Archive for May, 2006

Morgan Plays Politics With Budget

May 31, 2006

Fight Signals Vulnerability on Fiscal Issues

Faced with the impending shut down of the state government, Democrats have begun fighting amongst themselves. Senate President Pro Tem Mike Morgan accused his own Democratic governor of “playing politics” in the failure to pass a budget agreement in the regular session. Morgan said Henry’s plan to cut $320 million in income and estate taxes disproportionately benefits the wealthy and does not provide enough money for essential state services.

“This tax-cut thing is a political game. It’s a ploy to get elected…I’m not interested in their political games. The Senate will not be dictated to.”

Earlier in the session, the Senate majority passed a $480 million income tax-cut bill out of committee. Now, Senate Leadership is looking to kill the bill that would return the nearly one billion dollar back to the taxpayers.

With seven Democratic Senators facing term limits, this about face could be a political move to force a government shutdown. In the event of a shutdown, state Democrats will most likely take a page from the national Democratic playbook and try to shift the debate away from the skyrocketing state budget, which has become an increasing liability to both the Governor Henry and the Senate Democrats.

The growth of state spending under Democratic leadership is sure to be a hot-button issue in this fall’s elections. Oklahoma’s budget has risen from $2.5 billion to over $6 billion dollars in the last 10 years. During the same time, state government grew 30% faster than the private sector. Gov. Henry is particularly vulnerable, given that his budget for last year included an unprecedented 12% growth in the size of state government.

Inhofe State Director Beaten

May 31, 2006

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma City police say the top aide in Oklahoma to Senator Jim Inhofe is hospitalized after apparently being beaten.

Police say John Collison of Edmond has a fractured face, pelvis, ribs and wrist plus injuries to his jaw and liver.

Sergeant Paco Palderrama says Collison was found Sunday morning about 4 a-m lying on a loading dock outside Bricktown Ballpark in downtown Oklahoma City.

Collison told police he couldn’t remember being attacked or anything that happened after 10:30 Saturday night.

Collison is responsible for managing Inhofe’s Oklahoma staff and day-to-day operations in the state.

According to the National Institute of Corrections, the latest statistics available (2004) report that Oklahoma’s crime rate is 17.92% higher than the national average and the correctional supervision rate (number of offenders supervised per 100,000) is 15.79% lower than the national average. Instead of granting clemency to illegal immigrants on death row, maybe Governor Henry should focus his attention on protecting innocent victims like Mr. Collision. Oklahoma Political News Service wishes Mr. Collision a full and speedy recovery.

OK Political News Service Flashback!

May 31, 2006

Lt. Gov’s bodyguard quits amid allegations of affair

December 8, 1998 AP

OKLAHOMA CITY An Oklahoma Highway Patrol bodyguard for Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin has resigned after admitting ”unprofessional conduct” amid allegations by her estranged husband that she had an affair with a bodyguard.

Mrs. Fallin, a Republican who was elected to a second term last month, filed for divorce last week. At a hearing, Fallin’s attorney raised an allegation about the lieutenant governor having an affair with an unidentified bodyguard.

In a statement Monday, Public Safety Commissioner Bob Ricks said rumors surfaced in early September about ”alleged unprofessional conduct between a member of the executive security detail and the lieutenant governor.”

The statement said the trooper first denied the allegations, but was again questioned late last month and ”admitted to unprofessional conduct and was permitted to resign. That resignation was accepted last week. His admission did not indicate that sexual activity was involved.”

The trooper was not identified and Ricks was reported unavailable for further discussion of the matter.

Lana Tyree, Mrs. Fallin’s attorney, later issued a statement saying the lieutenant governor would have no comment.

”Out of legitimate concern for the privacy and welfare of her minor children through the Christmas holidays, Lieutenant Governor Mary Fallin, having denied the allegations, will not respond to or debate these issues in the media and will make no further public comment,” the statement said. Mrs. Fallin, 43, and her husband have two children, ages 11 and 8.

In court, Mrs. Fallin had said the allegations of an affair with a bodyguard were a rumor started by her husband. At last week’s hearing, District Judge Jerry Bass prevented Fallin’s attorney from pursuing questions about an alleged affair.

In response to a question from his wife’s attorney, Mr. Fallin said he had hired a private investigator to follow her.

Another hearing in the divorce case is set for next Monday.

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Sex scandal roils Oklahoma politics: Official accused of having affair with trooper

December 12, 1998
Kansas City Star (MO)

TULSA, Okla. – The debate over precisely what constitutes sexualrelations has spread from the nation’s capital to this heartlandstate, where the lieutenant governor is accused of an improperrelationship with a state trooper.

The situation has Republican Gov. Frank A. Keating battling
partisan charges of hypocrisy for refusing to publicly criticize his
second-in-command, Mary Fallin, while condemning President Clinton’s
conduct with Monica Lewinsky as “outrageous” and calling for
Clinton’s resignation.

“We have to handle this fairly and professionally and in a
nonpartisan fashion, fully independent of what is happening
nationally,” Keating said in an interview. “We can’t let the winds
of the Washington scandal blow us to the right or left. ”
The governor added that there was no evidence that sexual
intercourse had taken place between Fallin and Greg Allen, a member
of her security detail. Keating has nonetheless ordered the state
Public Safety Commissioner to leave “no stone unturned” in an
official review.

Fallin and Allen – who resigned after acknowledging that he
engaged in “unprofessional conduct” – have denied a sexual
relationship.

However, Allen admitted that on more than one occasion he had
held Fallin’s hand and had comforted her as she wept on his shoulder
over her troubled marriage.

