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Monday, March 31, 2008 

Constitutional Protection of Hunting and Fishing Clears House Subcommittee

The House Environment and Wildlife Subcommittee voted today to give Oklahomans an opportunity to protect their right to hunt and fish by amending the state Constitution in November.

Senate Joint Resolution 38, by state Rep. Randy Terrill (R-Moore) and state Sen. Glenn Coffee (R-OKC), would require the Secretary of State to place a state question on the November ballot allowing citizens to determine whether the right to hunt and angle and take game and fish should be protected by the state Constitution. Terrill:

I call this measure the ‘Heritage Bill’ because we have a long tradition of hunting and fishing in this state that precedes statehood by centuries. Our right to hunt and fish is inherent and it deserves constitutional protection. It would be a mistake to turn a blind eye to the actions of liberal activist groups that are targeting outdoor gaming activities around the nation. This bill gives our citizens the chance to step up and protect their rights from being stolen by people who have no respect for our traditions and values.

The resolution will add a new section to the State Constitution that gives all Oklahomans the right to hunt, trap, fish, and take game and fish. The legislation would prevent new state laws from prohibiting anyone from engaging in such activities.

Award winning media personality, avid hunter and fisherman, and host of the television and radio program "Wild Oklahoma," Ron Black told the committee than a 2007 study by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation showed the economic impact of hunting and angling on Oklahoma is more than $1 billion annually. In addition, hunting and angling keeps wildlife populations in check, reduces auto insurance rates by decreasing the number of deer that could cause accidents and protects agriculture land and products from destruction by deer and fowl, said Black.

Black noted that last year, more than 110,000 deer were taken during the hunting season:

We tend to take for granted in Oklahoma that we will always have the right to hunt and fish and pass those traditions on to our families, but that type of thinking has been a grave mistake in other areas of the country where the right to hunt and fish has been restricted by states, if not taken away completely. Our traditional way of life is under attack by animal rights activists and liberal groups that don’t understand the importance of outdoor gaming on our economy and our food supply. If we don’t use the state Constitution to protect our right to hunt and fish, we won’t have that right for very long.

Terrill noted the bill has received the support of both the Oklahoma Rifle Association and the National Rifle Association.

The measure now heads to the House Natural Resources Committee to await a hearing.

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Posted at 3/31/2008 04:54:00 PM |

Will HB 1804 Drive away "Foreign-Born Workers?"

According to a study commissioned by the Oklahoma Bankers Association, Oklahoma's immigration reform bill, HB 1804, could have the unintended consequence of driving away legal immigrants, which they are referring to as "foreign-born workers."

The study, as reported by The Oklahoman, indicated:

Oklahoma's tough anti-illegal immigration law could slash the state's economic output by $1.8 billion in the measure's first year as it drives away thousands of foreign-born workers.

According to the study's authors, there is only "anecdotal evidence" that legal immigrants might be leaving the state, but that did not stop the Oklahoma Banker's Association from publishing the study.

In reality, there is actually no evidence that even the illegal workers are leaving the state in substantial numbers, and, as OKPNS has previously reported, even many of those who did leave appear to be coming back, due to lack of enforcement of the the law.

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Posted at 3/31/2008 01:36:00 PM |

Podcast: Coffee Talk with Senate Co-President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee

In this week’s “Coffee Talk” podcast, Ok Sen. Glenn Coffee (R-OKC) discusses the state budget, and how things are not as dire as some had predicted.

He says he is pleased that the OK State Supreme Court rescinded its decision to not allow some records to be available online, and commended the Senate for its Open Records policy, the successful Open Books efforts by Sen. Randy Brogdon (R-Owasso), and the recent recognition of the Senate’s Sunshine efforts.

He says that in this age of YouTube and the internet, “people want to have ready access to information” online, and he is proud that the OK Senate is on the forefront of that, and hopes that other state agencies will follow suit.

To listen, click here.

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Posted at 3/31/2008 09:06:00 AM |

Senate Judiciary Committee Co-Chair Urges Governor to Show Lawsuit Reform Plan

An agreement on lawsuit reform is possible this year, according to the Republican co-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, if Gov. Brad Henry is willing to make a counter-offer to the bipartisan lawsuit reform plans that he rejected during the 2007 legislative session. OK Sen. James Williamson (R-Tulsa):

I believe that a meaningful lawsuit reform bill is doable this year if the governor will get engaged in the process and make a formal counter-offer to the bipartisan proposals he rejected last year...There was a lot of talk last year by the governor and his surrogates about how close an agreement was, yet Gov. Henry still has not provided legislative language to show what he supports. If he truly wants to reach an agreement on lawsuit reform, it is time for Gov. Henry to put his cards on the table.

In 2007 Henry vetoed Senate Bill 507, a bipartisan lawsuit reform bill that passed the Senate and House of Representatives. Henry also rejected a second bipartisan compromise that sought to resolve his complaints about SB 507.

Williamson said the need for lawsuit reform is clear, but it is ultimately up to Henry whether Oklahoma doctors and businesses receive relief this year from lawsuit abuse.

For the fourth consecutive year, the Judicial Hellholes report published by the nonpartisan American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) gives Oklahoma a “dishonorable mention.”

Survey data from the Oklahoma Alliance of Physicians for Tort Reform showed the threat of lawsuits caused nearly one-fifth of Oklahoma doctors to consider leaving the state, while 60 percent of doctors have stopped performing riskier procedures (like delivering babies) in order to avoid lawsuits.

Lawsuits are also playing a role in the growing shortage of critical medical specialties here, such as obstetrics, especially in rural Oklahoma. Meanwhile, The Houston Chronicle reported that tort-reformed Texas is attracting doctors from non-reformed states like Oklahoma and Pennsylvania, making it difficult for Texas to keep up with the requests for new medical licenses. Similarly, a recent State Chamber survey of businesses showed that 87% believe that Oklahoma’s legal climate hurts job growth, while 52% said they would consider moving their business out of state because of lawsuits.

A 2007 report in Directorship magazine – widely read by job-creating CEO’s and directors – ranked Oklahoma’s legal climate a paltry #44 for business and job growth. The nation’s preeminent business newspaper – The Wall Street Journal – has scolded the governor in editorials because of Oklahoma’s lack of lawsuit reform. Williamson:

A majority of state legislators support real, comprehensive reforms to halt lawsuit abuse. We’re hopeful that Gov. Henry will choose to be a catalyst for reform this year instead of being the road block he has been in past years. All we are asking is that the governor fulfill his pledge to Oklahomans for Texas-Plus lawsuit reform.

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Posted at 3/31/2008 08:43:00 AM |
Saturday, March 29, 2008 

New Obama Ad Falsely Claims He Does Not Accept Money From Oil Companies

Phil Singer, Deputy Communications Director: "It's unfortunate that Senator Obama is using false advertising to explain why he can be trusted to do something about energy prices. Senator Obama says he doesn't take campaign contributions from oil companies but the reality is that ExxonMobil, Shell and others are among his donors. I wonder if they'll fix the ad."

A new ad by Sen. Obama running in Pennsylvania falsely claims that Sen. Obama does not accept money from the oil industry. In the ad, Sen. Obama says, "I'm Barack Obama and I don't take money from oil companies or lobbyists and I won't let them block change anymore."

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Sen. Obama has received over $160,000 from the oil and gas companies. Two major bundlers for his campaign --George Kaiser [Tulsa, Oklahoma] and Robert Cavnar are oil company CEOs. Sen. Obama has accepted money from Exxon, Shell, BP, Chevron and just about every other major oil company. Just last month, Sen. Obama accepted another $8,400 from ExxonMobil, $12,370 from Chevron and $6,500 from British Petroleum.

In 2005, Sen. Obama voted for the Dick Cheney energy bill, which was written in secret with the oil industry. Hillary Clinton opposed Cheney's energy bill, has a plan to eliminate oil industry tax breaks, and would require oil companies to contribute to a $50 billion strategic energy fund to jumpstart research and investment in clean energy technologies. Also see FHK: Barack Obama = Another Liar


Posted at 3/29/2008 11:46:00 AM |
Friday, March 28, 2008 

Weekend Poll

Sally Kern has recently received criticism for remarks she made in the Oklahoma legislature. OKPNS has been covering the the story here. We would like to know how OKPNS readers feel about the controversy.

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Posted at 3/28/2008 11:00:00 AM |

Grand Jury Indicts Woodward County Sheriff

A Woodward County grand jury is calling for removal of the county sheriff on accusations including filing bogus travel claims and willful neglect of duty, Attorney General Drew Edmondson said.

