OK-SAFE, Inc. Blog

January 12, 2012

UPDATED! OK-SAFE Training in Dates – Citizen Involvement in the Legislative Process – One Class Left

UPDATE 1/31/12: One more training class left:  Saturday, February 18, 2012 in Norman, OK.  See time, location and agenda below.  Remember to bring your pcs and/note taking material as these are working sessions. Handouts provided.

UPDATE: Due to Tulsa County’s precinct meetings being scheduled for Saturday, February 4th, 2012, the Norman Tea Party has agreed to move their Citizen Involvement training date to Saturday, February 18th, 2012.  Same time, same location.   Thanks!

OK-SAFE, Inc. – Upcoming Training Dates

In anticipation of the upcoming 2012 Legislative Session in Oklahoma, OK-SAFE will be conducting their annual Citizen Involvement in the Legislative Process Training.  These training classes are working sessions, so please be prepared to bring a laptop/notebook pc and notepaper.  Handouts will be provided.

These events are free and open to the public. We do ask, however, for a small donation to offset the associated expenses. Light refreshments will be served.

The Oklahoma Legislative session begins on the Monday, February 6, 2012 and runs through the last Friday of May.  This year plans to every bit as contentious as last, since more people are aware of the bad legislation being passed in this state.

For instance, last year’s HB 2130, dealing with the health insurance exchanges, is still a live round. This highly controversial bill passed the OK House by a narrow margin on March 17th, 2011.  Due to all the backlash the bill was not heard in the Senate, but because it was not voted on, it is still an active bill.  Diligence will be needed by all those with concerns about the “Obama Care” health insurance exchanges – there will be several attempts by this legislature to establish one.

Training/Working Session Dates and Locations

Tulsa –

Date: Saturday, January 21, 2012 (COMPLETED – Thanks for attending)

Time: 9:00 am to 1:00 pm

Location: HQ building, 1008-B N. Hickory Ave., Broken Arrow, OK

Oklahoma City –

Date: Saturday, January 28, 2012 (COMPLETED – Thanks for attending!)

Time: 1 pm to 5 pm

Location: The Village Library, 10307 N. Pennsylvania Ave., north Oklahoma City, OK

Norman, OK – NOTE NEW DATE!

Date: Saturday, February 4, 2012  February 18, 2012

Time: 9:30 am to 1:00 pm

Location: First Assembly of God Church in Norman, 2500 E. Lindsey, Norman, OK (NOTE: Address Correction Made 1/18/12!)

Note: Host is Norman Tea Party.

Agenda:

 1st Hour

  • Introductory – The basics of citizen involvement in the legislative process.  1) Overview of the Legislative Process in OK; 2) Identifying your legislator, 3) Entering contact information in cell phones and contact list; 4) How to write an email to a legislator; 5) Making the OK Legislature/OSCN your home pages.

2nd Hour –

  • Intermediate – Builds on Hour 1. 1) The OK legislative process, i.e. interim studies, bills introduced, bill committee assignments; 2) The committee process, and when to advocate for a bill; 3) Creating group email lists for both House and Senate Committee members, 4) Understanding the role of Speaker, Pro-Temp, Floor leader, and Whips.

3rd Hour –

  • Advanced – Builds on Hours 1 & 2. 1) Understanding political doublespeak, i.e. smaller, smarter government; economic development; knowledge-based economy; 2) How to read a bill with understanding and find the titles of law; 3) Understanding Health Care Reform and the OHIET Trust: 4) Federal grants and who benefits from the passage of legislation.

The OK Legislative Session begins on Monday, February 6, 2012 and ends on the last Friday on May.  This year will prove to be

May 3, 2011

Twelve Truths About Legislation

OK-SAFE, Inc. was created in late 2006 by 13 concerned Oklahomans with the express purpose of stopping the Trans-Texas Corridor coming into the state of Oklahoma.  Since then, we’ve both expanded our efforts and fine-tuned them to address specific issues such as objecting to the collection of personal biometric information, the growing surveillance society, and the continued expansion of the reach and scope of state government.

Networking with other grassroots groups, we’ve learned from the bottom up how to research an issue, how the legislative process works, how to lobby, and how to read and track legislation. We educate others on how to do the same.

