Whatzup Politics (1091)
OKLAHOMA CITY – Save the elephants and their trainers!
That’s the call from Rep. Justin Humphrey (R-Lane), the author of House Bill 2895, which would protect the elephants and the elephant handlers at the Endangered Ark Foundation, a private nonprofit in Hugo, from potential animal cruelty statutory provisions.
“We have a circus in our district that has a very successful education program that utilizes retired elephants and other exotic animals,” Humphrey said. “We have animal activist groups that want to prohibit people from petting elephants or touching them in any way. They would even shut down contact with zoos. We are trying to get ahead of these groups coming to Oklahoma and allow this private group to continue to operate.”
The Endangered Ark Foundation provides a retirement ranch for circus elephants, and educates the public about the endangered species of Asian Elephants.
The organization says on its website, “We respect the intimate understanding of the bond and partnership formed between animals and humans, and the need for action to save endangered animals. We believe education and preservation efforts will ensure that people will able to experience the joy and wonder of the Asian elephant for generations to come.”
The foundation offers public tours and private encounters.
HB 2895 passed the House with a vote of 80-15. The bill was co-authored in the House by State Rep. David Hardin (R-Stilwell). The bill now moves to the state Senate where it is authored by Sen. David Bullard (R-Durant).
State Rep. Justin Humphrey represents House District 19, which includes Choctaw, Pushmataha and parts of Atoka and Bryan counties in Southeast Oklahoma.
House Public Safety Proceeds Bill to Seize Vehicles Operated by Illegal Immigrants with Criminal Background
WASHINGTON— Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) released the following statement after the House passed legislation to ban all flavored tobacco products and increase taxes on consumers.
“Using tobacco is bad for you and we all should agree that we need to prevent children from using tobacco products,” Mullin said. “Unfortunately, this misguided legislation is not the solution. All this will do is eliminate consumer choice and raise taxes on law-abiding adults. Instead of passing legislation that has no chance at becoming law, we should be working together to find solutions that will actually protect our kids and address the youth vaping epidemic.”
Mullin was not present for the vote, but he would have voted “no” on H.R. 2339, the Protecting American Lungs and Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act of 2020.
Oklahomans who are registered to vote and eligible to vote for the 2020 Presidential Preferential Primary (PPP) elections will head to the polls Tuesday, March 3, 2020. Both the Democratic and Republican parties have candidates on their respective ballots.
Voters must be a registered member of the party for which they intend to cast a ballot. (For example, Republicans may vote in the Republican PPP. Democrats may vote in the Democratic PPP.) Independents are allowed to vote in the Democratic PPP only. The Democratic Party is the only recognized party in Oklahoma that currently allows Independents to vote in its primaries. Independents are defined as voters registered without a party affiliation.
The purpose of the Presidential Preferential Primary (PPP) is to allow all recognized parties in Oklahoma to send delegates to their party's national convention. The delegates are responsible for casting votes for the candidates they are assigned to, which represent the popular vote. Each party is responsible for choosing the Presidential candidate that will be on the ticket in November.
Below are sample ballots for each party.
The first major deadline of the 2020 legislative session has come to a close. All Senate bills must have been heard in committee by February 27th in order to be considered this year. I had seven bills pass through committee that now move to the full Senate for a vote.
Senate Bill 1210 would modify the school attendance law to allow students that are absent from school but completing assigned instructional activities or engaging in online curriculum or programs to be counted as present. Education is continually changing, and student engagement can no longer be defined as sitting in a seat. Based on current attendance policies from the State Department of Education, a student could be considered “chronically absent” by the state, but still meet local policies to receive class credit. This results in schools being unfairly penalized on their A-F report card with low marks for absenteeism, which reduces the overall school grade. This measure would allow students completing their class work outside of school to be counted as “in attendance,” lessening the chronic absenteeism burden for our school districts.
Senate Bill 1225 would bring Oklahoma law in line with current “Call Okie 811” practices by limiting locate tickets to a maximum linear distance of 500 feet per ticket in incorporated areas and one mile in unincorporated areas. Defining the ticket scope limit would reduce risk for our facilities and decrease gas operator costs, providing savings to rate payers.
The Senate Energy Committee passed Senate Bill 1226, which would modify the term “pollution prevention” to include any practice that eliminates a hazard at the source, as well as modify production processes, promote the use of nontoxic or less toxic substances, implement conservation techniques and reusing materials. This measure is a request from Waste Management, and it would also allow for certain information to be provided to the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality, including information created by the Oklahoma Environmental, Health and Safety Audit Act. It would also update the definition of pollution prevention, promote the use of less toxic or non-toxic substances, and would specify that certain advisory councils are involved in pollution prevention programs.
Senate Bill 1369 removes the eight-mile limit imposed on bids for road construction projects. Current law only allows bids to be placed in eight-mile increments for road projects greater than 8 miles. Removing this regulation would streamline bid projects and create efficiencies for this process.
Senate Bill 1163 sets a 30-day time limit from notification for the Oklahoma Archaeological Survey to relocate artifacts found on private property after a flood. This would reduce timeline uncertainty for property owners when an artifact is found.
