KGOU

Oklahoma Politics

State Rep. Joe Dorman (D-Rush Springs)
Oklahoma House of Representatives

A Democratic state representative from Rush Springs says he plans to start raising money for a race against Republican Gov. Mary Fallin in 2014.

State Rep. Joe Dorman (D-Rush Springs) set the stage Tuesday for what he portrayed on one hand as only a possible run for governor. But he said he was confident he would seek the Democratic nomination for the state’s highest elected post.

Gov. Mary Fallin, Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman (R-Sapulpa), and House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) announce their tax cut proposal in the Blue Room of the State Capitol - April 23, 2013.
Kurt Gwartney / KGOU

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that a bill passed last session to cut the state's personal income tax and provide $120 million for repairs to the Capitol is unconstitutional.

In a unanimous decision released Tuesday, the court ruled the bill violated the state constitution's ban on logrolling, or including multiple subjects in a single bill.

Katsrcool / Flickr Creative Commons

At least 37 state agencies hope to spend more than an additional $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2015, according to budget requests submitted to the Office of Management and Enterprises Services.

The agencies will be asking Gov. Mary Fallin and the Legislature to provide the bulk of that money, $806.0 million, the requests show.

The remainder would come from state revolving funds, $41.2 million, and the federal government, $277.2 million, the requests indicate.

Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger
Oklahoma PCA / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma finance officials say collections to the main operating fund used to pay for state government continue to trail the official estimate, a trend that could lead to budget cuts for state agencies if it continues.

Oklahoma's Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger released figures on Wednesday that show collections to the state's general revenue fund trail by nearly 8 percent the official estimate upon which the state budget is based. So far for the first five months of the current fiscal year, collections have trailed the official estimate by about 6.5 percent.

Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon (R-Lawton) speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.
Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

While Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders waited for the completion of an independent study on state employee pay, House Speaker T.W. Shannon approved more than a quarter of a million dollars in annual pay increases for his staff.

Figures released by House officials on Monday show about half of the 117 full-time House employees received raises totaling more than $280,000. The pay hikes for 52 House employees ranged from about 2 percent for a housekeeper to more than 30 percent for three staff attorneys.

State Worker Pay Study Ready For Release

Dec 6, 2013

The state employee remuneration study ordered by HB1717 is set to be released Friday, depending on the weather, said John Estus, Office of Management and Enterprise Services public information officer.

Estus said if the weather does not cooperate, the study is set to be released Monday.

Oklahoma State Senate

A Republican state senator from Yukon says he won't seek re-election to his Senate seat in 2014.

Sen. Rob Johnson said Thursday he plans to leave the Legislature to spend more time with his family and focus on building his law practice in downtown Oklahoma City.

Johnson's Senate Dist. 22 seat includes most of the cities of Yukon, Piedmont and Deer Creek, along with parts of far west Edmond and Oklahoma City. It was previously held by his father, Republican Sen. Mike Johnson of Kingfisher.

russavia / Creative Commons

Oklahoma's Republican House speaker wants to add a chapel inside the Capitol that celebrates the state's "Judeo-Christian heritage," a plan that's raising the eyebrows of libertarians and legal scholars who wonder if it's constitutional.

Lawton Republican T.W. Shannon says several GOP members urged him to consider using some newly acquired House space on the second floor of the building to House the chapel, which he said would be paid for with private funds. Shannon says his plan is to commemorate the faith community in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma Dept. of Public Safety

Oklahoma drivers will have to pay an extra $12 for a license renewal under one of about 240 new laws signed by the governor and scheduled to take effect on Friday.

Among the others are three abortion-related laws, one that allows convicted criminals to seek a DNA test to prove their innocence, and another that expands the practice of noodling, or fishing by hand. Other bill topics include criminal penalties, pensions, elections, and the regulation of various professions.

Oklahoma Officials To Visit Bond Rating Agencies

Oct 22, 2013
Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger
Oklahoma PCA / Flickr Creative Commons

Gov. Mary Fallin, Treasurer Ken Miller and other state officials will meet Wednesday with representatives of the nation’s leading bond rating agencies.

