An owner of a landfill development company testified Wednesday hiring the then-Senate leader Mike Morgan in 2005 to stop legislation harmful to the company was simply “the cost of doing business.”
Richard Denton, of Blackwell, was the second owner of Dilworth Development Inc. to testify that Morgan, a former Senate president pro tem, was paid for his political influence.
He told a jury Morgan and lobbyist Andrew Skeith were hired on the recommendation of attorney Martin Stringer. He said company owners first met Morgan and Skeith at Stringer’s law offices in Oklahoma City on June 28, 2005.
He said the four owners were told Morgan had stopped a bill that would have made their landfill plans “dead in the water.” He said they were told the same thing could happen any time going forward. He said they were told if they had Morgan “on our team” he could stop the bills at the Senate.
He said they agreed to pay Morgan $50,000 a year.
“I think we took it as the cost of doing business,” he said.
Read more: http://newsok.com/second-owner-testified-mike-morgan-was-hired-to-stop-harmful-bills/article/3649239#ixzz1mVE4oOYl.
House Democratic Caucus
Today House Democratic Leader Scott Inman, D-Del City, announced his appointment of Representative Brian Renegar, D-McAlester, as the newest Assistant Floor Leader to the House Democratic Caucus.
Rep. Renegar will assume Rep. Al McAffrey’s floor leader position, as Rep. McAffrey will soon leave the House to represent District 46 in the Oklahoma Senate.
“Currently Rep. Renegar serves as the Senior Advisor on Agricultural issues for our caucus, as well as one of our Senior Water Policy Advisors. I am very pleased he is willing to step up and take on this additional leadership role,” said Leader Inman. “I know he cares deeply about the welfare of our state, and I have the utmost confidence that he will continue to work tirelessly in this position to serve the people of Oklahoma.”
A staunch protector of Oklahoma’s water resources, Rep. Renegar has worked to keep the water of Sardis Lake in Southeastern Oklahoma.
Feb 15 2012 | Posted in Cartoons
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House Media Division
A House committee has voted to reform Oklahoma’s tax code by restricting or eliminating the use of “transferable tax credits,” a special form of credit that can be sold to other individuals who are not involved with the activity qualifying for the tax credit.
“Thanks to extensive study of this issue in recent months, it has become clear that transferable tax credits result in little if any permanent job creation and often simply allow other individuals to avoid tax payments,” said state Rep. Dennis Johnson, R-Duncan. “Oklahoma voters do not want their tax dollars to be used to subsidize activity that does not serve the broad public interest, and I believe this reform is long overdue.”
House Bill 2621, by Johnson, limits the transferability of tax credits for coal production, zero emission facilities, small wind turbine manufacturers, qualified historic rehabilitation expenditures, energy-efficient residential construction, and qualified railroad reconstruction or replacement expenditures.
Under the bill, coal production tax credits may not be applied to the rural cooperative tax, insurance premium tax, or insurance retaliation tax; and tax credits for small wind turbine manufacturers and qualified historic rehabilitation expenditures may not be applied to the bank privilege tax, or to portions of insurance premium tax or insurance retaliation tax associated with the General Revenue Fund.
The bill’s provisions would not be applicable to tax credits earned, transferred, or eligible to be carried forward before January 1, 2012.
Under current law, an individual or business who qualifies for a transferable tax credit may sell that credit to another individual for an amount that is less than the value of the credit. The arrangement allows the original credit holder to indirectly raise funds from the private sector with taxpayer assets, and allows buyers to reduce their tax liability without actually engaging in any activity that qualifies for the tax credit.
In 2008 and 2009, the average annual amount of tax credits transferred was $26.7 million. Of that amount, $16.2 million was transferred to insurance companies, allowing them to reduce their tax liability. The remaining $10.5 million in transferable tax credits was purchased by individual tax filers, according to an Oklahoma Tax Commission analysis.
Based on those figures, it is estimated that House Bill 2621 will free up $10.5 million for the state this year.
