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The McCarville Report
Category archives for: General

Senate Passes Employee Compensation Bill

A measure that calls for state employee salaries to reach 90 percent of private-sector pay over a four-year period cleared the Senate today.

House Bill 3293, by state Rep. Leslie Osborn, removes salary structures from statute and gives authority to the Human Capital Resource Division of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to set pay structures and determine if targeted pay band adjustments are necessary, rather than the state doling out across-the-board pay raises as in years past.

“The state of Oklahoma is losing skilled and educated employees to retirement and the private sector,” said Osborn, R-Mustang. “Our state agencies need productive minds and ingenuity to fill those gaps, provide better services and address the problems of the future. This step towards creating competitive wages will greatly enhance the state’s ability to choose from the top recruits.”

House Speaker Jeff Hickman praised HB 3293, calling it a commitment to attracting and retaining quality employees who will provide efficient services to the people of Oklahoma.

“As stewards of the taxpayers’ money, it is our duty to provide core government services in a cost effective and productive manner,” said Speaker Hickman, R-Fairview. “To do so, we need to attract and keep great employees with competitive compensation.”

A recent study requested by the governor and state leaders found state employee salaries to be up to 20 percent below market, particularly in the areas of public safety, corrections and social services.

HB 3293 now moves to the House for review.


Holder Cancels Speech

UPDATE: Ernest Istook will air the protest rally live on his show on KZLS-1640AM, www.kzlsam.com.

Channel 2, Tulsa

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has canceled plans to deliver a speech to a group of Oklahoma City police cadets amid a planned protest by conservative lawmakers and organizations.

Oklahoma City Police Department Capt. Dexter Nelson confirmed Thursday that Holder’s appearance had been canceled. U.S. District Judge Vickie Miles LaGrange will speak to the 42 graduating cadets instead.

Holder’s planned visit to Oklahoma City drew the ire of several conservative lawmakers, including two-term U.S. Rep. James Lankford, who said Holder’s visit was “incredibly inappropriate.”

Republican Rep. Mike Turner of Oklahoma City was among several GOP legislators who planned to attend a protest downtown.

The protest rally will be held as planned, with numerous legislators scheduled to speak.

Nelson said he was unaware why Holder’s planned visit was canceled, but said additional security personnel will remain in place because of the protest.


Claremore Businessman Alleges Turner FEC Violation

A Claremore businessman, Chad Choat, has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission aimed at 5th District congressional candidate Mike Turner.

Writing on his Facebook page, Choat writes, “Yesterday I filed a complaint with the Federal Election commission regarding Mike Turner’s violation of campaign finance law. As of March 31st Mr. Turner had failed to create a legal campaign committee. …To date, all of Mr. Turner’s campaign activities have been conducted outside of the FEC legal framework. Failing to adhere to the rule of law at worst disqualifies him as a candidate and at the very least raises serious questions about his viability as a candidate for congress, and leaves no confidence amongst the public that he will be a reformer when he fails to submit himself from day one to the same rules that apply to everyone else. This should cause all Oklahomans to ask why he failed to file proper paperwork and has not been transparent about the source of his campaign funds.

“Some may ask why a business owner from outside the fifth congressional district would file a complaint with the FEC. We as Oklahomans say that we want to reform how Washington does business. That starts with obeying the law. There is an unfortunate habit in Congress of people exempting themselves from the regulations that apply to everyone else. If our candidates can’t obey the law while they are running for office how can we expect them to change Washington? I look forward to the findings of the FEC and I would encourage all voters to be well informed as we seek what is best for the future of this great nation.”


Lankford Bases Funds Appeal On Survey Showing ‘Us in a very close race’

Congressman James Lankford has based a fund-raising appeal on a new survey that shows him trailing opponent T. W. Shannon in the Republican primary for the U. S. Senate.

In an email sent yesterday, Lankford wrote, “A new survey released today shows us in a very close race.

“I need your help now more than ever. It is critical that we get our message out and that we are clear about what is at stake in this election.

