Monday 28 Jul
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OKG Newsletter

Topic: Scoop

This again

Rep. Randy McDaniel, R- Edmond, has only been in the legislature a few years therefore his major legislative accomplishments can be listed on a post-it note. But he loves Ronald Reagan.

Every year McDaniel has trekked up to the state Capitol to represent the people of District 83, he brings with him a resolution honoring the legacy of the 40th president of the United States.

For some reason, he believes this is of utmost importance to spend lawmakers' time away from the budget, health care, education and other meaty issues and instead focus on a dead president.

The first year was fine, but this is getting beyond tiresome.

Well, today when McDaniel took to the podium re-fantasize about his childhood days of looking up to Reagan, some members of the House decided they wanted to remember the former president as well. Rep. Richard Morrisette, D-Oklahoma City, brought forth amendments which pointed out Reagan's ability to drive up the deficit to historical proportions and try to get ketchup designated a vegetable among other things.

But after points of order, rulings of the chair and other mayhem, the amendments were pushed aside and McDaniel got his Reagan Day resolution through. This all took half an hour -- tax dollars at work once again.

Oh, but McDaniel did treat everyone to cake and punch afterwards. A great way to remember Reagan.

by Scott Cooper 02.26.2009 5 years ago
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Up to speed

Angela Monson has only been on the job for a week and is learning that running a school district is a far cry from being a state senator.

Monson defeated Kirk Humphreys for the right to sit in the Oklahoma City school board chair's seat Feb. 10. She previously served as a state senator before term limits forced her from office.

Monson told me before speaking at a luncheon hosted by the Capitol Chamber of Commerce she is trying to get up to speed on the pressing issues of the district, meeting with staff and talking to parents.

One of the first issues being pressed upon is what to do with the 2007 bond issue. District patrons approved a $217 million bond package for new construction, technology and new buses among a host of items. But Superintendent Karl Springer says a mathematical error will cause the bond issue to fall short of providing the voter-approved funds or it will cause the delay of construction projects for several years.

Monson said the bond issue was important to the district and its patrons, and that it's a matter of selling the bonds at the appropriate time to meet the statutory requirement of fulfilling the voter mandate. She has yet to sit down and discuss the situation with Springer but she believes the situation will be resolved.

"We can do this," Monson said. "We can fulfill the obligation made to the voters. We just have to be prudent."

Monson said she is aware that some people involved with the bond issues even question whether a problem exists.

"If it's a timing issue, then that's all it is we can time it just right. If it's more than that, we'll continue to address that.

Monson said she and Springer will sit down and discuss the matter next week.

by Scott Cooper 02.25.2009 5 years ago
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Exercise in futility

If the Legislature wants to find ways to shore up the massive budget shortfall the state faces this session, eliminating electricity use for debates on meaningless bills might be one to consider.

Take Thursday for example. Rep. T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, brought up a resolution to express the Legislature's desire not to have Guantanamo Bay detainees sent to Oklahoma prisons should President Obama follow through on his plan to close the Cuban prison. (A brief lesson, Shannon's bill was a non-binding resolution which means it has absolutely no power, authority, enforcement

by Scott Cooper 02.14.2009 5 years ago
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Don't freak out

Some folks traveling north on I-35 Thursday morning might have seen this sign along the highway. I did a double take myself and even turned around, exited and drove up to make sure I was seeing what I was seeing.

It is correct: That is a "Steve Largent for Governor" billboard.

But before we scramble for the Facebook page, there is an explanation: The company which owns the billboard was simply removing tiles, and the Largent sign was underneath. It was placed there in 2002 when Largent did run for governor, eventually losing to Brad Henry. Drive by today and the sign is completely black.

So there goes that great news story.
by Scott Cooper 04.10.2010 4 years ago
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Not without a fight

Tax credits have been one of the buzz issues in the state Legislature this session, with all sides agreeing some reform is needed to shore up the budget shortfall. But even when all sides do agree, there is still a fight to be had.

On Tuesday, the state Senate took up a bill which would address the problem that was posed when Oklahomans started getting electric golf cars for practically nothing, because of tax credits. House Bill 2641 would remove a state tax credit if a federal tax credit already exists or comes into existence on the same item. With golf cars, buyers were purchasing them, getting reimbursed with a state tax credit, and then doubling down with a federal tax credit allowed for the buy.

It got to the point with the state running out of money to reimburse, because so many people were taking advantage of the situation when the federal government enacted its tax credit.

The issue has cropped up this year after Oklahoma Gazette looked into how much money the state doles out or never gets into its coffers because of tax credits and exemptions. It came to a staggering $5 billion. With a budget hole of more than $1 billion, it seems some reform was needed.

That's what Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, was trying to do with this bill which passed 27-17, but not without more than a half hour of questions of debate. The vote was bipartisan, as both Republicans and Democrats voted on either side of the debate.

With behind the door negotiations currently taking place for next year's budget, look for more floor fights over tax credits.
by Scott Cooper 04.15.2010 4 years ago
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Not a movement

One of the country's leading political science theorists spoke at the University of Oklahoma Wednesday night and made the case for why the Tea Party crowd is not a movement.

Lisa Disch from the University of Michigan gave an elaborate presentation of how the Tea Party, which has become a force in American politics, is more of a network than a movement. She also warned not to take the partiers lightly and degrade them as feeble-minded folks.

