Archive for March, 2008

Constitutional Protection of Hunting and Fishing Clears House Subcommittee

March 31, 2008

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.

Defending Family Values and Representative Sally Kern

March 31, 2008

There has been a lot of nationwide attention paid to State Representative Sally Kern’s comments regarding what is becoming an obviously well financed and planned attack on traditional family values. Those behind this effort have gone on the attack and suggested that Kern is a hateful person who should resign from office.

Based on my experience as a member of the House, I believe there are few legislators kinder or more caring than Kern. She is the last person in the House I would think of as hateful. Her soft-spoken kindness may initially mask the fact that she unafraid to fight for what she believes is right. Whether it is asking the tough questions or just being one of the first lawmakers to post a vote against inappropriate spending, she is not afraid to take a tough stand.

Two years ago, Kern learned that books endorsing the homosexual lifestyle could be made available in the children’s section of Oklahoma public libraries. She led the fight to require libraries to segregate these books to keep them away from children. To this date, Kern has been firmly resolved to expose the agenda that places these types of materials in front of our children.

As part of this ongoing effort, Kern has given a presentation to various groups in which she talks about this agenda and posits that if the homosexual lifestyle is allowed to expand by being openly marketed to our youth, a grave threat is posed to our society. Kern believes, as do I, that America’s greatness is because of traditional Judeo-Christian family values. I believe that children need and desire the traditional family environment. Because of the attack on traditional values, too often our children are not being raised in stable households, which is what they so badly need.

I see this firsthand as a member of the Human Services Committee where I serve with Rep. Kern. Because of the breakdown of the family, there are now 19,000 children in state custody. As a member of the Corrections Committee, I know that Oklahoma prisons are filled to capacity and the government struggles to deal with the fallout from the lack of adherence to traditional values. There are no easy solutions to these problems because the massive cost falls upon the taxpayers, but these challenges, if left unchecked, will eventually be too large for the government to handle.

Rep. Kern has come under attack for suggesting that the breakdown of family values poses a grave threat to our society. Despite enormous pressure, she has courageously refused to back down from her beliefs. I appreciate and agree with her stand and consider it an honor to be able to serve with her in the Legislature.

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

March 31, 2008

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.

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

March 31, 2008

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.

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

March 31, 2008

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.

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

March 29, 2008

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

Weekend Poll

March 28, 2008

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.

Grand Jury Indicts Woodward County Sheriff

March 28, 2008

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:

This Spring, or next Spring?

March 28, 2008

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?

Mexican "Mobile Consul" Rolls through Tulsa this Week

March 27, 2008

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.