Legislative sessions in Oklahoma are usually rife with contention, last-minute budget deals and unconventional bills and this year has certainly been no exception. With this year’s budget still being a huge question mark, cuts are already happening and many departments have already begun trimming staff. Medicaid, the earned income tax credit and education funding are issues making the news, along with non-budgetary items including abortions and school restrooms. Yes, restrooms.
Put it all together with a few other things and it’s apparently enough that some have labeled Oklahoma a ‘backwards’ state. A national laughingstock. An embarrassment. I have probably seen more negative articles and comments about Oklahoma and our legislature this year than any other. Articles such as the one titled “Oklahoma Continues Marching Backwards Into the 1950’s With New Laws.” One column I saw shared frequently was from Ginnie Graham of the Tulsa World, who said, “Oklahoma sure had one embarrassing week.” It was pretty clear from her column […] → Keep reading
For more than a year I have been reading about civil asset forfeiture and the need for reform. Stories of law enforcement seizing assets, usually cash, from innocent people on the side of the road have become rampant as the media, many politicians, watchdog groups and the public make the case for reform. I have written about civil asset forfeiture before, here and here, and the time has come for me to write about it again.
As a quick refresher for those unfamiliar with civil asset forfeiture, here’s how it works. Civil asset forfeiture laws allows law enforcement to take your property without ever charging you with a crime by claiming the property seized is connected to criminal activity. The most typical application of the law is to seize cash from someone during a traffic stop. An officer who has pulled you over for a suspected traffic violation has the authority to make the decision all on his own that […] → Keep reading
Technology has always been ahead of the law, or so the adage goes. Smartphones, internet-enabled vehicles, wristwatches, health monitors, home video cameras and other devices have all been part of the discussion around privacy and technology. It’s nearly impossible to write privacy laws to cover devices and capabilities that have yet to be invented, so often times there is new technology on the market while the law tries to catch up. Some believe that to be the case with drones. I do not concur.
The use of drones has been increasing exponentially over the last few years with drones being available for private use, businesses, news reporting and law enforcement, to name a few. Drones are so prevalent that anyone can purchase one on Amazon for fifty bucks, and that includes the attachable 2MP HD Wifi camera. At that price, having a personal drone may become as common as having a cell phone.
But not everyone is fond of […] → Keep reading
Todd Starnes of Fox News has reported on a water tower in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma that has roused the ire of atheists in another state. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based atheist organization, routinely inserts itself into matters in other parts of the country in an effort to get anything it deems to be tied to religion removed from public property. The new water tower in Broken Arrow is the latest target of their indignation.
Fox News – The city council in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma was in a bit of a pickle.
The city was in the middle of a growth spurt and needed high ground to build a one-million gallon water tower.
But the property they needed was owned by the First Baptist Church. So they made a deal with Pastor Nick Garland and the congregation.
“We donated the land and the easements for the tower,” Pastor Garland told me. “In kind, they said they would paint our […] → Keep reading
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal (R) is now the one person in that state who will decide if Georgia will enact a religious liberty bill that provides for the protection of First Amendment freedoms or if the state will abandon religious liberty in favor of money. Money that will come from a likely future Super Bowl at the new, $1.3 billion Atlanta Falcons stadium, currently under construction. Religious liberty or money.
The decision Deal must make is whether or not to sign House Bill 757, passed by the Georgia Senate late last week. The bill has been in the works for a long time and has had plenty of time to pick up some powerful opposition.
Yahoo! Sports – The Metro Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau has said the negative economic impact on the state as a result of the bill could be $1 billion to $2 billion. Home Depot, Coca-Cola, Google and Microsoft have all opposed the law, as have […] → Keep reading
Che Guevara was a Marxist guerrilla, communist and murderer who led the Cuban revolution along with Fidel Castro, overthrowing Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista and plunging Cuba into decades of harsh, communist rule. Since January 1, 1959 when Batista fled Cuba, Fidel Castro and his brother Raul have driven millions into exile, kept their country in political and economic chains and imprisoned, tortured and executed thousands of people. As soon as Fidel Castro seized power along with Guevara, they began conducting mass executions inside two Cuban prisons. The body count is unknown, but Guevara himself admitted to ordering the executions of thousands of Cubans during the first year alone. Some who survived their prison sentences later told of Guevara frequently murdering the condemned himself by shooting them in the head with his pistol.
Guevara was a cold-blooded killer who enjoyed murdering. He wrote to his father and said, “I really like killing.” He once fired his gun into the belly of […] → Keep reading
With his victory in Florida and most of the other states holding primaries this past Tuesday, Donald Trump’s chances of becoming the Republican nominee for president have only increased. It appears likely that there will be a contested convention this summer as no nominee is likely to receive the necessary number of delegates to get the nomination outright. Naturally, Trump’s supporters believe he should be the one to receive the nomination at a contested convention since he will have the most delegates. History has shown that’s not always the way things go at conventions, so the outcome is still uncertain.
It still seems incredible that Donald Trump is one of four remaining candidates in both parties who have a chance of becoming the next president. Donald. Trump. The candidate who is defined as a vessel of populist anger is milking it for everything he can get and has harvested a gang of supporters from both parties who are more […] → Keep reading
There will always be people who think they know better than our Founding Fathers. Year after year, someone always comes along and advocates changing a process that has been in place since 1787. David Blatt, executive director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute has penned a piece for the Journal Record in which he advocates dumping the Electoral College. His reasoning is the same, tired, old and long-used excuses that have been put forth time and time again for why we should scrap a system conceived by our Founders and replace it with a voting system that would eliminate the electoral process that has served the States well for the last two hundred and twenty-nine years.
Mr. Blatt is certainly not alone in his views as there have been voices from all areas of the political spectrum advocating for electing the president by national popular vote instead of the Electoral College. Even here in reddest-of-the-red-states Oklahoma the Republican-controlled Senate passed a […] → Keep reading
Last week, Oklahoma State Senator David Holt announced on Twitter that he was pulling Senate Bill 1314 after public opinion came out strongly against the bill, saying he did not feel it would pass. The proposed bill would have allowed companies in Oklahoma to lend up to $3,000 with interest capped at twenty percent per month, which would be $600. Senator Holt indicated he thinks such a loan would be bad for those borrowing but that it should be legal anyway.
Oklahoma Watch – The lending program, known as a flex loan, is similar to payday loans and critics say it can lead to the same results – an endless cycle of debt.
Holt said members of the payday lending industry approached him about writing the bill, SB 1314, in order to avoid pending federal regulations from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The industry requests align with his goal of less government regulation of private industry, Holt said.
Holt agreed […] → Keep reading
Earlier this month the city in which I live held an election to recall the mayor and to vote on two city council seats. The recall effort was one of the more contentious local elections I’ve ever seen and the entire process dragged on for more than six months, from petition to campaign to voting day. The mayor and his supporters were claiming the city’s public safety unions were attempting a power play and wanted to install someone as mayor who would take orders from the unions. The public safety unions were claiming the mayor and the city manager were trying to close one of the city’s six fire stations and take a fire truck out of service, endangering the citizens and putting the city’s ISO insurance rating in jeopardy. Whichever side was right is irrelevant for purposes of this post, but the result was the mayor was recalled by an overwhelming margin.
The relevant thing to note about […] → Keep reading