SHARED BY PERMISSION While I agree with much of this analysis, these are not my thoughts. I am sharing this with the permission of Mr. Gary Kilpatrick.
In Liberty, Wendi
From Mr. Gary Kilpatrick: There are a lot of candidates to consider on the Republican primary ballot on June 28th. Hopefully these are my final thoughts, for what they are worth. I highly recommend doing your own research and analysis whenever it is possible.
For readers of my first draft you should be aware that my opinion has changed on the following elections: State Superintendent of Public Instruction and the U.S. Senate (Inhofe’s old seat).
Kevin Stitt, 49, the current Governor, is running for reelection. He is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation; nonetheless he took a tough stand (some would say too tough) with the tribes regarding renegotiation of the gambling compact between the tribes and the state. He has also aggressively tried to protect the interests of the State of Oklahoma in the fallout of the McGirt decision. Stitt signed into law three pro-life bills, one of which has been called the toughest abortion law in America.
Mark Sherwood, 57, seems to be Gov. Stitt’s number one opponent. He is a naturopathic doctor in Tulsa who served 24 years on the Tulsa police force. His Ballotpedia survey answers highlight his awareness of “the aggressive communist agenda” sweeping the nation with the intention of silencing the church and destroying families (I agree with him). He argues the federal government is out of control, and that Gov. Stitt “is incompetent or unwilling to address these issues.” Sherwood’s goal is to establish cooperative, working relationships with each of the state’s 39 tribal nations. He supports zero tolerance for mask and vaccine mandates.
I know few details of the other Republicans on the primary ballot: Joel Kintsel, 40, an executive director of the Oklahoma Department of Veteran Affairs; and Moira McCabe a homeschool parent, a welder, and a computer repair person.
For me Sherwood’s strong point is his position on COVID mandates. COVID has been used by liberals to promote their agenda in both red and blue states. Although Stitt avoided mandates he, like almost all other Republican governors, did little to nothing to use their bully pulpits to promote early treatment and proactive prophylactic supplementation like vitamin D, C, zinc and quercetin. These simple remedies would have saved countless lives. Opposing mandates is one thing; the question is whether Sherwood would be proactive in fighting big Pharma, big hospitals, and big government in some future health crisis which is sure to come.
Some will like Sherwood for his desire to make peace with the tribes, but for me I am glad Stitt has robustly represented the State’s interests in the fallout of the McGirt decision. All in all, I think Gov. Stitt has done a reasonable job.
My vote will be for Kevin Stitt.
David Hooten, 59, is currently Clerk of Oklahoma County. His career experience includes working as a professional trumpet player, composer, producer and business owner of a music production company. He is endorsed by OCPAC. He switched from Democrat to Republican sometime prior to 2014.
Clark Jolley, 51, was a member of the Oklahoma Senate from 2004 to 2016 representing District 41 (Edmond). He has a B.A. in political science and a law degree. His professional experience includes serving as an adjunct professor, running a private law practice and serving as an administrative law judge for the OK Dept. of Labor. His ‘lifetime’ American Conservative Union (ACU) rating is 77%.
Todd Russ, 61, currently serves in the OK House of Representatives for District 55 (Sayre). He is a banker who later became a banking consultant. His 2021 ACU rating is 78%, up considerably from his 2020 rating of 64%; his lifetime score is 72%. He co-authored a key abortion banning bill (SB1503), but failed to vote at all on the important bill HJR1070 concerning new standards for schools which promote abortion and question conservative religious family values.
Some would exclude Hooten because he switched parties. I am not in that camp; even my parents were Democrats at one time. The real question we need to answer is why he switched, and I don’t know that answer. Russ and Jolley lean conservative, maybe not as much as I would prefer. Although his resume does not read like a typical principled conservative, I think Hooten may be the best of the three, but honestly, I could vote for any of them. They all have warts.
My vote will be for David Hooten.
John O’Connor, 67, is the current Attorney General. He was appointed by Gov. Stitt in July 2021 to replace Mike Hunter who resigned. Prior to his appointment as Attorney General he was nominated by Pres. Trump to the federal bench in April 2018, but the Senate had not confirmed him by the close of the 115th Congress and Connor withdrew from further consideration for the federal bench. He has worked diligently to lessen the negative impacts of the McGirt decision. Locally he filed suit against Ascension Healthcare for denying religious exemptions to the vaccine and won.
Gentner Drummond, 58, of Pawhuska ran for Attorney General in 2018 and lost in the primary to Mike Hunter.
John O’Connor has done all the right things. I support him fully.
My vote will be for John O’Connor.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Ryan Walters, 36, is currently state Secretary of Education, appointed to that position by Gov. Stitt in 2020. Walters is a former history teacher and the chief executive officer of Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, a private advocacy group that supported legislation in 2021 to expand student transfers and alter the school funding formula. He was also a part of the push to implement House Bill 1775, the so-called Critical Race Theory legislation, which prohibits teachers from teaching certain concepts surrounding race and gender. Gov. Stitt supports Walters for State Superintendent.
Walters has received a lot of heat recently over his handling of an $8-million Bridge the Gap Digital Wallet program which used federal coronavirus relief funds to distribute $1,500 grants to families for purchase of school supplies and laptops. But it has been reported that hundreds of families bought TVs, gaming consoles, home appliances and other items. I do not know if these allegations are true (or true in part) but I do have a low opinion in general of how our state government has handled federal coronavirus funds. I am convinced that millions of dollars have been misspent, and although it is easy to say and much harder to implement, I do believe from my experience in industry that executives/managers can eliminate/reduce wasteful spending if they will only assign a high priority to the accomplishment of that goal.
April Grace, 56, has been Shawnee Superintendent of Schools since 2016.
John Cox, 58, is Peggs School Superintendent. He ran for State Superintendent in 2014 and 2018 as a Democrat but is now running as a Republican. A decade ago, during the common core battles Dr. Cox was one of only a few school superintendents who bravely stood against common core. He is endorsed by Reclaim Oklahoma Parent Empowerment as well as by an individual I respect in the education community, Linda Murphy.
