Whatzup Politics (1052)
OKLAHOMA CITY -- House Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D-Norman) and House Democratic Caucus Chair Cyndi Munson (D-OKC) released the following joint statement today after Gov. Kevin Stitt announced he would ban all state-sponsored travel to California:
“Hundreds of thousands of uninsured Oklahomans are waiting to hear the governor’s healthcare plan that he promised and failed to deliver last fall. We are near the bottom in the country when it comes to resources for education and as a result education outcomes. We are one of the worst states in the country when it comes to infant mortality. In spite of the strides made by the people of this state through ballot measures, Oklahoma is still number two in the country in mass incarceration.
The governor’s latest decision to ban travel to California is nothing more than an attempt to distract from another recent bad decision the governor made, which was to alienate and attack our tribal nations and ask a federal court to shut down our state’s thriving tribal gaming industry.
To those that believe that this isn’t simply an attempt at distraction, why would the governor exempt travel for sporting events and business recruitment? And with those exemptions in place, who does this ban actually affect?
It’s time for the governor to end this irresponsible disagreement with the tribes, release a healthcare plan and focus on Oklahoma families.”
For the Children: A Weekly Column by Joe Dorman, CEO – OICA
Last Thursday, I was pleased to be a part of a very successful pair of events held in Duncan, sponsored by Pathways to a Healthier You, the Potts Family Foundation, and several local partners.
Two viewings of the documentary film “Resilience: The Biology of Stress and the Science of Hope” brought together more than 600 people to learn about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and trauma-informed care. Oklahoma unfortunately ranks top among the 50 states with the highest percentage of children experiencing high levels of “toxic stress” and extreme, long-term exposure to situations which lead to poor health conditions as adults.
Oklahoma’s First Lady, Sarah Stitt, moderated the panel discussion during which she was candid about her youth and the struggles her mother endured with mental illness. She spoke about how this affected her and the rest of her family.
This is a subject she has made a part of her platform as First Lady to help Oklahomans. She said that at almost every event someone confides with her that they have also had a similar circumstance but was embarrassed to open up about it before hearing her.
Counseling services, once considered something by many for the weak, are now thankfully used at a much greater rate. I have found it beneficial to open up to a professional about the loss of friends and family during my youth. No one is immune to grief and sometimes it takes talking about it to help further the healing process. Most insurance providers allow for counseling sessions; if you need help, or if something is lingering with which you need help, please explore options for assistance.
It also was good for the community to come together and realize that no place is free from difficult issues. I related a story about a child who was bullied at school, eventually having her life threatened by a classmate. The girl who was bullying said she was going to bring a knife to school and kill her victim. Both children were eight years old at the time.
This is the kind of situation that needs to be handled the proper way. The child who was making the threats needed counseling and help, not a suspension. A suspension would send her back to the home life which likely created this mindset to lash out at others and make threats.
Sometimes, schools are the only safe haven for children experiencing severe trauma at home. To do this the right way, we need to have more counselors in our schools who are properly trained to handle such situations and help prevent chaos in the classroom, which no teacher should have to endure.
Oklahoma ranks well below the suggested level needed for school counselors. A report issued by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA) last year shows the ratio of student-to-counselor numbers are narrowing nationally, currently at a rate of 455-to-1, reaching a 31-year low. This is still nearly twice the recommended 250 students per counselor suggested ratio. Oklahoma ranks at 439-to-1, with 693,903 students and 1,582 school counselors.
We are hopeful Oklahoma legislators will give proper funding to improve this ratio of counselors to students and modernize our school suspension laws to reduce the number of students sent home. Instead, we must find ways to help children deal with the issues causing them to lash out and help reduce this trauma. OICA will continue to raise awareness on this issue and keep you informed as the session progresses.
WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) released the following statement after the House voted to appoint managers and send the articles of impeachment to the Senate.
Mullin voted against the resolution.
“When Speaker Pelosi announced the House would vote on articles of impeachment, she said it was an urgent national security concern,” Mullin said. “If it was so urgent, why did she wait nearly a month to send the articles? This has been purely political since day one and today’s vote is no different.”