Woodward County Sheriff Leslie Morton is named in a 20-count indictment unsealed yesterday morning in Woodward County District Court for allegedly filing false, fictitious or fraudulent claims between July 2003 and February 2005. The grand jury alleges these false claims totaled about $10,000. The indictment includes 20 alternative counts of obtaining or attempting to obtain property by trick or deception, false statements or pretenses.

The grand jury’s accusation for removal, also unsealed yesterday, accuses Morton of corruption in office and willful neglect of duty. Morton is accused of willful neglect of duty for allegedly refusing to address costs incurred for the housing of Woodward County inmates in the Woods County Jail and for conduct “inconsistent with conduct becoming the chief law enforcement officer.” The corruption in office allegations mirror the false claims charges in the criminal indictment.

Morton was elected county sheriff in 1998. Edmondson said:

It is always regrettable when a law enforcement officer is accused of violating the laws he has sworn to uphold. A Woodward County grand jury, comprised of Woodward County citizens, found probable cause to issue the indictment and call for removal. It is now up to the courts to determine the outcome of this case.

The grand jury’s final report was also unsealed yesterday.

Also see:

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Posted at 3/28/2008 07:53:00 AM |

This Spring, or next Spring?

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, and private attorneys have recently asked the court for an injunction against the poultry companies as part of a 2005 lawsuit, to stop the spreading of poultry litter near the Illinois River Watershed area before the "Spring Rains," arrive.

Spring, however, arrived March 21, this year, and we've already had a lot of that Spring rain. Meanwhile, Attorney General Edmondson has asked the court for a four-month extension to produce expert witness reports. Spring 2008 will be a non-issue by then, of course. The court has granted a 45 day extension.

In three years of negotiations, these attorneys have not had time to gather the needed expert witness reports? Perhaps they meant Spring 2009?

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Posted at 3/28/2008 07:39:00 AM |
Thursday, March 27, 2008 

Mexican "Mobile Consul" Rolls through Tulsa this Week

Andrés Chao, who is the consul at the Mexican Consulate in Little Rock, AR, extablished in 2007 at the invitation of Gov. Mike Huckabee. Tulsa, Oklahoma is in the official "jurisdiction" of this Mexican consulate, so Chao was in the city this week, "to meet with Mayor Kathy Taylor, Police Chief Ron Palmer, and other city officials. While Chao has already visited Tulsa several times since it was opened the Mexican consulate in Little Rock, Arkansas, Chao told The Week in the South that this will be their first 'official visit' with the leaders of the city," according to the Spanish-Language periodical, La Semana del Sur. The magazine conducted a phone interview with the Consul on March 14th, and quoted Chao as saying (Translated by Google from Spanish):

This will be the first time that I will meet with the mayor and police chief. I want to know because Tulsa is part jurisdiction of this consulate. I would like to talk to them about the situation of the Mexican immigrant community… and to open channels of communication. This will be my first official visit to the mayor and the chief of police.

The magazine also states, "Chao also plans to schedule future 'mobile consul' events in Tulsa to offer in-person help to those who can not travel to Little Rock."

It is not clear at this time how Mexican citizens are able to travel to Tulsa, which is ten hours from the Mexican border, but not to Little Rock, AR, which is four hours from Tulsa.

VDare blogger, and Oklahoma City native, Allan Wall reported last year, when the consulate was being built:

Oklahoma does not (yet) have a Mexican consulate/illegal immigration encouragement station. But Chao is consul in the nearby state of Arkansas, in the new Little Rock consulate So, being next door to the Sooner State, he can still do some damage. [El Nacional July 5, 2007--México abre nuevo consulado en EU]

Now, here's the 65-thousand-peso question: If cities in Oklahoma have now come under the "jurisdiction" of a foreign government, why are we having to struggle through language translators to get information about it? Shouldn't this be all over the English-language press, as well?

(Hat-Tip, Voice of Tulsa)

More information about the Mexican Consulte in Arkansas on WorldNetDaily.

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Posted at 3/27/2008 09:08:00 AM |

Federal Fine for hiring Illegals Increases by up to $5,000

Devona Walker, of is reporting today:

The federal government has increased fines for hiring illegal immigrants by as much as $5,000, effective today, as part of an effort to ramp up worksite immigration enforcement, but some say the nominal increase isn't likely to change how some companies do business.

NewsOK is quoting Muzaffar Chisti, director of the Migration Policy Institute's New York office at New York University, who is skeptical that this change will make a big difference:

It's not clear to me that this will put a huge dent in the practice of hiring illegal workers. This will be nothing more than the cost of doing business. It will not be a determining factor. But if they start imposing criminal fees and employers start getting jail terms then you will see a dent.

Larger companies, as a rule, have more choices in picking employees than smaller companies. If the employers start going to prison, they will eventually say, ‘It's not worth it, let's just pay a dollar or two more to get U.S. workers.'

People have good reason to be skeptical that this is nothing more than symbolic language to make it appear as if they are getting serious on (illegal) immigration.

Toughly-written legislation in Oklahoma, such as HB 1804, has not produced the illegal immigration mass-exodus "shock and awe" that some had expected. It is unclear whether the new legislation at the federal level will have an impact, either.

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Posted at 3/27/2008 08:41:00 AM |

Sen. Leftwich Bill Creating Harsher Penalties for Attacks on Pregnant Women Clears first Senate Hurdle

Legislation to strengthen penalties for assaulting a pregnant woman has cleared its first hurdle in the State Senate. Sen. Debbe Leftwich (D-OKC), who is Senate author of House Bill 1897 approved Wednesday by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Public Safety and Judiciary, said:

Domestic violence is the number one cause of death for pregnant women. Oklahoma needs to do more to address such violence before it results in the death of a woman and her baby.

Leftwich said recent headlines underscored that grim statistic. Eric Kennedy Phan is awaiting trial in the murder of 20-year-old Lauren Barnes and her unborn baby. Last November, Phan talked Barnes into meeting her at a Bethany Park after she had told his girlfriend he was the father of her unborn child.

Lauren had told her little sister she was scared he would ‘blow up.’ The last her sister ever heard from her was a text message that said ‘Oh God, I think he just pulled up.’ Lauren’s body was found a week later in a shallow grave.

The measure, authored by Rep. Rebecca Hamilton (D-OKC)in the House, would allow felony charges to be filed against a person who assaults a woman and causes her to miscarry. Under the legislation known as the “Scum of the Earth Bill,” a person convicted of beating a woman the attacker knew was pregnant could be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to one year in jail. A person convicted of a second or subsequent offense would be guilty of a felony and face up to ten years in prison. If the attack resulted in a miscarriage or injury to the unborn child, it would be a felony with a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. Leftwich added:

More than 3,000 pregnant women in our state are attacked every single year—usually by the father of the baby. While state law does allow us to file double murder charges for killing a pregnant woman and her unborn child, we ought to be doing more to get that abuser behind bars before it gets to that point.

House Bill 1897 now moves to the full Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

Listen to the mp3 here

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Posted at 3/27/2008 07:54:00 AM |
Wednesday, March 26, 2008 

The Nobler Mission

By Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant

Hello again, everybody! The word “bipartisan” often is tossed around in politics to suggest if something has bipartisan support, then it is a good thing.

That is not necessarily the case. A perfect example of a bill with bipartisan support that I believe is bad policy was one relating to education that passed the Senate and was sent to the House of Representatives a couple of weeks ago.

The argument used by supporters of this voucher scheme is that these public schools are so irreparably broken that we have to provide an escape route for a lucky few. For us, however, to abandon the rest of the kids in such a school is social Darwinism at its most perverse. Only the strong – or lucky – will survive under this scheme.

This is the easy answer; this bill encourages the “cherry picking” of a few kids, lifting them out of a poor school, and leaving behind hundreds of others. The harder mission – and the far nobler one – is to improve the school for every kid. It is not beyond our ability to do so; it just will be more difficult.

Nevertheless, the mission of public education is a difficult one. Unlike private schools, public schools have a responsibility to educate every child. Every Oklahoman – even those families who put their children in private schools or philanthropists who give to a voucher scheme like this one – benefits because we offer a free public education to every child. Read more...

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Posted at 3/26/2008 04:07:00 PM |

Oklahoma Receives a Good Technology Report Card

STEM: The push to to improve Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, has published its annual technology study, and given Oklahoma a "C" for classroom access to technology, an "A-" for use of technology, and a "B-" for capacity to use technology, for an overall grade of "B-".

From the report:

The nation earns a grade of ["C+"] for leadership in technology policy and practice, based on an analysis of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. West Virginia earns the only ["A"], while Georgia and South Dakota receive ["A-"] marks.

Most states demonstrated relatively uneven performance across the areas of access, use, and capacity.