Seekers of the truth, we’ve also learned how to discern political doublespeak.  We’ve come to understand that the legislative process in Oklahoma has been corrupted not only through perversion of words, but by special interests. The process is agenda-driven.  Only certain types of bills get a hearing and are allowed to advance through the legislative process.  Other bills, although sound in principle and policy, are either ignored or introduced to pacify constituents, their author knowing full well the bill will go nowhere.

Bad language, stopped one year, is slipped into a different bill later on, or held for a new, unsuspecting legislator to run.

Legislators ignore the people’s concerns and pass liberty-killing legislation anyway, pooh-poohing their research and warnings. They add “claw back provisions” as false comfort to prevent abuse of some newly created give-away scheme, directing taxpayers money to most-favored businesses.

Apparently this pattern of abuse has been noted elsewhere – listed below are Twelve Truths About Legislation from Freedom Keys.

  1. Any law the electorate sees as being open to being perverted from its original intent will be perverted in a manner that exceeds the manner of perversion seen at the time.
  2. Any law that is so difficult to pass it requires the citizens be assured it will not be a stepping stone to worse laws will in fact be a stepping stone to worse laws.
  3. Any law that requires the citizens be assured the law does not mean what the citizens fear, means exactly what the citizens fear.
  4. Any law passed in a good cause will be interpreted to apply to causes against the wishes of the people.
  5. Any law enacted to help any one group will be applied to harm people not in that group.
  6. Everything the government says will never happen will happen.
  7. What the government says it could not foresee the government planned for.
  8. When there is a budget shortfall to cover non-essential government services the citizen will be given the choice between higher taxes or the loss of essential government services.
  9. Should the citizens mount a successful effort to stop a piece of legislation, the same legislation will be passed under a different name.
  10. All deprivations of freedom and choice will be increased rather than reversed.
  11. Any government that has to build safeguards into a law so that it will not be abused is providing guidelines for abusing the law without violating it.
  12. Any legislator up for re-election will vote against a bad law if and only if there are enough other votes to pass it.

Whoever wrote this list must have been watching what happens in the Oklahoma legislature.

We can only conclude with these words – Never believe a politician.

OK-SAFE, Inc.

February 11, 2011

OK House Fails First Test

The 53rd Session of the Oklahoma Legislature formally opened on Monday, February 7, 2011 and promptly failed its’ first test.

The Republican-led House shut down an opportunity to institute open-government rules changes, choosing instead to maintain the status-quo – the inherited top-down control of the legislative process. 

Several House members failed the backbone test as well, fearful of casting a vote opposite of their party’s  “leadership” vote.

[The House did pass a few rules changes but only those that dealt with bills that have been allowed to advance by leadership at the onset.]

Why the Rules are Important

At the beginning  of each 2-year session, both the House and Senate adopt rules by which they will operate for those 2 years.  These rules define not only the duties of the legislators and dictate their day-to-day conduct (no cussin’, swearin’, or spittin’), they determine how the legislative process will be conducted.

Just like a piece of legislation, the proposed House rules are submitted to staff at the beginning of session and assigned a bill number. The rules bill (measure), again like legislation, may be amended and its’ adoption debated. Rules must be in effect before any other actions by the legislature can proceed.

HR 1008, House Rules for the 53rd Legislature, was the only measure before the House members on Monday.  

HR 1008 

HR 1008 House Rules started from a template of last session’s rules and included changes offered by a 5-member committee who met prior to the beginning of session. (When asked by one legislator, House members were told that this committee had met prior to session, working a total of 5 hours drafting the proposed new rules.) 

On Monday, 37 amendments to HR 1008 were presented for consideration by the House members.

Of the 37 proposed amendments, two were submitted by Rep. Charles Key (R- HD 90);  HR1008 FA2 dealt with making bill assignments by title of law to specific committee; the other and more significant amendment, HR1008 FA3, dealt with the concept of open government.

[View the archived 02/07/2011 House Video here.  The Rules discussion begins at minute marker 02:52:50; allow time for “buffering” when advancing the video stream.] 

