Whatzup Politics (1069)
Deadline to Request Absentee Ballots Nears Less than a week remains for registered voters in LeFlore County to apply for absentee ballots to be mailed to them for the March 3rd Presidential Preferential Primary Election, County Election Board Secretary Sharon Steele said.
Applications for absentee ballots must be received by the County Election Board no later than 5 p.m. Wednesday, February 26th , to be processed in time for the election. Absentee voters may apply in person at the County Election Board office or may send their applications by mail, fax, or e-mail.
An online version of the form may be filled out and submitted electronically at www.elections.ok.gov.
Any registered voter eligible to vote in the election may vote by absentee ballot without stating a reason, Steele said, however absentee voters can activate certain special conditions in the following circumstances:
• Registered voters who are physically incapacitated and voters who care for physically incapacitated persons who cannot be left unattended may apply for absentee ballots only by mail, fax, e-mail, online or via an agent who is at least 16 years of age and who is not employed by or related within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity to any person whose name appears on the ballot.
• Registered voters who are confined to nursing homes in the county may apply by mail, by fax, by e-mail, online or via an agent who is at least 16 years of age and who is not employed by or related within the third degree of consanguinity or affinity to any person whose name appears on the ballot.
• Military personnel, residents of Leflore County living overseas, and the spouses and dependents of each group may apply only by mail, by fax, or by e-mail.
For more information and instructions, military and overseas voters may visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program website: www.fvap.gov/oklahoma
Students from Carl Albert State College recently attended Higher Education Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol. The event was held on Tuesday, February 11th.
Nine students from Carl Albert represented the college during the day’s festivities. Four students from the OAEA and five students from the Student Government Association had the opportunity to enjoy lunch with legislators from the Carl Albert district, visiting about educational opportunities, career aspirations, and the role higher education plays in the future of Oklahoma’s economic viability.
The students ended their day by attending the formal Higher Education Day program in the House of Representatives Chamber.
Many inspirational speakers offered insight into the benefits of higher education. The speakers included Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell, officials from the State Regents office, select Representatives, and students from across the state who have benefited from the opportunities provided through higher education.
Pictured left to right are: F- Shara Olive, CASC Student Affairs, CASC Regent Dwight Spencer, State Rep. Lundy Kiger, State Rep. Johnny Tadlock, Cherish Palmer, Tonya Cruz, Alissa Ryan, Steven Lin, Susan Hill, CASC Instructor, Senator Mark Allen, B- Michael Gurule, Ivan Baker, Hannah Mabry, CASC President Jay Falkner, Logan Nipper, Ben Dildine
By Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D-Norman)
The House Democratic Caucus unveiled a future for Oklahoma this past week.
Through dramatic changes to our criminal justice system, education system, health care system, and the state’s economy, the House Democratic Caucus put together a plan that invests not in banks, corporations, or wealthy individuals who are already doing well but in everyday people. Our Brand New State agenda is a commitment to Oklahomans who have been left behind by their state government.
For more than a decade, for no reason other than politics, rural Oklahoma has been ravaged not by a failing economy but by a failing state government. Oklahoma taxpayers have sent millions of dollars in taxes to the federal government, subsidizing health care in states like California and Massachusetts, while hospitals throughout Oklahoma close their doors. By accepting the proven Medicaid expansion that has been adopted and implemented successfully in 36 states, the Brand New State agenda puts a billion dollars into Oklahoma’s health care system at no additional cost to Oklahoma taxpayers.
While hospitals across Oklahoma closed and reduced services, Oklahoma’s workforce, specifically low and middle-wage earners, were called on to pick up the slack for a loss of state revenue due to tax cuts and credits for high-earning individuals and corporations.
While wealthier Oklahomans benefited from the removal of income brackets, working Oklahomans suffered from the reduction of the Earned Income Tax Credit. While corporations benefited from a low minimum wage, Oklahomans making $50,000 a year paid twice the amount in taxes as a percentage of their income as those at the top. By calling for a higher minimum wage, restoring the EITC and providing state retirees with a cost of living adjustment, the Brand New State agenda puts money back in the pockets of Oklahoma’s workers and retirees.
Unfortunately, the economy and health care are not the only policy areas that have been affected by the inaction of state government. This year, Governor Stitt, who was against the teacher walkout for education in 2018 and the revenue-raising package that gave teachers a pay raise, proposed a budget that increases state funding for public schools by $12 million and private schools by $25 million.
This is theft. Our public schools are being robbed of public monies that should be helping schools across the state reduce class sizes and provide a better educational environment for our students. This redistribution of revenue from public schools to private schools is an assault on our public education community and rural communities that rely on the viability of public schools.
