Every two years, prior to the November elections, I write an article describing the state questions which will be on the upcoming general election ballot. As a legislator I have the benefit of having already considered these questions during the preceding two years because most state questions are approved by the Legislature prior to placement on the ballot.
I think this is the easiest year to write about these questions because there are only three on the ballot, and they are not controversial.
I supported each of these proposals.
State Question 769 won legislative approval in 2013 after an Oklahoma district attorney and member of the Oklahoma National Guard became involved in a legal question over whether or not the Oklahoma Constitution allowed him to serve as an active member of the military while holding office. SQ 769 seeks to remove any doubt as to the ability of office holders such as a district attorney to serve in the Guard.
Oklahoma’s Constitution currently allows disabled veterans to receive an exemption from most property taxes. State Question 770 allows disabled veterans to sell their home and transfer the exemption to their new home during the same calendar year with no drop off in the exemption.
State Question 771 provides this same exemption from property taxes to the surviving spouse of a military member who is killed in the line of duty. The exemption will no longer apply if the surviving spouse remarries.
You may be curious to know why there are so few questions on this year’s ballot.
This is actually a testament to the fact that the Legislature and Governor have worked out many of the issues of consequence.
For example, in 2010, the Legislature sought to bypass the previous Governor by sending questions directly to the voters. As a result, Oklahoma voters were challenged to choose between 11 questions covering several controversial issues. These issues included the proposal to place term limits on statewide elected officials; created Oklahoma’s voter ID law; declared English as Oklahoma’s official language; sought to prohibit Oklahoma’s participation in the national health care proposal (an initiative which has since been part of Oklahoma’s lawsuit against the federal government); and the attempt to prevent the use of Sharia law in Oklahoma.
Since that time, with the election of a new Governor, the tension between the Governor’s office and the Legislature has dropped considerably, and the Legislature is not bypassing the Governor’s office this year through the issuance of special questions.
However, there are still tense moments between the various branches of government. In the near future I plan to detail some of them.
A new video defends Senator Josh Brecheen against attacks on him by the State Chamber of Commerce, AFL-CIO and the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association in the District 6 race in which he is being challenged by Joe Hill:
It’s time to take a road trip!! Boots on the ground are needed this Saturday, October 18, as we travel to Durant, OK to lend a hand to the good senator that stood against ALL odds to get Common Core repealed. We need Josh to stay in office!! S.O.S. – Save OUR Senator!!
State Senator Josh Brecheen, the senate author of HB3399, repealing Common Core in Oklahoma, is in a tight race in SE Oklahoma and we need to lend a hand and help him out. Senator Brecheen is a man of character, a statesman that accepts the challenge of doing what’s right, representing the people, not special interest groups.
Want to join us? This Saturday we will meet at the Tulsa Hills Target (71st St & Hwy 75) for prompt departure at 8 AM. Wear comfy shoes and together let’s S.O.S.- Save OUR Senator
There are some strange bedfellows in the Senate District 6 race in southeastern Oklahoma, where outside forces have joined to attempt to defeat incumbent one-term Republican Josh Brecheen.
Joining the State Chamber of Commerce and the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association in targeting Brecheen is the AFL-CIO, which seeks “to undo the damage” it claims Republicans
have done to the workers compensation system.
The AFL-CIO is dropping direct mail in support of Hill. Workers compensation reform was the State Chamber’s chief priority for decades, so the alliance with a group that opposes it, the AFL-CIO, has political observers scratching their heads.
Will Hill support the chamber or the AFL-CIO on one of the premier issues for business over the past half century?
Senate Pro-tem Brian Bingman slammed special interests for opposing Brecheen, who supported the reform. As leader of the Senate, Bingman championed workers compensation reform, but that wasn’t enough to keep the chamber from opposing one of his members. Nor was the outspoken support of retiring Senator Tom Coburn, a man of some stature in the district.
Bingman and Brecheen now face the daunting task of opposing the State Chamber and the AFL-CIO, plus the OIPA.
In a mailer, the AFL-CIO insinuates that Hill will oppose reform of the state’s pension systems, another State Chamber priority.
The head-butting between the State Chamber, Bingman and other top Republicans in this race may have repercussions beyond it. Former legislator Fred Morgan has built the State Chamber’s political arm on his alliances with Republicans, and his staff comes mostly from GOP ranks.
Rep. Mike Reynolds today released a letter to the University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones, Jr. Museum of Art, formally asking the university’s art museum director, Emily Ballew Neff, to clarify the museum’s public position regarding a case involving an 1886 Camille Pissarro oil painting stolen by Nazis in 1941 from the Meyers, a prominent French family.
“The university has gaping holes in its due diligence process about the painting’s history,” said Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City. “That is clear from its own records, which clearly show the university’s flawed research in the painting’s past.”
The university released to the House Government Modernization and Accountability Committee some records of the painting’s purchase and bequest, but only after a public hearing into the case, led by Reynolds.