Floor Amendment 2 by Key  

Floor Amendment 2 was a practical change and stated that “each committee of the House shall be assigned titles of the Oklahoma Statutes which are the responsibility of that committee. On the second reading of a bill or joint resolution, if assigned to a committee, the assignment shall be made based on the title or titles of law contained in the bill or joint resolution.”   (There are 85 titles of law in Oklahoma. Each bill (measure) must specify the title or titles of law it is affecting.  Common sense dictates that all bills dealing with Title 68, Revenue and Taxation, for instance, should go to one committee for consideration, and so on.)

Floor Amendment 3 by Key – The House Failure

Floor Amendment 3, aka the open government amendment, was the big kahuna. It addressed the legislative process at the front end and was the most significant of all the proposed rule changes.   

This amendment stated that “After assignment to a standing or special committee, the principal author of a bill or resolution introduced on or prior to the filing deadline of the First Regular Session and the principal author of a bill or resolution introduced after the filing deadline of the First Regular Session and on or prior to the filing deadline of the Second Regular Session shall be entitled to have such bill or joint resolution considered at least four (4) legislative days prior to the final date for the Third Reading in the First Regular Session or Third Reading in the Second Regular Session respectively or prior to any date designated as a deadline for reporting bills and joint resolutions from committee if the principal author submits a request to the Chair of the  committee. ”

This means that if the author of a bill submits a request to the committee Chair asking that his bill be heard in committee, and complies with specified deadlines, the bill will have to be heard in that committee.  This amendment did not state, nor does it mean, that ALL the bills will heard in committee.

Floor Amendment 3 further stated,  “If a bill or joint resolution is reported from committee, the bill or joint resolution shall be heard on the floor of the House prior to any date designated as a deadline for third reading and final passage if the principal author makes a written request for such consideration to the Speaker of the House…”

Again, if the principal author of a bill makes a written request to the House Speaker that he wants his bill heard on the floor (after passing out of committee) it will be heard and voted on.  Period.

Why This Rule Change is Needed

It’s simple.  The current practice of the Oklahoma Legislature is to allow the Committee Chair to kill any bill he/she wants, thereby limiting the bill process from the outset. Conversely, this current practice means that the Chair controls which bills are allowed to move forward. This is a tops-down, dictorial control of the legislative process.  

Committee Chairs are appointed by the Speaker of the House.  If an outside influence wants to control the legislative process, and determine the outcome,  all they have to do is control who gets to be Speaker of the House and the Senate ProTempore.  The rest is done through the power of appointment to the Committee Chair position.  (Wonder which…ah…strategies….they used to get this system in place?)

The Floor Debate

The House Rules proceeded with Floor Leader Dan Sullivan (R-HD 71) introducing HR 1008. (See minute marker 02:52:52).

Three Floor Amendments, by Reps. Blackwell, Kern and Jackson, were adopted first. (03:03:28 to 03:12:00). 

Next, Rep. Charles Key’s (R- HD 90) Floor Amendment 2 was introduced (03:15:00), followed by a question by Dan Sullivan. After the question, Sullivan’s next move was to table the Key amendment.

The tabling motion passed 56 Ayes to 42 Nays, (03:18:42), causing the first Key amendment to be laid aside. 

Rep. Key’s Floor Amendment 3 was introduced next. (03:19:00.)  After questions from the members, Rep. Ron Peters (R- HD 70, Tulsa) moved to table this amendment as well. (03:26:18).

Peters tabling motion failed by a vote of 45 Yeas/53 Nays, which kept the amendment alive. 

At this point the momentum was in support of the open governement concept, acknowledging the right of bills to heard in committee, if requested. 

The next 20 minutes were devoted to questions and answers about the amendment. Some questions were ridiculous, “Oh my, how would we handle this?”

Rep. Don Armes was flat out insulting about some of his constituency back home; he implied that stupid bills are suggested by folks (“you all know the kind I’m talking about”) he meets in the local coffee shop.  (03:31:17) Folks in Lawton may want to give him a call and ask him exactly to whom was he referring?

Dan Sullivan (R-HD 71) debated for 10 minutes against the open government amendment.  “Does that mean we have to spend the time and resources of our little time that we have in committees to deal will those bills? The answer is No.”  Using a ridiculous bill about requiring cloth napkins in bar-b-que restaurants as an example of a time-wasting bill, Sullivan clearly supports top-down control of bills.  “Should we spend the time and resources of this body dealing with bills like that? The answer is No.  We have bigger things to do than to deal with some individual legislator’s pet project that may not be a good idea, that may not pass this body.”

