Wednesday 30 Jul
 
 
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OKG Newsletter


Topic: Scoop

The love shack?

The love-fest was on at a Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce luncheon. The guest speakers addressing a chamber-type crowd were Devon Energy founder and CEO Larry Nichols, SandRidge founder and CEO Tom Ward and Oklahoma City finance director Cathy O'Connor.

Each was to give a presentation on what their entities are doing to improve the city. All three are embarking on city improvements, with Devon and SandRidge constructing new buildings while the city has launched Project 180 to turn certain areas of the town around 180 degrees.

But each heaped praise on each other.

"No one is excited more than I am about what SandRidge is doing to an old tired block," Nichols said, the first of the three speakers.

Ward did a back at you for Nichols, and praised Devon for not leaving the city years ago when several energy companies fled the metro for places like Houston.

O'Connor then came in for the group hug.

"Having companies like Devon and SandRidge, you don't get luckier than that."

Cue the B-52s.
by Scott Cooper 02.16.2010 4 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

The fight is on

s the governor wants to eliminate, restrict or suspend for one year. The projected savings was more than $100 million, as lawmakers try to figure out how to cut nearly $1 billion from next year's budget.

Today, Rep. Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher, sent out a press release denouncing the governor's proposal on two of the tax credits: volunteer firefighters and the Rural Economic Action Plan.

"Rural lawmakers aren't going to take this sitting down," Sanders said in his press release.

He also said eliminating some tax credits is necessary and appropriate, but not when it affects public safety, as with volunteer firefighters who help fight grass fires across the state.

Expect to see that language more often as other interests groups and their legislative champions come out against some of the other tax credit programs the governor wants to pull back.

The release:

Sanders Denounces Proposed Elimination of Rural Firefighter Tax Credit

OKLAHOMA CITY
by Scott Cooper 02.23.2010 4 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Tax credit/exemption ticker

As the legislative session is now in full force, I will try to keep track of any bills dealing with tax credits and exemptions on an occasional basis. "Squeezed out," our story on the total amount of credits and exemptions, $5.5 billion, has generated great interest in this topic.

For instance, this morning, the state Senate approved a measure that would grant a sales tax exemption for specific children's hospitals. Senate Bill 1373 was sponsored by Sen. Sean Burrage, D-Claremore. At the moment, the only hospital in the state the bill targets is in Bethany.

According to information from Burrage's office, the exemption has a state revenue impact of $128,000 decrease in sales tax collections for FY2011 and $219,000 decrease in sales tax revenue for FY2012.

It passed in the Senate by a vote of 42-2.
by Scott Cooper 02.25.2010 4 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Off the list

With new revenue estimates coming in slightly better than previously expected, the governor has removed one tax credit program originally proposed for suspension.

When Gov. Brad Henry submitted his Fiscal Year 2011 budget to the Legislature on the first day of session, it included several tax credits slated for elimination, capping or suspension. The first list given to Oklahoma Gazette had 34 credits on it. A revised list had whittled the list down to 18.

Now the governor's office confirmed one more tax credit has been taken off the list: the volunteer firefighter credit. Oklahomans who volunteered as a firefighter could earn an income tax credit.

According to figures from the Oklahoma Tax Commission, previously reported by the Gazette, more than $400,000 from the credit was doled out for 2008. After the Gazette first reported the governor's list of proposed suspensions, Republican lawmakers came out and blasted the firefighter credit suspension.

The fight continued when Rep. Joe Dorman, D-Rush Springs, pushed through a bill which would expand the credit. House Democrats accused Republicans of grandstanding on the issue, using the governor's proposed list. Rep. Wallace Collins, D-Norman, said in a press release the governor has eliminated the firefighter credit from his list.

When contacted bythe Gazette, Henry's communications director, Paul Sund, confirmed the tax credit had been taken off the list.

"The new revenue estimate certified last week freed up some additional funds and gave us a little more wiggle room on our executive budget proposal, so we have decided not to pursue a moratorium on the firefighter tax credit," Sund said.

All this and negotiations for the 2011 budget haven't even started yet.
by Scott Cooper 02.26.2010 4 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Tough day at the office

This week has not been a good one if you are Drew Edmondson or David Prater. The state attorney general and Oklahoma County district attorney learned three men their offices put on and kept on death row have been removed and are getting new trials.

James T. Fisher has twice been convicted for the 1982 murder of Terry Gene Neal. Fisher's first conviction was overturned by a federal appeals court citing ineffective counsel. A new trial was held and Fisher was found guilty again. The second conviction and death sentence was tossed on Thursday by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals for the same reason.