The Brand New State agenda is the first agenda to protect rural communities and public schools by calling for Oklahoma to lead the region in funding for education. If there is a bright spot in our state government, it is that there is a willingness by many Republicans to work with Democrats on the issue of criminal justice reform. Through both legislation and the initiative petition process, Oklahoma has made great strides in reducing our incarceration rate, but the work is not yet done. Through increased access to mental health services and policy changes that put people ahead of punitive justice, the Brand New State agenda continues our state’s efforts to create a fair and just criminal justice system that focuses on public safety and common sense rather than retribution.
I love Oklahoma. I love the people, I love Oklahoma football, but I don’t love the way our state treats people who don’t have a lot of money in the bank. The House Democratic Caucus created this agenda because we are tired of seeing people across the state and entire communities suffer while those who have influence through money flourish. It is time for a different approach. It’s time for a Brand New State.
By Congressman Markwayne Mullin
This week, President Trump released his budget proposal. It shows his commitment to fiscal responsibility by shrinking the federal government, stopping wasteful spending and providing a path to a balanced budget.
One common misconception about the budget process is that Congress considers the president’s budget exactly as he proposes it. Just as the president sets a legislative agenda in his State of the Union speech – even though he can’t write or draft legislation – the president submits a budget with funding for his priorities for the upcoming fiscal year. Outlined by the U.S. Constitution, Congress alone holds the power of the purse. This means that in reality, the president’s budget is only the beginning of the negotiations. Congress ultimately sets the funding levels for all federal programs.
Last year, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her Democratic caucus failed to propose, let alone pass, a budget. Speaker Pelosi has said repeatedly “show me your budget, show me your values.” This year, they have yet to fulfill their constitutional responsibility and produce a budget. Why won’t they show us their budget? Maybe it’s because their socialist agenda, with Medicare-For-All, and the Green New Deal, will put the taxpayers on the hook for trillions of dollars every year and is widely unpopular with Americans.
Pelosi Democrats’ socialist values do not align with Oklahoma’s conservative values. Families in Oklahoma have to balance their budget, so why shouldn’t Congress have to do the same? House Republicans are committed to working with President Trump to put our nation’s spending back on a more fiscally conservative path.
OKLAHOMA CITY - State Rep. Lundy Kiger (R-Poteau) today announced the following process for anyone who has contacted his office or who has had or is still having health-related issues that required personal medical attention associated with Heavener’s water quality while Veolia North America was operating the city’s water treatment plant through the end of 2019.
From May through October 2019, while working with constituents to help improve Heavener’s water quality issues, Kiger received a large number of health-related complaints from constituents living in Heavener who had been exposed to dirty water through bathing or through consumption while cooking or drinking the water.
From the large number of complaints received, Kiger discussed with officials from the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) possible options available for people with concerns to confirm that their health issues actually came from the poor water quality or not.
“It was evident with so many calls of concerns that people needed confirmation that would help them in their ongoing treatment,” Kiger said. “To do this, I’ve called on officials at the OSDH to discuss options and a possible health evaluation for people who have sought treatment or are needing to seek treatment.”
Kiger invited officials from the OSDH to travel to Heavener in November 2019. The team, led by Director Gary Cox, met with a sample group of 10 citizens from Heavener who had contacted Kiger with ongoing treatment with serious concerns of health effects from the water.
“When I started receiving emails on specific health problems from individual people, I understood this was serious and that too many had been affected,” Kiger said. “When we met in person with the sample group and heard each one telling their story about their specific health problems and daily struggles related to the water, it was shocking to see the physical damage on some and to hear in their own words that illustrated just how bad some of these health problems are for these and many other people who have been exposed to dirty water for so many years.”
Some of the health issues described included bacterial infection, high blood cell counts, vomiting, diarrhea, hair falling out, headaches, dizziness, severe skin irritation on children and the elderly, skin rashes so bad that many had bleeding rashes, and some people who described some very serious organ failures and surgeries earlier in the year. These were some but not all of the illnesses described to OSDH officials at the November meeting.
Kiger requested that the OSDH help develop a process for these people to be seen to help confirm if or if not their health issues are being caused by the dirty water.
The following is the process available to people affected or who feel they have been affected by poor water quality in Heavener until the end of December 2019, who have met with a medical professional and received an evaluation or treatment for illnesses, but the physician wasn’t aware of the water problem possibly being a cause: you can ask your physician to email their name, phone number and email address to
Kiger will respond back to physicians with contact information for the state’s epidemiologist. This will give doctors the opportunity to discuss with the epidemiologist whether there is a possibility an illness could be related to dirty water. This could potentially lead to helping doctors assess an individual’s symptoms anew, possibly leading to a new diagnoses,
Kiger said this isn’t the easiest and most perfect process, but it is at least some help for those who feel their health issues were caused by dirty water.
