Archive for the ‘OK Legislature’ Category

UPDATE: First Amendment Think Tank Misreads Bill; Sends Out Erroneous Press Release

May 30, 2008

We have an update to a story we posted yesterday from The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) which supposedly highlighted serious First Amendment concerns with H.B. 2196, the “Oklahoma Clean Campaigns Act of 2008. The group sent a letter to Governor Brad Henry yesterday expressing their Constitutional concerns with the pending legislation awaiting Henry’s signature.

KTOK Capitol reporter Peter Ruddy provides us with a correction:

As heard on KTOK radio, this group has it all wrong.

They were looking at Senate amendments to the bill, not the enrolled version that is on the governor’s desk.

The House rejected those Senate amendments and sent the bill to a conference committee. In that committee, the bill was changed so that the only thing it deals with is contributions to lawmakers or canidates for the legislature by lobbyists during the session and five days afterwards.

I talked with the spokesman for the Center for Competitive Politics and he was not aware the bill had been changed.

You can see for yourself by going to http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.u…tatus/ main.html and reading the nerolled version of the bill which is on the governor’s desk.

Or you can take the word of someone in Washington who puts out a press release.

Your choice.

Peter J. Rudy

KTOK Radio

State Capitol reporter

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First Amendment Think Tank: "Oklahoma Clean Campaigns Act" Poses Serious First Amendment Concerns

May 29, 2008

Oklahoma Bloggers Beware!

The Center for Competitive Politics (CCP) highlighted serious First Amendment concerns in H.B. 2196, the “Oklahoma Clean Campaigns Act of 2008,” in a letter the educational group sent today to Governor Brad Henry. The bill would make it a crime for any person to intentionally participate in the dissemination of false political advertising. The engrossed bill currently awaits the governor’s signature or veto.

CCP is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that works to protect the First Amendment political rights of speech, assembly and petition. If enacted, the bill “would place a chill upon political speakers of all varieties and undermine the robust nature of political debate in Oklahoma,” writes CCP president Sean Parnell in the letter to the governor. While truth in political speech is important, the specific provisions of the bill, “puts the government in the position of determining what constitutes ‘truth’ in an arena where what is ‘truth’ is itself often the focus of fierce debate,” Parnell counsels.

The bill relies on a vague standard that “allows the State to determine the ‘truth’ of any communication that relates to the ‘character, voting record or acts of the candidate,'” Parnell continues. “Statements about the ‘character’ of a candidate are more opinion than fact; they are characterizations. A governmental system that determines the ‘truth’ of a characterization, under penalty of law, is a standard so vague and overbroad that to enforce it would chill speech of every variety.”

Parnell notes that in an opinion overturning a similarly crafted Washington state law last year the Washington State Supreme Court wrote, “the notion that the government, rather than the people, may be the final arbiter of truth in political debate is fundamentally at odds with the First Amendment.”

“As the Supreme Court of Washington aptly put it, a provision like the Oklahoma proposal ‘naively assumes that the government is capable of correctly and consistently negotiating the thin line between fact and opinion in political speech,'” Parnell concludes.

Water Issues Set to Explode

May 22, 2008

Insiders are scratching their heads today wondering why a bill that would direct the water resources board to put Oklahoma’s water interests before Texas’ interests is stalled in the state senate.

House Bill 2238, by Rep. Colby Schwartz and Sen. Mike Johnson, calls for the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to consider water permit applications from Oklahomans before applications from other states like Texas.

The bill states in part that “In the granting of water rights for transportation of stream water for use outside the State, pending applications to use such water within the State shall first be considered in order to assure that applicants within the State shall have all of the water required to adequately supply their beneficial uses.”

Our sources tell us that Senate Democrats would find it difficult to face the voters this fall if they were to vote against such a measure, so they are working to keep the bill from coming to the floor altogether, a sort of reverse “wooly booger.” Even more curious, reports are that lobbyists retained by Texas interests are not involved in the bill slowdown, since that would undermine their assertion that Texas only wants the water Oklahoma does not use.