Oklahoma Gazette has written extensively about this case. The circumstances not only surrounding the case, but the events which led to court reversals, are bizarre and unpredictable. Fisher's first attorney was found to be ineffective in part because of the attorney's disapproval of Fisher's gay lifestyle. The second attorney had a drug and alcohol problem which affected the defense's investigation into potential holes in the case.

Soon after Fisher's reprieve from death row was announced, a federal appeals court granted the same result to two men convicted of murdering a teenage girl. Yancy L. Douglas and Paris L. Powell were sent to death row for the 1993 murder of 14-year-old Shauna Farrow. Unlike Fisher's case, the court put the blame on the prosecution saying testimony given by one witness was unreliable due to the prosecution's promises of helping the witness with a drug case.

Just off the top of my head, I would say this has been a historic week for the Oklahoma criminal justice system. Three men in two different cases released from death row on the same day by two different courts. When has that happened?

by Scott Cooper 03.28.2009 5 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Coffee-canned

You can tell from the look on Glenn Coffee's face his political future was over. From his tone when speaking to reporters and from his demeanor inside the Senate chamber, Coffee gave the impression of man who was told his paycheck had not arrived yet.

It's amazing how political careers can end in just a few days. Last week, during an impromptu press conference on tort reform, Coffee was sprite and vigorous; a man of confidence with things going his way. But by the end of the week, after an Associated Press story about failing to pay his taxes on time and receiving a lien from the IRS, Coffee's sprite had fizzed out.

Sitting at his desk on the Senate floor, Coffee looked around as though he was the only person in the chamber while other senators explained resolutions. Some colleagues walked over and shook Coffee's hand as though it was his last day at work.

Monday was not Coffee's last day as president of the Senate, but his immediate political life is on a ventilator. At a caucus meeting with his fellow Republicans, a humbled Coffee apologized for his tax mistake and took full blame for the mess. Rumors sifted through the Capitol that an effort was underway to remove Coffee as senate president. But Coffee emerged from the meeting still head of the Senate, however his future as an Oklahoma leader is practically flushed.

Coffee had been considered a candidate for higher office including state attorney general, lieutenant governor or even the Congressional seat Rep. Mary Fallin is giving up to run for governor. Not anymore. As former Speaker of the House Lance Cargill found out last year, people can forgive mistakes, but not when it comes to failing to pay taxes. Coffee might as well campaign on raising taxes as opposed to defending why someone who didn't pay taxes should be awarded with a statewide office.

by Scott Cooper 03.25.2009 5 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Coffee-canned

You can tell from the look on Glenn Coffee's face his political future was over. From his tone when speaking to reporters and from his demeanor inside the Senate chamber, Coffee gave the impression of man who was told his paycheck had not arrived yet.

It's amazing how political careers can end in just a few days. Last week, during an impromptu press conference on tort reform, Coffee was sprite and vigorous; a man of confidence with things going his way. But by the end of the week, after an Associated Press story about failing to pay his taxes on time and receiving a lien from the IRS, Coffee's sprite had fizzed out.

Sitting at his desk on the Senate floor, Coffee looked around as though he was the only person in the chamber while other senators explained resolutions. Some colleagues walked over and shook Coffee's hand as though it was his last day at work.

Monday was not Coffee's last day as president of the Senate, but his immediate political life is on a ventilator. At a caucus meeting with his fellow Republicans, a humbled Coffee apologized for his tax mistake and took full blame for the mess. Rumors sifted through the Capitol that an effort was underway to remove Coffee as senate president. But Coffee emerged from the meeting still head of the Senate, however his future as an Oklahoma leader is practically flushed.

Coffee had been considered a candidate for higher office including state attorney general, lieutenant governor or even the Congressional seat Rep. Mary Fallin is giving up to run for governor. Not anymore. As former Speaker of the House Lance Cargill found out last year, people can forgive mistakes, but not when it comes to failing to pay taxes. Coffee might as well campaign on raising taxes as opposed to defending why someone who didn't pay taxes should be awarded with a statewide office.

by Scott Cooper 03.25.2009 5 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Clash of the titans

The New Year is only five days old and already the state has a clash of the titans set up for the 2010 governor's race. Over the weekend, the Tulsa World reported that Lt. Gov. Jari Askins is running for the gov's office. This comes in the wake of state Attorney General Drew Edmondson's unofficial comments over several weeks he is probably going to run for the same office. This is a terrific match up.

Both Drew and Jari are big-time candidates and would put up a formidable race against any Republican. They are also well liked and respected inside the Democrat Party and are proven statewide vote getters.

Edmondson was the first to send out the smoke signals of running for governor. His main obstacle was the current lawsuit he has brought forth against poultry companies and farms for, as Edmondson alleges, polluting some of Oklahoma's lakes and rivers. That case is expected to go to trial later this year. Once that is out of the way, Edmondson can focus on the race.