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Posted at 3/26/2008 11:45:00 AM |

Sally Kern on Flashpoint

Sally Kern, who has recently received international attention and harrassment for making negative comments about gay activism, faces off with openly gay Pastor Scott Jones of OKC's Cathedral of Hope on Easter Morning on Flashpoint.

In this video, Sally Kern defends her statements made in the Oklahoma legislature, and points out that the recent rumors online that she has a gay son are untrue. (Her son has the similar name as someone much older than he is who has been convicted of sex crimes.) However, she says if she did have a gay son, she would love him. She gave an example of how she has worked in a postive manner with gay people in the past, and respected them as individuals. She emphasized that it is the "agenda" and "lifestyle" that is "more dangerous than terrorism," and similar to cancer in they way that it spreads...not individuals.

Rev. Jones accused Kern of hate speech, and claimed that those Christians who believe that homosexuality is wrong are improperly understanding verses in scripture condemning homosexuality. He continued to insist throughout the interview that any condemnation of homosexuality is an attack on him, personally. "Homophobia is a sin," he said, "Homosexuality is not."


Two view part one of the discussion click here or on the image above. Part two of the discussion is here.

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Posted at 3/26/2008 11:00:00 AM |

Senate Judiciary Committee Co-Chair Comments on Bankers Association Study of Illegal Immigration Law

Senator James A. Williamson (R-Tulsa), the Senate author of House Bill 1804 and the co-chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said yesterday regarding a study by the Oklahoma Bankers Association regarding House Bill 1804, Oklahoma’s illegal immigration law:

Oklahoma’s economy is stronger and in much better shape than the national economy, and we’re probably doing as well as ever here in Oklahoma. We certainly aren’t seeing any evidence that HB 1804 is negatively impacting our state economy. In fact, most Oklahomans believe that our state will benefit in the long run from the reforms contained in House Bill 1804.

Even if a few businesses are impacted by a departure of illegals from Oklahoma, this will be more than offset by the positives to the taxpayers of Oklahoma. The legislation gets illegal aliens off of welfare, reduces the substantial costs of illegals to public education, and keeps illegals who have left the state from committing crimes or driving in Oklahoma without insurance. All of these public benefits were why the legislation passed by overwhelming margins in the House and Senate.

HB 1804 was passed by the Legislature in 2007. It eliminates welfare benefits and most other public assistance for illegal aliens, and mirrors federal laws that make it a crime to harbor, transport, or shelter an illegal alien. The Oklahoma Bankers Association claimed in its study that HB 1804 will have a negative impact on Oklahoma’s economy.

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Posted at 3/26/2008 10:31:00 AM |
Tuesday, March 25, 2008 

It's Official: Sonic Owners Think Oklahomans are Morons

The screw-job that is the NBA Sonics coming to town will explode in more detail this week, insiders tell the Oklahoma Political News Service.

Gov. Henry floated a trial balloon yesterday for the millionaire owners of the Seattle Sonics, who continue their double-cross of Oklahoma taxpayers.

Henry is quoted today as saying that Oklahoma must "do more" to bring the NBA to Oklahoma City, despite the fact that Sonic ownership has repeatedly told the Seattle media that the Sonics are coming to Oklahoma City, period.

Insiders say some outrageous liberal proposals will be introduced in the next few days. First, the state's Quality Job Programs, an incentive to lure new business to Oklahoma, will be expanded to include professional sports teams. Second, the incentive will be expanded from 5.% of a company's taxable wages to 5.5%. Third, an outrageous state income tax 'rebate' will be quietly included, which will result in the Sonic's multi-millionaire players sending their Oklahoma state income tax not to the state treasury, but rather to the pockets of the team's owners.

Watch for more trial balloons this week. Our insiders say Republicans will carry this latest taxpayer rip-off legislative effort, and that members of all caucuses are divided as to what to do about this brazen money grab. Once insider tells OKPNS that if the taxpayers ever pay attention to what's going on, "There will be blood."

To refresh your memory, it was OKPNS who broke the story of the sell-out to millionaires.

Stay tuned to OKPNS to see how state leaders spin and dissemble on the public. For the latest in Sonics propaganda/corporate welfare news, click here.


Lazy OK Press Follows OKPNS Lead (2/18/2008)

OK Media Wakes Up: Double Crossers In Cross Hairs? (3/ 07/2008)

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Posted at 3/25/2008 09:31:00 AM |

Tulsa Man Sentenced in Gas Price Gouging Case

Drivers who were illegally overcharged for gasoline could see a refund after a Tulsa gas station owner pleaded no contest today to price gouging during the December ice storms, Attorney General Drew Edmondson said.

Mohammed Mannan, 38, was charged Feb. 12 in Tulsa County District Court with three misdemeanor counts of violating the Oklahoma Emergency Price Stabilization Act. Mannan, owner and operator of the M&F Mart, 3025 S. Memorial in Tulsa, was accused of illegally raising the price of gasoline from $2.69 to $3.29 after a state of emergency was declared in December.

Mannan, who was ordered to serve a six-month deferred sentence, must pay refunds to consumers who paid the artificially inflated price. Consumers who think they may have been overcharged will need to complete a consumer complaint form and provide a receipt, bank or credit card statement or other proof of payment. Purchases made on Dec. 10 may be eligible for a refund. To receive a form, consumers can contact the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Unit at 405-521-2029 or Mannan will also pay a $1,500 fine plus court costs.

Oklahoma’s price gouging statute prohibits an increase of more than 10 percent in the price of most goods and services when a state of emergency has been declared:

No person for the duration of a declaration of emergency by the Governor of this state or by the President of the United States and for thirty (30) days thereafter shall sell, rent, or lease, or offer to sell, rent, or lease, for delivery in the emergency area, any goods, services, dwelling units, or storage space in the emergency area at a rate or price which is more than ten percent (10%) above the rate or price charged by the person for the same or similar goods, services, dwelling units, or storage spaces immediately prior to the declaration of emergency unless the increase in the rate or price is attributable only to factors unrelated to the emergency and does not include any increase in profit to the seller or owner.

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Posted at 3/25/2008 08:28:00 AM |
Monday, March 24, 2008 

Oklahoma Students Access to the Visual Arts By Randy McDaniel OK Rep. Randy McDaniel

Oklahoma City - March 24, 2008 - The arts are a vital part of a well-rounded education and vibrant state. Oklahoma has enjoyed more than its fair share of creative and innovative artists. From worldwide singers and entertainers to outstanding visual artists, Oklahomans have dreamed big and been on the forefront of creativity.

The Oklahoma Creativity Project, headed by OSU President Burns Hargis, strives to make Oklahoma a recognized hub of creativity and ingenuity. I strongly endorse his efforts and want to contribute to the initiative.

Recently, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a bill I authored, House Bill 2699, which was named the "Traveling Arts Bill". This bill provides Oklahoma students in schools that do not have existing visual arts programs access to the arts. As schools focus increasingly on teaching for the next standardized test, art and creativity have been pushed aside. In fact, in many schools with limited resources, art classes have been completely eliminated.

The Oklahoma Art Council is in charge of awarding grants to qualified organizations willing to travel the state and teach art in schools without full-time visual arts teachers.

Suzanne Tate, the new executive director of the Oklahoma Arts Council, said this bill is important for Oklahoma schools because it brings arts back into the classroom in a sustainable way, giving every student the opportunity to be exposed to it. She also added that art helps kids learn by opening up the world and exposing them to new cultures and new types of art. Many students are visual learners and art helps them with the learning process making it easier for them to achieve and do well in other academic areas like math and science.

Once all schools are able to offer quality art programs, teachers can also take advantage of the great educational opportunities found across the state. From City Arts, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, and the Oklahoma City Museum of Art to the Philbrook and Gilcrease Museums, Oklahoma offers outstanding attractions that will enhance students’ art-educational experiences.

Oklahoma is also a host to many arts festivals, including the annual Oklahoma City Arts Festival held in April. This week-long festival provides students another opportunity to gain exposure to professional artists and all types of outstanding art, including sculpture, painting, photography, and pottery.

Arts education provides students an advantage as they begin to compete for jobs and careers in the 21st century economy. Art education helps enhance critical thinking skills and creativity. Thus, when students have access to the arts, it ignites their intellectual curiosity and development preparing them for our rapidly changing society.

See also: The OKPNS State of Creativity Archive

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Posted at 3/24/2008 08:13:00 PM |

Andrew Rice Boasts “Who’s Who” list of California Liberals

...from the OKGOP:

On March 8, 2008, State Senator Andrew Rice, the lone opponent of U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe, was in Venice, California collecting large campaign contributions from a “Who’s Who” list of the most liberal Democrat’s in California.