Fallin, Miller, Secretary of Finance, Administration and Information Technology Preston Doerflinger, Secretary of State Larry Parman and State Bond Advisor Jim Joseph are scheduled to meet with representatives of Standard and Poor’s Corporation, Fitch Ratings and others.

russavia / Creative Commons

Oklahoma state legislators — who earn $38,400 annually plus benefits and expenses — won't be getting a raise any time soon.

The Legislative Compensation Board voted 7-1 on Tuesday for the base pay, retirement and benefits package for Oklahoma's senators and House members to stay in place. Former Republican state Sen. Charles Ford of Tulsa was the lone dissenting vote. Ford urged the panel to consider hiking the base pay for legislators to $44,000 annually. The board meets every two years.

Good Monday morning, fellow political junkies. The partial shutdown of the government enters its second week and on Day 7 of the crisis neither side appears to have softened its position.

At least furloughed federal workers got the good news over the weekend that Congress had approved giving them backpay for the time they are locked out of their jobs.

Here are some of the more interesting news items with greater or lesser political import that caught my eye this morning.

Ronny Richert / Flickr

A panel is recommending a 12 percent increase for members of the Oklahoma judiciary — a recommendation that could lead to similar raises for all statewide elected officials.

The Board of Judicial Compensation meets every two years to review judicial pay and make recommendations. Gov. Mary Fallin and the Legislature rejected the board's proposal two years ago, and in 2009, the board didn't recommend any raises.

Oklahoma Lawmakers’ Salaries Set For Review

Oct 1, 2013
KellyK / Flickr Creative Commons

The Board on Legislative Compensation will review state lawmakers’ salaries in October.

Oklahoma is one of 19 states with compensation commissions designed to “…provide independent and impartial recommendations” on lawmakers’ pay, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

Apprehension and optimism abound in Oklahoma as the Affordable Care Act shifts into higher gear with the opening of the federally-run health-care marketplace on Oct. 1.

At the same time, residents and business owners are awaiting the unveiling of an “Oklahoma Plan” to expand health coverage and improve health outcomes that Gov. Mary Fallin promised in her State of the State speech earlier this year.

These and other topics were discussed Tuesday evening during Oklahoma Watch’s first “Oklahoma Watch-Out” community forum at Kamps 1910 Café in Oklahoma City.

Center for American Progress

A new analysis ranks Oklahoma 48th in the nation for how women are faring in 36 different economic, leadership and health indicators.

The report was released on Wednesday by the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C.,-based non-partisan research and educational institute.

State Rep. Randy McDaniel (R-OKC)
Oklahoma House of Representatives

Changes to Oklahoma's public pension systems in recent years have reduced their unfunded liability, but a state lawmaker says more changes are needed to assure their long-term financial health.

State Rep. Randy McDaniel of Edmond said Thursday the $11.6 billion unfunded liability of the state's pension systems poses a major financial challenge to state government. McDaniel says lawmakers must do more to secure retirement pensions for public employees because people are living longer and more people are receiving benefits.

No one who's been paying attention for, say, the past few decades, needs to be reminded of how extremely polarized Washington is.

So it's usually good news when Democrats and Republicans can come together on an issue, as they did recently to support the idea of creating the new honorary position of "Science Laureate of the United States."

prison bars
mikecogh / Flickr Creative Commons

The Pardon and Parole Board can continue its practice of treating some offenders’ crimes as violent even though the offenses are not included in two statutory lists of violent crimes, board members were informed Monday.

Tracy George, Pardon and Parole Board interim executive director, said a recent attorney general’s opinion reaffirmed the practice of treating some crimes as violent although they are not among the violent offenses listed in statute.

GOP Takeover In Oklahoma Explained

Sep 16, 2013
Oklahoma Policy Institute

It wasn’t long ago that to be involved in a meaningful way in Oklahoma politics, office seekers had to have a “D” after their names. But in just a few years, that has turned around so that an “R” is now necessary to have a significant influence in state politics.

That change was not as sudden as it seems, according to political consultant Pat McFerron,“To me the question isn’t, ‘Why we’re so Republican now? It’s why were we so Democrat before?’”

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