As you will see a little later, my major concern with state government is the bureaucracy. A majority of Oklahoma’s 90,000 employees (2014 data) are hopefully still conservative and Christian, but I suspect a liberal bias is rapidly growing in our state agencies. Such a bias can already be seen in such departments as education. I do not believe that a conservative State Superintendent can on his or her own change the education department overnight, but we need a leader who has the passion and the proper worldview to tackle a rapidly deteriorating bureaucracy. Unfortunately, our past two State Superintendents, although registered Republicans and professing conservatives, were nothing more than wolves in sheep clothing.
It seems to me that those who support Cox oppose school choice (a voucher system) and those who support Walters support school choice. It’s as simple as that. Unlike many of my politically active friends, I do not believe that school choice is the panacea for education. School choice is the conservative version of the liberal’s obsession with gun control. Guns do not kill people; people kill people. And schools do not provide good nor bad education: state and/or federal mandated curricula, reading lists, lesson plans, education guidance, library standards, teacher training, etc. deliver bad education outcomes through teachers employed by local school boards. Why do we believe school choice will solve the problem? Look at American Christian colleges – almost to an institution they have gone woke. What will keep the good schools of today from becoming woke? Not the free enterprise system in and of itself. It takes cleaning up the bureaucracy at the state level and voting out the woke local school board members if we are going to have any chance of changing the culture, and thus the success, of our schools.
What I am saying is that unlike so many of my friends on the political right, I do not base my vote on whether someone supports school choice or doesn’t. I am interested in the heart of the candidate. What is his or her worldview? Is it a mature Biblical worldview? Will he or she try to do the right thing – the Biblical thing – when confronted with an issue? Will they hire conservatives in the Education Department or liberals? Are they mature enough in their worldview to be able to identify a liberal masquerading as a conservative?
My major concern with Walters is that I believe he may be influenced by Jeb Bush and powerful state organizations like the State Chamber of Commerce. Jeb Bush was bad news 10 years ago when we were fighting common core and, in my opinion, he is still bad news (and he still makes visits to Oklahoma to peddle his ideas, of which school choice is one). On the other hand, Walters opposes many of the things I oppose like CRT ideology, gender ID choice of restrooms and inappropriate materials in K-12 classrooms. He has said he is against common core and he does say he wants a top to bottom review of the system installed by the retiring liberal State Supt. Joy Hofmeister.
My major concern with John Cox is, for example, that he reportedly said we should not be teaching morals in public schools. The truth of the matter is that we already teach morals in the schools, and the morals being taught by the state mandated curricula are all bad. In my way of thinking the only way out of the education mess is to change course and openly teach Biblical precepts to all the children. I have other anecdotal evidence from sources I respect that raise questions about the depth of Cox’s commitment to conservative Christian ideas.
Therefore, I am throwing my support behind Ryan Walters solely for the reason that I believe his depth of commitment to a worldview most similar to mine is stronger than that of Cox. I hope I am right.
My vote will be for Ryan Walters.
State Auditor and Inspector
Cindy Byrd, 49, is the incumbent. She is a CPA and has spent her entire career in the state auditor’s office. Byrd has been ruthlessly criticized by conservative organizations such as Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC), Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs (OCPA), and by conservative journalists like Sooner Politics for her audit of EPIC Charter Schools and the associated private education management company known as EPIC Youth Services LLC.
Steve McQuillen, 65, is a former accounting manager for Tulsa Public Schools. He has owned and operated a bookkeeping and tax company.
Full disclosure: I am a long-time member of OCPAC and a long-time contributor to OCPA. I believe both organizations have often done good work and have well represented conservative principles. But, and this is a big but, by ruthlessly criticizing the EPIC audit and specifically Cindy Byrd, I think OCPAC and OCPA have done a massive disservice to our State and to conservatism in general.
Whether or not you agree or disagree with the concept of school choice, the audit of EPIC was never, in my opinion, simply about school choice. The negative evidence against EPIC Charter Schools and its private management company revealed by the audit is very persuasive. To understand just how terrible this mess really is I highly recommend listening to Cindy Byrd’s explanation of the audit and the criticism against her. https://www.facebook.com/ok2aassociation/videos/1584295188637382
We need Cindy Byrd for another four years so that she can execute part two of the EPIC audit, complete an investigative audit of the Education Department, and complete an audit of the billions of dollars sent to this state in COVID relief funds.
My vote will be for Cindy Byrd.
Dana Murphy’s term as Commissioner expires at the end of the year and she is not running for reelection. We have four Republicans to consider for Corporation Commissioner:
Kim David, 61, currently is a State Senator representing District 18 (Wagoner). She has served 12 years in the Senate. Her most recent ACU rating is 84% and her 2020 rating is 76%; lifetime 75%.
Justin Hornback, 38, has served as an organizer for Local Union 798 and is a certified welding inspector and a specialist in safety and health.
Harold Spradling, 87, – I have very little information about.
Todd Thomsen, 54, is a former member of the OK House of Representatives representing District 25 (Ada) from 2006-2018. His 2017 ACU rating was 53% and his lifetime average was 56%. He played football for OU (and Barry Switzer has endorsed him) and spent 30 years with Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
Some argue that Todd Thomsen leans conservative, but his voting record says otherwise. Kim David is the only true conservative on the ballot. She is a hard worker and will bring expertise and experience in the energy industry to the role of corporation commissioner.
My vote will be for Kim David.
Commissioner of Labor
Leslie Osborn, 58, the incumbent, is a former member of the OK House of Representatives (2008-2018). Her 2017 ACU rating was 48% and her lifetime average was 61%.
Sean Roberts, 48, is a member of the OK House of Representative representing District 36 (hometown Hominy). He is term limited this year. His 2021 ACU rating is 83% and his lifetime average is 88%. Gov. Stitt has endorsed Sean for Labor Commissioner.
Keith Swinton, 58 – I know very little about Swinton except that he has run for Labor Commissioner in the past. His 2021 ACU score is 83% with a lifetime score of 86%.
Leslie Osborn does not hold the same conservative values that I hold; she should be replaced. Sean Roberts is a proven conservative.
My vote will be for Sean Roberts.