“Oklahoma is not for sale, we must raise the necessary funds to counter the DC-based superPACs who are on the attack against me, we need to raise $33,170 in the next 24 hours.

“I cannot thank you enough for what you have done for me in the past, but I really need your help on this occasion.

“Please consider contributing anything you can afford here: JamesLankford.com/Donate/

“I am eternally grateful for your help and prayers.

“Together, we can ensure that Tom Coburn’s conservative agenda continues in the U.S. Senate.

“In God We Trust,

“James
“Congressman James Lankford
“Chairman of the Republican House Policy Committee”

Lankford previously downplayed an earlier survey showing Shannon gaining on him. The new survey, conducted by a firm hired by a Shannon support group, showed Shannon leading Lankford, 42-32 percent.


Jones Issues Report On Corporate Tax Revenue Shortfall

Auditor Gary Jones has issued a report addressing the short-term impact on the current state budget resulting from an overestimate of corporate tax revenues.

“It’s as important to understand how the overestimate occurred as it is to respond with a short-term solution and long-range plan,” Jones said. “This report points out that any miscalculation is attributable to an inability to know the number of tax credits issued, the financial impact of those credits, and when those credits are going to be cashed in.”

The State Equalization Board certifies revenue to be appropriated by the legislature based on estimates ultimately provided by the Oklahoma Tax Commission. As noted in the report, the estimate was ultimately decreased more than $174 million over a six month period when taxing officials became aware of a number of corporations taking advantage of perfectly legal options available to them to decrease their tax liability.

Estimate made on June 24, 2013                    $481 million

Estimate made on December 19, 2013           $375 million

Estimate made on February 18, 2014             $307 million

“The intent of this report was to provide, critical information in a timely fashion and is not an in-depth analysis of corporate tax liability,” Jones said. “Oklahomans get two pictures each month of the financial health of the state. One picture paints a rosy place in which collections are up and all is right in the world of revenue.

“The official report usually follows the rosy characterization and is more accurate with regard to actual collections compared to the estimate and the authorized spending power of public entities.”

The Special White Paper Report notes the historical accuracy of the Oklahoma Tax Commission and the numerous OSU economists with whom it contracts to devise the estimate. The current revenue shortfall is more indicative of an inability to both know the number of tax credits in existence and the timing in which they will be utilized.

The Special White Paper Report, Estimating Corporate Income Tax Revenues in Oklahoma, is online at www.sai.ok.gov.

Access the report directly at: http://www.sai.ok.gov/docs/press/Estimating%20Corporate%20Income%20Tax%20Revenues%20-%20Special%20White%20Paper%20Report.pdf


Bingman: Income Tax Proposal ‘Fiscally responsible’

President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman issued the following statement after the House voted to approve SB 1246.  Bingman is principal author of the income tax cut legislation, which now goes to Governor Fallin for her consideration.

“This plan represents a fiscally responsible way to lower Oklahoma’s income tax rate, fulfilling a commitment we made to our citizens last year.  It’s going to bolster our ongoing efforts to help Oklahoma better compete for high pay jobs that will help our citizens, communities and state prosper.  With the House giving its final approval, we look forward to Governor Fallin signing this tax relief measure into law.”

“When fully implemented, this bill will provide Oklahoma taxpayers with $200 million in tax relief.  This is good legislation for the citizens of our state.” –Senator Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa.

SB 1246 will reduce the state’s income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 5 percent beginning with tax year 2016, if certified revenues for FY 2016 at least equal the certification level for FY 2014.   The legislation would further reduce the state’s top income tax rate no sooner than two years later to 4.85 percent if there is sufficient revenue growth to fund the reduction.


Coffee Talk

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~ Congressman James Lankford has praise for Kansas Governor Sam Brownback after he signed state bill H.B. 2553, which allows Kansas to join the Health Care Compact. Lankford recently introduced H.J. Res 110 in the U.S. House of Representatives to provide the required congressional approval for Member states to enter into the Health Care Compact.

