Senate approves pre-registration for young Oklahoma voters

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate unanimously approved legislation Wednesday to ensure young Oklahomans do not miss their first elections. Sen. Jason Smalley is the author of Senate Bill 496 to allow those who are at least 17.5 to 18 years old to pre-register to vote.

“Currently, Oklahomans can’t register to vote until they’re 18 years old.  This can cause them to miss voting if their birthdays fall after the registration deadline for an upcoming election,” said Smalley, R-Stroud.  “Casting one’s first vote is such an exciting right of passage for a young person.  By allowing them to pre-register, they can actually vote on their 18thbirthday rather than waiting for their registration to be processed.”

Under SB 496, anyone who pre-registers to vote prior to their 18th birthday will be allowed to vote beginning on their birthday. 

The measure now moves to the House for further consideration.

Graham wins Democratic nomination, Nollan and Jackson head to runoff

Oklahoma held its statewide primary election Tuesday and while many party nominees won't be decided till the August runoffs, the State did decide to legalize medical marijuana with the passage of State Question 788.

Governor Mary Fallin issued the following statement after a 56.84% majority of voters passed SQ788, which legalizes the licensed use, sale, and growth of marijuana for medicinal purposes: 

“I respect the will of the voters in any question placed before them to determine the direction of our state. It is our responsibility as state leaders to look out for the health and safety of Oklahoma citizens. As I mentioned in previous public comments, I believe, as well as many Oklahomans, this new law is written so loosely that it opens the door for basically recreational marijuana. I will be discussing with legislative leaders and state agencies our options going forward on how best to proceed with adding a medical and proper regulatory framework to make sure marijuana use is truly for valid medical illnesses.

Incumbent House District 66 Representative Jadine Nollan failed to secure the Republican nomination outright, but was the top vote earner with 45.71%. She will advance to the August runoff against Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson who won 36.63%. Angela Graham won the Democratic nomination with 59.02%. 

To learn more about the HD66 candidates, visit the following links:
Sand Springs teacher Angela Graham running for House District 66
Representative Jadine Nollan endorsed by James Lankford for fifth term
Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson running for House District 66

Elections where no candidate garnered 50% will advance the top two candidates to the August runoff. 

Mick Cornett (29.35%), Todd Lamb (23.87%), and Kevin Stitt (24.41%) each drew about a quarter of the votes in the Republican Gubernatorial Primary. Chris Powell (48.92%) and Rex Lawhorn (32.4%) advanced to the runoff for the Libertarian nomination. Drew Edmondson won the Democratic nomination with 61.39%. 

Dana Murphy (45.85%) and Matt Pinnell (35.7%) advanced to the runoff for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor. Anastasia Pittman (50.42%) won the Democratic nomination. 

Cindy Byrd (49.45%) and Charlie Prater (42.08%) advanced to the runoff for the Republican nomination for State Auditor and Inspector.

Mike Hunter (44.46%) and Gentner Drummond (38.46%) advanced to the runoff for the Republican Attorney General nomination.

Incumbent Joy Hofmeister (46.84%) and Linda Murphy (31.05%) advanced to the runoff for the Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction nomination.

Cathy Costello (43.26%) and Leslie Osborn (35.92%) advanced to the runoff for the Republican Commissioner of Labor nomination. Fred Dorrell won the Democratic nomination with 73.43%. 

Glen Mulready (54.75%) defeated Donald Chasteen (45.25%) for the Republican nomination for Insurance Commissioner. He will take on Democrat Kimberly Fobbs in November.

Bob Anthony (47.17%) and Brian Bingman (38.42%) advanced to the runoff for the Republican nomination for Corporation Commissioner. Ashley McCray (48.79%) and Blake Cummings (22.17%) advanced to the runoff for the Democratic nomination. 

Tim Harris (27.48%) and Kevin Hern (22.67%) advanced to the runoff for the Republican nomination for U.S. Representative for District 1. Tim Gilpin (34.5%) and Amanda Douglas (32.41%) will face off in the Democratic runoff.

Markwayne Mullin (54.15%) won the Republican nomination for U.S. Representative for District 2. Jason Nichols (37.9%) and Clay Padgett (24.21%) will go to a runoff for the Democratic nomination. 

