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10 May
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RELEASE: Rep. Steve Kouplen is Minority Leader-Elect of 26-Member House Democratic Caucus

Rep. Steve Kouplen is Minority Leader-Elect of 26-Member House Democratic Caucus; Rep. Emily Virgin is Caucus Chair-Elect

OKLAHOMA CITY (10 May 2017) – State Rep. Steve Kouplen is the Minority Leader-elect of the House Democratic Caucus.
The caucus elections were held Monday, 8 May 2017.

Kouplen, 66, is a Beggs rancher. He is serving his fifth consecutive two-year term in the state House of Representatives. He is a member of the House Committees on Agriculture and Rural Development, Rules, Energy and Natural Resources, and Appropriations and Budget.

Kouplen currently is the Democratic Caucus Chairman. He will formally assume the reins as the Minority Leader after Rep. Scott Inman, D-Del City, “terms out” of the Legislature in mid-November 2018. By that time Inman will have held the House Democratic Leader’s post for eight years, the longest tenure of any Democrat in state history.

“It is a great honor to have been chosen by my peers,” Kouplen said, “particularly since following Scott Inman will be an incredibly tough job. I look forward to utilizing the talents of our entire caucus during the 57th Legislature.”

For the past three sessions Kouplen has filed a “Death With Dignity Act” measure. This is from House Joint Resolution 1009, which he filed this year: “An adult who is capable, is a resident of Oklahoma, has been determined by the attending physician and consulting physician to be suffering from a terminal disease and who has voluntarily expressed his or her wish to die may make a written request for medication for the purpose of ending his or her life in a humane and dignified manner in accordance with the Oklahoma Death with Dignity Act.”

Other issues on which Kouplen has focused during his legislative career have included agriculture, the oil and gas industry, and education.

Also Monday, Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, was elected caucus chair to succeed Kouplen, and Rep. George E Young Sr., D-Oklahoma City, was re-elected caucus vice chairman.

The caucus elections are held a year in advance to give the incoming officers, particularly the minority leader, a year to get acclimated to the post.

10 May
0

RELEASE: Legislature Should Do the Right Thing By Rep. David Perryman

Legislature Should Do the Right Thing: It Will Gratify Some People and Astonish the Rest

By State Rep. David Perryman

Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name of Mark Twain, was a close friend of both Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla. During the era that the role of electrification in American society was being realized, Edison supported the virtues of direct current and Tesla was a proponent of alternating current.

Whether Clemens’ strong enthusiasm for science and scientific inquiry was the result of or the impetus for his relationships with these great innovators is akin to asking which came first, the chicken or the egg. What history clearly tells us is that Clemens realized the importance of formal education. One of his most famous quotes was, “Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won’t fatten the dog.”

The wisdom of Clemens’ quote underscores the horrible quandary that Oklahoma is in. Through a regrettable lack of foresight, our state government is literally foundering in a sea of despair. In early 2008, the price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil reached a price of nearly $150 per barrel. That was the same year Oklahoma voters placed both the state House and state Senate under the majority control of a party whose economic philosophy is primarily based on tax cuts and trickle-down economics.

Armed with a false sense of invincibility, income tax cuts and gross production tax cuts were enacted. As a result of those cuts over the past nine years, the state’s revenue stream from income taxes has shrunk by over $1.2 billion per year. At the same time, Oklahoma’s tax on oil and gas production has been cut from 7% of gross production to 2%, and Oklahoma Tax Commission records show that the gross production tax revenue stream has dropped from approximately $1.25 billion per year in 2008 to $391.5 million in 2016 – a decline of 68%.

It doesn’t take Mark Twain or even scientists like Edison or Tesla to tell us that removing more than $2 billion per year from Oklahoma’s budget is devastating. Anyone who would doubt that fact needs only to look at our schools, our health care, our roads and bridges, and the embarrassing way that we treat teachers and other public servants.

It is time for legislators to legislate. The first thing that needs to go on the table is to roll back income tax cuts and gross production tax cuts. It is the right thing to do. Some of the other revenue measures being tossed around are cigarette taxes and gasoline and diesel taxes. The governor is touting taxing additional services. It is time to negotiate. There is talk about a special session, but there is nothing that can be done in a special session that can’t be done between now and the last Friday in May.

It is time to do the right thing. Mark Twain said, “Do the right thing, it will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” Oklahoma is depending on us to properly fund core services and not transfer the tax burden from the wealthy to the poor. Otherwise, the most expensive budget items that Oklahoma will face for many years to come will be an unhealthy and uneducated population.

Call or write with any questions: 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@OKHouse.gov.

(Representative Perryman is a Democrat from Chickasha.)