“A tax credit intended for one entity being used by another defeats the genuine purpose of having tax credits. The shell game created using transferable tax credits is simply bad public policy,” Johnson said. “By closing this loophole and others like it, we can lower the tax rate for working families without cuts to core areas of government.”
House Bill 2621 has passed out of the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Revenue and Taxation on a bipartisan 11-0 vote. It now goes before the full House Appropriations and Budget Committee.
House Media Division
Lawmakers took the first step to reform higher education funding today with committee passage of a bill to study outcome-based formulas.
“Year after year, our state colleges and universities request ever-larger appropriations, yet the outcomes they produce are less than stellar,” said state Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City. “We need to reform higher education funding to include incentives and rewards for colleges that perform at the highest level instead of continuing to provide across-the-board increases regardless of performance.”
House Bill 2517, by Kern, creates the Higher Education Outcomes-Based Funding Task Force. The group will make recommendations for the development of an outcomes-based funding model for Oklahoma’s higher education institutions that would replace the current enrollment-based funding formula.
The task force would be required to submit a preliminary report by December 31, 2012, and a final report by May 31, 2013.
Data released by the Oklahoma State Regents of Higher Education has shown that Oklahoma’s regional universities (all four-year institutions except the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University) have a six-year graduate rate of 37.1 percent. That rate has actually declined since 2004.
“We are spending billions on our schools, yet the vast majority of students fail to obtain a degree,” Kern said. “We are getting very little return on our investment and it is time to reform funding to achieve better results.”
House Bill 2517 passed unanimously out of the House Rules Committee today. It now goes to the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Members of the statewide organization of economic developers met at the Capitol today to tout their top three legislative issues this year: economic development incentives, workforce development training and workers’ compensation reform.
The Oklahoma Professional Economic Development Council (OEDC), an affiliate of The State Chamber of Oklahoma, has a pro-business, pro-jobs agenda that supports Governor Fallin’s efforts to improve Oklahoma’s overall business climate, attracting more jobs and investment to the state.
OEDC’s Economic Development Day at the Capitol featured remarks from Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb, President Pro-Tempore Brian Bingman and Speaker Pro Tempore Jeffrey Hickman. The program also included discussion of OEDC’s 2012 legislative agenda with lawmakers.
“With all the issues our elected officials will be inundated with this session, it is vital that we stress the importance of economic development to the future of Oklahoma,” said Lyle Roggow, president of the Duncan Area Economic Development Foundation and Chair of OEDC.
Gwendolyn Caldwell, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at The State Chamber of Oklahoma, also discussed key legislative issues for the session as well as the importance of economic developers getting actively involved in promoting pro-business legislation both at the Capitol and with their local leaders back home.
“It’s really important for The State Chamber to build strong collaborative partnerships with organizations, like OEDC, that influence the law-making process,” said Caldwell. “We’re excited to be a part of this event and share information on the key legislative issues we think are important for this session.”
During the program, Oklahoma Senator Clark Jolley, (R-Edmond) was named 2011 Legislative Advocate of the Year by OEDC. This award, selected annually by the OEDC membership, recognizes one legislator for outstanding support of economic development legislation.
“It is an honor to recognize someone who has been so active in assisting with economic development growth in our state,” said Roggow.
Jolley joins a list going back to 1996 of distinguished past recipients including Rep. Skye McNiel, former Speaker of the House Chris Benge, former Senate President Pro-Tempore Glenn Coffee, and former Rep. Daniel Sullivan.
Following the program, members of OEDC took their 2012 agenda to legislators to discuss the importance of the key economic development bills and the impact those bills have on job growth and business in Oklahoma.
“Local economic developers are best able to educate lawmakers on how policy affects businesses in tangible ways in their communities,” said State Chamber President Fred Morgan. “It is critical that we build on the pro-growth momentum started last legislative session, which is why it is so important that The State Chamber and our grassroots partners like OEDC work together to keep this year’s session focused on jobs and the state’s economy.”