Oklahoma House of Representatives District 11
Wendi Stearman, 48, is the incumbent. She is from Collinsville, and is completing her first term in the OK House. She has a 100% conservative rating from the Tulsa Beacon, OCPA and The Conservative Index and an 88% rating (the highest for an OK House member) from the American Conservative Union (another name for CPAC). She is endorsed by OK2A. The primary component of her platform is to represent the individual.
John B. Kane, 62, is a Bartlesville native, a cattleman and business owner. The primary component of his campaign is to build relationships here in Bartlesville and in Collinsville as well as in Oklahoma City so than legislation can effectively move through the legislature.
These two candidates have very similar conservative positions on social and fiscal issues; both are strong Christians. Wendi puts more emphasis on representing individual rights, while John puts more emphasis on teamwork and relationship building. Both approaches are valid.
I should say right up front that I am supporting reelection of Wendi Stearman. I am not against John; he is a friend and a brother in Christ. I am simply for Wendi, and here is why.
My first reason for supporting Wendi Stearman in the 2022 primary is that I believe in loyalty to those who have served us well. Wendi won the 2020 Republican primary against incumbent Derrel Fincher. No one in Bartlesville stepped forward in 2020 to challenge Derrel, but Wendi had the courage to do so even though she really did not have the time to do so. As she puts it today; running was a responsibility, not a job she was taking because she had time to spare. Wendi stepped forward when we needed a person with her values and no one else in District 11 would run. Since being elected she has a stellar conservative voting record (she is the highest rated conservative in the House) and has done a magnificent job (more on this is a moment). I see no reason to replace her.
My second reason for supporting her is the great job she has done representing conservative Christian values. She was the author of HB4327, the pro-life bill signed into law by Gov. Stitt. Oklahoma abortion clinics ceased performing abortions when the governor signed this bill into law. She voted for prohibiting boys from competing in girls’ sports; for requiring only male and female option on Oklahoma birth certificates; for prohibiting the teaching of critical race theory in Oklahoma schools; for prevention of confiscation of guns from Oklahoma residents; and for allowing the Oklahoma Attorney General to review any federal executive order, federal agency rule or federal legislative action to determine constitutionality. All were signed into law.
My final reason for supporting Wendi is more about her behind the scenes work – she is devoting the time necessary to identify, document and reject liberal bias within state government. Our nation is crumbling primarily because the culture is crumbling, and the deterioration of our culture is being promoted by a distinct liberal bias within the bureaucracy of government. Simply put – we have a government of unelected liberal bureaucrats. This is particularly noticeable at the federal level – just look at the actions of the IRS, the FBI, the DOJ, the Dept. of Homeland Security, etc. Each of these organizations are full of liberals who behave as liberals even when conservatives are in control of the Executive Branch. The Oklahoma bureaucracy is no different, just not tainted with liberalism (or wokeism) to quite the same degree as the feds. But even in Oklahoma we can see the impact of liberalism/wokeness in departments like Public Education. If we are to slow down this encroachment of liberalism into our state government, we must control the rules and regulations that are promulgated by the various departments. That job is not primarily accomplished by simply passing legislation.
Unbeknownst to most Oklahomans is the fact that the legislature has the authority to reject new rules written by state agencies. But to identify rules that need to be rejected two things must happen: (1) someone in the legislature must read the new rules, and (2) to identify a bad rule the legislator must hold to a proper worldview in order to discern a bad rule from a good rule. In other words, it does no good to have a woke Christian conservative legislator overseeing the regulation review process. Our liberal opponents are not stupid. Bad rules aren’t stamped “bad rule”; their evilness is cloaked in half-truths. Let me give a real-life example.
The State Department of Education submitted a rule to incorporate by reference the literacy standards of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). The AASL provides a guidebook for incorporating such standards, known as The Inclusive Learners Activity Guide. Fortunately, Rep. Stearman served on the House Administrative Rules Committee and was assigned review of the rules submitted by the State Department of Education. She found that the Learners Activity Guide contained numerous gender/sexuality and critical theory ideas including that “school librarians must protect the rights of all learners to access reading materials of their choice.” (that is, homosexual, transgender, CRT, etc. books must be included on the shelves). In conjunction with the new Education Department rule a bill was introduced in the legislature, HB 3896, which if passed would have adopted, sneakily by reference, the practices in the AASL Learners Activity Guide directly into state literacy standards. Fortunately, due to the diligent work of Rep. Wendi Stearman the Education Department rule was identified for what it really was and rejected by the Legislature. These sort of success stories by our legislators rarely are ever recognized by the general public; few know the important work Mrs. Stearman has done to be salt to the liberal Education establishment in Oklahoma.
It is my belief that in Wendi Stearman we are fortunate to have a conservative representative who is passionate about faith, family and freedom. We need to retain her as our representative for HD11. It makes absolutely no sense to replace the most conservative member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
My vote will be for Wendi Stearman.
U.S. House of Representatives District 2
Those of us who live in Washington County have now moved to Congressional House District 2 which is currently represented by Markwayne Mullen. However, Rep. Mullen is retiring from the House and running for the Senate to replace the retiring Sen. Inhofe and we have a slate of fourteen Republicans in the upcoming primary election.
This is a long list and I will openly admit I have neither met nor researched in much detail every candidate. However, since publishing my first look at the primary I have met a number of the candidates and I have updated my list of thoughts as well as my recommendation.
Guy Barker, 32, is a petroleum engineer and an attorney, and is secretary-treasurer of the Quapaw Nation. His campaign flyers emphasize affordable energy, runaway inflation, law and order and stopping open borders. I met Guy Parker.
John Bennett, 47, served in the Oklahoma House from 2010 to 2018. He is a Marine serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan. He currently serves as Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party. His 2017 ACU score was 71% and his lifetime average 73%. He is endorsed by OK2A.
Josh Brecheen, 42, served in the State Senate from 2010 to 2018. He had a 2016 ACU rating of 87% with a lifetime rating of 79%. I have known of Senator Brecheen for quite some time since he had the courage to take on Senate leadership during the Common Core battles of a decade ago. His hometown is Coalgate and he is a rancher and small business owner.
David Derby, 45, from the Owasso/Claremore area was a member of the Oklahoma House from 2006-2016. His ACU rating for 2016 was 83% and lifetime rating 79%. He is a pharmacist. I met David.
