legislator makes $38,400. A new Oklahoma teacher makes $31,600.
This isn’t about being divisive. We should pay our legislators well bc they spend countless hours working that most folks never see. The same is true for teachers. I fear if we don’t address teacher pay soon, the teacher shortage will reach critical status.
SECRETARY OF EDUCATION not an EDUCATOR
Oklahoma Governor Fallin continues in her forward move to control public education through a business and political model. She has now appointed a new Secretary of Education to oversee Office of Education Quality and Accountability, which has recently expanded power over public schools. The power centers around the collection of data which will come to the office through all of the high stakes tests, teacher evaluations and other student and teacher information as students work online.
Michael Bates on Facebook
We thought we killed it last year, but a Republican state representative has filed a bill that would make Oklahoma the first “red state” to sign on to the National Popular Vote virus. The Republican caucus ought to strip Speaker Pro Tem Lee Denney of her leadership position over this betrayal. http://www.oklegislature.gov/BillInfo.aspx…#
Senator James Lankford Has A Facebook Question
The President gave his annual State of the Union speech last night, but I want to hear from you. What do you think of the State of Our Union?
Take my survey now–> https://action.jameslankford.com/state-union-survey/
Howard Houchen on Facebook
File this under, yet ANOTHER, “You Gotta be Kiddin’ Me” moment brought to you by Oklahoma State Representative Denney…National Popular Vote rises again! http://www.oklegislature.gov/BillInfo.aspx…
T. W. Shannon on Facebook
This is written after sleeping a night on the President’s speech. I was reminded last night why it is at the age of about 21 I left the party of my heritage. It’s because I don’t believe that pitting the classes against each other, or the politics of envy, is the way to prosper the middle class, or African Americans for that matter (as if race should matter). I fundamentally believe God will indeed prosper those who work hard and are diligent in the use of their gifts. I believe strongly that it’s Him in You, not government in you, that will raise you out of poverty and, if it’s God’s will, perhaps even boost you or me one day into that elusive 1%. I think it’s called the dream.
Thank you Gov. Fallin for lining the pockets of the utility companies. Small Government, less interference in our lives, too many regulations. Your platform is all one big lie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tonya Pogue on Facebook
Tomorrow is my last day in the Speaker’s Office and I leave feeling very blessed to have had the opportunity to work with so many great people this past year! I’ll miss everyone at the OK House of Representatives, but these six are extra special! I’m not going far so I won’t get mushy, but I am thankful for each of you and your friendship!! Truth be known, I’m leaving because I was the oldest person in the office and I needed to find a place where the median age is over 30!
Jason Madrid on Facebook
There are complaints on Facebook about Representative Sally Kern filing no less than 3 bills targeting the LGBT community. I don’t want to hear the complaints because last election no one ran against her. She didn’t even face a primary. Inaction, too, has consequences.
Alex Cameron, News 9 reporter on Facebook
Love the fact that Oklahoma’s members of Congress issued their responses to the SOTU hours before its delivery. Thanks for listening!
Rep. Emily Virgin on Facebook
People who didn’t stand up for the President’s statement on equality are going to look really, really silly to the next generations.
Facebook Comments on Extension of Term Limits to 16 Years
In my opinion, this is a ridiculous proposal. #1 term limits were implemented to counter people’s inability to put good people in office or the ability to recognize this and replace them. #2 Why would we want to give them 4 more years? Mind-boggling!
James AndTammy Nicholson
That’s the problem with our government now. Too many “experienced” statesmen in DC. We don’t need to bring back that problem to our own state government. Sorry Paul Wesselhöft
, I agree with you on most things, but on this one I’m afraid I’ll have to jump off the horse.
Jan 24 2015 | Posted in General
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Senator Kyle Loveless
Last March, approximately 25,000 teachers and parents from around the state rallied for education at the state Capitol. The overwhelming majority of those voices were asking for more funding for public education.
With 51 cents of every appropriated dollar funding education, we as lawmakers must look for out-of-the-box approaches to better fund classroom instruction, while ensuring other core functions of government remain stable.
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That’s why I introduced Senate Bill 15. This bill would require the administrative functions of a school district with an average daily attendance of fewer than 250 students be combined with a contiguous school district upon the retirement or resignation of the current superintendent. Senate Bill 15 would affect about 130 school districts across the state. Those same districts spend more than $7.4 million in superintendent salaries alone; which averages to approximately $360 per student.
Those funds could go directly to increase teacher pay, keeping quality teachers from going to another field or to attract better, new teachers from leaving the state. We can do all that without closing one school, if we have the political will.
Simply put, this proposal’s goal is to reduce the burden of administrative costs so smaller districts can free up more money for instructional and classroom services. We need to focus on educating our kids, not paying bureaucrats who average close to $100,000 a year while teacher pay remains stagnate.
This proposal alone won’t fix our schools but it is a start to modernizing our current system. Oklahoma pays nearly $50 million a year to administrators for salaries and benefits. If we can divert some of that money back to the students, then I see that as a step in the right direction.