For more information about OEDC, or for a full list of Legislative Advocate of the Year Past Recipients, visit www.oedc.net.
Feb 15 2012 | Posted in General
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Feb 15 2012 | Posted in Cartoons
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By Rep. Leslie Osborn
When the founding fathers decided on a system of procuring money from the citizens against their will, which is taxation, it was with the caveat that the amount of money procured would never be more than was needed for core essential needs of the populace.
Those needs are usually defined as public safety of the citizens, a system of infrastructure to move goods and services, a public education system for a well-educated citizenry, and the caring for of individuals who could truly not care for themselves.
Over the years government spending has grown into a huge monster of appropriating for everything from public art; television; theatres; museums; superfluous travel for elected officials, agency members and faculty; pet projects; special interests; and even paying individuals to lobby for more money for the agencies.
In total we have 78 appropriated agencies in our state and I think we can all agree there are probably not that many core essential needs of Oklahoma citizens.
American frontiersman and Tennessee Congressman Davy Crockett is famous for a quote he made while serving our country. A military widow was in dire need after a tragedy and a bill came before Congress to appropriate $10,000 to her aid. Crockett replied, “We have rights as individuals to give as much of our own money as we please to charity; but as members of Congress we have no right to appropriate a dollar of public money.”
How in the world have we gotten to the place where we are denounced for running legislation to slow the growth of government, to defund philanthropic endeavors, to better fund actual core services of government?
What gives us as legislators the right to take citizens’ money and spend it on benevolent projects without their approval?
I believe we have a duty to our state and constituents to spend on those core services and ensure they are maintained in the best way to serve Oklahomans, but not to procure or spend a dollar more than is needed in that endeavor.
Does that mean that these other worthy projects will cease? As long as the public dollar is paying for these projects there is no need for the private sector to step up and fund them. When the public dollar is removed, the free enterprise and spirit of the citizens will show which of these projects will continue in the private sector, where they should always have remained.
As we talk about phasing out our state income tax we will see that Oklahomans will get to keep and spend more of their own money on what they choose to spend it on, not what we choose to spend it on for them. I believe that Oklahomans will still support the arts and culture, but it will be of their own free will as it was always intended.
State Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang, represents House District 47.
By Howard Houchin
WOW! My apologies to all but I let a DOOZIE slip by! There are “bad bills”, “really bad bills”, “well intended bills with bad or misguided language”, and then there are ‘DOOZIE’S”. These are the ones that sound very benign, benevolent even, yet the unforeseen (unspoken) consequences can be devastating. HB3076 is a DOOZIE!
HB3076, authored by Rep. Joe Dorman, passed the Oklahoma Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety on 12 Feb., 2012 on a unanimous 9 – 0 vote. HB3076 begins with:
“An Act relating to schools; amending 70 O.S. 2011, Section 5-142, which relates to criminal history record checks; defining term; requiring board of education to request national criminal history check for any prospective volunteer; requiring school district to pay search fee; prohibiting future checks after prospective volunteer passes a check unless break in service occurs; and providing an effective date.”
Not too bad on the surface until you read, and then REALLY think about, the language. HB3076 is an amendatory bill that adds “Prospective Volunteer” to the list of individuals that a school board SHALL (meaning: MUST) request, from the Oklahoma State Board of Education (utilizing the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation — OSBI) a “National Criminal History Check”. According to HB3076 a “Prospective volunteer includes a parent, guardian, or any individual who intends to volunteer in a capacity that gives him or her direct contact with students.”
Any of you folks ever ‘”volunteered” for a school event where you had “direct contact with students”? I’d be willing to bet most of you have. As a matter of fact, I know of many school districts where family, friend, and community “volunteers” make up the bulk of support for school events and the “volunteers” have “direct contact with students” at some point during the school event.