~ Language is needed to clarify the intent of the right to bear arms in the Oklahoma Constitution, according to the author of a constitutional amendment approved in the Senate. House Joint Resolution 1026, by Rep. Dan Fisher and Sen. Greg Treat, was approved 37-6. Written in 1907, the Oklahoma Constitution, Article II, Section 26, reads: “The right of a citizen to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or in aid of the civil power, when thereunto legally summoned, shall never be prohibited; but nothing herein contained shall prevent the Legislature from regulating the carrying of weapons.”

The legislation would allow voters to change Section 26 to read: “The fundamental right of each individual citizen to keep and to bear (that is, to carry) arms in defense of his home, person, or property, or, including handguns, rifles, shotguns, knives, nonlethal defensive weapons and other arms in common use, as well as ammunition and the components of arms and ammunition, for security, self-defense, lawful hunting and recreation, in aid of the civil power, when thereunto legally lawfully summoned, or for any other legitimate purpose shall never not be prohibited; but nothing herein contained shall prevent the Legislature from regulating the carrying of weapons infringed. Any regulation of this right shall be subject to strict scrutiny.”

The constitutional amendment would also add two subsections to Section 26: “This section shall not prevent the Legislature from prohibiting the possession of arms by convicted felons, those adjudicated as mentally incompetent, or those who have been involuntarily committed in any mental institution.”

“No law shall impose registration or special taxation upon the keeping of arms, including the acquisition, ownership, possession, or transfer of arms, ammunition, or the components of arms or ammunition.”

The proposal will now appear on the November ballot.

~ The full Senate has approved legislation that will ultimately increase public school funding by $600 million annually. Senators Jim Halligan, R-Stillwater, and John Ford, R-Bartlesville, are Senate authors of House Bill 2642, the Securing Educational Excellence Fund (SEEF).  The measure was approved unanimously on Wednesday.

“We recognize the need for additional resources for Oklahoma schools.  This plan is a fiscally responsible way to generate an additional $600 million annually that will go directly into the school funding formula,” Halligan said.  “This bill is an important step in helping Oklahoma students get the quality education they need to compete and to succeed.”

HB 2642 directs a dedicated appropriation of $30 million in fiscal year 2015, which begins on July 1, 2014.  That amount would then increase by $30 million each year through FY ’18.  In FY ’19, the ROAD Fund will reach its statutory maximum of $575 million, freeing an additional $60 million which can then be dedicated to SEEF.

In order to address concerns about an additional off-the-top earmark, the plan includes triggers for the specified increases:

  • FY ’16 – ’18 funds would only be added if there is growth of at least one percent in General Revenue (GR).
  • FY ’19 – GR growth of one percent would trigger $30 million, two percent would trigger the full $60 million.
  • If GR funds decline, there will be no additional allocation to SEEF until the previous high in GR is exceeded.

In addition, the measure has safeguards that will prevent SEEF funds from taking the place of additional appropriations—Halligan noted that had occurred with the lottery funds that were supposed to have dramatically increased education funding.  HB 2642 requires the State Board of Equalization to find that the funds are not supplanted, meaning they can’t take the place of previous appropriations.

~ The president of Transportation Revenues Used Strictly for Transportation (TRUST) commended the state Senate for protecting the Oklahoma Department of Transportation’s eight-year highway and bridge construction plan by not including a committee substitute to HB 2642 which would have diverted 50% of funding from the Rebuilding Oklahoma Access and Driver Safety (ROADS) Fund. HB 2642 passed the Senate today. Neal McCaleb said, “On behalf of the members of TRUST, I commend the leadership of the state Senate and its members for their commitment to continue the tremendous progress made over the past few years to rebuild and modernize Oklahoma’s transportation infrastructure.  By not diverting monies from the ROADS fund, senate members have made a strong statement for improved public safety and economic development all across Oklahoma.”


Christian Seeks Impeachment Of Justices

The Oklahoman

UPDATE: The Court voted unanimously late Wednesday to lift the stay of execution.

A member of the Oklahoma House drafted a resolution Wednesday seeking the impeachment of state Supreme Court justices who granted a delay of execution to two death row inmates.