Rice didn’t advertise his Saturday out-of-state fundraiser on his campaign calendar, just as he failed to mention another recent fundraiser at a celebrity-only club in New York City with liberal activist Janeane Garofalo as one of the listed hosts. Instead, Rice hopes to keep Oklahomans in the dark about the liberal special interests bankrolling his campaign.

Saturday’s fundraiser in California included liberal notables such as:

  1. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has received a 100% grade from NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood for over a decade.
  2. Congressman Henry Waxman, who has received an “F” grade from the National Rifle Association every year he has been in office and a “F-“ grade from the Gun Owners of America.
  3. L.A. City Council Member Bill Rosendahl, who endorsed Dennis Kucinich for President because of “his support for same-sex marriage”.

“You can learn a lot about a person by the company they keep,” said State GOP Chairman Gary Jones. “The cast of characters Andrew Rice is taking money from tells us all we need to know.”

“Senator Rice owes it to Oklahoma voters to be clear about his values. With host committees comprised of pro-abortion, anti-Second Amendment, and anti-traditional marriage liberals, one would think Rice was running in California not Oklahoma, because these values are not shared by a majority of Oklahomans.”


Posted at 3/24/2008 08:04:00 PM |

Justice, Skirted

...from Paul Jacob, of the Sam Adams Alliance:

Two years ago in Oklahoma, Riccardo Gino Ferrante was arrested for aiming a camera up a 16-year-old girl’s skirt while in a Target store. He was arrested and convicted of a felony.

Unfortunately, in mid-March four-fifths of Oklahoma’s Court of Criminal Appeals voted that no felony occurred.


Because “the person photographed was not in a place where she had a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Now, being in a public place does remove or decrease one’s expectation of privacy. But ought that extend even to the private space within one’s clothing?

The court answered in the affirmative. As Judge Gary Lumpkin wrote in his dissent, “It is open season for peeping Toms in public places who want to look under a woman’s dress.”

This is judicial common sense in the age of Britney Spears? At least there’s still the knuckle-sandwich penalty someone might get.

If our court system can’t get this one right, everyone should agree that something’s wrong.

The judiciary must be independent. But it must be independent of the other branches of government, not detached from common sense, or all semblance of sanity.

Oklahoma legislators now seek to outlaw currently court-protected invasive and gutter photography. Should they also consider random intelligence testing for the judiciary? They have more than probable cause.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob. (Click here to listen to an MP3 File of this episode of Common Sense)

(Also see FoxNews: Court Drops Case of 'Peeping Tom' in Target; Says Victim Was Not in Private Place)

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Posted at 3/24/2008 02:12:00 PM |

Oklahoma Education may Soon be More like China's

Superindendent Sandy Garrett and Governor Brad Henry are conspiring to ruin the summer vacations of students all across Oklahoma..bwahahahaah!!

No, not really, but they are seeking to bring the attendance up to the national average of 180 days, rather than the current 175 days per school year. The cost of adding these five days to the school year would be approximately $90M, according to a report in yesterday's Joplin Globe.

Legislators promoting the change cite the need for students to be able to compete the global economy. The inspiration for wanting to increase the amount of time the government monopolizes of our children's days? Communist China. Rep. Tad Jones (R-Claremore) said:

If we’re trying to compete with China, then we have to deal with a large-scale expansion of time...But we’ve got to make sure it’s a quality education, not just a quantity.

The Norman Transcript added the Jones wants to actually lengthen the school day, and have children attend school on only four days per week, to save the state money. No word on where those kids would go on the their days off from school while their parents are at work.

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Posted at 3/24/2008 08:20:00 AM |

B-b-b-but it's for the Children

Remember how the state lottery was supposed to fix our state's education budget? Remember how it didn't work?

Well, now, Arkansas is thinking about doing something similar, and this has some Oklahoman's worried that this could reduce state revenue from the lottery even further.

Two proposals failed to make it out of committee earlier this year, in which Jim Scroggins, the Oklahoma State Lottery Commissioner tried to get Oklahoma legislators to release the state mandate (currently 30% and soon 35%) on the funds, so that the lottery could compete better with surrounding states, which could, he hypothesised, actually increase the revenue to the state. Legislators were not convinced.


Posted at 3/24/2008 08:03:00 AM |

OK Supreme Court wins "Black Hole" Award from FOI OKlahoma

Although Oklahoma as a Senate was recently honored by FOI Oklahoma with a Sunshine Award, the state Supreme Court's recent decision to limit access to records online has earned it the dubious "Black Hole" award from the group.

The Oklahoman explains:

The justices received the award for roadblocking freedom of information by establishing new rules addressing content on the Internet. When the rules go into effect June 10, online access to court documents in the Supreme Court and district courts will be limited to court dockets only.

Besides eliminating Internet access, the order puts new restrictions on what information the public can access from legal documents filed with court clerks.

Of course making open records a matter of law, and actually opening those records are two different matters altogether, as Joey Senat recently told The Oklahoman:

Joey Senat, an OSU journalism professor and past president of Freedom of Information Oklahoma Inc., said leaving prosecution to district attorneys isn't working.

"I think very often it's that district attorneys don't want to embarrass their fellow elected officials,” Senat said. "It may also have to do with the power and the money that the people on those boards might have.”

Senat said district attorneys are put in a bind when local police are accused of violating the law, because they depend on a working relationship with law enforcement.


Posted at 3/24/2008 07:46:00 AM |

Get your Photo Taken with U.S. Sen. John McCain for the Low, Low Price of $2,300

According to the McCain Campaign:

Join U.S. Senator John McCain for a finance reception in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on Friday, April 25, 2008. This event will be held at the Skirvin Hilton Oklahoma City at One Park Avenue.

The host committee reception begins at 6:00 p.m., photo opportunities begin at 6:30 p.m., and the general reception begins at 7:00 p.m.

Tickets for the event are $2,300 per person with a Photo Opportunity, or $1,000 per person. Members of the host committee will have raised at least $10,000.

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn and Governor Frank Keating (Ret) are the presidential hopeful's campaign chairmen, while Howard Barnett, Fred and Karen Hall, Ryan Leonard, Aubrey McClendon, Larry Nichols, and Bill Price are co-chairing the fundraiser.

To RSVP for this event, please click here or contact Alex Lawhon at 703-650-5576.

If you can't make the dinner, but want to support the McCain campaign directly, click here.

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Posted at 3/24/2008 07:27:00 AM |
Sunday, March 23, 2008 

$58B sought for Indian trust beneficiaries

In papers filed on Wednesday, the Cobell plaintiffs asked a federal judge to put $58 billion in the Indian trust.

Citing more than a hundred years of mismanagement, attorneys said hundreds of thousands of Indian beneficiaries are owed the money for misuse of their land and assets. The 80-page filing accused the federal government of enriching itself by failing to disburse trust payments to tribal members across the country.

"What rightfully belongs to plaintiffs includes the value of the government's unjust enrichment and all advantages or benefits obtained in connection with its breaches of trust," attorneys wrote.

Based on data provided by the Interior Department and the Osage Nation of Oklahoma, the plaintiffs added up the money they say should have been in the Individual Indian Money (IIM) from 1887 to 2007. The numbers show IIM beneficiaries and Osage "headright" owners are owed $58 billion for the 120-year period.

The figure is more than twice the amount that the Cobell plaintiffs and other Indian organizations said they would accept to resolve the case. In June 2005, the plaintiffs proposed a $27.5 billion settlement for the historical accounting of the IIM trust.

Key members of Congress responded with an $8 billion proposal, which the plaintiffs gave serious consideration. But the Bush administration waited until March 2007 to offer $3.5 billion to resolve the accounting, pay for future damages claims and terminate its liability for the trust.

Despite the diverging views, lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana, said $58 billion was low. Prior calculations by her lawyers put the accounting as high as $176 billion, but that figure included interest, which the plaintiffs are not seeking as part of the litigation.

"We believe that our numbers are very conservative and represent the minimum harm that Indians have suffered under our broken trust system," Cobell said.

The Bush administration has vehemently disputed the idea that money is owed to IIM beneficiaries. Attorneys for Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, who has not taken an active role in Indian trust matters, have said the only resolution to the Cobell case is the historical accounting and nothing more.

But Judge James Robertson, who was assigned to the case in December 2006, has ruled that an accounting is impossible due to budget restraints imposed by Congress and limits placed on the effort by the Interior Department. At a hearing earlier this month, he rejected the government's notion that the Cobell plaintiffs have to go to another court to find justice.