Frankie Robbins (64.85%) won the Democratic nomination for U.S. Representative for District 3 with 65%. He will take on Republican Frank Lucas in November. 

Tom Cole (64.74%) won the Republican nomination for U.S. Representative for District 4. Mary Brannon (34.36%) and Fred Gipson (30.37%) will face off in a Democratic runoff. 

Steve Russell (83.62%) won the Republican nomination for U.S. Representative for District 5. Kendra Horn (43.84%) and Tom Guild (17.91%) advanced to the Democratic runoff. 

Incumbent District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler won 42.73% in the Republican primary for District 14 and will take on Ben Fu (29.04%) in August. 

Emily Delozier endorsed by former Congressman Tom Coburn in House District 66 election

House District 66 candidate Emily Delozier shakes hands with former U.S. Congressman Dr. Tom Coburn after receiving an endorsement from the conservative activist. (SUBMITTED).

After back to back revenue failures in 2016 and 2017, the Oklahoma Legislature made a big push in their latest sessions to increase their tax base and diversify State income. House Bill 1010xx created a historic $447 million revenue package to help fund public school teacher pay raises and to try and prevent future budget crises.

Of the five candidates running for House District 66, only one opposes that package. Emily Delozier is running with the most conservative platform of the three Republican candidates, and points to the latest newsletter from the State Treasurer as justification.

“At $970.9 million, May Gross Receipts to the Treasury are a record high for May collections,” announced State Treasurer Ken Miller. “As has been the case each month for more than a year, Oklahoma’s economy is showing signs of ongoing expansion.” According to the May newsletter, gross revenue for the past twelve months is up $1.2 billion over the prior year.

The HB1010xx tax increases have yet to begin, leaving some conservative leaders calling for a complete veto of what they see as an unnecessary package. Delozier, together with conservative advocates including former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, helped found the group Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite with the goal of undoing that legislation.

“The corporations don’t pay the tax,” says Delozier. “They pass it on to somebody else.” She says the taxes on cigarettes, gas, and diesel will only negatively affect the average Oklahoman.

The OTU does not oppose the teacher pay raises themselves, passed in HB1023xx, but simply the funding mechanism behind those raises. The group is currently circulating a veto referendum petition to place State Question 799 on the ballot this November. SQ799 would put HB1010xx to a popular vote, but would leave the pay raises intact.

Despite the positive economic upturn, Denise Northrup, Office of Management and Enterprise Services director, told the Oklahoma Board of Equalization Monday that another revenue failure could be expected if SQ799 passes.

All four competitors for HD66 have declined to sign the OTE petition, while Delozier has a copy and welcomes signatures. Her work to oppose the largest tax hike in Oklahoma history has drawn endorsements from Dr. Tom Coburn, the Osage County Republican Party, and the Oklahoma Republican Assemblies over the incumbent Republican, Jadine Nollan.

"Poor leadership in Oklahoma has allowed legislators the easy way out, by throwing new taxes at old problems, instead of doing the hard work of implementing tax reform," said Coburn. "Abortion, Second Amendment rights, tax reform, jobs and educational funding are too important for business as usual, which has not worked. Emily DeLozier will serve well the Taxpayers of HD 66."

SUBMITTED.

Delozier, 70, is a lifelong fourth-generation Sandite with kids and grandkids in the Sand Springs area. She holds a Bachelor's Degree from the University of Tulsa and three Associates Degrees from Tulsa Community College. She attends First Baptist Church and is an active member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

“Our mom has always told us, if you didn’t like the way something was being done, just do it yourself,” says Delozier, who has been dissatisfied with Nollan’s tenure in office.

“Right now they’re telling us nationwide that they don’t have enough employees to fill the job market…it’s not hit Oklahoma yet.” According to the May Treasurer’s Report, unemployment stands at 4.0% with more than 74,000 Oklahomans seeking jobs.

Delozier is critical of the HB1010xx tax increase on cigarettes and cigars, which she claims will have adverse effects on the State’s lower income communities. “Oftentimes people smoke because they use it as a coping mechanism…they’re unemployed or underemployed and don’t make enough money.”

“My stance on the revenue problem is that there isn’t really a revenue problem.” Delozier points to government mismanagement as responsible for much of the State’s problems, pointing to high profile cases in the Health Department and Department of Transportation (ODOT).