Disch defines the party as a network due to three elements:
by Scott Cooper 04.23.2010 4 years ago
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Dishing it out

Welcome to the first annual Scoopy Awards, an honor bestowed upon those certain lawmakers who stand out, for special reasons, during the legislative session. Will their actions leave a lasting legacy for the state? Probably not. But what they did bring to the Legislature will be talked for a long time.

Tom Wolfe Wannabe Contest: Sen. Cliff Aldridge, R-Choctaw
The white seersucker suit and bowling shoes with no socks easily take this Scoopy.

Freak Me Out: Sen. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City
One day, he is looking at big pictures of guns on his laptop during Senate debate, and the next day, he has a copy of the Scopes Monkey Trial transcript on his desk.

What the Hell: Sen. Constance Johnson, D-Oklahoma City

If there is one legislator who can leave you guessing how she will vote after speaking in debate, it is Johnson. During debate on a bill about expanding the Rainy Day Fund, she spent most of her time praising God.

Clogging Up the System (Besides Mike Reynolds): Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Tulsa
There is simply no one who competes with Reynolds for this award. It's like Secretariat winning the Belmont Stakes. But Sullivan comes in a distant second. This lawmaker doesn't slow things down by lengthy debates or points of order. Sullivan simply files many bills, each of which constitute no fewer than 300 pages each. Many of them deal with the legal profession, to which Sullivan belongs. Leave it to a lawyer to clog things up.

Mr. GQ: Rep. Ben Sherrer, D-Chouteau
Each day of the session, Sherrer never disappoints with his wardrobe, which usually includes a fine tailored suit with vest. Sherrer always gets a look from those at the Capitol. The facial expressions of those looks may need interpretation.

Mrs. Swing Shift: Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, D-Oklahoma City
Just as her Democrat colleague Sherrer, Hamilton's attire also draws attention. As she walks into the House chamber for session, it is usually followed by the comment, "Did she just finish a shift at IHOP?"
by Scott Cooper 05.29.2010 4 years ago
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Ring of death

It's been an exciting week at the state Capitol as candidates for office put their penmanship where their mouth is and officially file. Just a proof of residence, a little paperwork, a check and a desire is all it takes.

But for some candidates, had they known what awaited them after filing, that desire may have burned out a little. Once a candidate went through the process of filing, he or she was then thrown into the press ring of death. A swarm of reporters and photographers grappled each candidate, asking questions and snapping light bulbs.

If that wasn't enough, practically every news organization posted on the fifth floor of the capitol had a questionnaire for each candidate to ponder. Not only did the press want to know if the candidate was married, but also if they had ever been arrested before. Talk about killing a campaign before it even starts.
by Scott Cooper 06.11.2010 4 years ago
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Stop the forums and get to debates, please

Wednesday night, candidates for the open governor's seat met for the umpteenth time and basically said the same thing they have been saying since their first forum. Lt. Gov. Jari Askins wants a two-year budget cycle. Attorney General Drew Edmondson wants to eliminate fraud and abuse. Roger Jackson wants to declare martial law. And Robert Hubbard wants to become Edward Scissorhands on fiscal management.

There were a few moments of perkiness when Edmondson called out Rep. Mary Fallin for not attending. The audience strongly reacted when Edmondson said the new Arizona law on immigration is unconstitutional. A loud chorus of cheers and boos followed.

Other than the lights going out when Askins was speaking, the event was as exciting as a 1-0 soccer match.

Regarding the format, these forums have produced nothing more than short speeches which dance around topics, but few times do the candidates state a position. Askins did so when she talked about problems she had with the Arizona law and with State Question 744, but never clearly said whether she supported those initiatives or not.

There was also a question about whether the candidates supported a tax increase, apparently forgetting for nearly 20 years, state law essentially requires a vote of the people to raise taxes.
The evening's flaws were compounded by the fact that the candidates for state superintendent of instruction shared the stage. The moderator said this was the suggestion of one of the forum's sponsors, The Oklahoma Academy.

Holding candidate forums earlier in the year is fine. It gives the voters a chance to get to know the candidates. But the filing period for office is over. We know who the candidates are. Forums don't allow for differences between the candidates to emerge. The time has come to quit the discussion groups and get on with debates. Voters need to know why they should vote for one candidate and not the other. It's an election, for crying out loud " not a think tank.
by Scott Cooper 06.18.2010 4 years ago
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Jett setting

Last night, I went to Shane Jett's fundraiser held at the Oklahoma History Center and found quite an eclectic group on hand to support the would-be congressman for the Fifth District.

Jett, who is leaving his seat in the state House of Representatives in hopes of hopping into the same seat on the federal level, is in a fierce battle for the Republican nomination. Lending a hand was former OU football coach and legend Barry Switzer. "The King" " as many, including Jett, refer to him " autographed footballs, which were auctioned off to help raise money for the campaign.

Among those in the crowd were former state Speaker of the House Lance Cargill, and none other than one of the Gazette-crowned local ax-grinders, Steve Hunt.

For those who don't remember, Hunt ran against Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett this past winter, but failed in his bid to unseat the current mayor. Hunt has gained quite a reputation and following as someone taking on the establishment in his own quirky way.

As for Switzer, the primary campaign poses an interesting matchup. While the former coach is backing Jett, one of Switzer's prized quarterbacks is supporting a Jett opponent. Republican James Lankford has won the endorsement of former congressman J.C. Watts, who quarterbacked Switzer's Sooners in 1979 and 1980.

To make things worse, Lankford is a University of Texas graduate.
by Scott Cooper 06.24.2010 4 years ago
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