Avery Carl Frix, 28, is a State Representative from District 13 (Muskogee) since 2016. 2021 ACU rating of 80% with a lifetime rating of 70%. He is an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation.
Pamela Gordon, 62, has been a school superintendent, a crime scene investigator and a contractor with the US Marine Corps.
Rhonda Hopkins, 46, wants to represent Christian constitutional values.
Clint Johnson, 49, is from Tahlequah and is a Marine. He has worked as a deputy in the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Department and in the office of the Cherokee County District Attorney.
Wes Nofire, 35, is an ex-heavy weight boxer. I met Wes and was impressed with the job he is doing as a member of Cherokee Tribal Council. Wes is proud of the investments the tribe has made to the community to build a stronger economy for everyone in Oklahoma. A Christian, he is pro-life and wants the Tribal Council to move in that direction. He is willing to take the heat for his beliefs.
Marty Quinn, 62, was a member of the Oklahoma House from 2010 to 2014 and a member of the Senate from 2014 to the present. His hometown is Claremore, and his occupation is Insurance Agency proprietor. His 2021 ACU rating is 85% and his lifetime rating 79%. I believe I am correct in saying that he is supported locally by Senator Daniels, ex-Senator Ford and ex-Representative Sears. I have met Marty.
Dustin Roberts, 38, represents the Durant area in the Oklahoma House. His 2021 ACU rating is 76% and his lifetime rating 74%. He did not vote on HJR1070 concerning new standard for schools which promote abortion and question conservative religious family values.
Chris Schiller, 45, interests me because he is an independent pharmacist with an open appeal to “fire Fauci.” Anyone who wants to get rid of the big government/big pharma/big hospital cabal and is openly willing to say so, makes me stand up and listen.
Johnny Teehee, 57, is the Muskogee Chief of Police. He is a member of the Cherokee Nation and has traveled widely in international missions work for his church.
Erick Wyatt, 43, is a 14-year Army veteran. He wants to grow the economy of southern Oklahoma.
This is a tough race; there are a lot of Christian conservatives to pick from, most of whom we in Bartlesville have probably never heard about. I could make an argument for several of them, but Josh Brecheen stands out to me. He has a proven conservative record from his past service in the Oklahoma Senate. During the common core battles, I personally observed his willingness to take on the Senate leadership. In 2014 Senator Coburn supported Josh in his Oklahoma Senate race. That endorsement video is very powerful, and today Senator Coburn’s wife supports Josh for the Congressional District 2 seat. He is also endorsed by Jim Bridenstine, past NASA Administrator and Representative from House District 1 (our old district). He is a committed Christian.
My vote will be for Josh Brecheen.
United States Senate Special Election (replacing the retiring Jim Inhofe)
Another long list of candidates, most of whom I will not comment on.
Nathan Dahm, 39, has been a member of the Oklahoma Senate since 2012. His 2021 ACU rating is 100% and his lifetime average is 95%. He is a true conservative and a creative courageous leader. He is an MK (missionary kid) with a true heart for Christ. He is endorsed by OK2A. No one in the Oklahoma legislature has a better conservative record.
Luke Holland, 35, was chief of staff for Senator Inhofe. He is from Bartlesville and a dedicated Christian. He knows the ropes in Washington, D.C., and is endorsed by Senator Inhofe.
Markwayne Mullin, 44, has served as a U.S. Representative since 2012. He is a successful businessman. He has name recognition and certainly knows Washington, D.C. His Liberty Score from Conservative Review is 77%. He is a member of the Cherokee Nation.
Scott Pruitt, 53, served as State Attorney General before being appointed by President Trump as EPA Administrator, a job he held for two years. I thought he served us well as Attorney General. He is a polished orator.
T. W. Shannon, 44, was a member of the Oklahoma House from 2006 to 2014. He became speaker of the house in 2013 but stepped down in 2014 to run for the U.S. Senate to succeed Tom Coburn. He is a lawyer by training, and currently serves as CEO of a community bank, the Chickasaw Bank owned by the Chickasaw Nation. He is endorsed by the Governor of the Chickasaw Nation and he has served in his early career as the chief administrative officer for Chickasaw Nation Enterprises. He presents himself and his ideas extremely well.
The rest of the list of candidates includes Michael Colbion, Jessica Garrison, Alex Gray, Randy Grellner, Adam Holley, Laura Moreno, Paul Royse, and John Tomkins.
Probably no one will receive over 50% of the vote on June 28th and we will move into a two-person runoff. Mullin, simply due to his name recognition, will gather a number of votes, but not mine. His voting record is filled with votes I do not agree with and as you may have perceived already I do not like the pharmaceutical industry influence in Washington, D.C. It has been reported that Pfizer gave Mullin about $55,000 in 2021. Plus I wonder about Tribal influence in his future votes.
Shannon is impressive, but I worry about his tribal ties. His answer to the special question regarding the McGirt decision during the Senate candidate debate last Thursday was less than compelling to me.
One of the best arguments for Scott Pruitt is that he detests the D.C. swamp critters who literally ran him out of town and if elected he will work relentlessly to squash them. I am not so sure about his worldview.
Nathan Dahm has a stellar record as a legislator. His worldview is solid, and I have no qualms about his courage to resist the attempts by the D.C. establishment to influence him to the dark side. I think Nathan is our best choice.
Last poll I saw (and I don’t see many polls) Mullin and Shannon were leading. If we are going to get another candidate other than Mullin and/or Shannon in the August runoff, then we need to coalesce behind one person. I am suggesting Dahm is the one to coalesce behind.
My vote will be for Nathan Dahm.
United States Senate
James Lankford, 54, is the incumbent. He defeated T. W. Shannon in 2014 in the special election to replace Tom Coburn. His Conservative Review Liberty Score is 73%.
Joan Farr, 66, reportedly is running in the Kansas Republican primary for U.S. Senate as well as in the Oklahoma primary. She ran against Sen. Inhofe as an Independent in 2014.
Jackson Lahmeyer, 54, is lead pastor of Sheridan Christian Center (now Sheridan Church) in Tulsa. He is also a successful businessman. He is 100% committed to the America First Agenda championed by President Trump. The triggering event which caused him to oppose Senator Lankford was the January 6 debacle.