ODOT recently drew allegations of mismanagement when it appeared that $230 million was missing from the County Improvement for Roads and Bridges account. State Auditor Gary Jones later found that the missing funds were appropriated by the Legislature to deal with the 2017 State Budget crisis.

In May a grand jury found that the Health Department hid more than $30 million of State funding in Federal and County accounts while also claiming a $30 million budget gap and laying off nearly 200 employees.

Delozier calls for forensic audits of all State agencies, consolidation of public school districts and eliminating superintendent positions, and ending tax incentives as ways to improve State services without raising the budget.

“In theory (tax incentives) sound nice, but the truth is it kind of discriminates…Some of these really big guys are getting it at our (small businesses') expense. People want to do business in Oklahoma anyways. If we would fix our infrastructure that would attract more business here. They have to be able to deliver our goods without falling in a giant pothole. I don’t think tax incentives are fair to other businesses or to the taxpayers.”

Delozier is open to raising the minimum wage, but is critical of the Fight for Fifteen campaign, saying that much of an increase will lead to automation and elimination of jobs.

Delozier would like to end privatized prisons in Oklahoma, saying that the for-profit system has created a pressure to fill the penitentiaries and has catapulted Oklahoma to first in the nation in per capita incarceration.

State Question 788, which will put medical marijuana on the ballot along with the HD66 election, is a no-go for Delozier. “We already have legalized CBD oil, which is nonpsychotropic, and it can help veterans with PTSD and children that have seizures. But they’re wanting the THC in the plant, which is psychotropic.”

Delozier opposed HB3375, known as the “Ball and Dice Bill” which legalized games such as craps and roulette at tribal casinos. “I don’t think we need any additional gambling in Oklahoma.”

Delozier supported the Constitutional Carry bill that would have authorized citizens age 21 and older, as well as military personnel 18 and older, to carry a handgun either openly or concealed, without a state-issued license or permit. Senate Bill 1212 passed both chambers but was vetoed by Governor Mary Fallin.

“There’s a lot of cleanup that needs to be done,” summarized Delozier. “Abortion is strong on my mind. If I could do something to bring that to an end, I would feel like I had completed my life’s mission.”

Ultimately Delozier sums up her positions as being for less government, less taxes, and more tax reform. She previously ran against Nollan in 2016 and received 25.7% of the vote.

The Republican Primary will be held on Tuesday, June 26th. Delozier will face incumbent Jadine Nollan, as well as Sand Springs City Councilman Brian Jackson. If no candidate receives at least 50% of the votes, then the top two candidates will advance to a runoff election on August 28th. The winner will face the Democratic nominee on November 6th. 

Friday is voter registration deadline for State Primary Election

(Oklahoma City) – The deadline to register for the June 26 State Primary Election is fast approaching, Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said Tuesday.

Voters have until Friday, June 1 to register to vote, change their address or update other registration information before the Statewide Primary. 

Voter registration forms, used to change any registration information, can be downloaded from the Oklahoma State Election Board’s website at http://elections.ok.gov. They are also available at county election boards, post offices, tag agencies, libraries and some other public locations. 

Voters must either register in person or mail their registration forms and have them postmarked before the deadline. 

The State Primary Election will allow voters to pick the nominees for various federal, state and county offices for November’s General Election. State Question 788, which would legalize medical marijuana, is also on the Statewide Primary ballot. In primary races with more than two candidates where no one receives a majority of the votes, runoffs will be held Aug. 28.

Oklahoma’s primary system is typically closed, meaning only those registered in the party can vote in the party’s elections. But the law allows recognized parties to notify the State Election Board if they would like to let Independents vote in their primaries. Democrats have chosen to allow Independents to vote in their primaries and runoff primaries in 2018 and 2019. Independents cannot vote in Republican or Libertarian primaries.

Independent voters who want to vote a Democratic ballot will be able to request one at their polling location or by indicating they would like to receive such ballots via mail when they make an absentee ballot request.

Voters can check their party affiliation, polling place and other registration information, view a sample ballot and track absentee ballots using the Online Voter Tool on the State Election Board’s website. It can be accessed at http://elections.ok.gov

Candidate filing begins April 11

State Capitol Building 171101 (Scott Emigh).jpg

(Oklahoma City) – The 2018 candidate filing period for state, federal and nonpartisan judicial offices is scheduled for April 11-13 at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City, State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said Monday.

