Archive for the ‘OK House’ Category

EXCLUSIVE: Republican Caucus Moves Forward to Impeach McMahan

February 12, 2008

“We need to take the politics out of this situation as much as possible. Considering impeachment of a statewide-elected official is very serious, and we plan to move forward in a bipartisan manner so the charges can be fully reviewed without bias.” – Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa.


Sources are telling the Oklahoma Political News Service tonight that as early as next week, new Speaker Chris Benge will start assigning members to a special investigative committee with full subpoena power.

It is expected that the special committee will ultimately file articles of impeachment against the embattled State Auditor and Inspector.

OKPNS will continue to investigate.

House Speaker Names Budget Chairman

February 5, 2008

The Oklahoma House of Representative issued the following press release today:

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 5, 2008) – Rep. Ken Miller was named chairman of the
House Appropriations and Budget Committee today.

Miller has served for the last year as vice-chairman of the
committee under now House Speaker Chris Benge, who vacated the chairmanship for
his new role. As chairman of the Appropriations and Budget Committee, Miller
will play a vital role in hearing the first round of budget bills through
committee this session, and will have a key part in determining how the state
will spend taxpayer dollars this year.

Miller, R-Edmond, was first elected in 2004 and is an economics
professor at Oklahoma Christian University.

“Rep. Miller’s economics background will serve him well as the chairman
of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee,” said Benge, R-Tulsa. “I have
full confidence in his abilities.”

Democrat Speaker Possible?

February 2, 2008

Sources are telling the Oklahoma Political News Service tonight that with the uncertainty about who the new House speaker might be, Danny Morgan is saying he may be able to make a coalition speaker arrangement – where a small group of unsatisfied House Republicans would work out a deal with House Democrats to pool their votes together and elect either Danny or a fringe Republican as speaker. But insiders say that to even have a chance of pulling that off, House Democrats are looking to clean up their own leadership team.

As the mainstream media miraculously reported this week, the recent tax problems weren’t just Republican problems. Several members of the House Democrat caucus were also listed as having issues paying their income and/or property taxes. They included Jabar Shumate of Tulsa, Ryan McMullen of Burns Flat (or of a part of El Reno that’s outside his district, some say), and Richard Morrissette, Al McAffrey and Al Lindley of Oklahoma City. Several of them play important roles on the House Democrat leadership team.

Shumate, an assistant minority floor leader is one of the worst offenders. He has failed to pay his income taxes five times in nine years and McMullen recently stepped down as caucus chairman in order to devote his time to running the caucus’ 2008 campaign operation. (Charlie Laster, who’s been designated to take over for the term-limited Mike Morgan for Senate Democrats, has also had trouble paying his property taxes.) While there were some rumblings that Shumate might be forced to step down – Danny Morgan even said that he expected him to – little seems to have come of it yet. And there’s been no word on any repercussions for the others. But an announcement may be coming soon.

Danny Morgan has spent a lot of time criticizing House Republicans for their tax troubles, but now has to deal with his own. Morgan is aware of this, and insiders say he may be looking to do something about it over the weekend because he wants to pull off a huge upset on Monday when the House votes on a new speaker. He may even be willing to skin his own and make deals with Republicans if it means he can become speaker.

OKPNS will continue to investigate.

House Republican Announces Bid for Speaker

February 2, 2008

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 1, 2008) – Rep. Chris Benge, chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, announced today he is running for Speaker of the House.

“I’m honored some of my colleagues have encouraged me to run for this position, and am actively seeking votes from my fellow Republicans,” said Benge, R-Tulsa.

Benge has spent a decade in the House working in both in the minority and majority, and at the service of two speakers as the Appropriations and Budget Committee chairman.

This experience, and his intimate knowledge of the legislative budgeting process, is what several of his colleagues cited as reasons why they urged him to run, Benge said.

“Regardless of who is chosen by the caucus Monday, we will move forward with the agenda that was approved by all of our members and will be well-positioned to get the people’s work done this legislative session in a united way.”

Rep. Benge is a native Tulsan. He was born and raised in southwest Tulsa and currently resides in the community of Berryhill with his wife, Allison, and their two children, Garrett, 13, and Hayden, 11. He is an Oklahoma State University graduate with a degree in business



DEVELOPING: Chris Benge New Speaker? (1-31-08)

DEVELOPING: Chris Benge New Speaker?

February 1, 2008

More details to follow….

EXCLUSIVE: Dewitt & Winchester Strike Deal?

January 30, 2008

Sources tell the Oklahoma Political News Service that the “establishment” wing of the Republican House caucus – those that had once supported Lance Cargill – have coalesced around Rep. Gus Blackwell, the current Speaker Pro Tem.

Speculation is that former Speaker Cargill is not the only member with potential ethical skeletons in their closets, thus the belief that one of their own won’t push for investigations or further reforms.

As for the members of the caucus that opposed the Cargill group, sources also indicate a “deal” between Rep. Dale Dewitt, Braman, who is being supported by agricultural and rural interests, and Rep. Susan Winchester, Chickasha. The terms of the “deal” are that the anti-Cargill element will advance one candidate against Blackwell, and that at this moment DeWitt and Winchester lead the pack. They’ll compete to see who makes the runoff against Blackwell.

Our sources say the “corporate welfare crowd” has jumped in to advance a Winchester candidacy but that DeWitt is slightly ahead at this time. Regardless, it appears that the loser of the DeWitt and Winchester contest will support the winner in their quest to lead the insurgents.