He also said that they had kissed – “but merely as you would
kiss a friend,” explained his attorney Gary James. For that, James
said, Allen initially thought it was best to resign. Allen, who is
married, is now asking for his job back.

The firestorm erupted Dec. 4 when Fallin, 43, considered an
up-and-coming Republican political figure, announced that she was
seeking a divorce. At a sensational court hearing that day, she
accused her husband of 14 years of abusing her, of using drugs and of
hiring a private investigator to follow her. Joseph Fallin, a
dentist, denied the abuse and drugs but admitted hiring the
investigator.

“This is about you having an affair with one of your bodyguards,
isn’t it?,” Joseph Fallin’s attorney, Bill Liebel, asked Mary Fallin
in open court.

“That was a rumor started by my husband,” she responded.

The judge quickly called a recess and then barred further
reference to the matter. But the cat was out of the bag. A few days
later, Public Safety Commissioner Bob Ricks confirmed that Allen had
been “permitted to resign,” although the trooper had denied that
any “sexual activity” had occurred.

“In all honesty, none of us wanted to know any details,” Ricks
said in an interview. “Who wants to go into this salacious area? ”
Keating, who is chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association
and who has presidential aspirations, is among those who would rather
not be dealing with this. But state Democrats seized on the scandal
to attack Keating, while avoiding any judgment of Fallin and her
marital woes.

“He is a leading critic of the president, and what he is
practicing nationally he is not practicing locally,” said Pat Hall,
executive director of the state Democratic Party.

A spokesman for Keating responded that the governor’s judgments
about Clinton were made after the president admitted an improper
relationship with Lewinsky.

Check Is In The Mail?

May 31, 2006

State loses thousands of tax returns

Not only do Senate Democrats not want to return the nearly one billion dollar surplus back to the taxpayers, apparently the Oklahoma Tax Commission is following suit.

By Associated Press (excerpt)

OKLAHOMA CITY The Oklahoma Tax Commission say a computer problem is responsible for the agency misplacing as many as 5-thousand Oklahoma tax return checks.

The problem occurred when the bar code on the returns and the bar code on some income tax return software products were wrong.

End Of Session Sausage Making

May 30, 2006

The legislative process is sometimes similar to making sausage; if you saw the process, you might not want to enjoy the final product.

by Janice Francis-Smith
The Journal Record
(excerpt)

OKLAHOMA CITY – A five-page bill dealing with tax issues grew by more than 100 pages overnight and was approved by the Legislature on Friday, the last day of session, in a most atypical fashion.

Up until Friday morning, Senate Bill 1084 was a little bill to clarify the effective date for a tax credit offered to biodiesel facilities. But when it emerged from conference committee and hit the Senate floor Friday afternoon, it was 114 pages long and was being referred to as the “omnibus” tax bill.

The version heading to the governor’s desk deals with everything from the tobacco tax to municipal annexation, coal production, home builders, church construction, advertising for sporting events, disabled veterans and rural electricity cooperatives.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

May 30, 2006

Although the Legislature adjourned without a budget agreement Friday, several bills were signed, many are awaiting the Governor’s signature, and many died.

Bills Signed:

HB 2615: Stand Your Ground provides immunity from criminal prosecution or civil action for using justifiable deadly force.

SB 1742: Anti-abortion measures.

HB 2840: Kelsey Briggs law, reforms the state’s child welfare.

Awaiting Governor’s Signature

SB 1951: Extends the ban on funeral protests to within 500 feet of any place where a portion of a funeral service is held.

HB 2842: Would reform the state’s Medicaid system.

SB 1577: Would plug a tax credit loophole that could cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars if left unchecked.

Died This Session

HB 3119: Would have required state employees to report illegal immigrants seeking state services to the federal authorities.

SB 1815: Would delay until 2008 when electronic campaign report filing would start.

HB 2158: Would require that children’s books containing homosexual content and pervasively vulgar and sexually explicit material be shelved in the adult area of the library.

Memorial Day 2006

May 29, 2006

"Like Sand Thru The Hour Glass"

May 26, 2006

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Legislature convenes a special session to finish work on the state budget before the new fiscal year begins on July 1st.

With lawmakers facing a constitutional deadline to adjourn their regular session today at 5 PM, Governor Brad Henry ordered the special session for lawmakers to continue working on the budget and avoid a possible government shutdown.

State House Republicans and Senate Democrats are at odds over tax relief and spending priorities.

House Approves Anti Base Closure Bill

May 26, 2006

The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY – An appropriation expected to be $1 million to help military communities avoid base realignments was approved Thursday by the House by a vote of 98-0 and now moves to the governor’s desk.

Senate Bill 1675, by state Sen. Randy Bass, D-Lawton, and state Rep. Don Armes, R-Faxon, would place additional funding in the “Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission Incentive Fund,” which allows communities that are home to military bases to apply for matching grants for infrastructure and road improvements.

The fund was created last year after the federal government’s latest round of the base realignment and closure process.

Bill Would Chop Refinery Permitting Process Time In Half

May 25, 2006

By Marie Price
The Journal Record

OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation aimed at cutting in half the time it takes to permit a new oil refinery passed the state House Wednesday by 95-4.

House Bill 2810, by state Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing, and Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan, D-Stillwater, now goes to the Senate for a final vote.

“This bill cuts out a large chunk of the bureaucracy that prevents the creation of new jobs that contribute to Oklahoma’s economic growth,” said Denney. “Oklahoma has a rich history in the oil and gas industry, but there hasn’t been a new refinery built in the United States in more than 30 years.”

Denney said the “Oklahoma Refinery Revitalization Act” could reduce the refinery permitting process, which currently takes about 10 years, to about five years. Read More…