Filing will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday in the West Hallway on the Ground Floor of the State Capitol just inside the west entrance. Races on the ballot include all five of Oklahoma’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, statewide offices including Governor, dozens of state legislative races and judicial offices.

Large crowds are expected at the State Capitol during the week if teachers continue their demonstrations in and around the building. Although there will be limited parking available for candidates in the west parking lot, parking cannot be guaranteed. Candidates should consider arranging for someone to drop them off near the building and allow extra time to arrive. Space in the filing area will also be limited, and those accompanying candidates will be required to enter the building via regular public entrances.

Candidates will be allowed to enter at the State Capitol’s west entrance and should follow signs to gain entry. Ziriax strongly encouraged candidates to review the candidate filing checklist provided with the candidate filing packet online at http://elections.ok.gov.

“Candidates must be in line by 5 p.m. to submit their paperwork that day,” Ziriax said. “We cannot accept incomplete paperwork, so it is critical that candidates review that checklist to make sure they have everything they need when they arrive.”

County voters will elect assessors, treasurers and district 1 and 3 commissioners in 2018. Candidates for those offices will file at their respective county election boards.

Democrat Ikley-Freeman wins Senate District 37 by 31 vote margin

In a nail-bitter special election for the Senate District 37 seat, Democrat Allison Ikley-Freeman defeated Republican Brian O'Hara by a mere 31 votes out of 4,437 ballots cast.

The 26 year-old married mother of three works as a therapist at a Tulsa-based non-profit mental health agency and volunteers with Tulsa Achieves. She resides in West Tulsa and attends Centenary United Methodist Church. She holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology, and a master's in Clinical Mental Health.

Freeman won 2,234 votes, or 50.35% to defeat O'Hara, a former Jenks City Councilman and Deputy District Director for Congressman Jim Bridenstine. 

Ikley-Freeman ran on a platform of increased funding for education, health care, and daycare assistance. She has advocated for increased oversight of police, reduced tax incentives for large businesses, improvements to infrastructure, and reduced restrictions on residential use of solar energy. 

Freeman will take over for third-term Republican Dan Newberry who resigned just six months after reelection. 

Senate District 37 candidate Brian O'Hara speaks at community forum

Brian O'Hara, a Republican candidate for Senate District 37, spoke at the Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce candidate forum at Tulsa Technology Center Monday morning in Sand Springs.

The following is a transcript of his opening remarks. Candidates were given a five-minute time limit, followed by a question and answer session.

"It's fantastic to be here, and what's even more fantastic is the fact that my wife and I have been married 34 years (points to McAtee and Nollan), 36 years, 35 years. That says a lot about the candidates that you have running for this office. 

There are certain people that when they run for office, they're a part of your community. I have been incredibly blessed to have been a part of your community. That's why I decided to run. Like Phil and others, I've had the opportunity to hear what you guys have to say. Not only on the doorstep, not just for the last two or three months, but for the last five years.

Working for Congressman Bridenstine, I've had to hear your concerns. I've had to listen. It's a privilege to know what you guys are talking about. Yes, education clearly is the first and foremost thing on most of your minds.

I want to set your minds at ease right now. I know people ask me, and they often ask me because they know where the congressman stands, 'where do you stand on education?' Well let me explain to you. I have five children, all five of them went to public school. My last just graduated from Jenks. I've had six exchange students come into my home. All six of them went to public school.

I was a PTA president. My wife has been a part of the PTA as well. My mother taught, my brothers teach - one has passed away - so I have a real desire to work on education. My youngest son's going to go to UCO and what he wants to do is be a teacher. Again, I have a vested interest because I don't want him coming home.

I say all this to say this. Congressman Bridenstine, and some of you may know this, does support vouchers. I met with a very conservative group, and I knew where they stood on vouchers. And they asked me point blank, where do you stand on vouchers? I said I don't support them, and I explained why.

One, the money. Two; when you allow City government, State government, Federal government to come into your classrooms, whether it be home schooling or private school, then you have the ability to have those entities tell you how to educate your children. And most of you are sending your children to private school or home schooling because you don't want that.