"When you tell me that the law of the case says the only relief is an historical accounting ... that doesn't mean very much if an historical accounting is impossible," Robertson told a Department of Justice attorney. "Then what, is there no relief? Is that the government's position?"

Robertson will hold a trial starting on June 9 to finally put an end to the case. He hopes to issue a ruling by the end of the summer.

The Bush administration has until April 9 to respond to the plaintiffs' filing.

For more information, see


Posted at 3/23/2008 08:38:00 PM |

Oklahoma State Easter Egg

From the U.S. White House website:

Local artists created the decorated eggs, which represent each state and the District of Columbia. The 2008 Easter Egg Collection continues the tradition that began in 1994 where each state sends a decorated egg to the White House for display. The collection is coordinated by the American Egg Board. White House photos by Chris Greenberg.

To see other states' eggs, go here


Posted at 3/23/2008 09:28:00 AM |
Friday, March 21, 2008 

Happy Easter 2008

...from President George W. Bush:

I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies. - John 11:25

Laura and I send greetings to all those celebrating the joyful holiday of Easter.

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ reminds people around the world of the presence of a faithful God who offers a love more powerful than death. Easter commemorates our Savior's triumph over sin, and we take joy in spending this special time with family and friends and reflecting on the many blessings that fill our lives. During this season of renewal, let us come together and give thanks to the Almighty who made us in His image and redeemed us in His love.

On this glorious day, we remember our brave men and women in uniform who are separated from their families by great distances. We pray for their safety and strength, and we honor those who gave their lives to advance peace and secure liberty across the globe.

Happy Easter. May God bless you, and may God bless our great Nation.


Oklahoma Political News Service would also like to wish Oklahoma a Happy Easter.

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Posted at 3/21/2008 12:05:00 PM |

Weekend Poll: Language Laws

Legislation is currently being considered to make English the official language in Oklahoma. Do you think this legislation is right for Oklahoma?

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Posted at 3/21/2008 12:00:00 PM |

Conspiring to cut off and freeze a woman's head, kill another man and shoot eight people...Protected by "Free Speech" (?!)

Conspiring to cut off and freeze a woman's head, kill another man and shoot eight people is protected "free speech," according to Attorney Jackson M., Zanerhaft, defense attorney for Tywone Dion Parks. Parks is facing a felony charge of planning or conspiring to perform acts of violence, reports The Oklahoman.

Parks is a (now former) Rogers State University student, and the people targeted in the murder plot were associated with Rogers State University in Claremore, OK. The Case File CF-2008-123 records the account of Parks' alledged plans included in the police report:

...Planned to cut off the head of Paula Blalock and stick it in his freezer by obtaining a small ax and practicing the same by cutting off the head of a dog.

Planned to commit violence of kill Brandon Gaffney by having weapons and outlining plans in writing.

Further planning to commit a Rogers State Massacre involving the shooting of eight students and having weapons and having a plan of action.

Ironically, if Parks had not been apprehended prior to carrying out his plans, law-abiding students at Rogers State University, under current Oklahoma law, would not have been able to excercise their constitutional rights to bear arms and protect themselves; yet Parks is asserting a rather bizarre interpretation of his constitutional right to free speech as his defense in this case.

Legislation is currently being considered in the Oklahoma legislature to allow students with military training and Oklahoma concealed-carry permits to carry weapons on campus to protect themselves in the event of just such an attempted massacre.

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Posted at 3/21/2008 09:42:00 AM |
Thursday, March 20, 2008 

Impeach (Someone) Rally

A Tulsa Peace and Impeachment Candelight Vigil was held outside U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe's office in Tulsa. The event was planned to coordinate with a national 5 Years Too Many protest,

...To mark the 5th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in as powerful a way as possible. We believe that the activities United for Peace and Justice is organizing and supporting -- the Winter Soldier hearings, mass nonviolent direct action in Washington DC, and local actions all around the country -- have the potential to make a powerful statement ... but only with your participation and support.

Protesters were instructed to bring comfortable clothes, candles and matches, signs (optional) and to expect lots of people of like minds, a giant puppet Cheney, a banner drop, and Impeach-me George.

According to the event sign-up page, and as of this morning, fifteen of the hoped-for 100,000 attendees registered...about twenty-five were present while OKPNS was there. The video below is also here on YouTube.

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Posted at 3/20/2008 08:55:00 AM |

Veterans Honored on the 5th Anniversary of Operation Iraqi Freedom

While some chose to use the fifth anniversary of Operation Iraqi freedom to protest the war (video here), and some chose to use the occasion to further their political agendas, others chose to use the occasion to honor our state's veterans. The Tulsa World is reporting, "Hundreds of veterans -- many in wheelchairs or walking with the aid of canes -- crowded into the state House gallery with members of their families for a joint session of the House and Senate that marked the fifth anniversary of the United States' invasion of Iraq." House Speaker Chris Benge (R-Tulsa) said:

Our country is currently at war once again. Today is in fact the first day of the sixth year our country has been fighting in Iraq. [Noting that 72 Oklahomans have died in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, 64 in Iraq alone. In addition, 521 have been wounded in action] When America was in danger, you were the first to respond to the danger. Americans are a peace-seeking people, but that peace has been achieved through strength in times of international conflict, and that strength can only be projected because of your willingness to put your lives on the line.

The Norman Transcript reports:

Pete Peterson, chairman of the veterans council, says there are about 365,000 veterans in Oklahoma. Peterson says they pump about $1.7 billion into the state's economy each year.

Peterson says Oklahoma veterans have the best benefit package in the nation because of the support they receive from state lawmakers. The state operates seven veterans centers that provide housing and health care for veterans.


Posted at 3/20/2008 07:16:00 AM |

Jason Murphey: "Higher Ed Officials Should Stop Attack On Veterans"

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Vice-Chairman of the House of Representatives Homeland Security Subcommittee, Rep. Jason Murphey (R-Guthrie), used the occasion of the Veterans Awareness Day Joint Legislative Session on Wednesday to call on Oklahoma Higher Education officials to ease off recent comments that he feels are insulting to Oklahoma's military men and women:

In their zeal to maintain the status-quo and oppose House Bill 2513, Oklahoma's higher education elite are bringing into question the judgment of Oklahoma's military officers.

HB 2513, which is advocated by the National Rifle Association, supports Oklahoma veterans and active duty personnel by giving them the right to defend themselves and others when they are attending or teaching classes at one of Oklahoma's state colleges and universities, provided they notify the university they are in possession of a concealed carry license.

Murphey said he was especially concerned when, after the passage of House Bill 2513, prominent higher education officials launched a campaign in which they are insinuating that the safety of Oklahoma students will be endangered if Oklahoma's veterans and active military are allowed to defend themselves on college campuses:

To suggest that Oklahoma's highly trained military men and women are going to endanger the safety of Oklahoma students is inappropriate. I believe that we have the finest military in the world and I find it offensive that some in the higher education community have begun to question the judgment of our military men and women.

Earlier this year, the Governor received a report from a task force which recommended that millions of dollars be spent on enhancing campus security. This proposed expenditure comes at a time when Oklahomans are already forced to deal with massive tuition increases, high taxes and a government that continues to incur long-term debt. What better way to solve some of our security challenges than to take advantage of the training of our military veterans and active duty military personnel who also maintain concealed carry licenses? House Bill 2513 would allow them to defend themselves and their fellow students and teachers. In many cases, these personnel have training that is equal to or exceeds the training of the law enforcement officers charged with protecting our campuses. This is a service that would be provided with little or no cost to the state.

It is inconceivable that we are willing to ask our military officers to work with local government in securing such dangerous areas as the Green Zone in Baghdad, but we don't trust them to work with local law enforcement officers to enhance safety on our own college campuses.

House Bill 2513 cleared the House of Representatives by a vote of 65-35 and is now headed to the Senate for consideration. (More info on OKPNS here.)

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Posted at 3/20/2008 07:07:00 AM |

Dangerous Clause in House Bill 2196, Coalition Says

...from the Oklahoma Coalition of Independents (OKIES):

PhotobucketHouse Bill 2196, the "Oklahoma Clean Campaign Act of 2008" passed the Oklahoma House on a 92 to 8 vote on March 12, 2008, and was sent to the state senate for approval, despite containing a clause which the Oklahoma Coalition of Independents (OKIES) contends would seriously damage a citizen's ability to challenge an incumbent legislator for his or her seat.

The clause in question would ban contributions to anyone running for an Oklahoma state legislative seat – either incumbent or challenger – from 15 days before the beginning of Oklahoma's regular legislative session until 15 days after it ends, a period from roughly mid-January until mid-June.