One person knowledgeable about the intrigue points the finger of blame squarely at the Senate Democrats. “While it would seem that most Oklahomans would prefer to see Oklahoma’s natural resources utilized first by Oklahomans, that’s not the case with the Senate Democrats. There’s a line they’re feeding people that it might hurt the state’s defense of the lawsuit filed by Tarrant Regional Water District against Oklahoma’s moratorium on-out-of state water transfers. That’s non-sense. If Texans end up getting Oklahoma’s water and Oklahomans start rationing water, you’ll know who to blame,” he says.

The House is scheduled to consider the bill on Thursday. Once through the House the bill will be in the Senate’s hands for a vote before they adjourn on Friday. Our sources tell OKPNS that Democrats are counting on the bill getting lost in the last minute crush of business, allowing them to escape making a vote on the issue.

Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Rabon, D-Hugo, who our sources say is one of the Senators fighting to keep HB 2238 from reaching the Senate floor, issued a press release today blasting the House for passage of a resolution encouraging Attorney General Drew Edmondson to defend the state in a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Oklahoma’s moratorium on out-of-state sales of Oklahoma water.

Why would Rabon oppose a move that might help Oklahoma to win the lawsuit? No one seems to know, but it’s one of the more curious stances of the session: an Oklahoma lawmaker helping Texas win a federal lawsuit.

OKPNS will keep an eye on this developing story.

Who’s to Blame for Monday’s "Prison Disturbance" (Riot)

May 21, 2008

The media has joined the fracas surrounding Monday’s prison riot. Editorials at the Oklahoman and the Tulsa World are fanning the flames regarding prison issues today. Prison issues took a backseat at the legislature this year, until the final week.

Now it will be interesting to see how Democrats and Republicans react. So it appears that candidates will be scrambling to revisit this issue this summer and fall. Undoubtedly, with the session still underway, several legislators will be weighing in on the issue. Here’s last night’s News9 story about this re-emerging campaign issue.

OKPNS FLASHBACK: March 27, 2007

GOP Leaders: What is Henry Trying to Hide with Veto of Audit Funds?
Republican leaders questioned today Gov. Brad Henry’s line-item veto of funding for an independent performance audit of the Department of Corrections – which the governor described as his “first” line-item veto of HB 1234, the bipartisan general appropriations bill overwhelmingly approved by the Legislature last week.

“What is the governor trying to hide with this veto? Is Gov. Henry afraid that an independent performance audit might uncover his mismanagement of a critical public safety agency? Independent performance audits at public school districts have proven very effective at improving efficiency and saving taxpayers’ money. We believe independent performance audits can have the same positive impact on the Department of Corrections and other state agencies,” stated Senate Co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City. Read more…

Related:

News9 Video: Prison Riot Raises Questions at the Capitol

FreePauljacob.com: Only a couple inmates killed

Is This Our First Reported Case of "Wooley Booger?"

May 16, 2008


Regular readers will remember that OKPNS trumped Oklahoma media last year when we broke the news about the House GOP campaign finance scandal. Now the fallout from the subsequent investigation is surfacing in the last days of the legislative session.

The House of Representatives yesterday increased the budget for the state ethics commission by 30%. The commission monitors election campaign financing, and despite the increase, notable campaign ethics watchdog Rep. Mike Reynolds is purportedly not happy.

Is this our first reported case of “wooley booger?”

As we’ve reported, it’s the “witching hour,” the time in the session where lawmakers bring forth legislation from shadowy conference committees, proclaiming them the equivalent of the Magna Carta. The compliant, and lazy, press then reports verbatim the legislative spin. While the headline on today’s story appears to indicate that some sort of campaign finance enforcement reform has been achieved, the truth apparently lies much deeper in the story.

Rep. Ken Miller, a Lance Cargill lieutenant, brought forth the so-called reform. Regular capitol observers tell us that Miller is not well respected, but holds the powerful Appropriations and Budget position as part of the delicate balancing act Speaker Chris Benge performs daily to keep the various House GOP factions together. Rumors persist that Miller, from a conservative Edmond house district, may draw a more conservative opponent in the primary as a result of his antics under his buddy, former speaker Lance Cargill.