OKPNS will continue to investigate

Set of New, Common-Sense Reform Laws Authored by Speaker Cargill Take Effect Today

November 1, 2007

OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 31, 2007) – In the 2007 legislative session, several key pieces of legislation by Speaker Lance Cargill were passed into law, including measures to benefit working families, place greater fiscal restraints on government, and reduce inmate recidivism rates. Several of those new laws will take effect Thursday.

“Our overarching goal this year was to pass laws that ease the burden on families, that decrease the size of the state government bureaucracy, and that apply more common sense to our state’s laws,” said Cargill, R-Harrah. “We did that through a variety of measures, some that I authored, and many more that were authored and introduced by other fiscally prudent lawmakers.”

Laws authored by Cargill in 2007 that take effect Thursday include House Bill 2101, the Transformational Justice Act, which encourages state prisons to partner with faith-based, community and voluntary organizations to help inmates rejoin society and reduce the rate of repeat offenders.

“In Oklahoma, we’re fortunate to have voluntary, faith-based groups that understand how to help inmates become constructive members of society,” Cargill said. “Many times, prison is a place where inmates learn to become better criminals. But faith has a transformative power in people’s lives, including those who need the most help. These faith-based groups provide a service that no government program can, by helping inmates find the connections and develop the life skills they need.”

Also taking effect Thursday is House Bill 2103, which provides full-time enrolling freshmen the option of “locking in” one fixed rate of tuition at state colleges and universities through completion of their degree program. Beginning in the 2008-2009 school year, HB 2103 will require all public higher education institutions in Oklahoma to offer in-state students an option to participate in a guaranteed tuition rate plan.

HB 2103 also includes key provisions to help keep the growing cost of textbooks down. The measure cracks down on practices such as “edition churn” or textbook “bundles” that hike the cost of materials.

House Bill 2111 eliminates a number of smaller states agencies, boards and commissions (ABCs), 18 in all, that have been inactive for years or duplicate other state entities.

House Bill 2104 requires the Oklahoma Historical Society to designate one day per week as a free admission day for all children age 17 or younger to state museums and historical sites.

All four measures – House Bills 2101, 2103, 2111 and 2104 – passed the Legislature earlier this year with broad support from both sides of the aisle.

OKG News.Com: Sources questioning GOP Contributions Related to Recount Last Year

October 16, 2007

By Scott Cooper

Amid the backdrop of a current investigation into Republican campaign contributions from 2004, sources inside the party have questioned contributions made for a vote recount last November.

Rep. Todd Thomsen, R-Ada, won House District 25 last year after a recount declared him the winner two weeks following the election. The House Republican leadership organized a fund-raising effort to aid Thomsen in his recount request.

Sources said it was at a caucus meeting after the election where contributions were solicited for the recount. According to campaign reports, five House Republicans wrote checks to the Oklahoma County Republican Committee on the day of the meeting. Two of those members told Oklahoma Gazette their contributions were intended to aid Thomsen’s recount effort.


Contributions from candidates to parties or committees cannot be earmarked, said University of Oklahoma political science professor and election law expert Keith Gaddie. Read more…

House GOP Caucus Designates Cargill for Second Term as Speaker

October 16, 2007

OKLAHOMA CITY (October 16, 2007) – Oklahoma House Republican caucus members Tuesday elected Lance Cargill as Speaker-designate for the 2009-10 session, giving Cargill a second term in the House’s top post.

“I’m grateful to my fellow caucus members for their support, and I thank them for this vote of confidence as we move forward with important conservative reforms,” said Cargill, R-Harrah, who currently serves as Speaker. “I also want to say how much I respect Representative John Wright. He’s a valuable member, and as a unified caucus we’re poised for real progress this coming year. I see tremendous opportunities in the areas of state fiscal accountability, state government modernization, and performance pay for teachers.”

Rep. John Wright, R-Broken Arrow, joined Cargill as a candidate in seeking the Speaker-designate position.

“I congratulate Speaker Cargill on his election by the caucus to continue to serve the House of Representatives as Speaker, and I dedicate to working with him to continue to advance good policies for the state of Oklahoma,” said Wright, who serves as chairman of the caucus.

Cargill’s first term as Speaker will end after the upcoming 2008 session. The Harrah native has served in the House since 2000, representing large portions of eastern Oklahoma County. Provided Republicans retain their majority in the House in the 2008 election cycle, Tuesday’s caucus vote means that Cargill will serve as Speaker for another two years in 2009 and 2010.

“Today’s vote is a victory for the entire caucus, and puts us in a strong, unified position,” said Speaker Pro Tempore Gus Blackwell, R-Goodwell. “By maintaining our current Speaker, we’re giving the House Republican majority the ability to press for needed conservative reforms in the upcoming session and beyond.”

House Majority Leader Greg Piatt, R-Ardmore, also praised Tuesday’s vote saying, “By designating Lance Cargill for a second term as Speaker, the House Republican majority is well-prepared for the upcoming legislative session, and we have real momentum.”

Scott Mitchell: "Challenging a Sitting Speaker is Very Unusual"

October 11, 2007
Last night, News 9 Reporter Stacey Cameron confirmed the story we exclusively brought you six hours earlier – Speaker Cargill is being challenged by Majority Caucus Chair John Wright. News 9 political analyst and “Your Vote Counts” host Scott Mitchell offers his comments on the developing story.