The budget is the second thing I hear on the doorstep, and you hear often. I've been saying this for two and a half years. The budget needs to be our priority. I owned a business, I owned a couple of Subways before I came to work for the congressman. It is ludicrous for us to consider the last two weeks of the session what we're supposed to do in the beginning of the session.

As a businessman, if I wanted to say my subway sandwiches, this is what I need to sell, at the end of the month rather than the beginning of the month, I would have gone broke. So I understand how important that is.

I was a City Councilman in Jenks. Look, Elizabeth (Grey) will tell you, we need to find a way to help fund them. The safety districts is something I will support. And what that does is give you the opportunity to decide what you want your money to go to.

Going back to education, one of the things I'd like to start seeing us do on education is to allow you, the individual voters, the people in the school districts to decide. We have an antiquated system that's thirty years old on how we fund schools. We need to look at that. We need to give off-the-top dollars, your dollars. Only about 78% of the money you use, you pay in taxes, actually goes to your school district. We have to change that. We have to allow you guys to decide where you want your money to go. So I would advocate that we change the funding to allow you guys to have your schools in better shape.

There are a lot of other things going on. Those are just three areas where I think I can be of benefit to you. But the main thing is, Phil said it, is relationships. I've built relationships over the past five years. With each and every one of you. I've come to your events. I've come to Chillin' and Grillin'. I've come to Boo On Broadway and I've had the opportunity to meet you individually, so I know who you are. I know where you stand on the issues. Now also note, that unless we build relationships what we do at the Capitol won't matter. 

So I'm asking for your support. The Republic primary is September twelfth. I would love for your vote. My cards are out there, my personal cell phone is on them. Any questions you have, I'll answer. And sometime's it's not going to be the answer you want, but it'll be an honest answer, it'll be a truthful answer, and I appreciate your support."

Senate District 37 candidate Phil Nollan speaks at community forum

Phil Nollan, a Republican candidate for Senate District 37, spoke at the Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce candidate forum at Tulsa Technology Center Monday morning in Sand Springs.

The following is a transcript of his opening remarks. Candidates were given a five-minute time limit, followed by a question and answer session.

"I'm used to being the guy in the background, doing the research. I know a lot of you out here in the audience already, and you know our background as a family. Maybe you don't know that I grew up in Tulsa and went to Tulsa Public Schools. I graduated and went to Oklahoma State University where I met my lovely, and through some miracle - I'm not sure how - I managed to talk her into marrying me, and we've been married thirty-six years ourselves. 

What was neat about that is, she brought me back to Sand Springs at a home football game when John Blake was still playing football. When Barry Switzer was recruiting him I saw him in a big fur coat down on the sidelines. But what was neat about that was the home town feel that we had here in Sand Springs, in the stadium. When Jadine walked around, she knew everybody. That's something I didn't get in Tulsa. I said, 'Jadine, when we get married I want to move back to Sand Springs and I want to raise our kids here.' That's what we've done. 

We have three kids, two grandkids, and we're blessed to have our two grandkids living close to us. I love being a papa, it means more to me than anything else.

Now a bit more about me and my career. I got a computer science degree at OSU when computer science was not the cool thing to get. I went to work for the oil and gas industry. I've been in the industry about thirty-five years as an information technology professional.

I'm a nationally-certified project manager. I think during my process of my early years I learned how to manage projects and programs, I learned how to lead teams, learned how to work on big IT budgets, learned how to deliver things as promised - on time and under budget. 

My recent employment with EMC, I had to work with Fortune 100 customers like Chesapeake, Devon, Williams, Conoco, Phillips 66, OU, OSU, and a lot of companies here in Oklahoma. What I found in working with those companies is, they had big demands like I know this job has. Like I know the job that my wife has to do. Meeting those demands is not going to be easy, but you've got to keep your word. You've got to keep your promises, and you have to do the best you can do to make it happen.

You've got to develop relationships with people in the organization. You've got to develop relationships with the people up in the House, and in the Senate. You have to develop relationships in the business community and in the school community. I think that's maybe an advantage that I have a little bit at least in the Sand Springs and West Tulsa and Berryhill area, because I've knocked on a lot of the doors that Jadine's knocked on. I've heard the concerns of the people at the door.

The number one polling issue is education and education funding. That is the number-one polling. What's number two? The State budget. How do we fix the State budget. Then public safety and health follow that.