Both Lankford and Laymeyer are strong Christians. Although I am not a Trump supporter in the mold of Lahmeyer, I concur with Laymeyer’s assessment that Lankford’s behavior after January 6th was less than stellar. One mistake is not enough to remove a senator, but unfortunately Lankford has stumbled too many other times, including supporting the Biden agenda about a third of the time. Thus, I am willing to pass the baton to Lahmeyer in hopes that he will prove to be a courageous Christian conservative.
My vote will be for Lahmeyer.
We are so blessed – God has placed us in a remarkable State. Where else do you find so many candidates who are brothers and sisters in Christ? In many of the races we will be well represented no matter who wins the election because of the quality of the candidates. We must never forget that our first love is Jesus Christ and we are here only for a while. While we are here our first duty must be to love God, love others, and help others know and love God.
If you want to review the ratings I have quoted above, the links are listed below.
American Conservative Union (ACU), Ratings of OKLAHOMA 2021,
This week was the final week of committee work. We finished hearing the Senate bills in the House committees and the Senate heard the House bills. The bills that have survived the process thus far are now eligible to heard on the floor. The final step will be to send the bills to the governor’s desk for his signature.
Governor Stitt signed an important bill on Tuesday. SB612 by Senator Nathan Dahm and Representative Jim Olsen was signed into law. It prohibits the performance of abortions in Oklahoma except to save the life of the mother. Although there are many abortion restricting laws already in statute, we do not know what decision to expect from SCOTUS in June. If they recognize the authority of states in this matter but decide that all previous abortion-restricting bills are void, it may be necessary to have a current law in statute.
Senator Dahm is the Senate author of HB4327 which passed committee Monday and is now eligible to be heard on the Senate floor. This bill allows for civil action against the provider in the event that an abortion is performed. It is similar to the Texas Heartbeat bill but this version begins at fertilization.
This was a busy week with many groups meeting at the Capitol for events. 4H clubs from across Oklahoma spent the day Tuesday meeting legislators and touring the Capitol. I was invited to lunch by two 4H students from Collinsville. It was a nice change of pace and I enjoyed heard about their participation in the 4H program.
Finally, this week was filing week for state elected offices. Over 500 people filed for office. The primary election will be held June 28th.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call or email. I appreciate hearing from the people of HD11.
We just finished one of the deadline weeks at the Oklahoma State Capitol. This deadline required passing all bills to be heard this session out of the chamber of origin. Each chamber sent more than 300 bills to the other chamber and now the process will begin again.
With so many bills to consider, I would like to draw your attention to some of the topics that were heavily discussed and debated in the House.
Medical Marijuana Business Regulation
In 2018, Oklahoma voters passed State Question 788 which was an initiative to legalize medical marijuana in state statute(not a Constitutional change). We have all seen the aftermath of that decision with grow houses and dispensaries on every corner. This unregulated industry has flourished under a system of free enterprise. I don’t know about you, but I long to see what Oklahomans could do with other industries absent government regulation.
It is always the impulse of government to restrict and tax economic activity of any sort, but that impulse usually is counterproductive. The law of supply and demand has already been at work and the free market is working as it should. Demand is what drives the market and the demand cannot keep up with the abundant supply. The price of marijuana has dropped significantly over the last couple of years and this naturally reduces the number of businesses which supply this product. The free market is a wonderful concept when lawmakers will step back and trust it to work. But that was not the case this week. The Oklahoma Legislature did it’s best to regulate every aspect of the marijuana business. Here are just a few of the regulatory bills heard and passed this week.
HB2025– The Sign Bill; It will be necessary for all marijuana businesses to post a sign in a conspicuous location announcing their presence. This is said to help legitimate businesses avoid suspicion from local law enforcement. I have heard from constituents who are worried because they have been quietly growing their plants and now they worry the signs will attract thieves.
HB2179– increased application fee; When SQ788 was passed, the people voted to set the application fee at $2500. This bill will raise the fee on larger facilities. The author of this bill suggested this will do nothing to address the illegal marijuana business. It will simply increase the cost to do business legally and, in fact, increase the more affordable, uninhibited, illegal business.
HB3208– moratorium on licensing; Again, demand drives the market. If we continue to limit the supply side of the business through more regulation of the legal businesses, it does not change the demand. The demand is determined by the will of the people and is demonstrated by the willingness to pay for a product. They will naturally choose the least expensive product and with artificial limits on legal businesses, the illegal operations will offer greater supply at the price the people are willing to pay.
HB3971– OMMA Secret Shoppers; This method has been used for many years to catch businesses selling alcohol to minors. I have always disagreed with this practice. It should be illegal for law enforcement officers to lie to citizens. It is most certainly illegal for citizens to lie to law enforcement.
HB4287– packaging requirements; This bill requires growers to pre-package product before selling to dispensaries. The cost of this new requirement has many business owners worried. Once again, the added cost on the legal side of the business will hurt the good guy and help the bad guy(the illegal operations). Initially, this bill was voted down as a result of questions being asked by concerned legal business owners. But the legislators desperately want to do something to reduce illegal business and so it eventually passed the House.
The medical marijuana debacle leads me into the next topic that has been heavily discussed by Oklahoma representatives. The method by which our State Constitution can be changed with relatively little effort.
Initiative Petition and Referendum
Article 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution reserves the power to the people to propose laws and amendments to the State Constitution, as well as the ability reject laws. Rather than a representative republican system, it sets up a direct democracy where Constitutional changes are concerned. The Legislature cannot change the Constitution and the governor cannot veto a Constitutional change decided by the people.
An initiative petition is needed to add to Oklahoma Statute or to amend the Oklahoma Constitution. A referendum is needed to repeal or reject a law. Constitutionally, the total number of signatures needed to add a question to the ballot is based on the number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. For a referendum, 5% of the signatures of voters; a statutory initiative requires 8%; a Constitutional initiative requires 15%.
While this appears to leave more authority in the hands of the people, we have seen that it allows only the most populated areas to have input. The rural communities are left without a voice. Seeing this flawed method in our state effectively demonstrates the need for the brilliant electoral college in determining presidential elections.