Since the removal of Veolia from treating city water began Jan. 1, water quality improvements are being made daily. For those who believe they became ill or had physical health damages due to poor water quality, however, Kiger said he wants each person to have the peace of mind knowing the truth.
“My thanks to Director Cox and the team at the OSDH for their help on this matter for the people of Heavener,” Kiger said.
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed legislation directing all sheriffs, jailers and deputies to comply with any request made in an immigration retainer request provided by the federal government. House Bill 3195 is authored by Rep. John Pfeiffer (R-Orlando), who pointed to instances in Oklahoma where illegal immigrants have been released by local law enforcement despite their immigration status having been confirmed. Pfeiffer said the bill was requested by members of law enforcement to help define their role in these situations.
“I repeatedly heard from law enforcement in my district and from across the state that they needed clarification as to their roles in these situations,” Pfeiffer said. “House Bill 3195 requests that they comply with federal immigration agencies by alerting them to a person’s immigration status and holding a person for no longer than 48 hours while federal officials arrive.” House Bill 3195 was co-authored by Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy).
“Our local law enforcement should be cooperating with federal immigration agencies in instances where a person’s status as an illegal immigrant has been confirmed,” Roberts said. “We’ve seen unfortunate situations in Oklahoma where our existing laws failed to keep our citizens safe by releasing an illegal immigrant before federal agents arrived.”
The legislation would require the person identified in the immigration detainer to be informed they are being held in accordance with the request from federal agencies. The bill states that a sheriff, jailer or deputy is not required to comply if the person has provided proof that the person is a citizen of the United States. House Bill 3195 passed the House by a 78-21 vote. It is now available to be considered by the Senate, where it is authored by Sen. Julie Daniels (R-Bartlesville)
Attorney General Hunter’s Office Successfully Defends Two Longstanding Abortion Laws in Oklahoma County
OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today announced his office successfully defended two longstanding state laws from challenges led by a New York City-based abortion advocacy group. Oklahoma County District Judge Natalie Mai declined to put on hold a 1978 Oklahoma law allowing only physicians to perform abortions and a 2012 requirement that physicians must perform abortions in person, rather than by telemedicine.
Both laws were passed on an overwhelming and bipartisan basis, and had never before been challenged. “This is an extreme lawsuit, seeking to overthrow commonsense safety laws that have been on the books for half a century combined,” Attorney General Hunter said. “We appreciate Judge Mai’s thoughtful review and decision, which stays faithful to the U.S. Supreme Court’s repeated assertion that there is ‘no doubt’ that these types of laws are reasonable and constitutional ‘to ensure the safety of the abortion procedure.’ "Abortion advocates used to say that abortion should be between a woman and her doctor, but now they are attempting to take the doctor out of the room, and out of the picture altogether. We look forward to our continued defense of these laws and others that have been enacted to protect Oklahoma women’s health and safety, as well as the dignity of the unborn.”
A contrary ruling, the attorney general observed, would have potentially threatened the state’s anti-opioid efforts, given that the state also restricts the distribution of opioids through telemedicine. In defending these laws, the attorney general was supported by the Oklahoma State Medical Association, the Oklahoma Association of Nurse Practitioners, and the Telehealth Alliance of Oklahoma, among others.
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation directing the Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision and the State Board of Osteopathic Examiners to revoke the licenses of physicians who perform abortions. House Bill 1182, authored by State Rep. Jim Olsen (R-Roland), would revoke the license for one year.
An amendment filed prior to the vote clarified the life of the mother exception. “Every single human life, born and unborn, has value. It’s our obligation as a civilized people to defend and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves,” Olsen said. “I’m glad the House stood together to recognize that the most innocent us also deserve our most basic of rights—the right to life. But there is always more work to be done to fight for the lives of the unborn.
This is something that a lot of good people have worked on and prayed for, for a long time. I have had the privilege of being a part of that, and I am thankful for the help of the Lord.” During debate, Rep. Brad Boles (R-Marlow) explained that House Bill 1182 was extremely personal to him. Boles, a coauthor of the bill, told the members that 37 years ago, his birth mother made the courageous decision to put him up for adoption when she could have instead had an abortion. “Now she had a million reasons why it would have been more convenient for her to choose abortion—economic reasons, future college, athletic reasons—but she chose life,” Boles said. “And due to that decision she made unselfishly, I’m here today.” Rep. Tammy West (R-Bethany) also debated in favor of the bill.