Askins has already pulled off one tough statewide race against a well known candidate. She soundly defeated former Speaker of the House Todd Hiett for the second in command spot at the state capitol in 2006. It was an impressive victory given Hiett's momentum from helping to engineer the Republican takes over of the state House in 2004, prompting him to Speaker.

An Askins-Edmondson match up could be a real thriller. Edmondson has all the credentials it takes to be governor. He has easily won the AG spot four times, even in good Republican years. His resume is impressive, going back to his days as a state legislator in the Seventies. He is from Muskogee and served as a prosecutor for several years in Muskogee County, giving him much needed inroads for the heavily Democrat spotted map of eastern Oklahoma. And the Edmondson name is a landmark in Oklahoma. Drew's father was a U.S. Congressman and his uncle a former governor.

Askins is not to be taken lightly. She comes from rural Oklahoma, Duncan, to be exact, and has plenty of money for any race. Her family has some nice oil revenue she can cling to, which Askins did during 2006.

There is still plenty of time for either candidate to change their mind and back out. The poultry lawsuit could go very bad, or Askins might make a run for Congress if Rep. Tom Cole decides to leave. If not, look for a long and lively race.

by Scott Cooper 01.06.2009 5 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

Clash of the titans

The New Year is only five days old and already the state has a clash of the titans set up for the 2010 governor's race. Over the weekend, the Tulsa World reported that Lt. Gov. Jari Askins is running for the gov's office. This comes in the wake of state Attorney General Drew Edmondson's unofficial comments over several weeks he is probably going to run for the same office. This is a terrific match up.

Both Drew and Jari are big-time candidates and would put up a formidable race against any Republican. They are also well liked and respected inside the Democrat Party and are proven statewide vote getters.

Edmondson was the first to send out the smoke signals of running for governor. His main obstacle was the current lawsuit he has brought forth against poultry companies and farms for, as Edmondson alleges, polluting some of Oklahoma's lakes and rivers. That case is expected to go to trial later this year. Once that is out of the way, Edmondson can focus on the race.

Askins has already pulled off one tough statewide race against a well known candidate. She soundly defeated former Speaker of the House Todd Hiett for the second in command spot at the state capitol in 2006. It was an impressive victory given Hiett's momentum from helping to engineer the Republican takes over of the state House in 2004, prompting him to Speaker.

An Askins-Edmondson match up could be a real thriller. Edmondson has all the credentials it takes to be governor. He has easily won the AG spot four times, even in good Republican years. His resume is impressive, going back to his days as a state legislator in the Seventies. He is from Muskogee and served as a prosecutor for several years in Muskogee County, giving him much needed inroads for the heavily Democrat spotted map of eastern Oklahoma. And the Edmondson name is a landmark in Oklahoma. Drew's father was a U.S. Congressman and his uncle a former governor.

Askins is not to be taken lightly. She comes from rural Oklahoma, Duncan, to be exact, and has plenty of money for any race. Her family has some nice oil revenue she can cling to, which Askins did during 2006.

There is still plenty of time for either candidate to change their mind and back out. The poultry lawsuit could go very bad, or Askins might make a run for Congress if Rep. Tom Cole decides to leave. If not, look for a long and lively race.

by Scott Cooper 01.06.2009 5 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 

A failed report card

State officials have boasted over the past year how things are improving in Oklahoma when it comes to smoking. But the American Lung Association has a different view of improvement.

In its newest report "State of Tobacco: 2008," ALA gives Oklahoma grades of F and D in four smoking categories. For the state's efforts on for anti-tobacco spending and cessation coverage, the report gave the Sooner State a big fat F in both categories. On smoking restriction policies and tobacco taxes, Oklahoma received a D.

Back in the fall, Oklahoma Gazette profiled the state's smoking problem and how after a decade of the major tobacco companies' settlement with dozens of states over health costs, Oklahoma was one of the highest ranking states for cigarette use. State officials cautioned labeled Oklahoma a failure since the money received from the tobacco companies was placed into a trust fund that only now has started to pay off.

That fact was mentioned by the ALA report.

"The American Lung Association recognizes Oklahoma for continuing to gradually increase funding for its state tobacco control program," the report stated.

While officials are working harder than ever to gain ground on the massive smoking problem in the state, the report doesn't provide much encouragement. Until the state places more restrictions on public smoking, increases the tobacco tax and pumps more funding into anti-tobacco programs, officials better get use to failing report cards.

by Scott Cooper 01.15.2009 5 years ago
at 11:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)
 
 
 
 
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