Those are the big issues, and they're glaring everybody in the face. Everybody has answers to them. There's a lot of opinions on both sides of the aisle. There's even opinions within the caucus itself, and that kind of fragmented everybody to try to come up with a solution this past year which we didn't come up with too many good solutions this past year.

My wife and I, we've served all our lives in the community. We enjoy serving. We're at a stage in life now where our kids are grown up. This is something that I could do full time. I could be your State Senator full time.

I have a personal passion for education. My wife was on the school board for eleven years. I worked closely with her behind the scenes doing research and working with the schools. Heck, I was on the committee that helped build the stadium that we have now after fifty-seven years of the rock stadium that we had before. What a great project that was for Sand Springs. Our new stadium that we have and the track out there and our fine arts center. Those are some of the things that we've done.

We've got a lot of good things happening in Sand Springs in our community business-wise with the Vision 2025 corridor, our parks, our quality of life projects have really stepped up. We've had a lot of new things.

I want to take that excitement and that energy to the State Capitol. I want to say there are a lot of great things we can do, all we have to do is get together. We've got to come together, we have to stop this bickering between the aisles. And really, the Republican caucus is so big, there's bickering within the caucus itself. Those don't all work good together.

I'm just excited to be here. This is so much fun. I've been on the sidelines for seven years and I've wanted to get in the game. Coach, call me in! And I haven't had a chance. This is an opportunity and I'd appreciate your vote on September twelfth."

Senate District 37 candidate Nicole Nixon speaks at community forum

Nicole Nixon, a Republican candidate for Senate District 37, spoke at the Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce candidate forum at Tulsa Technology Center Monday morning in Sand Springs.

The following is a transcript of her opening remarks. Candidates were given a five-minute time limit, followed by a question and answer session.

"My name is Nicole Nixon. I'm a mom. I live in Southwest Tulsa.

Three of my community schools were consolidated. The schools that were consolidated; they'll have you believe that it was because we have low enrollment numbers. They'll have you believe that we have too many schools out there and we're spending too much money on them. The truth is, the more that I dug into this, the more their numbers were skewed, and the more none of this made sense. 

I was told that they were going to consolidate North Tulsa schools but because of the Betty Shelby case, that they didn't want to have a riot on their hands. So they attacked Southwest Tulsa. 

As far as the funding, Tulsa Public Schools is the second largest school district in Oklahoma. Tulsa Public Schools is not properly utilizing their funding. And the second-largest school district in the state not properly utilizing their funding is sending a message to the legislature that none of the public schools are adequately utilizing their funding. It makes all of us look bad. And when they stand their and they point their finger at the legislature, half of the reason that they have problems is because they put themselves in that. It's not acceptable. 

I used to be a metal salesman. I worked in the steel industry. I am familiar with hard hats, safety glasses, steel-toed boots. I worked with tons of manufacturing businesses: aerospace, defense. I have the ability to negotiate.

I want to have a voice when it comes to my children's education. I want all of us to have a voice when it comes to our community and what is going on in our legislature. It's not acceptable what they're doing.

We have leaders that are not being leaders. A good leader makes more leaders. They have tried to blame it on the freshman legislators. But when in actuality, they haven't reached out and tried to help them learn or pulled them on the team. They've been using them as pawns. 

I decided to run because I'm tired of it, as most of us are. As far as job growth and our economy, education comes number one. We have a great education, we attract businesses, we have a well-educated workforce.

Some of you may have seen me on the news. I was down in Oklahoma City at the Capitol, fighting for our schools. If you visit my website, there's media links to all the reports of me standing up and fighting. Tonight I'll be at the Tulsa Public Schools Board meeting, like I am at most of those board meetings.

Without a presence by the parents and the people, we have no chance of making government accountable to the people. We've got to step up, join our PTAs. You don't have to have a student that goes to school there to join. We have to make a bigger presence. 

As far as bringing more voter awareness, I think the key to that is having a solid election day every year. From school board all the way up, we need to create a culture where people know 'today is voting day and I'm gonna go vote for this candidate, but I know there's going to be a whole bunch of other names on that list and I don't want to get it wrong.' We need to have them looking at our school board members. We need to have them showing up. We've all got to do this together.