I understand the importance of local school districts and their impact on the fabric of our state. Local schools are the heart of our communities and that will never change. This proposal would not close any school or facility, but would help ensure they have more resources to give our students the best education possible.
Oklahoma deserves better than relying on the way things have been done for more than 100 years, we must strive for the best course of action, even if it is a difficult one.
If we avoid doing something significant now to reduce administrative overhead, with supermajorities in the legislative branch and control of the governor’s mansion, we will have squandered an opportunity that took decades to accomplish and don’t deserve to speak about running government like a business ever again.
We must all work together to create a responsible, long-term plan to fix our education system, and I hope Senate Bill 15 will be the beginning of that process.
Gov. Mary Fallin said in her inaugural address that education is an all-hands-on-deck emergency, let’s do what we can to turn the tide and make the education of our children something we can be as proud of as our football teams.
The status of the Tea Party, its successes and its failures, remains a hot topic in political circles: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/01/tea-party-reeling-114375.html?hp=b3_l2
Jan 22 2015 | Posted in General
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Governor Fallin today announced that Natalie Shirley, president of Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City (OSU-OKC), will be joining her Cabinet as secretary of education and workforce development. Shirley will begin serving on Monday.
Shirley became president of OSU-OKC in 2011. She is the first female president in the OSU system.
Prior to her role at OSU-OKC, Shirley served as Oklahoma secretary of commerce and tourism for former Governor Brad Henry. She also served as the executive director of the Department of Commerce, the state’s leading economic development agency. Shirley has also served as president of ICI Mutual, an insurance company.
Fallin called Shirley a perfect fit for helping to achieve a goal outlined in the governor’s inaugural address: increasing educational attainment.
“One of my top priorities going into 2015 is to increase educational attainment in Oklahoma,” said Fallin. “We know that the best way to help Oklahomans – especially those living in poverty – is to get them the skills they need for a good job. Similarly, the best way we can support our businesses and grow our economy is to produce a more educated workforce. Making that goal a reality will take a cooperative effort between Oklahoma public education and our business community.
“I’ve asked Natalie to help oversee and energize that public/private partnership and work to ensure we are increasing educational attainment in Oklahoma. I believe she has the experience and the skill-set we need for that important task. Natalie has been a successful president at OSU-OKC; she has been a leader in both the public and private sector; she is respected by members of both political parties; and she has experience working with and managing large government agencies. Most importantly, she is absolutely committed to ensuring that Oklahoma provides the best education possible to our students.”
Shirley currently serves on the board of directors for the United Way of Central Oklahoma, SSM Health Care of Oklahoma, the Girl Scouts, the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, BancFirst, the Oklahoma State Fair Board, AAA Oklahoma/South Dakota, as a trustee on the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum and on the community development advisory council for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
“I am honored Governor Fallin has asked me to join her Cabinet,” said Shirley. “As an educator and business person, I know that a great foundational education, learning a skill and earning a degree can produce lifelong benefits. This is turn will make Oklahoma a stronger and better place to live and work.”
Shirley received a bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma State University and a law degree from the University of Oklahoma.
She and her husband, Russ Harrison, have six children.
A second Democrat filed Tuesday for the vacancy in state Senate District 11, guaranteeing an April 7 special election.
Heather Nash, 43, of Tulsa, joined state Rep. Kevin Matthews in seeking the seat that was vacated by Jabar Shumate earlier this month. Matthews has held a House seat since 2012.
Nash is North Tulsa Youth Coordinator for Youth Services of Tulsa and previously worked for the Red Cross.
Filing for the position ends Wednesday.
A general election, if needed, will be held June 9.
Senator David Holt, R Oklahoma City, has introduced a comprehensive election reform package of nine bills and one joint resolution, all intended to increase Oklahoma’s rapidly declining voter turnout. The concepts proposed by Holt include transitioning Oklahoma to mail elections and adoption of a “top two” electoral system.
In 1992, over 70 percent of eligible Oklahomans participated in the presidential election, but by 2012, that percentage had plunged to only 52 percent, third-worst in the nation. In 2014, less than 30 percent of eligible voters participated in the statewide general election. A third of eligible Oklahomans are not even registered. There were fewer registered voters in 2014 than there were in 1988, even though the state’s population has grown 22 percent.
“Oklahomans are patriotic, but our voting record is undermining that reputation. Our plunging levels of civic participation are reaching crisis levels,” Holt said. “This is an important conversation our state needs to have. This matters because it influences everything else. Oklahomans hand over billions of dollars to government, and they need to stand up and be a part of this process or they likely won’t care for the results. Our republic cannot survive if these trends continue. I believe this package of bills, individually and collectively, would increase Oklahoma’s turnout.”
The following are summaries of each piece of legislation and comments by Holt:
- Moves Oklahoma to a mail election in 2020 and beyond
- All registered voters would receive ballot by mail and return it by mail or in person
- Oklahoma would be the fourth state to adopt this growing trend
- Reduces cost of machines and poll workers
- Addresses growing concerns over how to staff precincts in the future
“This is the concept most likely to dramatically improve Oklahoma’s voter turnout. The states with mail elections are enjoying turnout rates far higher than the national average. Receiving a ballot by mail reminds the voter to vote. It also saves time for the voter by not requiring them to stand in line at the polls.”
