The State Chamber of Oklahoma hosts its annual Public Affairs Forum featuring a keynote address by Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist George Will on December 3rd.
The luncheon event will also feature a question and answer session with a panel of legislative leaders talking about their expectations for the coming session.
The luncheon is scheduled from 11:30 to 1:30 at the Cox Convention Center in Ballrooms C, D, E.
Barbara Staggs, 74, a longtime educator in Muskogee and state representative as well as a philanthropist throughout the region, died today.
She was born in her grandmother’s home in Hulbert in 1940. Her parents moved her to Muskogee three weeks later, where she would spend the rest of her life, except for three years living in Tahlequah.
After graduating Muskogee High School in 1958, Staggs received a B.A. in education from Northeastern University, an M.A. and Ed.D. at the University of Tulsa.
Staggs, whose passion for education informed every detail of her life, was a teacher in Muskogee for 15 years, where she taught English, drama, speech and broadcasting. Following that, she was an assistant principal for six years and then a principal for three years. Staggs was the first woman secondary principal in Muskogee. She served as superintendent for Tahlequah public schools from 1990-1993, being the first woman to hold the position.
After her retirement from education, Staggs ran for – and won – the District 14 seat in the state House in 1996, defeating a longtime incumbent in the Democratic primary. Staggs was the first female elected to the legislature from District 14 and beat a male incumbent with more than 20 years of service. In the House, she served on the Common Education Committee, among many others. During her tenure, she helped establish the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.
She was also instrumental in passing a bill that gave funding to the Oklahoma Department of Libraries to award library construction grants to rural communities for local library construction. Since that time more than 30 libraries have been refurbished or built.
Staggs served in the legislature for 12 years, until term limits forced her retirement, which she spent working tirelessly to help civic and charitable institutions in Muskogee.
Staggs was a longtime member of First Baptist Church in Muskogee.
Staggs slipped and hit her head last night, and she did not recover from the injury.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.
In a 2007 interview, the interviewer asked “When history is written about you, what would you like for it to say?”
Staggs answered: “I would like them to say that I listened to my constituents and I tried as often as I could to support those things that they wanted me to support and to not support those things that they wanted me to vote against, and I hope that I was always truthful with them.”
A group of 35 state legislators released an open letter Thursday voicing concerns about the possibility that many tax relief measures passed in Oklahoma over the past decade could be overturned, should the state Supreme Court rule that tax reductions must meet the guidelines of State Question 640.
Passed on a statewide ballot by voters in 1992 as an amendment to the Oklahoma Constitution, SQ 640 was intended to make it more difficult for the state Legislature to increase taxes. According to the provision, all proposals increasing state taxes must either be sent to a vote of the people or receive three-fourths approval in both houses of the Legislature. Such measures also cannot be approved in the final five days of the legislative session.
At question is the fate of Senate Bill 1246, an income tax reduction measure passed by the Legislature during the 2014 session. The new statute’s constitutionality has been challenged in a lawsuit, filed with the state Supreme Court, on the grounds that it did not meet the standards of SQ 640. The Court heard arguments on the suit last month.
The 35 lawmakers who endorsed the letter hail from all four quadrants of the state. The two legislators who carried SB 1246 in the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively – state Sen. Kyle Loveless, R-Oklahoma City, and state Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang – endorsed the letter.
In the letter, the lawmakers make the case that it was not the aim of Oklahoma voters in 1992 to make it more difficult for the Legislature to reduce taxes. Rather, the intent was to make it harder to increase taxes.
If the Court were to rule against SB 1246 on the grounds that tax relief measures must meet the standards of SQ 640, numerous previous tax reductions could be overturned, including: income tax reductions, estate tax repeal, increases in the standard deduction, gross production tax rate reductions, manufacturing exemptions, and tax relief for retirees, military veterans and disabled veterans.
Senate Communications Division
Following the swearing-in of new and returning Senators on Tuesday, Senate Republicans met in caucus to elect their leadership team for the 55th Oklahoma Legislature. Without opposition, Sen. Brian Bingman was reelected as President Pro Tempore-Nominee of the Senate. Bingman also announced that Sen. Mike Schulz will continue to serve as Majority Floor Leader for the 55th Legislature. Majority Caucus Chair Bryce Marlatt and Majority Caucus Vice Chair A.J. Griffin were also elected without opposition.
In addition, the Senate Republican Caucus elected assistant majority floor leaders and majority whips on Tuesday.
“I’m grateful to our caucus for once again entrusting me with this responsibility, and I look forward to working together as we advance the state of Oklahoma,” said Bingman, R-Sapulpa. “The eight new members of our caucus bring a diverse array of experience and a dedication to serve the people of their districts. We will continue working to ensure Oklahoma remains a leader in economic development and job growth for years to come.”
Senate Republicans also elected the following members to leadership posts Tuesday:
Assistant Majority Floor Leaders:
Sen. Rick Brinkley
Sen. Eddie Fields
Sen. Greg Treat
Sen. Nathan Dahm
Sen. Kim David
Sen. Frank Simpson
Sen. Rob Standridge
Majority Caucus Chair:
Sen. Bryce Marlatt
Majority Caucus Vice Chair:
Sen. A.J. Griffin.
“I congratulate this fine group of Senators on their election to Senate leadership,” Bingman said. “These men and women will be instrumental in our efforts to advance conservative policy.”