I humbly ask for your vote. Give me a voice. I just want to be able to help my children and your children and our state. I want to have the opportunity to get in there and find out what is going on and start fixing the root of our problems rather than treating symptoms."

 

 

 

Senate District 37 candidate R. Jay McAtee speaks at community forum

R. Jay McAtee, a Republican candidate for Senate District 37, spoke at the Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce candidate forum at Tulsa Technology Center Monday morning in Sand Springs.

The following is a transcript of his opening remarks. Candidates were given a five-minute time limit, followed by a question and answer session.

"My name is R. Jay McAtee. Today's my anniversary, I've been married to my wife thirty-five years today. I love you dear.

I'm a lawyer in Tulsa and a judge here in Sand Springs. I've been a municipal judge for fifteen years, it's taught me a lot. I've represented businesses and families for thirty-five years. I represent workers' compensation businesses and insurance companies, defending workers' compensation claims. 

I've been living in South Sand Springs (Prattville) since 1990. I live on Overholt Drive off 51st Street. Raised my two kids there, my wife and I did. We call Sand Springs home. I attend First Presbyterian Church, I'm a Clerk of Session there. I've been attending First Pres for sixteen-seventeen years. That's my church home.

That's who I am. Now why am I running for State Senate District 37? It's not for the money. I don't need it. I'm a successful attorney, I've got a good practice. My wife asked me 'why are we doing this?' I told her because I'm fed up of forty-eighth or worse. It's time I give something back to this state, and I think I've got the ability to do that. 

Just yesterday, what was in the Tulsa World? 'Deep-pocketed non-profits use dark money to sway Oklahoma elections.' Oklahoma is controlled by special interests. That's not right. We need to take Oklahoma back. We need to give it back to the citizens of Oklahoma. And I don't intend to let special interests dictate my vote. I truly believe that special interests have caused Oklahoma's problems.

The legislature needs to take the budget and make it their number one item on day one, February 8-9, 2018 and they need to not attend to any other business until that budget is addressed. Folks, you can't cut forever. I'm a businessman. You cannot cut down to the bone. If you get to the bone, you're done. So we have got to figure out how to meet Oklahoma's budgetary needs.

Gross production tax - yes I made the oil industry mad at me last week when I went in front of the State Chamber's lobbyists and I said this. First thing out of their mouth was 'where do you stand on gross production tax?' Well folks, the reality of it is, the horizontal drilling is robbing us. That horizontal gross production tax is for the first three years. You know what they get in the first three years? They get all that they're gonna get out of that well. 

The vertical drillers are paying 7%. They're getting robbed. And we're getting robbed by out-of-state interests - big oil - and it's time for them to step up and help fix Oklahoma.

We can't pay our teachers until we figure out how to do the budget. I am absolutely in favor of paying teachers. My mother taught in Laverne, Oklahoma, out in the panhandle thirty-plus years. She had her Master's in English. I believe in teachers. It's a profession just like lawyers, just like anything else. There's good, there's bad, there's mediocre, and there's excellent. I think teachers generally are excellent, because they're responding to a calling, and we need to support them.

We need to support roads and bridges, we need to do a lot of things, but none of it's going to happen until we have bold leadership that's ready to step up at the Capitol and say 'no, we are going to stop the special interests from dictating to Oklahoma what Oklahoma needs.' 

I hope I get your vote. We have a lot of good candidates running against me. It's gonna be a fun race."

Senate Judiciary Committee Moves on Slate of Judicial Reforms

Oklahoma City – The Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday approved a series of bills aimed at reforming the judiciary, including a series of legislative referendums that would reshape the way judicial appointments are made.

“These are important reforms that would shift the balance of power in the judicial appointment process in Oklahoma away from trial lawyers and back to the people. The governor and the members of the Oklahoma Senate are directly elected by the people and on behalf of the people should have more say in which judges are appointed to the bench. These measures, which now move on to the full Senate for consideration, present a variety of common-sense options to implement much-needed judicial reform,” said Pro Tem Mike Schulz, R-Altus.

Sen. Anthony Sykes, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, was author of several of the judicial reform bills.

“Oklahomans have been reminded countless times of the need for judicial reform in Oklahoma. If we don’t have these discussions about judicial reform, then we’re putting ourselves at the mercy of a system that puts too much power in the hands of trial lawyers instead of the hands of the duly elected representatives of the people of Oklahoma,” said Sykes, R-Moore.