Okay…get ready to be fingerprinted. Why? Because that is one very important feature of a “National Criminal History Check”. To “volunteer” you get to allow OSBI to come and fingerprint you and collect other personal information…YEEEHAAAWWWW, you’re on your way to being a “volunteer”!!!! Oh…did I mention that there is money involved as well? Yes! The school district or “a support organization associated with the school district gets to pay for the “National Criminal History Check” not to exceed US$50.00!!! (OMG! I can hardly wait…I’m amost a “volunteer”!)
In my little ole hometown of Hugo, Oklahoma U.S. of A., I’d willing to estimate that some 250 (very conservative estimate) would fall into the legal definition of “volunteer” under HB3076. Now, I’m not saying that 250 good folks would go through this INSANE proposal…but lets say 100 of us diehard “volunteer” (in little ole Hugo) decided that our “volunteerness” was worth anything for our kids and our town. That is just a mere US$5,000.00 (as long as we don’t take a year off from “volunteering”).
The HHS Football Buffaloes Team Chaplain would get to be fingerprinted! All those great gals that help with the cheerleaders will get to be fingerprinted! The “volunteer” folks that work the concession stands get to be fingerprinted! Those parents that “volunteer” to ride on those real comfortable big-yellow school buses get to be fingerprinted! The Mom’s, Dad’s, Aunt’s, and Grandparent’s that “volunteer” their time and resources to upgrade and/or clean facilities…YEP, they get to be fingerprinted!
Here’s a link to HB3076 — just click around and look at who voted FOR it in committee and then call you Oklahoma State Representative: http://www.oklegislature.gov/BillInfo.aspx?Bill=HB3076#
I’m done…Kill This Bill!!!
By Matt Pinnell
Chairman, Oklahoma Republican Party
When the Tulsa World takes the time to write three articles, one cartoon, and an editorial criticizing an elected official for not lining up at the government trough, you can probably bet that a principled conservative stand has been made.
Such was the case earlier this month when Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt, stood alone among his Republican AG colleagues nationally in refusing to participate in a national mortgage settlement brokered by the Obama administration to reengineer the mortgage industry, shakedown banks, and provide $26 billion in handouts to homeowners who stopped making their mortgage payments in the name of “justice”.
And how fortunate for the President that he can tout this deal as particularly beneficial to those swing states that he must carry to win reelection. Make no mistake, this was a political decision, not a presidential one that would be in the best interest of our country.
In October of 2010 a 50-state coalition of Attorneys General announced an investigation into the practices of five of the nation’s largest mortgage servicers. At the heart of the investigation was the faulty practice known as robo-signing where paperwork was not properly vetted by bank officials prior to foreclosure proceedings beginning.
The other most egregious conduct was that of dual tracking, where mortgage servicers encouraged homeowners to stop making payments in order to be eligible for loan modifications while simultaneously foreclosing on them when homeowners followed these instructions.
These poor practices and violations of state law deserved to be investigated by the AGs, and homeowners who were wrongly foreclosed upon deserve to have some form of restitution. That is an appropriate role and within the scope of Attorneys General authority.
What was not appropriate, however, was when the Obama Department of Justice hijacked the investigation and morphed it into a multi-billion dollar hand out to homeowners, requiring the banks to engage in loan modifications and principle reduction under the threat of prosecution on numerous fronts if they didn’t.
Attorney General Pruitt rightly refused to engage in a settlement that exceeded what he felt was the appropriate role of a state Attorneys General.
Instead, he brokered his own deal. A deal that will result in $18.6 million in damages for those few homeowners in Oklahoma who were victims of bad conduct by the banks, while opting out of the potpourri federal settlement that would have allowed any and all homeowners who were foreclosed upon in Oklahoma during a certain time period to get a $2,000 check and a reduction in their principle – even if they haven’t made mortgage payments for months and couldn’t afford their home to begin with.
The last time I checked, the problem with Washington and politics in America is that we don’t have enough elected officials who are willing to take principled stands against the philosophy of big government and exceeding their authority. Thankfully, we have more than a few principled leaders in Oklahoma, including General Pruitt.
Feb 15 2012 | Posted in General
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