“This bill, as amended, adds protections for the child, the mother, and for the discernment of the decision of the physician who is taking care of both,” West said. “It also enforces that the baby, whether in the womb of the mother or in the arms of the mother, is never reduced to an inconvenience in the state of Oklahoma.” House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka) was also a coauthor of the bill.
“The overwhelming majority of Oklahomans are pro-life, and they communicate their position on this issue to our members routinely,” McCall said. “I fully support any effort that would save an unborn child while also ensuring that the mother’s life and physical health is protected as well. This bill does that, and it is a policy the House has passed before.
“All life has intrinsic worth, and we should be doing all we can to protect those who cannot protect themselves,” McCall continued. “I am proud to be one of the members of the House standing with the many groups supporting this bill, including the Oklahoma Faith Leaders group comprised of the Catholic Conference of Oklahoma, Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Assemblies of God, Heartland Conference Church of God, and Tulsa International Pentecostal Holiness Church New Horizons Conference.” Rev. Paul Abner, an ordained Oklahoma City minister who serves as the director of Oklahoma Faith Leaders, praised the legislation’s passage.
“We’re grateful to Rep. Olsen and other members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives for passing this legislation today,” Abner said. “Unborn children should be protected by law and welcomed into life, and HB1182 is one more step toward accomplishing that. Oklahoma is leading the way with this innovative legislation as we believe no other bill like this has passed in any other state. We look forward to working with the Oklahoma State Senate next to pass this much needed legislation.” Rev. Blake Gideon from First Baptist Church of Edmond, who serves as president of Oklahoma Baptists, was also in favor of the legislation.
“I support House Bill 1182 because it is one of the strongest pieces of pro-life legislation that Oklahoma has put forth,” Gideon said. “It holds doctors to the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm, and it stipulates the only exception being the life of the mother.” House Bill 1182 is coauthored by Rep. Kevin West (R-Moore); Rep. Tom Gann (R-Inola); Rep. Justin Humphrey (R-Lane); Rep. David Smith (R-Stuart); Rep. Brad Boles (R-Marlow); Rep. David Hardin (R-Stilwell); Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy); Rep. Dustin Roberts (R-Durant); Rep. Dean Davis (R-Broken Arrow); Rep. Todd Russ (R-Cordell); Rep. Jay Steagall (R-Yukon); Rep. Marilyn Stark (R-Bethany); Rep. Zack Taylor (R-Seminole); Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader (Piedmont); Rep. Tammy Townley (R-Ardmore); Rep. Kevin McDugle (R-Broken Arrow); Rep. Nicole Miller (R-Edmond); Rep. Kyle Hilbert (R-Bristow); Rep. Lonnie Sims (R-Jenks); and Rep. Mark Lepak (R-Claremore). House Bill 1182 passed the House by a vote of 71-21. It now moves to the Senate for consideration.
The bill is authored in the Senate by Sen. Mark Allen (R-Spiro). -30- Rep. Jim Olsen represents District 2 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes a portion of Sequoyah County.
By State Rep. Lundy Kiger
One of the most notable problems we have in the county and much of Oklahoma is the trash problems on the roadsides of our beautiful state. Every time you see a piece of trash, someone threw it out or it blew out of their vehicle or truck. Regardless both are illegal. The state, counties and cities have laws in place to fine and address those that throw out trash. But, many people litter without being seen by law enforcement; the result is still the same that our county looks not only dirty, but as a population it comes across as we don’t care. This is something that we have to change.
We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the state, and it’s time we start taking care of it as the asset it really is to our area. What people see is a reflection on each of us.
I have made contact with the Oklahoma Department of Corrections (ODOC) and requested they look at the possibility of using state inmates to help us get the litter problem under control. My request to ODOC is to consider a program that would allow inmates at Jim E. Hamilton Correctional Center, and possibly state inmates housed in the LeFlore County Jail to participate in litter clean up with the help and direction of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT).
Each of us agree that our state inmates didn’t create the litter issue, but as taxpayers each of us are paying for their daily needs of room, food, medical care and for many education. As I discussed with ODOC, our taxpayers would be happy to see those who we are supporting with our taxes be a part of the solution in helping to clean up our county.
I will continue discussions with ODOC to look at possible options to help not only LeFlore County, but all counties in our state. My thanks to each of our communities who work hard in organizing trash pick-up with volunteers in our county annually. I hope soon that we have state inmates helping and making a real difference.