By Congressman Markwayne Mullin
Following President Trump’s decisive action to order a drone strike that killed General Qasem Soleimani, many in the mainstream media are downplaying the fact that he was the architect of Iran’s expanded influence across the Middle East.
General Qasem Soleimani became the head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) in 1998, wreaking havoc with his actions in he Middle East for over 20 years In 2005, he was designated a terrorist by the United States. In 2007, the UN Security Council barred him from leaving Iran following his alleged role in illicit arms trafficking and smuggling of nuclear materials. Soleimani blatantly disregarded that ban and was traveling from Libya to Iraq on the day of the strike that killed him.
He was responsible for the deaths of more than 600 U.S. service members in Iraq. Soleimani masterminded military operations, bombings, and assassinations that resulted in at least 17 percent of all U.S. personnel deaths throughout Iraq from 2003 to 2011. He also was responsible for killing thousands of civilians throughout the Middle East, including many in his own country. He trained terrorist armies, including Hezbollah, and helped them launch attacks on innocent civilians.
Soleimani helped Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad wage attacks on the Syrian people after they demanded freedom. The elite Quds Force he led has worked with the supreme leader to suppress freedom in Iran, kill protestors, and jail those who disagree. The U.S. Treasury Department linked him to a failed plot to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the U.S. at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. in October 2011.
He planned attacks on coalition bases in Iraq over the last several months – including the attack on December 27th – which resulted in the death and wounding of additional American and Iraqi personnel. He approved the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that took place the first week of January. In response, President Trump authorized an airstrike in Baghdad, Iraq that killed Soleimani.
There are people reporting that taking out Soleimani is comparable to taking out a general in the U.S. military. Hardly. Let’s remember that Soleimani wasn’t the kind of general that we know; he was a terrorist. A true general would never purposely attack civilians like Soleimani did.
Soleimani was not only a threat to the American people, he was also a threat to democracy across the globe. His influence wreaked havoc across the Middle East and eliminating this threat was crucial to fighting our war on terror. President Trump has sent a clear message – the U.S. will not allow terrorists to threaten the lives of American citizens.
OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Lonnie Sims (R-Jenks) today highlighted House Bill 2776, The Oklahoma Hazard Mitigation Assessment District Act, which provides the framework for residents in each county to elect and establish a hazard mitigation assessment district.
House Bill 2776 is the first piece of legislation to be introduced following interim studies Sims hosted at the State Capitol in September and October 2019 to conduct a comprehensive review of the historic Arkansas River Flood of 2019.
“Oklahoma ranks third in the U.S. in Federal Disaster Declarations and is the only state in the top seven that does not border the ocean or gulf,” Sims said. “We have to empower our people with the ability to protect themselves from the natural disasters that traditionally put their farms, homes, businesses, cities, towns and lives at risk.”
“From generation to generation, one natural disaster after another, it’s hard not to become complacent to the tradition of tragedy that comes with living in Oklahoma,” Sims added. “We can no longer accept that more than half of Oklahoma communities have no access to flood insurance or even the basic resources for hazard mitigation, planning, disaster recovery and most disheartening, local matching dollars to qualify for millions in additional federal aid that victims so desperately need to recover.”
The Act has gained early support from the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG), Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma (ACCO), and the Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency (TAEMA), which represents the most population-dense county in the state.
In his interim study presentation, Joseph Kralicek, Executive Director of TAEMA said, “One dollar of mitigation brings a return of seven dollars or more.”
Following the historic Memorial Day flood of 1984 that killed 14 as well as damaged or destroyed over 5,500 structures and 7,000 vehicles in the City of Tulsa, the first ever flood hazard mitigation team and utility assessment fee was approved to identify and exclusively fund flood mitigation projects throughout the city. This commitment and investment may have been fully realized in 2019 when no lives or structures were lost in the second largest flood on record.