For example, in 2020 State Question 802 was an initiative that added an article to the Oklahoma Constitution. This was heavily lobbied by groups from outside Oklahoma and would reportedly bring needed help to rural hospitals. However, rural counties voted it down. Only heavily populated counties voted in support of this measure. It passed by 50.49% clearing the simple majority needed to change our Constitution.
Several solutions have been presented this session and we have narrowed them down to a couple of good ideas. (There is no perfect solution.)
HJR1002– This measure would require each county to meet the necessary number of signatures to create the state question and get it on the ballot. Currently, the requirement is a simple statewide percentage.
HJR1058– This measure would increase from 50% to 55% the number of votes to pass a Constitutional initiative.
A Bill Addressing Abortions in Oklahoma
HB4327 passed the House on Tuesday after two hours of questions and debate. If passed into law will be the most restrictive abortion law in the nation. The bill is patterned after the Texas Heartbeat bill which has reportedly cut abortions performed in Texas by 60%. This restriction has driven many of these women seeking abortions to Oklahoma.
The Oklahoma bill was drafted by the former Texas Solicitor General who drafted the Texas bill. It allows anyone who can prove harm as a result of the abortion to sue the abortion provider in civil court. This bill will be necessary even if Roe v Wade is overturned. Many states are following the example of Texas and presenting similar bills.
The Oklahoma House will now begin the process of hearing Senate bills in committee before bringing them to the floor for final approval or rejection. We are about halfway through the process this legislative session. If you have any questions or concerns about bills being heard, I want to hear from you. The perspective of constituents is always appreciated.
This week was the annual OYE (Oklahoma Youth Expo) at the State Fairgrounds in OKC. Students who participate in FFA and 4H across the state attend this weeklong event to exhibit their livestock. The OYE Legislative Showmanship event is held annually and gives legislators an opportunity to learn from local students how to show livestock. This has been my favorite OKC event since joining the Oklahoma Legislature!
This year, I was paired with Blake (5th grade) and his young goat, Scooter. To say Scooter was a handful is an understatement! I was exhausted by the end of the evening. Blake was very skilled in leading and presenting his goat for inspection. On the other hand, I needed lots of instruction! I appreciated Blake’s assistance and enjoyed meeting his mom, Megan, who was there supporting him.
As mentioned in the weekly legislative radio interview this morning, there are some bills to be watching that have just passed through the House and are on their way to the Senate. Several bills this session which are moving through both chambers seek to increase state-guided economic development and improve state efficiency in data management. All are being presented as beneficial to Oklahoma citizens.
HB3419(755 pages) creates Service Oklahoma. This is a new agency intended to collect, store and disseminate all information currently collected by the State of Oklahoma. The program will initially create a centralized location for motor vehicle information, drivers’ licenses, and voter registration (most information collected by DPS currently). However, the purpose of Service Oklahoma is eventually to provide a clearing house for all information and services needed by citizens and/or various state officers and agencies.
HB3279 creates a virtual currency banking system to be managed by the State of Oklahoma. The proposal is eventually to include much more than just banking transactions.
keeping customers’ and any government citizens’ or licensees’ data secure and confidential, but available to ecosystem participants, stakeholders, regulators, and law enforcement communities on a transparent and need-to-know basis
automating notifications of a child attempting to purchase contraband
integrating smart packaging (RFID) to be placed on all products with payments and tracking throughout the supply chain
making cashless purchasing easier with biometric identification and database matching
using the cashless, electronic fund transfer of digital assets for all transactions between all parties within the specified community
generating statistical data for decision-making by: a. allowing designated agency personnel to create surveys and order data sets; b. establishing and collecting Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) compliant, self-reported, voluntary patient reviews, and correlating and tracking specific products for their physiological and psychological efficacy, thus enabling patients, health care providers, labs, processors, and producers to better calibrate and correlate their related choices; c. giving policymakers empirically based and broad statistical samples based on surveys.
This system is designed ultimately to track and record all transactions of businesses and individuals from manufacturing to distribution to consuming. This system will be monitoring any exchange of goods and services. This has the potential to be more sinister than George Orwell’s most fevered nightmares.
In other areas:
Governor Stitt has moved forward with negotiations to bring several out-of-state corporations, including an unsuccessful electric car manufacturer, to the Mid America Industrial Park in Pryor absent the approval of local citizens. This is state-guided economic development which uses the money of taxpayers to encourage out-of-state companies and even international companies to move here. It potentially removes the opportunity of industrious Oklahomans to fill a need based on the demand in their area for a desired product or service without the aid of the state. It eliminates the opportunity to achieve the American Dream.
It is the responsibility of the People to hold our government accountable and to limit government regulation in all areas of our lives. Pay attention to these new programs coming out of our State Legislature. They are being lobbied as necessities to make life easier. I ask for any evidence that increased government involvement has ever helped the individual, taxpaying citizen.
In the Oklahoma Legislature we are increasingly hearing bills promoting public-private business partnerships. Through legislation and executive negotiations, these partnerships are infiltrating many industries such as healthcare, mental health, tourism, agriculture, education, and energy.
Ours is properly designed as a system of free and voluntary exchange. A free market is always the most efficient allocation of resources. The fundamental principle involved is that millions of individual human beings making tens of millions of individual choices each day in their own best interests will always be more efficient than any top-down, directed system of exchange. The reason is obvious: the one person most directly familiar with your own competing needs – is you. Nobody else understands your own subtle, competing requirements better than you.
You can be wrong, of course. Human beings are fallible and often are wrong. If you are wrong in deciding your own best interests, then you bear the consequences of your error. Suffering the consequences of being wrong is an essential disciplining factor in your future decisions. But even more is someone ELSE likely to be wrong in deciding for you, as previously noted. The difference is that someone else deciding wrongly for you does NOT himself suffer the consequences of being wrong, and does not benefit from the essential discipline of suffering the consequences. Your deciding and your bearing the consequences, right or wrong, will always in the aggregate be more efficient than someone else deciding for you and NOT bearing the consequences.
There is, however, a more pressing reason than even efficiency to reject government-private partnerships: morality. When government is the party directing other people’s decisions, the funding of those decisions is accomplished through stolen wealth. This compounds the inefficiency of the wrong choices.