- Creates a “top two” electoral system in Oklahoma
- All candidates, including partisan labels, appear on ballot in August
- If no candidate receives over 50 percent, top two advance to November
- All voters are invited to both elections to choose their favorite
- Brings clarity to process – election day is for everyone, regardless of party or geography
- Brings growing independent voter base into the process
- Saves money by streamlining ballots and eliminating one of the three elections
“If you asked a ninth-grader how American democracy works, they would respond that all candidates appear on the ballot and all voters are asked to select their favorite. This is, of course, not how our process currently works, but it should. And it would under a ‘top two’ system proposed by this bill. Like mail elections, ‘top two’ is a growing trend. Its clarity has the potential to increase turnout and its inclusiveness helps to reach results that more credibly reflect the views of the electorate.”
- Consolidates all local candidate elections to a cycle in the spring or a cycle in the fall
“This increases turnout by not requiring voters to return to the polls time and time again. For example, in Oklahoma City this year, school board elections will be held in February and city council elections will be held in March. There is no rational reason for that to occur.”
- Allows eligible citizens to securely register to vote online
“Voter turnout percentages, already disappointing, actually overstate turnout in that they do not account for eligible voters who have not even registered. This group of unregistered citizens is now a third of the state. Rising generations of voters are simply not used to a world where simple tasks such as this cannot be accomplished online.”
- Allows unregistered citizens who have missed the 25-day deadline for registration to register and vote if they appear in-person to the county election board during early voting
“It is an irony inherent in the current process that an unregistered person is usually reminded that they have failed to register by election activity that occurs well after they have missed the deadline to register. This bill essentially extends that deadline to the Saturday before the election by giving those voters an opportunity to register at a place that is equipped for it.”
- Allows absentee voters to request to be placed permanently on the absentee voter list, rather than the current practice of requiring an application each year
“This is intended to increase turnout by eliminating an unnecessary procedure. This concept essentially adopts mail elections one voter at a time, and would not be necessary if mail elections were adopted as Oklahoma’s official system.”
- Modernizes various aspects of absentee voting
- Absentee voters could mail a copy of their ID rather than have their ballot notarized
- Absentee voters may drop off ballot in person and show ID
- Bureaucratic “in-person absentee” terminology is replaced by “early voting”
- System of separate forms for incapacitated absentee voters and no-excuses absentee voters is streamlined, though retaining the services offered to incapacitated voters
“Current absentee voting procedures are unnecessarily confusing and archaic. As one example of ways we can modernize these processes, many people have ready access to copiers but not a notary public. This bill acknowledges that.”
- Expands and streamlines early voting
- Adds Wednesdays and Saturday afternoons to early voting
- Makes the hours of operation the same each day
- Extends the same early voting opportunities to all elections for elective office
“One concept underlining this entire turnout effort is the idea that the procedures have to be intuitively understood by the public. Currently, Saturday voting is available for some elections but not for others, and at different times than the other days. Having variable early voting opportunities for different elections is unnecessarily confusing.”
- Lowers the signatures required to get parties and presidential candidates on the ballot
“Though I have no interest in supporting other parties, I believe in free will and am not scared of other candidates reaching the ballot. Oklahoma famously has perhaps the most restrictive ballot access laws in the nation. This bill could incrementally increase turnout by bringing in voters who feel unrepresented by the existing options.”
- Gives the people of Oklahoma the opportunity to lower the signatures required to place issues on the ballot for consideration by the voters
“Interest in civic affairs is hindered by the fact that the people have been essentially shut out of Oklahoma’s petition and referendum process. I believe in free will and am not scared of seeing more petitions and referendums on the ballot. This could also increase turnout by involving Oklahomans more in the civic process and offering important questions for their consideration that have maybe been stopped by special interests.”
House Media Division
A constitutional amendment filed today by state Rep. Paul Wesselhöft would ask voters whether or not they want to replace current 12-year term limits with 16-year term limits.
Wesselhöft said House Joint Resolution 1007 would give Oklahomans a chance to cultivate more experience in their state legislators.
“Each time we term out we lose good people with a great deal of knowledge and leadership,” said Wesselhöft, R-Moore. “This empowers the lobbyist and the directors of agencies, which gives them too much influence over government. This bill will not apply to any of the representatives voting on it. This is for future legislators only.”
Current term limits were approved by voters in 1990.
Wesselhöft, newly appointed as chair of the House Elections and Ethics Committee, said he expects numerous election reform bills to be heard in committee this year.
“There is a lot of support for reform,” he said.
Constitutional amendments are not subject to the governor’s veto, but must be passed by both houses of the Legislature before going to a vote of the people. The bill filing deadline for the 2015 session will be at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 22. Regular session will reconvene on Feb. 2.