02 Jun

ODP Statement on National Gun Violence Awareness Day

The Oklahoma Democratic Party mourns the senseless violence that yesterday morning very publicly claimed the life of Professor William S. Klug, a 39 year old father of two, and one UCLA student, a man who was both villain and victim. Their deaths weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of ODP staff, as do the deaths of the 89 other Americans lost to gun violence every day. We are heartbroken for the families of the seven children murdered through gun violence every day, most of all for the two families waking up to the bitterly cold reality of a child lost to suicide, every day.

If there was ever a time for politics, this is not it. If there was ever a time to stick to the safety of a high horse, this is not it. We here in Oklahoma are as guilty as the rest of America; guilty of the negligence and inattention that continues to let one organization inhibit our country from taking the necessary steps to staunch the blood spilled due to gun violence. Over 32,000 lives are lost a year. If you think of them, pray for them, rage for them or cry for them, remember the 32,000 mothers and 32,000 fathers who are thinking, praying, raging, and crying for them as well.

This is not a time for politics because this is a time for action. You know the price of apathy. America, we have a choice: continue to give the funeral homes our business, or wake up, stand up, and make it known that enough is enough. Comprehensive background checks, closing loopholes, actually enforcing pre-existing laws: “common-sense gun safety laws” may not excite the imagination, but the only thing truly unimaginable is doing nothing.


1. “Professor Killed in UCLA Murder-Suicide,” last modified June 1, 2016,

2. “Key Gun Violence Statistics,” last modified 2016,

19 May

Republican Lawmakers Refuse to Address Real Issues

We don’t have to look very far to find behavior of bratty children, as it continues to run rampant at the Oklahoma State Capitol. While school children are walking out of their classrooms to hold rallies and march to the Capitol in an effort to urge legislators to end the systematic destruction of public education, their outcries fall on deaf ears as lawmakers consider legislation to ban students from using facilities which correspond to their gender identity.

“We tell our children to be themselves, to be proud of who they are, then turn around and tell them to do all of that only if it’s on someone else’s terms. Is it not enough that our children must deal with crumbling school buildings, loss of their favorite teachers, and the elimination of arts and music programs? Must we also facilitate and legitimize bullying as well?” said Sarah Baker, Oklahoma Democratic Party Communications Director.

There is just one week left of session, yet there is no budget, Oklahoma health care options are being wiped out left and right, and school districts are taking drastic measures just to keep the doors open next year. Meanwhile, Speaker Hickman and Pro Tem Brian Bingman hold floor sessions too short to get any real business done and go into recess to throw a party for the Republican House caucus.

“What does it say to the thousands of Oklahoma families who fear losing their local health care provider or the only hospital within an hour’s drive when the legislature can’t conduct any meaningful business for four months?” Baker continued. “What does it say to the parents who may lose their Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – money out of their already stretched pockets – to fill a budget hole created from irresponsible Republican tax cuts to the corporate elite? What about the aspiring musicians who depend on their middle or high school band program to prepare them to seek scholarships for college?

“This year it has become more apparent than ever that the legislative “leadership” within the Republican Party, is not there to do a job but to hold a title. Instead of addressing economic issues, the public education crisis, and a crumbling infrastructure, they get mired down in social issues and wasting taxpayer dollars on unconstitutional legislation.”

The 2016 legislative session is set to adjourn by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 27th.


10 May

Two State Representatives Concerned About DOC Plan To Send Work Release Inmates to State Prison

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Department of Corrections is reneging on contracts it negotiated with at least two Oklahoma communities to provide facilities and funds to establish inmate work release centers, two state Representatives charged Monday.

The state Board of Corrections voted May 5 to approve a plan by interim Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh to close the agency’s 15 work centers across the state and transfer those 1,171 inmates to the State Reformatory at Granite. The 114-year-old reformatory will become a minimum-security institution, Corrections Department Communications Director Terri Watkins said.

In turn, the 1,183 medium-security inmates housed at Granite will be moved to a privately owned prison at Sayre. The department plans to rent the North Fork Correctional Facility from Corrections Corporation of America for five years, starting in June. The contract allows the state to rent the 18-year-old facility for free for the first 18 months; the next three and a half years will cost the state $37.5 million. North Fork was closed last year after California removed its inmates from the facility.

State Rep. Johnny Tadlock, D-Idabel, has requested a meeting with Allbaugh to discuss the pending changes.

The Corrections Department inked a “Memorandum of Understanding” with the City of Idabel and the Idabel Industrial Authority, concerning a community work center in Idabel, on 25 May 2011. Records indicate the Oklahoma National Guard turned over its armory in Idabel to the City of Idabel for use as an inmate residential and work center.

The McCurtain County Community Trust contributed $100,000 for renovations to the armory. The City of Idabel donated the converted building to the Corrections Department for use as a community work center. A quit claim deed on the building, which was filed with the McCurtain County Clerk on 5 March 2014, provides that title to the building reverts to the city should it “cease to be used” by the state agency.

Watkins said all 15 work release centers are operated under contracts that expire on June 30 each year.

