The House gave final approval to legislation Wednesday putting into statute an agreement made in 2013 between the Governor and the War Veterans Commission addressing smoking in Oklahoma’s veterans centers. Senate Bill 1777, by Sen. Frank Simpson and Rep. Pat Ownbey, will permit smoking by the residents of the centers until January 2018.
“I again want to thank the Governor, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the War Veterans Commission and the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs for working together to come up with this plan that accommodates our veterans who smoke while still being considerate of the health of the other residents and employees at the centers,” said Simpson, R-Ardmore. “We have to remember that these centers are home for these veterans and we wanted to make sure that they were treated fairly and had adequate time to prepare for the change.”
SB 1777 requires state operated veterans centers to be designated nonsmoking effective January 1, 2015. At such time, a center may establish an outdoor designated smoking area for residents only. All state operated veterans centers must be entirely nonsmoking by January 1, 2018.
Of the more than 1,400 residents at the center, less than 250 smoke.
Ownbey said the legislation is about fairness.
“This legislation was put together based on discussions we had with Governor Fallin and several veterans’ organizations,” said Ownbey, R-Ardmore. “Senator Simpson and I thought it was unfair to force veterans who are residents at the veterans’ centers to immediately give up smoking. The compromise we worked out was to give them until 2018. Only residents will be allowed to smoke until that date at those locations.”
The need for SB 1777 arose after Gov. Fallin banned smoking on all state property, including the state’s veterans centers, on February 6, 2012, with executive order 2012-01. On April 13, 2012, the governor requested guidelines from the War Veterans Commission for implementation of her executive order but no agreement was reached. In May 2013, SB 501 was signed into law placing the Governor’s executive order into statute. However, since no agreement had been reached between the governor and the War Veterans Commission in 2012, no provisions for the veterans centers were provided in SB 501. SB 1777 reflects the agreement reached in October 2013 between the Governor, the ODVA, the War Veterans Commission and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
Once signed by the Governor, the new law will go into effect November 1, 2014.
Governor Mary Fallin today issued the following statement regarding her opposition to President Obama’s plan to increase the national minimum wage from $7.25/hour to $10.10/hour. Fallin released the statement after signing Senate Bill 1023, a bill that ensures municipalities in Oklahoma cannot mandate a minimum wage higher than the national rate.
“President Obama and the Democratic Party are advocating for an increase in the minimum wage from $7.75 to $10.10. They believe that on this issue, like on so many others, the government can just mandate prosperity and growth with no consideration of economic reality. Now they are taking that fight to Oklahoma, urging their liberal allies to push for mandatory wage increases.
“President Obama and his Oklahoma surrogates say they want to raise the minimum wage to reduce poverty. They are ignoring the fact that most minimum wage workers are young, single people working part time or entry level jobs. Many are high school or college students living with their parents in middle class families.
“Mandating an increase in the minimum wage would require businesses to fire many of these part time workers. In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates a minimum wage hike would result in half a million jobs being lost. A mandated wage hike would create a hardship for small business owners, stifle job creation and increase costs for consumers. It would do all of these things without even addressing the goal of reducing poverty.
“Oklahoma doesn’t need the Obama Administration’s advice on how to build a strong economy. We have a 5 percent unemployment rate and, since 2011, the third highest per capita personal income increase in the nation. We are focused on continuing to successfully create and retain jobs that pay above the minimum wage.”
Senate Communications Division
The full Senate has given unanimous approval to a measure aimed at protecting the rights of parents to decide how best to raise their children. House Bill 1384, by Sen. AJ Griffin, R-Guthrie, and Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, is also known as the “Parents Bill of Rights.”
“The family is the most basic unit of society,” Griffin said. “This bill simply clarifies that parents have the fundamental right to decide how to raise their children, and that includes the right to make decisions about their education, their religious training, and their medical and mental health care.”
Griffin said a recent case in Boston was but one example of attempts to erode parental rights in this country. When parents disagreed with a hospital’s decision to treat their daughter as mentally ill instead of treating her for a physical illness as diagnosed by a reputable physician, the hospital asked the state to terminate the parents’ rights. The court sided with the hospital.
Griffin called that decision shocking, but noted there have been other cases throughout the country that represent an attempt by courts or governmental officials to deny basic parental rights.
“This legislation bolsters the fundamental right of Oklahoma parents to decide how to raise their children,” Griffin said.
The Senate voted Monday 43-0 in favor of HB 1384. The bill now will return to the House for approval of amendments.