“Having this Miller kid carry campaign ethics reform is like Obama or McCain declaring they will appoint Bill Clinton to beef up security for female White House interns for the next president,” one insider, choking back laughter, tells OKPNS.

Legislation Removing Sexual Predators From Nursing Homes Close to Law

May 15, 2008

Some good news! Captain Courageous, also known as Wes Bledsoe, the nursing home reform crusader, sent OKPNS an email Wednesday night predicting his legislation aimed at removing sexual predators from nursing homes may be on its way to becoming law. Bledsoe also mentions in the email, the report done by a NBC affiliate in Kansas City which ran a news report about the Predators in Nursing Homes issue.

“The report cited more of our investigative work, including the sexual assault by a registered sex offender of a young woman suffering from severe impairments…that we also brought to the news teams’ attention. The reporter, Keith King did a great job with the story… please send him some kudos”

Opponents of the bill, such as the greedy nursing home owners association, have tried to derail the legislation several times, but there has simply been too much media attention to this worthy cause.

Here’s Wes’ message to concerned Oklahomans. As we’ve mentioned, it’s witching hour and malevolent forces are at work. The nursing home association is still paying our favorite wine expert, Otie Ann Fried and her employees to represent their interests. So if Oklahomans want this bill to pass, they need to light up those phone lines. For citizens once represented by Dirty Harry Coates and Patrick Anderson, you should consider snail mail as they have great difficulties with their e-mail and phones.

The "Witching Hour" Approaches the Legislature

May 14, 2008

It’s the “witching hour,” the time in the legislative session when bills emerge from conference committees filled with “wooley boogers” and pork.

While there is some limited public scrutiny of what goes on in the legislature prior to mid-May thanks to the lazy and liberal capitol press corps, all bets are off as we move into the last few days. That’s when legislators cut their backroom deals, hide outrageous amendments and issue misleading press releases, all designed to fool the public (hard) and the press (not so hard).

Among bills ripe for exploitation are the bills such as the one the insurance industry and their lapdog insurance commissioner Kim Holland are using to try and rip off senior citizens and charities, SB 1980. Others include the endowed chairs backlog, not yet in a bill but could emerge at any time to hurt medical research efforts. Senate liberals will be searching for openings to get their phony official English bill out of the way so as to remove that issue before the Fall campaign.

The list goes on and on.

We invite OKPNS readers to share their knowledge: if you get wind of phony, deceptive legislation that is about to emerge, send in your information to the OKPNS tip line. We’ll follow up and try to shine the light truth on the last minute shady deals we get every May.

Capitol Whispers: Patient Advocacy Organization in the Works?

May 13, 2008
There are rumblings from the State Capitol that a “real” patient advocacy organization is in the works.

Individual patient groups have been “taking it on the chin” at the legislature, and some leaders in the patient community are talking of joining forces, with the specific goal of protecting patient safety. Observers tell OKPNS that Oklahoma is considered by national experts to be very backwards and reckless in regards to patient safety issues, such as allowing surgical procedures by untrained professionals such as optometrists.

The medical lobby, considered by many observers as one of the weakest in the nation, formed a patient advocacy group a few years ago, but there is little if any patient involvement, and most patient groups are involved in fund raising instead of advocacy. In fact, a real patient advocacy organization would benefit the weak physicians lobby as much as patient issues.

If it happens, the formation of true patient advocacy organization could be a powerful new force, as it would out of necessity be more grassroots than Gucci, and effective grassroots advocacy is discouraged by lobbyists and lawmakers alike as it lessens their ability to cut backroom deals. With the autism and medically-related endowed chair battles still fresh in everybody’s minds, it will be interesting to see what kind of organization finally emerges and who the players are behind this effort.

Developing……….

Video: Murphey Update (Week of May 9)

May 12, 2008

Related:

OK Legislator’s Blog: Rep. Murphey – Three Important Legislative Reforms Killed in State Senate

Developing…. Two Rogue Republican Senators Attempting to Water Down "English Only" Bill

May 7, 2008

We will have more information throughout the morning.