Clark Duffe, Chairman of OKIES:

It's an 'Incumbent Protection Act'. If you decide to run for the legislature after about the second week in January you can't raise any money until June. And since you can't spend campaign funds if you don't have any, you're put at a terrible disadvantage. Incumbents will have spent the previous summer and fall fattening up their war chests.

Incumbent candidates for State House raised more than four times what challengers raised in 2006, with an average of $72,274 compared to challengers' $17,049, according to The National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Chairman of Common Cause Oklahoma, Lynn Howell:

Although Common Cause Oklahoma supports the bill's prohibition of fundraising during the session by legislators, which will prevent special interests from immediately repaying compliant legislators, we oppose criminalizing citizens from raising the basic funds needed to challenge incumbent politicians.

A technical legal problem also arises from HB 2196, according to OKIES. If a citizen candidate cannot raise funds – even from himself – before the middle of June, he will not have the campaign money legally available to pay the required candidate filing fee which is historically due at the beginning of June. This year, for example, the regular legislative session ends on May 30, and the filing period for the 2008 election is June 2, 3 and 4. The "no contribution" period would not end until June 14, precluding challengers from filing at all.

This has extra importance this year because HB 2196 has an "emergency clause" stating that the bill will take effect immediately after the governor signs it. If HB 2196 is passed in its present form, unsuspecting candidates could be subject to criminal penalties simply for filing for state legislative office. Duffe:

Sure, challengers can put together their campaigns before January and raise money legally for a little while, but what about people who don't realize until April or even May that their legislator is doing a lousy job? Why should they have to wait for the following election to try and replace them? This part of HB 2196 is anti-democratic, unfair and just plain wrong. It should be removed from the bill.

The exact text of the clause in question (Section 1.G.) is:

Contributions shall not be made to, nor solicited or accepted by, a member of the Oklahoma legislature or a candidate for a state legislative office fifteen (15) days prior to, fifteen (15) days after, or during any regular legislative session.

You can read the current bill language here.

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Posted at 3/20/2008 06:51:00 AM |
Wednesday, March 19, 2008 

Wilson Research Strategies: Clinton's "3 A.M." Ad Unconvincing

By Aaron Blake

Despite all the hoopla over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) “3 a.m.” ad, political insiders say she suffers from a lack of credibility in the spot, and independents were not swayed by her message, according to a new survey.

The ad, which questions whom people would want to answer a phone ringing in the White House during the early morning hours when “something’s happening in the world,” has crystallized Clinton’s argument that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) lacks experience.

A survey of 220 political insiders by Wilson Research Strategies, however, shows reviewers gave the ad a 4.3 out of 10 for its credibility and a 4.5 for its appeal. Independents were especially harsh, giving it a 4.4 overall.

Some observers have argued that such attacks on Obama might backfire in the general election.

A Zogby poll this week showed Americans, by a wide margin, would rather have GOP nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) answer the 3 a.m. call than either Democrat. Read more.. Related:

Video: WRS CEO Chris Wilson on The Glenn Beck Show Discussing Hillary & Barack (1/14/08)

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Posted at 3/19/2008 07:13:00 PM |

Video: Out Running: Jim Roth

Profile of openly LGBT Oklahoma County Commissioner Jim Roth

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Posted at 3/19/2008 07:02:00 PM |

Will Oklahomans be able to Vote on the Oklahoma Civil Rights Initiative, or Not?

Some citizens of Oklahoma are wanting the Oklahoma Civil Rights Initiative is scheduled to be on the November 2008 ballot. The operative clause of the proposed Oklahoma ballot initiative reads as follows:

The state shall not discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.

Whether or not Oklahomans will have the opportunity to vote on this issue will depend on the findings of the Secretary of State, Susan Savage, who stated that the petition had a "large number" of duplicate names and addresses, as reported by the Oklahoman. The petition is being opposed by the ACLU, which does not want the question answered by the voters of Oklahoma.

Ballotpedia explains the opposition:

In early October, an organized petition blocking campaign to prevent circulators from successfully collecting signatures was initiated. The "Decline to Sign Coalition" is led by Oklahoma City representative Mike Shelton. Shelton has also proposed legislation in the Oklahoma legislature that would make it illegal to pay circulators on a per-signature basis. Proponents of the ballot measure argue that the "Decline to Sign" movement is similar to the ultimately unsuccessful efforts in Michigan in 2006 to prevent the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative from reaching the ballot.

The opposition to the measure has included the personal harrassment of petition gatherers, as shown in the video shown here.

Note that the controversy at this point is not about whether the state can "discriminate against or grant preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin." The controversy is over whether Oklahomans have a say in the matter.


Posted at 3/19/2008 08:50:00 AM |

Oklahoma May Join the Majority of the U.S. in English-Language Laws

Randy Terrill, author of the the HB 1804 immigration bill, has proposed legislation to make English the official language in Oklahoma, reports Barbara Hoberock, of the Tulsa World Capitol Bureau. Terrill said:

It deals with the right of the state, as a sovereign entity, to control the method and manner in which it communicates with citizens and the citizens who must communicate with it...If enacted, he said, the bill would eliminate bilingual driver’s license tests, bilingual state signs and agency telephone recordings in other languages...This bill will prevent the state of Oklahoma from being compelled to deliver any taxpayer-funded services in any language other than our official language, which is English.

English is already the offical language in over half of the U.S.. If approved, Oklahoma will be the 31st state to have English as its official language, according to the U.S.English Foundation.

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Posted at 3/19/2008 07:55:00 AM |

Senate Approves Johnson’s Measure to Create Task Force on

The state Senate recently approved a bill that would establish a task force to study state agency roles and responsibilities to help ensure that mentally ill women who have been incarcerated are successfully reintegrated into society.

Sen. Constance N. Johnson (D-OKC), author of Senate Bill 1959, explained that with Oklahoma leading the nation in the incarceration of women, the state must begin treating the cause rather than the symptoms:

In order for us to correct this problem, we have to look at ways to reduce recidivism, to treat the causes that ultimately lead to incarceration and make sure our agencies are working to ensure that these women have every opportunity to lead productive lives. It’s been said that our prisons are the state’s largest mental hospitals, but unfortunately the kind of treatment needed in these facilities is largely inadequate. The resulting cycle of recidivism has cost our state dearly.

Johnson said the task force would be led by the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services along with the Department of Corrections. The two agencies will work together with the 15-member task force to review current initiatives and plan future efforts to address the needs of mentally ill women who have been incarcerated.

According to statistics from the Department of Corrections, Oklahoma’s incarceration rate ranks first nationally for females and fourth for males. Of the 25,120 prisoners currently in Oklahoma correctional facilities, 2,587 are women. Of those women, 60 percent suffer from some form of mental illness. According to Johnson:

This issue is about the high costs of incarceration to our state and its cost to our families and communities. If we don’t give women the treatment and tools necessary to successfully re-enter society, this problem will not fix itself. I’m confident this task force can develop a plan that is fair to all and that can make a difference in the lives of the many women and families who aren’t getting the help they so desperately need and deserve.

In addition to the director of the Department of Corrections and the Commissioner of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, task force members will include four members of the Legislature; representatives from The Department of Rehabilitation Services; the Department of Human Services; the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and a representative from Workforce Oklahoma. A woman who suffers from mental illness and has been incarcerated will also be appointed to the task force. If approved by the Legislature, the task force will hold its first meeting on or before Sept. 1, 2008. Johnson added:

This bill is very much a collaborative effort between the Legislature, state agencies, mental health advocacy groups and mental health consumers. We chose to address this targeted group of mentally ill women with a goal of developing a model that can be applied to the larger community of people with mental illness who are presently housed in correctional facilities.

Rita Cooksey, Administrative Specialist for Female Offender Management with the Department of Corrections said there is a great need for the state to begin addressing this issue with a comprehensive plan:

All of our bed space has been taken and a large percentage of these women have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness. The pathways to incarceration with men and women are different and it’s often some form of trauma or mental illness that leads women to correctional facilities. Great strides have been taken toward addressing the issue but it’s time for our state to take a larger leap with this collaborative effort and we’re very excited about it.

Johnson said the task force could put Oklahoma at the national forefront in addressing issues related to mental illness and incarceration:

On the horizon, Oklahoma stands to be on the cutting edge for consideration when initiatives such as the Second Chance Act, scheduled to be signed soon by the President, are implemented. This task force is definitely a move in the right direction for our state.

The measure now advances to the House for consideration.

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Posted at 3/19/2008 07:54:00 AM |
Tuesday, March 18, 2008 

"The super corridor will cause the largest confiscation of private property ever seen in the U.S."