Finally, Senate Bill 1888 would allow the Oklahoma Department of Transportation to modernize the way they communicate with their contractors by allowing electronic signatures. Technology has evolved and our processes should too, so we are up to date with the times.
Additionally, I am the co-author for a measure that would modify the calculation of the sales tax applied to vehicles. Senate Bill 1619 states if the purchase of a vehicle includes a trade-in, the applicable tax should only be calculated from the difference between the value of the trade and the actual purchase price of the vehicle being purchased. This legislation would put money back into consumer pockets when buying a vehicle.
All seven of these bills now head to the Senate floor for consideration. If passed by the Senate, the bills must be approved by the House in order to make it to the governor’s desk to be signed into law.
I also filed two pieces of legislation that did not receive a committee hearing, meaning they are not moving forward this year. I do want to share these bills with you, though, because they would further regulate the poultry industry, which you all know is a hot topic in District 4.
Senate Bill 1775 creates the Oklahoma Industrial Poultry Operations Act, which would have directed industrial poultry operations to utilize closed ventilation systems and limit these facilities to one per 20 acres. It also would have established that a facility may not be located within one and a half miles of any public school. Senate Bill 1776 would have required all animal feeding operations to comply with the provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.
Although these bills cannot move forward this year, I will continue to advocate for meaningful legislation that will further regulate the poultry industry.
The Board of Equalization recently certified the final figures for the fiscal year 2021 budget. We have approximately $8.2 billion to appropriate to the more than 60 state agencies that rely on state funds to operate. This is $85.5 million less than we had to appropriate last year, or a decrease of one percent. Low natural gas prices are the key driver in this lower budget figure.
The Senate has heard all agency requests, which always exceed the revenue available to spend. Oklahoma is a balanced budget state, meaning we constitutionally cannot spend more money than what is available. We are working to develop a list of priorities for the 2021 budget and will continue to look for efficiencies within our agencies to help make your taxpayer dollars go further. Due to the fiscal responsibility displayed by the legislature last year, we have $1 billion in our savings accounts, which has put our state budget on firmer footing this time around.
Health care continues to be a major topic of discussion at the Capitol this year. The Senate is working with the House and the governor to expand health care access to roughly 200,000 low-income Oklahomans. It’s very important to maintain maximum flexibility so the legislature can make adjustments to the Medicaid program moving forward. I am hopeful Governor Stitt’s Soonercare 2.0 plan will expand access to health care while taking a more conservative approach. His plan could be implemented as early as July 1, 2020. I will keep you updated as more details emerge.
Thank you for allowing me to be your voice at the State Capitol. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns as we work our way through the legislative process. You can reach me or my executive assistant, Sarah Sands, at 405-521-5576. Come see us in room 234 if you are visiting the Capitol.
MAKE IT COUNT OKLAHOMA! Census Day is April 1 and Oklahoma needs a full count. An undercount in the census of just 2 percent can cost the state $1.8 billion in lost federal money over the next 10 years. Fill out your census form, Oklahoma. Learn more at: www.2020census.gov.
WASHINGTON—Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) released the following statement after Senate Democrats blocked two bills yesterday that would protect unborn babies and babies who are born alive after a botched abortion.
“From the moment of conception, every child is worthy of life and protection from harm. It’s appalling and sad that today’s Democratic party doesn’t agree,” Mullin said. “Although Senate Democrats blocked these important bills from passing, at least they were considered on the Senate Floor. House Republicans have gone to the House floor and demanded a vote on H.R. 962, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act more than 80 times. Each time, House Democrats rejected the Republican motion to consider the bill.”
“As Americans, we have the moral, ethical, and personal responsibility to be the voice for those who cannot speak for themselves,” Mullin continued. “I have always stood up for life and I will keep fighting for the lives of unborn children all across our country.” Mullin is a cosponsor of H.R. 962, the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and has signed onto the discharge petition to bring it to the House Floor for a vote.
The petition needs 218 signatures to be considered and it is currently at 204.
Throughout his tenure in Congress, Mullin has had a strong record in supporting life. He has earned an “A” rating from Susan B. Anthony List and 100% rating from the National Right to Life.
WASHINGTON—Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-2) will hold a telephone town hall for Oklahomans on Monday, March 2, 2020 at 6:30pm CT.
The call will last approximately one hour. “Telephone town halls allow me to hear directly from my constituents about issues impacting their families,” Mullin said. “During the call, I’ll provide an update on my son’s recovery in California, what I have been working on in Washington and Oklahoma, and get your feedback. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.”
Oklahomans can dial 877-229-8493, Passcode: 111439 to join the call.
Participants can also sign up to be called when the event starts by visiting https://vekeo.com/repmullin/.
*Please be advised that all telephone town halls are subject to last minute cancellation.
In the event of a cancellation, Congressman Mullin’s Facebook and Twitter pages will provide the update.
Please call Congressman Mullin’s Washington, D.C. office at 202-225-2701 with any questions or for more information
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