Congressman Tom Cole
What began as a U.S. Defense Department program in the 1960s has become a communications phenomenon that has revolutionized the way we share and acquire information. An American achievement that now connects networks across the globe, the Internet has recently grown from a “high speed” 56k modem in 1996 to a worldwide network that allows users to instantly download and watch TV shows and movies. Without question, going online is a valued part of society that has increased access to information and even helped businesses grow.
Since the Internet’s inception, the United States has understandably played a major role in the supervision of critical back-end web work, including management of domain names through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). Back in 2000, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) at the Department of Commerce began contracting with ICANN to ensure these important functions were performed appropriately and effectively. This oversight role has allowed the United States to maintain an open, stable and secure Internet that is accessible all over the world.
On March 14, 2014, however, the Department of Commerce announced it will not renew its contract with ICANN when it expires in the fall of 2015. Instead, NTIA announced its plans to transition the United States out of its oversight role and turn it over to a global Internet multi-stakeholder community, likely within the United Nations (UN). Because the details of the plan haven’t been unveiled, it can be assumed that the Administration’s decision is premature and will threaten the future of the innovative global network.
Because the Internet connects networks across countries, the question of how it should be governed is not unusual. But American freedoms are unique freedoms, not always recognized or likely to be protected under a multi-stakeholder community. In particular, under a global community model, our nation’s freedom of speech could be attacked and censored. The UN’s International Telecommunications Union has long desired to seize oversight of domain names from the United States. Both the House and Senate remain united that it is not time to transition the United States out of its current oversight role. In 2012, both chambers unanimously warned the International Telecommunications Union to maintain the current Internet governance. Last May, the House again showed its concern when it unanimously passed H.R. 1580; this legislation reaffirmed that it is the policy of the United States to preserve and advance the current model that governs the Internet.
While this legislation awaits action in the Senate, leaders on both sides of the aisle have voiced their concern over surrendering this sort of control to a yet-to-be-determined international community. Even former President Bill Clinton spoke out, “A lot of people…have been trying to take this authority from the U.S. for the sole purpose of cracking down on Internet freedom and limiting it and having governments protect their backsides instead of empowering their people.”
We cannot and must not ignore the potential threat to our First Amendment rights if the Administration prematurely surrenders control without a real transition plan. I can only assume that countries that don’t share American values will use it as a way to limit the aspects that make it successful. I remain concerned with any national or international attempts to make changes that would fundamentally alter something as robust, innovative and valuable as the Internet.
A respected black sheriff says liberal policies that perpetuate entitlement programs have destroyed the black family: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/24/clarke-social-liberalism-the-new-racism/?page=1
Reminders of the abundance in our lives surround us, but sometimes we ignore them to focus on our troubles.
Thus it is with gratitude that I acknowledge the contribution to my mental wellness of my friends of many years, Don and Sue Cogman of Scottsdale, Arizona. Don and I have been friends since 1969, plus co-workers, boss-employee, company executive-consultant. The list is long. A long relationship I treasure.
Don and Sue, like the rest of us, raised their kids in a loving home where excellence was expected and failure perceived as a learning experience.
Don and Sue’s kids are all over-achievers in the best sense of the phrase. I don’t know the kids, but I have followed them through Don and Sue all their lives and taken pride in their accomplishments.
Earlier this week, I emailed Don to say hello and he replied with this:
“We just returned from New York where we attended HBO’s premier of the 4th Season of Game of Thrones — very exciting. It was held in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, the same place Bryan graduated from Juilliard. He wrote two of the episodes and is now a co-producer — it is becoming the most successful show in HBO’s history. It was a kick!!”
Wow! Talk about a young man doing well. Bryan was born in Oklahoma City and grew up in Maryland and Connecticut as Don and Sue followed Don’s impressive career. And now, Bryan is making his star in New York City.
Brian’s success reminds me of the successes all of our kids (and grandkids!) can claim and I rejoice in the knowledge that these kinds of young folks fill our lives and remind us of the pleasant abundance that surrounds us if we look for it.
Having outlined my platform for my non-existent campaign for nothing earlier this week, I’ve received several emails from readers who found truth in some of the planks I listed.
It is this one, however, that has me seeing red:
I have an appt. with a new doctor April 10th. Got the new patient paperwork in the mail yesterday. Most of the forms were of the color-in-the-bubble-with-a-#2-pencil-so-a-computer-can-grade-it variety. Then, the last 3 questions on the form: Do you have working smoke detectors in your home? Do you consistently wear your seat belt? Are there any guns in your home? So, what I want to know is “What the HELL do any of those questions have to do with my colon?” If I fill in the wrong bubble, will I get a home visit from a psychiatrist or a police officer? By the way, I left them all blank.