Recorded testimony from Oklahoma State Senator andy Brogdon (R-Owasso), was played before the Kansas House Federal and State Affairs Committee yesterday, in support of a resolution hearing for Kansas to withdraw from the North American Union, reports PrimeBuzz:

...The highway and corridor would not be subject to U.S. laws but international law. He said corridor land will be taken through eminent domain.

“The super corridor will cause the largest confiscation of private property ever seen in the United State,” [Brogdon]said.

Brogdon said the highway proposal was part of an international intermodal freight system designed to utilize high-speed rail and trucking to move goods from Mexico and China to the U.S.

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Posted at 3/18/2008 10:37:00 AM |

Senate Honored by Freedom of Information Oklahoma

Freedom of Information Oklahoma, a statewide organization actively supporting organizations and individuals working to open records or provide access to government, has honored the Directors of the state Senate Communications Division and Information Systems Department with its annual Sunshine Award.

Malia Bennett has been the Senate’s Director of Communications since 2003. The Communications Division works with all 48 members of the Senate, and assists media and the public by providing information on the business of the Senate.

John Warren is the Director of the state Senate’s Department of Information Systems. The department provides technical support to all members of the Senate and staff. Warren has been Director of the department since 1998.

Given annually to a public official or governmental institution that has shown a commitment to freedom of information, the Sunshine Award was presented to Bennett and Warren by the organization for introducing a variety of innovations to give the public greater and more efficient access to the activities of the Senate.

Sen. President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan (D-Stillwater) said the award was an honor that both staff and Senators can be proud of:

We take great pride in making an emphasis on open and transparent government a priority at the state Senate. Our communications and information systems departments have been proactive and innovative in developing a variety of features to provide the public with greater access to the business of the Senate. This is a well-deserved honor for our staff.

Sen. Co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee (R-OKC)said he was pleased that Bennett and Warren had been selected for the honor:

We are committed to providing the public with an accessible and open state government. Our staff has also worked hard to further that goal, and we are proud that they have been honored with this award. The Senate will continue working to find new and innovative ways to provide the public with government information.

The organization lauded Bennett and Warren for their efforts to take advantage of new technologies to further the goal of providing those who cannot be at the Capitol with as much information as possible. Since launching the Senate website in 1996, the two departments have worked together to offer digital audio to allow reporters from all media access to in-depth information and the legislative process. Additionally, the Senate unveiled streaming video from the Senate Chamber and the two largest committee rooms so the public can observe and hear Senate business each day the body meets.

In 2005, the Senate made wireless internet access available throughout all areas of the Senate. The group also praised the Senate for adding innovations such as the posting of all floor votes in real time, and access to all legislation, schedules and a number of publications.

Freedom of Information Oklahoma was founded in 1990 and continues their efforts to be an advocate for the public’s right of access to government information. The group’s 33-member board of directors includes attorneys, state and elected officials, journalists, educators and private citizens.


Posted at 3/18/2008 10:25:00 AM |

To whom much is given...OK Legislators Earn Twice the Regional Average

State Rep. Jason W. Murphey (R-Guthrie) has presented a donation of $8,241.92 from his legislative salary to officials from Crossroads, An Open Door For Life Choices, Inc., located in Guthrie. Crossroads provides faith-based, pro-life counseling and support services to expectant mothers.

Murphey said that Oklahoma legislators are the third-highest paid, part-time legislators in the nation, making more than double the regional average. Murphey said he made the donation - the difference between Oklahoma lawmakers’ salaries and the salary of the average working Oklahoman when Murphey was first elected to office – to emphasize that legislators in Oklahoma should not be paid more than other legislators in the region and to illustrate the importance of pro-life services such as Crossroads:

In order to reform government, we must cut out wasteful state government spending. I hope most would agree that it is wasteful to pay legislators more than double the regional average.

Crossroads, a pro-life organization that provides a support network for expectant mothers in Guthrie, is currently working with Focus on the Family to convert a Pregnancy Resource Center to a Pregnancy Help Medical Clinic. As an evangelical ministry that upholds the sanctity of life, Crossroads provides practical assistance, encouragement and unconditional love to women and families facing crisis pregnancies. Crossroads offers alternatives to abortion, promotes sexual purity and provides post abortion counseling.

After conversion to a Pregnancy Help Medical Clinic, Crossroads will be able to offer abortion-vulnerable women in the community a free ultrasound scan to confirm viable intrauterine pregnancies. Statistics show that 89 percent of abortion-minded women choose life for their unborn babies after seeing them through ultrasound and receiving truthful information about their options.

Focus on the Family’s Option Ultrasound Program is helping to place ultrasounds in 650 Pregnancy Resource Clinics like Crossroads. There have been 81,000 babies saved across the country already, and it is Crossroads’ stated goal to bring this life-saving technology to Guthrie.


Posted at 3/18/2008 10:18:00 AM |
Monday, March 17, 2008 

The Schools can Teach Sex Education Better than Parents

At least that seemed to be the majority opinion of the Oklahoma State House of Representatives.

The bill would have required parents to "opt-in" to public sex education courses for their children, rather than having to "opt-out" as they do, now. House Bill HB 2628, authored by George Faught (R-Muskogee)who explained, according to The Oklahoman:

The measure's author, Rep. George Faught, R-Muskogee, said he wanted the "opt in" provision so a parent would know in advance that his child would be enrolled in a sex education class and would not receive instruction the parent did not approve of.

"They have the ultimate authority as to whether or not the child will attend that," Faught said. Faught, who said his teenage children are home-schooled, said parents should be the primary source of sex education for their children and schools should play a secondary role.

Opponents of the bill cited the state's high rate of teen pregnancy, as to why the current "opt-out" process is better. Groups supporting Planned Parenthood, such as Get R.E.A.L. Oklahoma called Faught an "extremist" the proposed legislation, "an example of out of control harassment by anti-choice legislators and lobby groups." OKPNS has previously reported that the Planned Parenthood site, also does not encourage parental involvement in the sex education of children.

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Posted at 3/17/2008 11:23:00 AM |

Tribes to the Feds: Yeah, we know you're 'sorry'...

The Indian Healthcare Bill, called "morally bankrupt" by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), because of what he views as more empty promises to Native Americans, has passed the Senate, and is now in the House. It includes an official apology to the Native Americans, authored by Sam Brownback (R-KS) and supported by Representative Dan Boren (D-OK).

Tribal members wonder if it, too, will be full of empty promises, according to News from Indian Country:

Jim Gray, Osage Nation principal chief, said he was surprised but glad Boren championed the effort.

“After the broken treaties and broken promises over all these years, I certainly didn’t expect to see that in my lifetime,” Gray said.

A Tulsa attorney who specializes in Indian law, Michael McBride, agreed the measure was overdue, but he wondered about current factors that may have prompted the official apology.

“I just hope that the United States would do more to rectify prior injustices, like appropriations to address the mismanagement of trust funds, that would go a long way towards making the apology have real substance,” he said.

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Posted at 3/17/2008 11:04:00 AM |

Coincidence? Who is behind the attacks of Sally Kern? (Upated - Gay "non-agenda" Protest Scheduled for Tuesday Morning)

Scroll down for update.

Remember that audio tape "anonymously" released to the blogosphere by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund which resulted in Oklahoma's Sally Kern (R-OKC) being stalked and threatened by gay activists nationwide?

OKPNS has learned that there are two Oklahoma candidates actively seeking re-election, that are activly being supported by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund.

Jim Roth, according to the site, "Originally elected to public office in 2002, Jim Roth became the first openly LGBT elected official in Oklahoma history when he won a seat on the Oklahoma County Commission."

In his public response to the releasing of Kern's statement to the legislator, Roth said:

As a public official I have taken an oath to serve 100 percent of our citizens and I only wish that Representative Kern would honor the same spirit of our democracy...My focus is on serving the citizens of Oklahoma, not on responding to the rantings of an angry legislator. We all have a duty to serve all people. The politics of division and demagoguery only steal the future from what our state needs for everyone's sake.

Al McCaffrey (D-OKC), the first LGBT (Lesbian/Gay/Bi-Sexual/Transgender) person to ever serve in the Oklahoma legislature when he was elected in 2006, who according to the Victory Fund site, is "currently in the process of creating a political action committee to help fund LGBT candidates in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Texas."

McCaffrey commented:

It saddens me that we hear bigotry from our representatives. There is not a gay agenda. There are a lot of people who have money who are willing to support progressive candidates. [I am a father and grandfater] nd I happen to be gay. I think we need to look at individuals.

Updated: A group is meeting outside the courthouse tomorrow to promote this gay activists "non-agenda," and McCaffrey's "hate crimes" legislation proposal, which groups a verbal attack on homosexuals in which physical attacks including murder. For more information see the OGLPC's Pink Papers.

