Commentary

Thu
04
Apr

Agency Accountability, Criminal Justice Reform Measures Advance

Government functions best when different branches, elected officials, and agencies maintain good working relationships.

To his credit, Gov. Kevin Stitt understands the value of maintaining collegial relationships with the Legislature and his efforts seem to be generating wins for his administration.

Last week, the governor and a large group of Senators and Representatives held a large joint press conference, announcing a reform package aimed at consolidating accountability for executive agencies (and power over those agencies) in the governor’s office.

The new plan gives the governor the ability to hire and fire the directors of five state agencies: the Department of Corrections, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the Office of Juvenile Affairs, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and the Department of Transportation.

 

 

Thu
04
Apr

Let’s Show the State of Oklahoma How We Feel about Our Veterans!

Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Today I sat and ate lunch alone at the counter at Boomerangs. When I was finished, I walked out toward the door. Before I could leave a little boy from the corner booth asked, “Sir, are you a veteran?” I walked over to his family and said, “Why, yes son, I am.” He stuck out his hand and said, “Thank you for your service.”

His mom then said she had seen the purple heart I wore on my hat and explained the significance to her two boys sitting there.

You see, on the back of my cowboy hat I wear a purple heart. It’s there to signify wounds that I received in combat while with Special Forces.

 

 

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Thu
04
Apr

Limited Government Should Also be Effective

Policy Research Fellow at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA)

Who runs Oklahoma’s largest state agencies? This is a hard question to answer. Governors and legislators appoint members to agency boards. Those boards then choose agency directors. The directors nominally report to the board, but board members are volunteers who only meet occasionally and only know what agency staff tells them.

Historically, these boards have a terrible track record when it comes to asking hard questions or holding anyone responsible.

Thu
04
Apr

The Conclusion: No Collusion

Nineteen lawyers. 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, and professional staff.

Over 2,800 subpoenas. Nearly 500 search warrants. More than 230 orders for communication records. Thirteen requests to foreign governments for evidence. Five hundred witness interviews. No collusion. No obstruction of justice. After two years and $25 million in taxpayer money, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finished his investigation of alleged collusion between the Russian government and the campaign of Donald J. Trump. The Special Counsel’s report states:“The investigation did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”

Republicans long knew there was no collusion. Pelosi Democrats refused to believe it. Our country’s justice system was created to presume an individual is innocent until proven guilty.

 

 

Thu
28
Mar

Don’t Answer the Telephone

In January a Denver couple received a scam phone call from a man who told them he had kidnapped their daughter.

The man was very convincing that their daughter was in his possession. In the background they heard a woman’s voice begging for help.

The call was convincing enough that they tried to wire money to the man. Fortunately, the money didn’t go through.

Police soon showed up after the wife left a note with the bank teller explaining what was happening. The police determined it was a scam.

A 90-year-old friend received a call a couple of years back. The caller explained that he was with the Internal Revenue Service.

 

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Thu
28
Mar

The Ever-Growing Debt Challenge

Last week, President Trump sent his annual budget request to Congress for consideration.

While the president’s proposal is not binding, it does importantly reveal the administration’s funding priorities for the coming fiscal year and represents a necessary step in the annual budget and appropriations process.

Considering that the president’s recommendations are aspirational, some floated ideas were clearly more realistic and sensible than others.

But in general, I think President Trump was on the right track to emphasize funding for the nation’s defense and to further restrain some domestic spending.

Thu
28
Mar

Why We Need Community Behavioral Health Clinics

Despite the opioid crisis leading to the deaths of more than 70,000 Americans by drug overdoses, only one in 10 Americans with an addiction receives treatment.

Over 7 million opioid pills were prescribed in Muskogee County in 2017—enough for every man, woman, and child in the county to each receive 100 pills.

Many Oklahomans have had personal experience with the opioid crisis. Unfortunately, a successful pilot program in Oklahoma that has provided assistance for those in need of mental and addiction care runs out of funding at the end of the month.

In 2014, Congress enacted the bipartisan Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic (CCBHC) Medicaid demonstration as a part of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act.

The CCBHC pilot program was created to fill the gap of unmet needs in addiction and mental health care during a trial period for eight states, including Oklahoma.

 

 

Thu
28
Mar

Something Worth Working For

“Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” – Teddy Roosevelt

Deadline week for Senate bills to be heard on the Floor was last week. It consisted of late hours and hearing over 70 bills a day. Many of which were heavily debated, and some unnecessarily. A bill often changes from the time it is written until it’s signed by the governor.

One of the more controversial bills that I have grappled with focused on the number of days or hours required for schools.

I work very hard to keep in touch with teachers and administers in my District, listening to their concerns. The language of SB441 changed many times. I input ideas to make this bill work for the schools in my area.

 

 

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Thu
21
Mar

Collective Bargaining Not Worth It for Teachers

Oklahoma should follow the example of other states that are moving away from collective bargaining in K-12 education. It’s not just bad for kids, it’s bad for teachers.

I’m not against unions. My wife worked for a union for years, volunteering long hours as an employee advocate in company dispute resolution.

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Thu
21
Mar

Senate Bill 605 is Bad Policy, No Matter Where You Try It

Although Oklahomans have wisely rejected repeated attempts to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, new proposals keeping popping up in their place like the many-headed Hydra.

The latest expansion proposal at the Oklahoma Capitol, Senate Bill 605, claims to be a “conservative” alternative to traditional Medicaid expansion.But SB 605 is just Obamacare Medicaid expansion by another name.

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