Rep. Dan Sullivan has himself introduced 32 bills this session, which most likely include someone’s pet project.  His HCR 1002 , co-authored by Sen. Gary Stanislawski, Commends Turkey (the country, not the bird). 

 

Turkey, 98% Muslim and no friend of Israel, is not a constituency represented in the Oklahoma House.  Perhaps Sullivan and Stanislawski meant to commend Turley, which is actually in Oklahoma?

Talk about wasting time and resources, HCR 1002 wins the prize in that category. 

Whipping and Flipping the Vote

Not visible on the video as clearly as it was in the House chambers on Monday was the “whipping” of the members by Republican leadership to “flip” this 45/53 point spread to prevent passage of the Key amendment.

The “whipping” of the House members resulted in 11 members flipping their vote.

Because of the  “flippers”, the Key Amendment for open government was defeated by a vote of 42 Yeas to 53 Nays. (Minute Marker 04:34:00)

The flippers included freshman* Rusty Farley, as well as Don ArmesJohn Enns, Mike Jackson, Charlie JoynerJason Nelson, T.W. Shannon, Todd Thomsen, and Colby Schwartz.  Excused during this vote were Seneca Scott, Purcy Walker, Leslie Osborn, Jerry Shoemake and Sue Tibbs.

The 53 Nays (the ones who voted down the Key amendment) include:  Armes, Banz, Billy, Brumbaugh, Casey, Cockroft, Coody, Cooksey, Cox, Dank, Denney, DeWitt, Enns, Farley, Faught (big disappoint here), Hall, Hardin, Hickman, Holland, Jackson, Jordan, Joyner, Kirby, Liebmann, Martin (Scott), Martin (Steve), McCullough, McDaniel (Randy), McNiel, Mulready, Nelson, Nollan, Ortega, Ownbey, Peters, Peterson (another disappointment), Quinn, Richardson, Roberts (Dustin), Roberts (Sean), Russ, Sanders, Schwartz, Sears, Shannon, Stiles, Sullivan, Thomsen, Trebilcock, Vaughn, Watson, Wright, and the Speaker Kris Steele.

All 53 Nay votes were cast by Republicans.  So much for that.

Battling for Liberty, Standing on Principle

Some freshmen legislators have apparently been surprised by what one called the “lack of civility in the caucus” and are shook up at the realization that being a legislator and making law may actually involve vigorous debate and require intestinal fortitude. 

What were they expecting? Polite chit-chat and a dainty legislative process?  If so, perhaps they should go back home.  There is going to be debate, sometimes rancorous, and disagreement.  

Some of them appear, at least initially, to lack powers of discernment, not recognizing a tops-down, dictatorial control of the legislative process as being wrong.  Suggest they study the history of tyrannts, and learn the difference between a representative republic, a democracy, and a dictatorship.

2011 is the time to stand up for what is right, to protect liberty, and to vigorously advocate for sound policy based on time-tested principles of good governance.  It is not the time to complain that people aren’t being nice enough.

This writer respectfully suggests that certain legislators, both freshmen and tenured, should …(cough)…man up a bit. It won’t kill you.

*UPDATE 2/13/11 – Correction to the “flippers” list:- freshman Rep. John Bennett did not flip his vote on the Key amendment.  He voted against tabling the amendment and stayed consistent when voting for the amendment.  Thank you for the opportunity to correct this.

January 22, 2011

UPDATE: 2011 Oklahoma Legislature Files 2229 – Bills. Now it’s 2234!

Sure glad the Republican led Oklahoma legislature is serious about “smaller, smarter government”.

Between the OK House and Senate 2229  2234 (five more bills introduced since this post was initially published) bills have been filed: 1217 by the House, and 1012 by the Senate.  The deadline for filing was Thursday, January 20, 2011 and apparently all 101 House members and 48 Senators made the deadline.

A preliminary glance does not reveal many repealer bills.  Too bad for us.

The 2011 Oklahoma Legislative session begins on Monday, February 7, 2011.

Better start reading. 

Begin by reading every bill your own elected official has submitted.  (You can search for bill by Author by clicking Tools, then Edit, then enter the key search word – either the subject or author.  Your search word will be highlighted.)