“This bill would give counties a desperately needed tool to lessen the impacts of these risks and better protect the lives of all our citizens,” Kralicek said. “The risks to our population are not decreasing as time passes, and those disasters will continue to cost lives and millions of dollars if they can continue unabated, causing a public safety and public health issue.”
“We were honored to join Rep. Sims’ multi-level assessment of the Arkansas River flood of 2019. As the state’s Floodplain Board and Dam Safety administrator, and the agency responsible for the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan, we see a real opportunity for our state to make lasting progress towards long-term disaster resiliency through coordinated local and regional planning and investment,” said Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) Executive Director Julie Cunningham. “We look forward to working with Representative Sims, Senator Rader, the Legislature, the governor, and all stakeholders to build upon the excellent disaster preparedness and response that Oklahoma’s emergency management professionals have delivered time and time again.”
“Natural disasters and the horrific damage they inflict have been a part of Oklahoma history for over a century,” said Trey Lam, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. “I truly appreciate Representative Sims’ efforts to continue mitigation of flooding and multiple other disasters.”
According to Lam, Oklahoma farmers and ranchers know firsthand the damage floods, drought and wildfire can do to crops, homes, roads and bridges.
“Not only do agriculture producers lose income from one year’s crop, but they lose the resource, the soil, to produce food and fiber for many years to come,” Lam explained. “Putting decision-making in the hands of local citizens and officials, who set the priorities and pick solutions, is part of our conservation ethic.”
Sen. Dave Rader, (R-Tulsa), offered his strong support by signing on to author HB 2776 in the Senate. “I’m excited to join Representative Sims in authoring legislation that delivers local control to the people of Oklahoma,” Rader said. “Local citizens are most directly impacted by disasters and best equipped to determine the investment priorities to protect their communities.”
“The early support for this legislation has been humbling,” Sims said. “With every disaster comes a new opportunity to turn the lessons learned into tangible, curative actions that truly honor the thousands of victims who suffered. This bill is a great first step on the pathway to a safer future for Oklahoma, defined by Oklahomans.”
Lonnie Sims serves District 68 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
HEAVENER –State Rep. Lundy Kiger (R-Poteau) today announced a second Town Hall poultry meeting on the development of large industrial sized poultry farm concentration in the Cameron, Oklahoma, area has been scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 16 at the Reynolds Center, 105 Reynolds Ave. in Poteau.
Kiger said the meeting is being called at the request of his constituents from District 3, due to eight large industrial sized poultry houses that were built approximately 1,350 feet northwest of the city limits of Cameron.
“These houses are already causing nuisance odors, air quality and health concerns to homeowners and the public school in close proximity,” Kiger said. “Eight more of the large houses were recently built on Red Barn Road southeast of the community. That is also adding to the odor and air quality problem for neighbors and the city.”
Kiger said, now, 40 additional industrial sized poultry houses are being planned for construction on Rabbit Road (24 houses) and east of Old 112 highway (16 houses) that will continue to add to odor, air quality, traffic problems and housing values being reduced.
This brings the total of new industrial sized poultry houses built or planned to be built to 56, with an additional 15 to 20 existing poultry houses already established by small family farm growers already located in the 2.5 mile radius of the city of Cameron and the Castle Estates housing addition. All together this will put approximately 75 poultry houses positioned around these communities, with odor and dust due to normal prevailing wind directions blowing toward the communities.
Community members and local legislators have made it clear that Leflore County strongly supports OK Foods and our poultry farmers. Both Rep. Kiger and Sen. Mark Allen have filed legislation to adjust the distances of poultry farms farther away from cities as well as additional environmental requirements related to air and water quality. These measures will be taken up when the legislative session beings in early February.
But the large concentration of this many large sized industrial poultry barns are just too many in such a small area and OK Foods should have considered the men, women and children in the path of these prevailing winds prior to providing approval for so many large farms in the area, Kiger said.