Republican state Rep. Mike Christian told The Associated Press that the five justices engaged in a “willful neglect of duty” when they granted stays of execution Monday to Clayton Lockett and Charles Warner, both of whom were scheduled to be executed this month.

Lockett and Warner, who aren’t challenging their convictions, have filed a civil lawsuit seeking the source of the drugs used to execute them. Pending the resolution of that lawsuit, they asked for a stay of execution.

The Court of Criminal Appeals has said it couldn’t weigh in on the delay of execution because it didn’t have the power or the authority, so the high court said a “rule of necessity” led to its decision Monday. Under the state constitution, the Supreme Court handles civil cases while the Court of Criminal Appeals takes those involving inmates.

“This is a case of our state’s judges inserting their personal biases and political opinions into the equation,” said Christian, a former Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper.

An impeachment effort would have no impact on the current proceedings, which has put the state’s two highest courts at odds. Attorney General Scott Pruitt claims Oklahoma is facing a “constitutional crisis,” but the high court’s action is a victory for the inmates and their lawyers, who have successfully used questions about drug secrecy to at least temporarily shut down Oklahoma’s death chamber.

While courts in Missouri and Texas have rejected claims that secretive death row procedures could expose inmates to painful executions, Lockett and Warner benefited by bypassing the Court of Criminal Appeals and taking their plea directly to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Gov. Mary Fallin halted Lockett’s execution to ensure he won’t be put to death before his day in court, but complains the state Supreme Court strayed from a mandate that it handle only civil matters when it issued its own order stopping executions over the drug question.

“There is no reasonable rationale of this being anywhere near the realm of a civil case,” said Rep. Aaron Stiles, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He complained that the state Supreme Court, which often strikes down legislative initiatives as unconstitutional, has crossed a line by granting a stay of execution.


New Survey Shows Shannon Surges Past Lankford, 42-32%

shannon9lankfordfullPublic Opinion Strategies, a survey research firm working for a group backing Senate candidate T. W. Shannon, says its new survey shows Shannon leading Congressman James Lankford by 10 percent.

The firm’s Glen Bolger provided the results, which shows that a non-stop advertising blitz by Shannon has propelled him from underdog to frontrunner.

The survey also shows no movement by Randy Brogdon, who remains at 7 percent support.

TO: OKLAHOMANS FOR A CONSERVATIVE FUTURE

FROM: GLEN BOLGER
RE: KEY FINDINGS – U.S. SENATE REPUBLICAN PRIMARY SURVEY
DATE: APRIL 23, 2014
 Key Findings
T.W. Shannon has vaulted into the lead in the last month.
The ballot movement in this race has been nothing short of dramatic:
Feb  9-11 March 11-16 April 21-22
Shannon Margin -35  -9 +10
T.W. Shannon1 6% 28% 42%
James Lankford 51% 37% 32%
Randy Brogdon NA  7%  7%
All others 1% 2% 3%
Undecided 32% 26% 16%
This represents a 45 point net swing in Shannon’s favor since the race began. Republican primary voters in Oklahoma have really responded to Shannon’s campaigning, including the relentlessly upbeat, positive conservative-focused ads that have been run. Shannon now leads by double digits among key groups in a GOP primary:
C
Among base Republicans who are very conservative, Shannon leads 47%-28%.
C
Among strong Tea Party supporters, Shannon leads 45%-29%.
C
Religious conservatives back Shannon 44%-31%.
C
Among voters whose top issue is “stopping Obamacare,” Shannon leads 42%-30%. The issue of “stopping Obamacare” is the top priority among the GOP primary electorate.

Lankford: Was Holder Involved In IRS Targeting Of Tea Party Groups?

Was Attorney General Eric Holder involved in the IRS targeting of Tea Party groups?

Congressman James Lankford tells the Radio Oklahoma Network’s Jerry Bohnen that emails have been found showing how former IRS official Lois Lerner got advice from the Justice Department.

Lankford is a member of the House Oversight committee and is sending a letter today demanding answers from Holder, who is due in Oklahoma City tomorrow to speak to a police officer cadet graduating class. Lankford has spoken out against the appearance.


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