Shell bills are those bills with a bill number and author, a brief description and little else.  These are waiting for language to be added later.   Look for all bills creating NEW LAW.  Then read the amendatory language bills. 

Pay particular attention to Title 47 Motor Vehicles, Title 62 Public Finance,  Title 68 Revenue and Taxation, and Title 74 State Government.

Then call your elected official and start asking questions about those specific bills.

Oklahoma Legislature website:  www.lsb.state.ok.us/  Click Text of Measures to find the introduced House and Senate bills.

Oklahoma House: 1-800-522-8502, 1-405-521-2711

Oklahoma Senate: 1-800-865-6490, 1-405-524-0126

Read those bills; make those calls. Let’s make 2011 the year of Citizen Involvement in the Legislative Process.

January 18, 2011

OK-SAFE Training Sessions – Tulsa

The Oklahoma Legislative Session begins on Monday, February 7, 2011, runs for 16 weeks, and ends on May 27, 2011.

Building on last year’s citizen training, OK-SAFE will be conducting 2 training sessions entitled Citizen Involvement in the Legislative Process. (NOTE: The OKC session was conducted 1/15/2011.)

These meetings are subject-specific, and graduated by level of ability and interest. 

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own computers, note-taking material, and refreshments as these are working meetings.

  • Date: Saturday, January 22, 2011
  • Time: 9:00 am – 12:30 pm
  • Location: The HQ Building, 1008-B N. Hickory Ave., Broken Arrow, OK.    

Preliminary Agenda is detailed below.

1st Hour –

  • Introductory – The Basics. 1) Overview of the OK Legislative Process; 2) Identifying your legislator; 3) Contact information and lists; 4) Writing emails; 5) Making the OK Legislature and OSCN websites your home pages.

2nd Hour – 

  • Intermediate -Building on Hour 1. 1) The legislative process, including interim studies, introduced bills;  bill committee assignments; 2) The committee process; when to advocate for a bill; 3) Creating group email lists for House and Senate committees; 4) Understanding the role of Speaker/ Pro-Temp, Floor Leader, and Whips.  

3rd Hour –

  • Advanced – Taking off the Rose-Colored Glasses. 1) How to read a bill with understand; which OK titles of law to examine; 2) Understanding political doublespeak, i.e, smaller, smarter government, small business, advanced, quality job, knowledge-based economy; 3) The Quality Jobs Program Act; PrimeWIN; OSU-UML, the ‘contract verifier’ for OK; 4) Tax incentives/earmarks; who is benefiting from the passage of legislation.

These meetings are free and open to the public; however, we are asking for a small donation to cover the cost of printed material and room rental. 

Psalm 118: 8,9 – “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man; It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.”

October 3, 2009

OK-SAFE Action Forum OKC Oct. 8, 2009!

Filed under: Education — Tags: , , , , , — oksafeinc @ 3:51 pm
Citizen Involvement in the Legislative Process – Training Session October  8th, 2009
 
Update: OK-SAFE, Inc. has now secured a meeting location in the Oklahoma City area for our monthly OK-SAFE Action Forums.  Action Forums are open to the public and free to attend. 
 
The next OK-SAFE Action Forum will be Thursday, Oc. 8, 2009.  Details below.
 
Details:
Location: The Village Library, 10307 N. Pennsylvannia (Penn) Ave, The Village, OK
Dates: The 2nd Thursday of every month: 10/8/09, 11/12/09, 12/10/09
Time: 6:30 pm – 8:15 pm
Meeting Room: A or B (room will have a sign)
Subject: The October 8th meeting subject will be the OK-SAFE no-spin presentation of Citizen Involvement in the Legislative Process OK-SAFE Training materials will be provided to the audience.
 
OK-SAFE meets the 1st Thursday of the month in Tulsa a the Hardesty Regional Library, 93rd & S. Memorial Dr., and now the 2nd Thursday of the month in the OKC area at The Village Library, 10307 N. Pennsylvannia Ave., The Village.
 
Disclaimer: The library is not a sponsor of this meeting, only a meeting location.
 
Hope to see you there!
 
Amanda Teegarden
Executive Director
OK-SAFE, Inc.

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