The 55th Legislature will include eight new Republican Senators. Four Senate seats have switched from Democrat to Republican, including Marty Quinn (District 2), Joseph Silk (District 5), Roger Thompson (District 8), and Darcy Jech (District 26). The Senate will also welcome four freshmen in seats previously held by Republicans with the addition of Senators Stephanie Bice (District 22), Jason Smalley (District 28), Ervin Yen (District 40), and Jack Fry (District 42).
The Senate will meet for organizational day on Jan. 6, where leaders will be formally elected and rules for the 2015 session will be passed.
Earlier, friends, family and supporters looked on as newly elected and reelected members of the Oklahoma State Senate took the oath of office on Tuesday in the Senate chamber. Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, President of the Senate, presided over the ceremony. The oath was administered by the Honorable John Reif, Chief Justice-Elect of the Supreme Court.
New members taking the oath of office were Marty Quinn, R-Claremore; Joseph Silk, R-Broken Bow; Roger Thompson, R-Okemah; Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City; Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher; Jason Smalley, R-Stroud, Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City; Jack Fry, R-Midwest City; and Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City. Anastasia Pittman, D-Oklahoma City, was sworn in during an earlier ceremony. Quinn, Floyd, Smalley and Pittman have previously served in the House of Representatives.
Returning members who were sworn in on Tuesday included Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa; Mike Schulz, R-Altus; Mark Allen, R-Spiro; Randy Bass, D-Lawton; Josh Brecheen, R-Coalgate; Rick Brinkley, R-Owasso; Bill Brown, R-Broken Arrow; Kim David, R-Porter; Eddie Fields, R-Wynona; AJ Griffin, R-Guthrie; Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City; Frank Simpson, R-Springer; and Anthony Sykes; R-Moore. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, and John Sparks, D-Norman, took the oath of office in an earlier ceremony.
Returning members were able to file legislation for the 2015 session beginning November 17, while new members can begin filing bills on November 19. The deadline for requesting bills is December 12. January 22 is the deadline for introducing legislation to be heard in the 2015 session.
The full Senate will officially convene for an organizational day on Tuesday, January 6, 2015, and the First Session of the 55th Legislature reconvenes on Monday, February 2.
The Senate website has streaming video from all committee rooms and the chamber. Legislation, the Senate Journal, biographical information on members, high resolution photos, committee and floor agendas, votes and press releases can also be accessed at www.oksenate.gov.
Hall Capital announced today the creation of an investor relations office to provide a focal point of communications and services for investors in the firm’s various private equity, automotive, real estate and energy investment partnerships.
Fred J. Hall, Managing Partner of the third-generation family owned investment business, said David Holt will head the new office as Director of Investor Relations and Wendy House will expand her role at Hall Capital to include Associate Director of Investor Relations in addition to her position as Vice President of the Fred Jones Family Foundation.
“Our success the past 95 years in creating partnerships with other family owned enterprises as well as working with entrepreneurs and innovators across the country to provide them the capital to grow and build their businesses resulted in a steady increase in the number of investors,” Hall said. “I have come to recognize that Hall Capital should initiate an office of Investor Relations to build on the momentum we have created from investing in small to medium size companies.”
Hall continued, “David will play an important role in strengthening and executing our investor communications and relationship strategies. His broad and diversified background in law, business and public service makes him well suited and qualified for this new position. David is well respected locally as well as nationally, and I am pleased he has agreed to join our growing firm to provide leadership for our newly established investor relations group.”
In response to joining Hall Capital, Holt commented, “I’ve been privileged to work with the Hall family for the past several years on civic initiatives while watching the tremendous growth of the family’s investment business. I am honored to join this dynamic company and accomplished team and look forward with high anticipation to supporting our investors.”
Holt, an Oklahoma State Senator, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from The George Washington University and Juris Doctorate from Oklahoma City University. His public service career includes working with former United States Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and United States President George W. Bush. Before his election to the Senate in 2010, Holt served in the administration of then Lt. Governor Mary Fallin and as the longtime chief of staff to Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. Holt recently ran unopposed for a second term.
“I am also pleased our longtime associate Wendy House has chosen to expand her role with our company by joining David in our investor relations group,” Hall said. “Wendy has done an exceptional job managing our Fred Jones Family Foundation. Her impressive communications, organizational and administrative abilities will serve our investors well.”
House joined Hall Capital in 2007. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Oklahoma. Respected in the Oklahoma City community, House has voluntarily served in leadership positions on several non-profit organizations.
About Hall Capital
Hall Capital is a third generation family-owned business with operations in Automotive, Private Capital, Real Estate, and Oil & Gas investing as well as the Fred Jones Family Foundation. The company continues to embody the entrepreneurial vision and “forward unlimited” spirit that launched its founder, Fred Jones, into business. Hall Capital is owned and managed by Fred J. Hall, Brooks Hall Jr. and Kirkland Hall with offices in Chicago, Dallas, Nashville and Oklahoma City.
House Media Division
Returning and newly elected members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives will take their official oath of office during a special ceremony on Tuesday.
Chief Justice-elect John Reif will administer the oath of office at 10:30 a.m. in the House Chamber.
Doors will open at 10:20 a.m. for general public seating in the fifth-floor gallery. Members of the media are invited to use the fifth-floor press box overlooking the House Chamber. There are seven XLR outlets available in the press box to access the live-audio feed. Print photographers may use the press box or find a permanent position in one of the corners of the public viewing gallery on the fourth floor. Print photographers will not be permitted to roam the gallery and obstruct the view of guests.
The ceremony will be streamed live and can be viewed at www.okhouse.gov.