As an example, consider the case of a public-private partnership. Let us say you want to build a rural broadband internet service. You believe the rural community will benefit from this service. In a free market system, you try to attract investors to build the necessary infrastructure. To do so you will need to collect market data, analyze costs, predict numbers and locations of interested customers, develop price structures, and so on. If you are successful in securing enough investment, then you proceed with the project. Only then do you discover whether your analysis was accurate. If reality matches or exceeds your expectation, then your business succeeds. If, on the other hand, people in the rural community are not interested in paying the price you demand for your service, then your business will fail irrespective of how much YOU thought the community would need and want your service.
In the public-private partnership, however, the essential discipline of fear of failure is considerably blunted. Rather than having to convince investors of the probable success of your business idea, now you have to convince a much smaller subset: legislators. The legislators, unlike investors, have no personal risk in the decision. The funds they will invest are not their own; they are yours. They are yours taken from you involuntarily.
In the case of the public-private partnership YOU bear the risk of a project WITHOUT any prospect of return on investment. Furthermore, the wealth risked in the project has been stolen from you without your consent! You underwrite the rural broadband internet project whether or not you think it is a good idea, whether or not you intend to use the service, and without any prospect of return on your investment. If the project fails, you have lost your investment. If the project succeeds, you still have lost your investment. But whether the project fails OR succeeds, the government will always risk more of your wealth in yet more and ever-increasing similar undertakings. But because the essential discipline of fear of failure is missing, those successive projects will always be more inefficient and failure-prone than the last, in a never-ending downward spiral.
And it is still worse than that. If a project fails, government will merely send more of your stolen wealth down the hole in an attempt to prop up the failing business (think of Amtrak). Or government will attempt to mandate by fiat that the people of the rural community MUST purchase the service whether or not they want it (think of COVID “vaccines”). The inefficiency and immorality compound and multiply as an inseparable consequence of government intervention in the marketplace skewing opportunity for the success of voluntary exchange.
If the marketplace seems unlikely to support the introduction of a new business, then the addition of government’s stolen resources (YOUR involuntarily confiscated resources) cannot alter that reality – but can and does expose you to loss of wealth, increased risk, and lost autonomy.
LEGISLATION– a few examples of Public-Private Partnership in current legislation
HB4354– The measure allows Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) to award matching funds to eligible businesses which operate in aerospace and autonomous systems, life sciences, or energy diversification to offset a portion of expenses incurred through project engagement with an Oklahoma institution of higher education or nonprofit research institution. (Available to be heard in the House)
HB3647– Develop interagency, intra-agency, and public-private collaborations to help advance the awareness and mission of the Oklahoma Golf Trail. The mission of the Commission is to increase rounds of golf played at the Oklahoma Golf Trail Member Courses to stimulate economic development, enhance tourism, attract new residents and retirees to the state, and to elevate the quality of life and experience in Oklahoma. (Passed the House 87-3)
HB4106– Each public school district shall maintain a protocol for responding to students in mental health crisis with the goal of preventing student suicide, self-harm, and harm to others. Any organization certified by the state as a community mental health center or a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic(a CMS initiative) shall serve as a school partner if requested by a school district. (Passed the House 88-1)
SB1647– Enables the Oklahoma Tax Commissionto contract with a private financial management firm to administer the empowerment of parents. (Available to be heard in the Senate)
Should we consider these proposed bills as opportunities for small businesses and citizens to benefit from state resources, or should we consider public-private partnerships as a socialist agenda to be rejected by freedom-loving, independent individuals? We must always reject the siren call of public-private partnerships.
(Due to icy roads, little happened in the Oklahoma House during Week 3 of the session.)
Attorney General John O’Conner visited Bartlesville this week for a reception in his honor. As attorney general, he and his staff have made themselves readily available to members of the legislature and individual citizens. His office has been quick to answer questions and to hear complaints from people in House District 11.
He mentioned his support for HB3903 as an important measure this session. This bill is necessary because it will clearly define the role of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board when considering clemency. The board will only be able to consider clemency for reason of mercy or lenience. The board will be forbidden to consider innocence or guilt in a decision. It is important for all citizens that decisions of guilt or innocence be left in the court system to be determined by a jury of peers rather than by members of a board appointed by the executive branch. This will ensure the proper separation of branches which will benefit all Oklahomans.
This week was committee deadline week at the State Capitol. All bills to be heard this session were expected to clear the committee process in the chamber of origin. Last week, many committees were cancelled due to icy roads across the state causing some committee meetings this week to be lengthy.
Last year, Governor Stitt signed the No Patient Left Alone Act which was intended to protect the right of hospital patients to have visitors. As many families soon discovered, there were numerous exceptions to the hospital visitation requirement and patients continued to spend days and weeks alone in most hospitals. HB3313 successfully passed the Public Health committee this week. This bill will prohibit a diagnosis of Covid-19 alone to be a reason for denied visitation. If a hospital does not comply with this act, citizens may bring civil action against the hospital.
Some other bills of interest heard in Public Health were attempting to address nursing shortages:
HB3311– will require the State Regents and CareerTech to annually report the types of health care degrees offered and the number of students enrolled in, and graduating from, each degree type each year. The reports will also include the possible healthcare degrees that could be offered with more resources.
HB3892– will allow a Certified Nurse Practitioner to delegate tasks to nurse aids and other nursing home staff. Currently, CNPs do not have this authority.
HB4330– will create a diploma nurse program to be offered at technology centers and colleges. This program will remove some of the general education requirements from the current RN program and can be completed in 18 months. The proposed LPN to diploma RN will require only 6 months to complete.
Many federal dollars in the form of ARPA(American Rescue Plan Act of 2021) funds have been designated to address nursing education in colleges and technology schools. Schools have presented applications for millions of dollars to upgrade laboratory and classroom space in order to allow more nursing students to be accepted.