The goal of the Town Hall is to provide a voice from the people in Cameron and the county that have joined together as the "Cameron & Leflore County Citizens against Industrial Scale Poultry Production." This will allow them to make their case and voice concerns of the affects that this large concentration of industrial sized poultry houses will have on their communities with odor and air quality concerns on the health of those already having respiratory problems. There also will be additional large truck traffic that will damage and help deteriorate existing roads, Kiger said.
The group has met with county commissioners, making the request for the district attorney to review what laws are on the books that the county can use to help provide some relief for citizens from so many houses being built in one concentrated area. Commissioners are also scheduled to meet with OK Foods to discuss any possible relief or adjustments of the large concentration.
This meeting will not bash poultry growers as our county strongly supports the industry, Kiger said. But we will lay out the affects that the nearly 75 houses will have on everyone and more importantly announce the next steps the group will take within the next two weeks in trying to stop the construction and concentration of the remaining 40 large houses.
The Town Hall is open to the public and will be streamed live from different media groups that have been following this development, Kiger said.
By Joe Dorman
As we step into a new year, and debatably a new decade depending upon who you ask if decades start with a 0 year or a 1, we at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy are looking for a brighter future for Oklahoma’s children. This not only the tag line for our new desktop calendars, but also for our feeling that this will be the year when we truly begin to turn things in a new direction for our state.
This optimism comes from several factors which we will be facing as a state, and also a few challenges that we each will need to hold ourselves accountable to be better.
Starting with the challenges, we are facing a hostile election year when the rancor at the state and federal level generally stoops to a low point in civility. While we may or may not like who currently holds an office or might see improved opportunities in their challengers, it is important to keep the conversation at a respectful level. In other words, when debating about politics, do not behave in a way that you would punish your children for acting similarly.
A definite challenge with a financial advantage for our state will be the tension between the United States and the Middle East. Oil prices jumped and stocks fell on news that a powerful Iranian military leader had been killed in a strike authorized by the United States last week, ratcheting up geopolitical tensions in a region that supplies around 25 percent of the world’s oil and threatening to disrupt global supply. That result led oil prices to surge to more than $70 per barrel, which creates a greater demand for local oil. Oklahoma’s portion of the state budget dependent upon this commodity was written last year to be based on $54.23 per barrel. While other areas might see a decline, this increase, if long term, will provide additional revenue for lawmakers to help fill in gaps with areas of need.
A positive we see is the opportunity presented by the US Census. If Oklahoma improves our population count, there is a chance to restore a Congressional seat by taking one from a larger state like California. This also improves the resources coming to our state from the federal government, so more funding for road, bridges and schools.
The strongest positive we envision is legislators working on critical youth areas from our legislative agenda, such as improving economic opportunities for working Oklahoma families, reducing inappropriate suspensions for students who instead need counseling, and providing state agencies the resources to allow them to correctly list tribal students by their specific nation rather than simply as a Native American classification (this allows for increased opportunities for schools and tribal governments to apply for grants to assist their youth). We also applaud the bipartisan effort to increase the restore and increase the age for wearing a seatbelt in a care to older than age 8, as we are the only state in the nation that low. We also have a First Lady who has made it her priority to improve mental health opportunities and reduce Adverse Childhood Experiences for our state’s youth.
OICA will remain steadfast in our work at the Oklahoma State Capitol.
State Rep. Lundy Kiger this week sent letters to the Oklahoma Secondary Schools Activities Association (OSSAA) and the Oklahoma Football Coaches Association (OFBCA) concerning redistricting and what is happening to schools in Southeast Oklahoma.
Kiger said the letters were spurred after he was contacted by multiple school administrators in Southeast Oklahoma related to their view of the unfairness of the redistricting process.
“I don’t like getting in the business of the OSSAA, and I understand the organization has a difficult job when it comes to redistricting and keeping the process fair while also trying to make everyone happy,” he said. “But, I have great trust in the judgements of these administrators who have expressed concerns about the fairness of the OFBCA process for redistricting schools. With that, I felt I immediately had to get involved and alert others in my caucus in both legislative chambers to get involved as well.”
Kiger said the concerns of many of the rural school administrators in Southeast Oklahoma has to do with balance of power and geography.