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MIKE W. RAY
Media Director, Democratic Caucus
Oklahoma House of Representatives
(405) 962-7819 office
(405) 245-4411 mobile

09 May
0

RELEASE: DNC Chair Tom Perez on Comey Firing

Perez on Comey Firing

In response to the firing of FBI Director James Comey, DNC Chairman Tom Perez released this statement:

“Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey is a brazen and disgraceful abuse of power. The fact that the leadership of the Justice Department was complicit in manufacturing this joke of a rationale for Comey’s dismissal at the request of Trump is further evidence that nobody in this Administration can be trusted to lead an honest investigation into a serious national security issue. It is time for leaders in both parties to come together and call for the appointment of a special prosecutor at the Department of Justice and an independent commission to conduct the kind of investigation that the American people deserve.”

09 May
0

RELEASE: Senate Leader Being Dishonest About State Budget Proposals

Senate Leader Being Dishonest About State Budget Proposals

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Minority Leader Scott Inman responded Monday to unfounded claims by Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz.
House Democrats “were approached by House Republicans today with another potential revenue-raising option to help balance the state budget,” said Inman, D-Del City. That option involved changes to tribal gaming compacts.

“House Democrats did not propose this idea, nor did we demand it as part of the state budget package,” Inman insisted.
“Any claim by the Senate President Pro Tem that we did is simply false.”

House Democrats previously proposed their “Restoring Oklahoma Budget Plan” which calls for restoration of gross production taxes and other tax cuts.
“We still have hopes that the Pro Tem will finally consider our proposals, which he has ignored for nearly two months.
“What you heard today from the Senate were more distortions by Republican leaders trying desperately to shift attention away from their failed leadership,” Inman said.

“They lied when they said House Democrats weren’t negotiating with them. They lied when they said House Democrats didn’t offer any solutions to the budget shortfall. And now they’re lying about the tribal compact issue – particularly since the Republicans brought that proposal to us.
“It’s time for the Senate Republicans to step up and take responsibility for their mismanagement of the state’s fiscal affairs.”

08 May
0

Rep. George Young Inspired by Legacy of A.C. Hamlin, First African American Elected to Oklahoma Legislature

Rep. George Young Inspired by Legacy of A.C. Hamlin, First African American Elected to Oklahoma Legislature

OKLAHOMA CITY (8 May 2017) – “As I assume the role of chairman of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus, I am mindful of the personal/political environment and the national environment in which I take the rein of leadership,” state Rep. George E. Young Sr. said Monday.

“Let me first express my overwhelming awe at being a member within this group, and now having the opportunity to lead it,” he continued. “It is an inspiration to serve as a member in the line and in the lineage of so many great legislators, beginning with State Rep. Albert Comstock Hamlin.”

Hamlin was the first African American elected to the Oklahoma Legislature. He was elected in 1908 to represent Logan County in the House of Representatives in 1909-10.

Representative Hamlin “was faced with some very obvious obstacles that were based, I believe, solely on the color of his skin,” Reverend Young said.

Hamlin lost his re-election bid in 1910 after a “Jim Crow” provision limited black voter participation in Oklahoma by imposing a voter literacy test and enacting an onerous “grandfather clause.”

An exemption from the literacy requirement was authorized if a prospective voter could prove that his grandfathers had been voters or citizens of some foreign nation, or had served as soldiers, prior to Jan. 1, 1866. The net result was that illiterate whites were able to vote but illiterate blacks were not, because their grandfathers had almost all been slaves and therefore were barred from voting or serving as soldiers before 1866, the year after the Civil War concluded. And for extra measure, white registrars administered the highly subjective literacy tests.

In 1915, in the case of Guinn v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the grandfather clauses in the Oklahoma and Maryland constitutions to be repugnant to the 15th Amendment and therefore null and void. Ratified in 1870 as one of three Reconstruction amendments, the 15th Amendment provided that, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

The Court’s decision came too late for Hamlin. He died on his farm on Aug. 29, 1912, from unknown causes, and was buried in Robinson Cemetery in Logan County.

“I am pleased to say that those of us who are members of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus now do not face such overt racism,” Dr. Young said. “The obstacles we face today are not purely of color, but of philosophy and power. I hold that we must not be the only ones willing to declare that we want to work together. It requires some constructive action on both parts.”

The Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus is “a historical and necessary component of the Oklahoma State Legislature,” Representative Young said. “I will present to the House Speaker and the Senate President Pro Tempore our proposed area of concerns and our expectations of them as leaders of both chambers to help us address these concerns.

“I anticipate periodic and regularly scheduled meetings with leaders of both chambers, in order for us to remain on one accord and to keep abreast of the progress of those things which impact our communities and the state as a whole.”

In closing, Young said, “I look forward to presenting, within 30-60 days of becoming chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, our plan and promise for the next two years. We need all hands on deck and all of us working for the benefit of all Oklahomans.”

Members of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus are: Rep. Jason Lowe, Sen. Anastasia Pittman and Representative Young, all Oklahoma City Democrats; Rep. Regina Goodwin, Rep. Monroe Nichols and Sen. Kevin L. Matthews, all Tulsa Democrats.

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MIKE W. RAY
Media Director, Democratic Caucus
Oklahoma House of Representatives
(405) 962-7819 office
(405) 245-4411 mobile