“To make matters worse, for four long years, OU did nothing to approach a known possible owner of the painting when its own documents detail serious questions about ownership,” said Reynolds. “That’s disturbing enough, but even the facts OU’s own lawyer is alleging about the painting’s ownership are troubling.”
Reynolds committee heard testimony from the university’s attorney Shawnae Robey on March 19, 2014. Robey told the committee the university had no evidence that the painting’s ownership was established when the Meyers filed suit in May 2013.
On May 16, 2014, the committee heard testimony from Raphael Meyer, son of the painting’s owner, Dr. Leone Meyer of Paris, regarding the family’s position about the painting’s history. The committee also heard from Marc Masurovsky, a Washington, D.C.-based looted art provenance expert and a principal with the Holocaust Art Restitution Project (HARP).
Reynold’s letter further requests that the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum respond to questions about:
The university’s adherence to provenance research guidelines by its professional oversight organizations, including the American Association of Museums and the American Association of Museum Directors;
the university’s choice to hire private legal counsel, rather than utilizing Oklahoma’s Attorney General, as well as an estimate of the legal costs of private counsel;
the university’s legal strategy, which appears to rely entirely – according to Reynolds – on technical defenses, even though the painting’s ownership is not in dispute;
the presence of other paintings with suspicious provenance at the Fred Jones, Jr. Museum, and whether or not the museum contacted other potential claimants about those other paintings.
“The painting at present is on public display as part of the Clara Weitzenhoffer bequest at the Fred Jones Museum,” said Reynolds. “Madame Meyer wants it back. For her, the painting is a symbol both of her adoptive father and her birth family, whom perished at Auschwitz.”
Democrat schools superintendent candidate John Cox is superintendent of one of the smallest K-8 school districts in Oklahoma, but earns $141,678 per year which is nearly twice the state average for an administrator while teachers there are paid less than the state average.
The figures released come from the Office of Educational Quality and Accountability, but Reps. Todd Thomsen and Lee Denney say the total Cox compensation costs could be significantly more than reported.
“While teachers are struggling statewide, John Cox is earning an astronomical amount for an administrator of a K-8 school district where he manages 13 or so teachers. I was surprised when I saw his contract, and there are additional costs above and beyond his salary,” Denney said.
“This is very hypocritical for a candidate for state superintendent to pay his teachers under the state average and below districts the same size while he’s campaigning at the same time for teacher pay raises. His 20 year record doesn’t match his performance, and then to be earning such a large salary for himself is disappointing,.” she said.
Thomsen, part of the state House leadership said, “Every parent and teacher in rural Oklahoma, and across the state, should be outraged. He’s gaming the system.”
Thomsen, of Ada, and Denney, of Cushing, both represent districts with rural schools and say these are the real victims of administrators like Cox. “We want our local schools to thrive, but how can they when an administrator like John Cox games the system? It puts all of the school administrators in a negative light and is frankly just an insult to teachers,” Thomsen said.
“This hefty contract comes at the expense of students and teachers,” Thomsen said.
The state average salary for school administrators is $76,424 compared to Cox’s $141,678 salary, according to the office of Educational Quality and Accountability*. But the average number of teachers statewide per district is 71.2 compared to 13.3 teachers in Peggs. The state average number of enrolled students per district is 1271 while Peggs’ enrollment is 264.
Congressman Jim Bridenstine announced his endorsement of David Tackett for State House District 12 along with two conservative groups, the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC) and the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association (OK2A).
“I’m supporting David Tackett for State House in District 12,” said Bridenstine. “He has fought against raising taxes and protected our religious freedoms. He is a committed Christian and a principled conservative who will stand in defense of our Constitutional rights, including our 2nd Amendment rights. Please join me in supporting Republican David Tackett for State House District 12 with your vote on November 4th.”
“The Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee is proud to endorse Republican David Tackett for the State House District 12 race,” said Charlie Meadow, President of OCPAC. ”Tackett is running against the Democrat incumbent, Wade Rousselot, who has a lifetime Conservative Index score of 35 (out of 100), one of the lowest scores in the State House.
Meadows continued, “David is a proven conservative who will work to keep our taxes low and reduce the size of government. That’s why we encourage all conservatives to cast their vote for David Tackett for State House in District 12.”
“The Oklahoma Second Amendment Association endorses David Tackett for House District 12,” said Don Spencer of OK2A. “We have had a working relationship with David and he is an OK2A constitutionally minded man who will return and protect your rights to self preservation where Representative Rousselot has failed. We asked the voters to send David Tackett to the State Capitol to represent the interest of the citizens of House District 12.”
David Tackett is the Republican candidate for State House District 12. He is a lifelong resident of Oklahoma and currently lives just outside of Broken Arrow in rural Wagoner County. Tackett is running against Democrat incumbent, Wade Rousselot.
If you’re tired of receiving political phone calls and mailers, request an absentee ballot. Once we receive notification that you have turned your ballot in, we will take your name off the Oklahoma Republican Party call and mailing list and advise our candidates’ campaigns to do the same! Be sure to visit http://www.okvoterinfo.com/to request your absentee ballot by Oct. 15th.