“Many in the region feel the decision makers for redistricting are making their determinations on teams that Southeast Oklahoma schools will play and are more self-serving than fair,” he said. “They believe this has everything to do with power schools, in terms of their sports teams, having an easier road to travel in getting to the state playoffs.”
To confirm these points, Kiger said he is being told the decision makers have openly stated their goal is to make sure the "top eight" schools make the quarterfinals.
“To me and others in Southeast Oklahoma this is totally the wrong direction to go, while it also puts financial pressure on our local school budgets and more importantly our kids,” he said.
In regards to team locations, Kiger said he’s learned the draft proposal submitted for review by his area schools are resulting in some of the local 2A schools having to travel longer distances and bypassing other 2A school closer to the area for conference play.
“It makes no sense to me and to our school administrators that our fans and teams like Heavener, Spiro, Panama, Pocola, Vian and Roland will have to travel to Tulsa to play Cacia Hall and Rejoice Christian, while other Southeast Oklahoma schools will have to travel to the Oklahoma City area,” Kiger said.
“Decisions like this will make it more difficult on not just the teams and school budgets, but for our fans and especially our band members who will have to get up early the next day after traveling to Tulsa to participate in band competitions. This is completely wrong, and I believe these decisions are being made for the wrong reasons and benefitting others who are in a position to draft schedules,” he said.
Kiger is asking OSSAA and OFBCA to rework their proposal and do the right thing in considering travel distances and school budgets and not stacking schedules for the benefits of other teams and coaches. He said if the OSSAA cannot do this, then it seems to him the organization needs to be under a state organization that allows more observation and control over possible unfair outcomes that are apparent in this specific situation.
Kiger asks OSSAA and OFBCA to not send Southeast Oklahoma teams to Tulsa or Oklahoma City to play ball unless it is for a playoff situation.
WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) released the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The USMCA is a renegotiation of NAFTA, which governs trade across North America.
“During his campaign, President Trump promised the American people a better trade deal and the USMCA we passed today delivers on that promise,” Mullin said. “Canada and Mexico are Oklahoma’s top trading partners and this agreement puts us on a level playing field with our neighbors. I was proud to support this agreement from the day it was signed and I look forward to seeing its benefits for years to come.”
By Congressman Markwayne Mullin
Wednesday, December 18th has been a dark day for our country. For only the third time in the history of our country, the House of Representatives voted to impeach our duly elected president. But this is the first time that it will be done on a purely partisan basis and without any evidence of a crime being committed.
In all previous impeachments a crime was committed before impeachment proceedings began. President Andrew Johnson tried to remove his Secretary of War, which was illegal under the Tenure Act. President Richard Nixon, who used the intelligence community to gain political advantage, resigned before he could be impeached. President Bill Clinton committed perjury when he lied under oath to a grand jury.
Democrats have been trying to undo the 2016 election since the day President Trump was elected. Speaker Nancy Pelosi even said impeaching the president has been two and a half years in the making.
From the very beginning, this has been a sham process. First, Democrats claimed it was quid pro quo, then extortion, then bribery. But none of those worked out for Democrats so they changed their tune again and drafted articles of impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. But despite all of that, one thing remains the same: there hasn’t been a single impeachable offense committed by President Trump. All the witnesses called during this investigation even confirmed that President Trump has not committed a crime.
I am worried about the precedent this sets for the future of our country. Democrats voted to impeach President Trump not because he committed a crime, but because they hate him and his policies. Impeachment is a constitutional authority and it should mean something. Instead, Democrats have made a mockery of our Constitution and the entire impeachment process. I will continue to fight every day to uphold our Constitution and stand beside President Trump.
This whole thing comes back to what Representative Al Green (D-TX) said earlier this year, “if we don’t impeach him, he will get re-elected.” If Democrats can do this to the president, then they can do this to anyone.
Want to stay up-to-date on what I’m doing in Oklahoma and Washington on your behalf? Sign up for my newsletter by visiting Mullin.house.gov/newslettersignup.