It is time, however, to look at broader changes to address medical care in our state. These additional programs slated to receive millions in taxpayer dollars to produce a few additional nurses each year will do little to change our current predicament. Currently, under federal oversight, we are effectively unable to make a decision in Oklahoma concerning healthcare without consulting CMS rules. The communist agency known as CMS believes their rules supersede state law. We all know that with federal funding comes federal regulation. The people of Oklahoma and those who represent them must determine to reject assistance in the form of stimulus, inflation relief, or other welfare programs. An actual reduction in tax rate or removal of fees are the only acceptable monetary help we should ever accept from state and federal government.
This week began with a crowd at the Capitol! Oklahomans for Health and Parental Rights assembled to rally and meet legislators. This organization is known for supporting LIBERTY bills and focuses on parental authority in the lives of children. Several folks from the Bartlesville, Collinsville, and Owasso areas stopped by my office to visit. OKHPR is supporting nearly 50 bill in both chambers this session and many are seeking to protect Oklahomans from vaccine tyranny.
The annual Rose Day at the Oklahoma State Capitol is an opportunity to visit with Senators and Representatives about the sanctity of life. On Wednesday, the House Chamber was filled with citizens and legislators who support protecting life. As we near 50 years since the Supreme Court decided that the murder of unborn babies was a fundamental right, pro-life Oklahomans are realizing that we must do more if we are to protect the innocent from legalized murder.
Last session, Governor Stitt signed Oklahoma’s pro-life “Trigger Bill”. SB918 will become effective if the United States Supreme Court returns the authority to prohibit abortion to the states.
Senator Warren Hamilton has filed a bill this session which will make abortion illegal in Oklahoma. It has not yet been assigned to a Senate committee, but SB1372 is definitely worth reading. I am grateful to Senator Hamilton for his steadfast defense of the unborn.
I agree with Thomas Jefferson when he wrote, “Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever.”
The chairman of Public Health has stated that only ONE bill addressing vaccines(vaccine tyranny) will be heard this session. Any bill prohibiting vaccine mandates will not be given a hearing in this committee. Thankfully, the Senate committee on Business, Commerce and Tourism heard two vaccine related bills this week. Senator Blake Stephens presented SB1128 in an attempt prohibit vaccination requirements by employers. Unfortunately, after multiple questions from Republican senators, Senator Stephens agreed to lay the bill over which means it will available to be heard at a later time but will not move any further for now. Senator Nathan Dahm was successful in passing SB1157 through this committee. If approved, this bill will allow people who have lost jobs due to noncompliance with vaccination requirements the opportunity to receive unemployment benefits.
Many Oklahomans continue to face threats to employment over vaccination status. It was disappointing as Senator Blake was defending his bill in committee, a fellow Republican stated that this bill must not pass because Oklahoma’s noncompliance with CMS rules would cause rural hospitals to lose billions in federal dollars. Apparently, Oklahomans must not be allowed medical freedom because of federal funding. A possible loss of federal funding is commonly used to threaten individual liberty. We must continue to push back against the federal government and to protect the individuals of Oklahoma.
It’s been a busy week in the Oklahoma Legislature as we have returned to the Capitol to begin the 2022 Legislative Session. The House Majority Caucus began the week by electing a new Speaker Pro Tempore. Representative Kyle Hilbert was selected by our members to replace Rep O’Donnell who resigned his position in January.
Governor Stitt and the Oklahoma Senate joined the House for the State of the State address. The Governor laid out his priorities for this session including further regulating the marijuana industry, making citizen interaction with government service providers easier, more education reform including Education Savings Accounts and training students to join the Oklahoma workforce. He stated, “No new taxes, just more taxpayers”. As a proponent of limited government and a representative of the individual Oklahoman, some of his priorities raise concerns. Governor Stitt certainly has been one of the best governors in the country by stating government should let citizens have the freedom to make their own medical decisions. On the other hand, most governors in our country have set the bar very low.
Based on the governor’s priorities, the questions I will be asking pertain to individual liberty and economic freedom:
Marijuana Industry- The explosion of this industry has caused challenges in many areas across the state including around my neighborhood. Employers have been unable to compete with jobs in the marijuana industry. We certainly have many questions about property rights and about foreigners owning Oklahoma property and about the effects of grow houses on surrounding property. As for restricting the number of state-issued grower licenses, history and an understanding of basic economics suggests this will only exacerbate the problem. Will limiting licenses be a successful solution if the demand for the product shows no signs of slowing? More importantly, would deregulating other industries allow for similar economic explosion in Oklahoma?
Government Services- If interacting with government services is burdensome for Oklahoma citizens, is the answer to expand government services to “help” the citizen; or should it be to reduce the licensure and fee requirements so fewer citizens are in “need” of the government?
Education Reform- Governor Stitt would like to reform education in order to train students for the Oklahoma workforce. He said, “No new taxes; just more taxpayers.” I agree wholeheartedly with “no new taxes”; but should we look to students as providers for the state?
If the disruptions before, during and after Governor Stitt’s State of the State address are any indication, this legislative session is going to be wrought with conflict as the struggle between individual liberty and the administrative state comes to a head. The People of this state are demanding a voice in the decisions being made by their Representatives.
A few House committees began hearing bills this week. I am vice chairman of State Powers. (Last session, this committee was named States Rights. Chairman Steagall requested the name change to better reflect a Constitutional understanding. After all, States have no rights. People have rights.) This committee typically hears important bills seeking to protect Oklahomans from federal overreach. I will mention a couple.
HB3280 by Rep Humphreys will restrict state and federal governments from owning more than 10% of the property in Oklahoma. As the federal government is collecting more land across the country, it is important to keep Oklahoma land available for private development. According to Rep Humphreys, 7% of land in Oklahoma is currently owned by state and federal government.
HB2973 by Rep Olsen will protect the practice known as “conversion therapy”. This bill makes a distinction between conversion therapy and aversion therapy. Conversion therapy is defined as “change efforts” and aversion therapy is defined as therapy causing pain, such as electroshock or other torture to achieve results. This bill protects “conversion therapy” from being banned. Pastors and counselors have been banned from offering conversion therapy to clients in Norman, OK. This bill will supersede that city ordinance and will protect pastors and counselors across the state who are simply offering requested help.
It is truly a blessing that the legislative process is more deliberative than productive. It may slow a few good bills from making it through the process, but it prevents even more bad bills from becoming law.