The Idabel work release center houses 90 state convicts, some of whom are employed by the city and the county in areas such as sanitation, maintenance of the county fairgrounds, and trash collection, Tadlock related. The offenders are paid $27 per month, Watkins indicated.

“I realize that it’s not up to the state to provide jobs,” said Tadlock, the former sheriff of McCurtain County. “But our community has invested time and money and a donated building for this program. Will Corrections reimburse us for that $100,000?”

In addition, “The only way local residents who are employed at our work release center could keep their jobs would be to move to Sayre or Granite,” Tadlock continued. “Yet they have ties to our community. Idabel and McCurtain County have had an expectation that this work release center would remain in operation.”

Rep. Steve Kouplen, D-Beggs, concurred. His district includes the Earl A. Davis Work Center at Holdenville. It houses 69 inmates, some of whom work for the City of Holdenville and some who work for Hughes County.

“Why is Corrections pulling inmates out of these work release centers, when state prisons are at 122% of their design capacity?” Kouplen wondered.

The Idabel work center costs $1,028,000 to operate for one year, and the Holdenville center costs $1.1 million annually to operate, ledgers reflect. “That doesn’t include medical expenses,” Watkins added.

The annual operating cost for all 15 work centers, including medical, is $17.7 million, Watkins said. The average cost per inmate housed at a work release center is about $42.35 per day, compared to an average daily cost of $41.75 per day for a minimum-security prison, the Corrections Department claims.


Media Director, Democratic Caucus
Oklahoma House of Representatives

19 Apr

Father of Rep. Morrissette Dies After Lengthy Illness

State Rep. Richard Morrissette, left, during the celebration of the 93rd birthday of his father, Robert Joseph Morrissette, right.

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 19, 2016) – Robert Joseph Morrissette, the father of state Rep. Richard Morrissette of Oklahoma City, died peacefully in his sleep today at his home in Somersworth, N.H., after a lengthy illness.
“I was with him on March 13 when he celebrated his 93rd birthday,” Representative Morrissette said. “I knew no other home while growing up, other than our small wood-frame house where my family of six lived,” he added.

“Dad was a child of the Great Depression, and was an FDR Democrat his entire adult life,” Representative Morrissette said.

The elder Morrissette fought with Gen. George Patton’s Third Army during World War II. Corporal Morrissette earned several campaign ribbons, including the European Theater of Operations ribbon. “Twenty years ago my family and I attempted to have Dad revisit France, including the D-day landing areas, but he emphatically refused to go back,” Representative Morrissette said.

Mr. Morrissette worked at the naval shipyard in Portsmouth, N.H., for 40 years. There, along with his co-workers, he helped build nuclear attack submarines during the Cold War between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. “He almost became a Catholic priest – but didn’t,” Representative Morrissette recalled.

The elder Morrissette was an avid drummer who taught himself how to play the drums at an early age. “During my childhood Dad earned a second living playing in several bands, working in places such as VFW halls, Eagle Foundations and other events to earn extra income for his family,” Representative Morrissette said.

Mr. Morrissette was married to the same woman, Teresa Marie Morrissette, for 49 years, until her death in 2001. “Dad lived by himself for the last 15 years since the passing of my mother,” Representative Morrissette said.

The couple had four children: sons David, Richard, and James Morrissette, and daughter Denise Marie (Morrissette) Daigle. Mr. Morrissette also is survived by four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, one most recently born on March 6, 2013.

Mr. Morrissette was bilingual, fluent in French as well as English. “He tried to teach me French, but it just didn’t take,” Representative Morrissette said with a chuckle.
Funeral mass arrangements are pending.

18 Apr

“Open Carry” by Untrained Gun-Toters is Scary

By Dr. George E Young Sr
State Representative, House District 99

I am aware of a degradation of not only civil discourse, but also in how we as a people are beginning to place a lower value on human life and personal respect. It is quite evident that we have moved to a point that it is OK, judging by the rhetoric, to say ugly things to each other publicly and to even promote violence toward those with whom we have a difference of opinion.

I don’t agree with this change, but do not think it is as rampant as news coverage would lead us to believe. However, what does cause me concern is a piece of legislation considered in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

A bill debated recently would allow the citizens of Oklahoma to openly carry a weapon of their choice – and there would be no requirement for them to be trained or familiar with the operation of that weapon.

I am all for anyone legally owning a weapon and keeping it in their home for protection, and going through training to be qualified to openly carry a firearm. The example the sponsor of the legislation put forth was Vermont. Our problems in Oklahoma are different from those in Vermont. We are no worse than citizens of Vermont but we are different.

I am afraid that individuals with Victim Protection Orders would be able to carry weapons to terrorize those who have sought protection from such individuals. I am also just plain frightened that if I were to laugh too loud, talk too loud or walk too fast, someone would shoot me simply because they have the means to do so. I am saddened by where we as leaders are going.

And if that were not enough, the debate on this bill was supported by misquoting and misrepresenting Scripture. I have two passages that were not quoted on the House floor, but I would like to give them now: John 13: 34-35 and John 15:12.

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

“This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you”

Try these on for size before you load your gun and buckle your holster.