Sally Kern maintains that her comments were taken out of context, that she was speaking out against the gay activist agenda, and not against individuals. To watch a video, and hear a complete discussion from Kern, explaining her position and her comments, go here.

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Posted at 3/17/2008 09:01:00 AM |

Nursing Homes Operate Without Insurance

...from the OKPNS Confidential Tip Line:

A growing number of nursing homes in Oklahoma are not financially sound and cannot respond to legitimate claims for compensation when one of their residents is seriously injured or killed due to neglect or abuse. The company that operates the nursing home and has the license often is a shell corporation and has no assets, while another company owns the building and the equipment. These nursing home operators also fail to carry liability insurance.

We are working to encourage the Oklahoma State Department of Health to require nursing home operators to prove they have sufficient assets to cover claims of resident abuse or neglect. We are encouraging OSDH to require the nursing homes to show they carry at least a certain amount of liability insurance. If the nursing home operator fails to keep sufficient assets and does not carry liability insurance the officers, directors and shareholders of the nursing home operator would be personally liable to a nursing home resident or their family when someone is abused or neglected.

Based on information provided to the Center, over 20% of the beds in Oklahoma are in uninsured nursing homes. The number is likely a lot higher but since it is not currently required or reported, we have to rely on unofficial methods of collecting the data.

If a nursing home resident is neglected or abused they should have a remedy. We require people who drive cars to carry mandatory insurance, why should nursing homes be any different. Forcing nursing home operators to show they are financially sound in order to have a license to take care of our elderly citizens just makes common sense.

Most nursing home operators are for profit and carrying liability insurance is a legitimate cost of doing business. We recently heard of a story of Mrs. Cloud, a elderly patient of a nursing home in Oklahoma who was dropped and had both of her legs broken.

Unfortunately, the nursing home was being operated by a shell company which did not carry any insurance. The owner of the building, also a corporation, disclaimed any responsibility for the operation of the nursing home and represented that it did not have any liability insurance which would cover neglect or abuse of a resident.

Mrs. Cloud, who has endured much suffering and multiple surgeries due to the negligence of the nursing staff was left with no remedy. This is wrong.

Contact the Oklahoma Center for Consumer and Patient Safety here.

The Oklahoma Foundation for Consumer and Patient Rights takes on big industries and the politicians every day in legislatures, the courts and in the media. We also provide a number of resources for consumers to make informed decisions in the marketplace and as patients. The Foundation for Consumer and Patient Rights is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization. We rely upon the support of people like you.


Posted at 3/17/2008 08:19:00 AM |
Friday, March 14, 2008 

Loaded or Unloaded: Campus Security Poll

In light of recent campus shootings, legislators and educators in Oklahoma are discussing the role of guns in campus safety.

Oklahoma House Bill 2513 passed the house yesterday, and moves on to the Oklahoma Senate, according to a report in The Oklahoman. This bill has been amended to allow certain faculty to carry guns and:

...would restrict eligibility to students and faculty members who are active military members; or were honorably discharged from the military, National Guard or Reserves; or had received at least 72 hours of training from the Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training, the agency that trains Oklahoma law officers.

To get a concealed handgun permit, persons must be at least 21 and have had training in the use of handguns.

Many educators are opposed to the proposed legislation. Mike Shelton (D-OKC):

The leadership of every college in the state is against this bill, yet the House has voted against the wishes of the individuals with the most knowledge about campus safety. I believe families, faced with the prospect of a gun-toting campus, will choose to send their children elsewhere, particularly out-of-state students who would otherwise come to Oklahoma.

We would like to know what OKPNS readers think.

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Posted at 3/14/2008 12:00:00 PM |

Is it just me?

Submitted via the OKPNS confidential Tip Line

"Is it just me, or is the top-of-the-ticket candidate for Oklahoma Democrats curiously silent on Sally Kern's hurtful remarks?

"Where is Andrew Rice's condemnation of hate speech? Where is his call for elevated debate and civil discourse? Why hasn't Rice called upon Sally to take back her remarks?

"Certainly he wouldn't be alone if he did. Even Governor Henry chided Kern, saying her words were not the kind of thing good Oklahomans who love each other would say. Henry even offered some parting advice, telling her to think before she spoke.

"And yet the candidate who accepts the contributions of Oklahoma Stonewall Democrats, who supposedly stands proud with those in the Cimmaron Alliance Foundation, and walks in parades, and says he supports our cause … is completely silent at a time when some of the most shameful words are being said.

"Now I understand he's running for U.S. Senate and he no doubt is in a political juggling act. But to be completely, deafeningly silent? Andrew, I don't understand."


Posted at 3/14/2008 10:02:00 AM |

Oklahomans Will Be Allowed to Vote on Term Limits for Government Officials

The Oklahoma Senate voted Thursday to send a proposal for term limits for statewide officials to a vote of the people.

Randy Brogdon (R-Owasso) successfully attached an amendment to SB 1987 for a legislative referendum that would place a 12 year limit on the terms of Oklahoma’s statewide elected officials.

Brogdon’s proposal was adopted on a bipartisan 26 to 22 vote, with 2 Democrats joining all 24 Republican senators in support of the amendment. After adoption of the amendment, the Senate voted 31 to 17 for SB 1987.

Senator Brogdon:

Term limits have brought fresh ideas and innovative thinking to the state Legislature, and I believe term limits can have a similarly positive effect on statewide offices...My amendment today has a different effect than the term limits bill that died in committee, so it is clearly follows the letter and the spirit of the power-sharing agreement and the Senate rules,” Brogdon said. “That argument is a red herring.

Brogdon said he was disappointed that some Democrats argued that his amendment violated a clause in the Senate’s power-sharing agreement that prohibits re-hearing of specific proposals previously defeated by the Senate in committee or on the floor.

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Posted at 3/14/2008 09:50:00 AM |

Religious Freedom Bill Heads to Senate

OKLAHOMA CITY-Oklahoma students who express religious views at school would be guaranteed the same protections as students expressing secular views under legislation approved today by the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

House Bill 2211 creates the Religious Viewpoints Anti-Discrimination Act, requiring schools to treat students who voluntarily express religious viewpoints the same as students expressing secular viewpoints on the same subject.

"Your First Amendment rights are not repealed when you walk through the schoolhouse door," said state Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City. "This bill simply ensures that children will not be persecuted or rewarded for discussing religious views at appropriate times. The legislation requires non-discrimination and equal treatment for all Oklahoma students and provides certainty for our school administrators."

House Bill 2211 declares that students may "express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments" without being penalized or rewarded as long as their viewpoint is on the otherwise permissible topic. Under the bill, the otherwise permissible topic is always decided by the school.

The legislation also requires each school district to adopt a policy protecting the free speech rights of students at public events, such as graduation ceremonies.

In addition, the bill establishes clear protections for voluntary student organizations with religious missions "to the same extent that students are permitted to organize other non-curricular student activities and groups." The bill clearly states the right of those groups to meet in school buildings so long as other, comparable nonreligious groups can use the building.

The bill effectively codifies established Supreme Court decisions in state law, providing clear guidelines to school officials who have previously been inconsistent in their approach to students’ free speech rights, said State Rep. Daniel Sullivan.

"House Bill 2211 simply levels the playing field for all students, both those who profess religious faith and those who do not," said Sullivan, R-Tulsa. "Our schools are meant to be centers of learning, not tools of censorship or intolerance. This law will not give religious children special rights or preferential treatment, but it will ensure they have equal rights and protections."

House Bill 2211 passed out of the House by a vote of 71-25 and now proceeds to the Senate.


Posted at 3/14/2008 09:33:00 AM |
Thursday, March 13, 2008 

Exclusive: Paul Jacob Speaks Out Today in Oklahoma City

OKPNS had the privilege of interviewing Paul Jacob today after his scheduling-hearing in Oklahoma City. Paul Jacob, along with Susan Johnson, and Rick Carpenter, now called the "Oklahoma 3" have been indicted on felony charges of violating Oklahoma's statute requiring petition circulators to be residents of Oklahoma. Jacob and the others are denying the charges.

The preliminary hearing will be July 23, 2008, at the Oklahoma County Courthouse, and Jacob is encouraging anyone who lives within driving distance to be there to defend the Oklahoma 3, and support the voter initiative process.

Paul Jacob talks about his Save the Initiative Blog Tour, and what supporters within Oklahoma and nationwide can do to not only save the Oklahoma 3, but also the ballot initiative process. He says he doesn't feel the media has done an adequate job of covering this topic, and that it is up to the bloggers to get the word out:

Also see:

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Posted at 3/13/2008 05:27:00 PM |

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