Among the measures authored by Sen. Sykes:

  • Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 42, which, if approved, would allow voters to decide whether to change the Oklahoma Constitution to require a partisan election of Supreme Court justices and Court of Criminal Appeals justices.
  • SJR 43, if approved, would allow voters to decide whether to amend the judicial appointment process to model the federal system. Under this proposal, the governor would nominate candidates to fill judicial vacancies and the Oklahoma Senate would confirm or deny the governor’s appointment. The Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) would rate the governor’s judicial nominees as either “qualified” or “not qualified.”
  • SJR 44, if approved, would allow voters to decide whether to amend the Constitution to modify the judicial nominating process. Under this proposal, the JNC would provide the governor with five qualified nominees to fill a judicial vacancy, instead of the current recommendation of three nominees. The governor would be allowed to reject those nominees and request five new nominees. The governor would then select one nominee, whose name would be forwarded to the Oklahoma Senate for confirmation.

Additionally, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the following measures:

  • SB 699, by Sykes, would require all appellate justices and judges to retire when their combined age and years of service equaled 80.
  • SB 700, by Sykes, which allows the President Pro Tempore of the Oklahoma Senate and Speaker of the Oklahoma House to appoint three attorney members each to the JNC board.
  • SB 702, by Sykes, which adjusts the counties included in the Supreme Court judicial districts.
     
  • SB 708, by Sykes, which requires a district judge to have served as lead counsel in at least three jury trials before being elected or appointed to serve on the bench.
  • SJR 14, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, would allow Oklahoma voters to decide whether to amend the Constitution to require 60 percent of voters approve the retention of a judge.
  • SB 213, by Dahm, which would change the boundaries of Supreme Court judicial districts to correspond with the number of congressional districts in Oklahoma plus adding at-large positions.

Attorney General Pruitt Submits Ballot Title for State Question on Medical Marijuana

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Scott Pruitt on Thursday submitted the ballot title for State Question 788, a measure that would legalize the use of medical marijuana in Oklahoma.

“I commend the attorneys in my office for their diligent work to complete this ballot title in an efficient manner. While my office has done its part by preparing the ballot title well before the September 1 deadline, there are still steps remaining in order for the question to be placed on a ballot,” Attorney General Pruitt said.

“We are dealing with processes established in both federal and state election law for initiatives proposed by the people that require specific procedures to be followed. Even with expedited efforts of both the Secretary of State’s office to count the signatures and my office to write the ballot title, the state is running up against deadlines imposed by this process. It’s important for the people of Oklahoma to know, regardless of the substance of the state question, the signatures were not submitted with enough time to allow this process to be played out completely.”

After the Attorney General's Office submits the substitute ballot title to the Secretary of State, it must be published and opponents must have ten business days to object to the ballot title based on the validity or number of signatures or a challenge to the ballot title.  Pursuant to 34 O.S. § 12, the governor cannot issue the proclamation placing the initiative petition on the ballot until the timeline for objections and protests has passed.

To view a copy of the submitted ballot title, CLICK HERE.

Governor Mary Fallin Signs Paperwork Placing Five Additional State Questions on November Ballot

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin signed election proclamations Monday that place five additional state questions on the November 8 general election ballot.

The paperwork signed by the governor placed these issues on the ballot:

  • State Question (SQ) 779, which would increase the state sales tax by 1 percent to fund teacher pay raises and other education causes.
  • SQ 780, which reclassifies some criminal offenses, such as drug possession and property crimes, as misdemeanors instead of felonies.
  • SQ 781, which would take money saved from implementing SQ 780 and allow counties to fund community rehabilitation programs.
  • SQ 790, which would remove a section of the Oklahoma Constitution prohibiting use of state resources for religious purposes.  
  • SQ 792, which would allow wine and full-strength beer to be sold in grocery stores and convenience stores.

The deadline for the governor to sign election proclamations for state questions to be placed on the November 8 general election ballot is Friday.

Two other state questions already are on the ballot. SQ 776 would declare that the death penalty is not cruel or unusual punishment and would allow the Legislature to designate any method of execution if a current method is declared unconstitutional. SQ 777 would prevent lawmakers from passing legislation to regulate agriculture unless there is a compelling state interest.