Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Proclamation by President George Washington

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor - and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sen. Anderson to Speak at National Summit on Education Reform

An Oklahoma law to ensure greater opportunities for special needs students is gaining national attention. Enid Republican Patrick Anderson was the Senate author of legislation approved this past session to enable public dollars to fund private educational opportunities for special needs children from single parent and lower income households.

On December 1, Anderson will be in Washington D.C. to speak at a national conference about the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship, named for the infant daughter of Gov. Brad and First Lady Kim Henry who died from a rare neuromuscular disease.

“Oklahoma’s legislation will be highlighted as a way of ensuring all students, including those with special needs, have the best education possible,” Anderson said. “The fact that this legislation is in the national spotlight shows we’re on to something. The bottom line is ensuring special needs students can take advantage of programs that best suit their specific needs, whether they are in a public or private school setting.”

Other participants in the Foundation For Excellence In Education’s third annual National Summit on Education Reform include former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida; former Gov. Bob Wise of West Virginia; New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; U.S. Department of Education Sec. Arne Duncan; and Sir Michael Barber, former education advisor to English Prime Minister Tony Blair.

“This is a very prestigious gathering of leaders in education, government and business who are dedicated to giving America’s children the very best educational opportunities possible,” Anderson said. “I’m honored to be able to share what we’re doing here in Oklahoma to achieve that goal and learn more about what other states are doing as well.”

Friday, November 19, 2010

Rep. Nelson named by Speaker-elect Steele to Working Group to Reform House Rules

Reform of conference committee process to increase transparency
OKLAHOMA CITY – House Speaker-elect Kris Steele today announced the creation of a working group to consider procedural reforms that will make the legislative process more transparent.

“While we have made tremendous strides towards increased transparency in recent years, I believe we can build on those successes and give citizens greater access to the legislative process,” said Steele, R-Shawnee. “I believe increased public scrutiny and oversight is vital to a healthy democracy, and technological advances now allow us to be more user-friendly than ever. I am serious about bold reform and am confident the members of the working group will develop proposals that significantly change the way things are done at the Oklahoma Capitol.”

Among other things, the working group will consider rule changes that open the conference committee process to allow actual meetings and public votes on conference committee reports. In addition, the group will consider reforms that could end the practice of voting on “shell” appropriation bills that contain no actual budget numbers.

The members of the working group are as follows:

State Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Dacoma

State Rep. Gary Banz, R-Midwest City

State Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City

State Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City

State Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Tulsa

The committee will also consider putting in place a hard 24-hour rule that requires a House conference committee report to be filed and posted online for a full day before it can be considered on the House floor. Currently, there is no 24-hour rule during the final two days of session.

As part of that proposal, conference committee reports would also be posted online for member and public review with a link to previous versions of the bill available so changes can be more easily spotted.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Speaker-elect Kris Steele announced top leadership appointments today

State Rep. Dale DeWitt, R-Braman, will serve as House Majority Leader, a new position created to facilitate leadership meetings, assist in communication with the state Senate and Governor’s Office, and help guide the majority agenda through the legislative process.

State Rep. Dan Sullivan, R-Tulsa, will serve as the Majority Floor Leader and will oversee the daily floor activity of the House during. The Floor Leader will also assign bills to appropriate committees.

State Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, will serve as chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee and will oversee the formation of the state’s budget for various agencies and departments.

State Rep. Skye McNiel, R-Bristow, will serve as Majority Whip and will head a team of assistants whips who will establish effective communication for the Republican caucus on a wide arrange of issues and work to advance legislation on the House floor.

New poll: Oklahomans say 'Lindsey’s Law' should be enforced

Republished from

School districts refusing to comply with Lindsey’s Law are flying in the face of widespread popular support for enforcement of the measure, according to a new public opinion survey from SoonerPoll.

A total of six public school districts have refused implementation of the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Children with Disabilities Program Act. The new SoonerPoll results indicate Oklahomans disagree, by a 2-1 margin, with the school boards’ defiance of the new law.

The controversial law firm of Rosenstein Fist Ringold has advised districts not to implement the law, even though the measure gained bipartisan legislative support and was vetted before enactment by Schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett and Governor Brad Henry.

Rosenstein Fist Ringold was previously involved in previous attempts to impede operation of Oklahoma’s charter school laws. After years of litigation in that matter, the firm and its clients lost, costing taxpayers several hundred thousand dollars in legal fees.

Last month, Superintendent Garrett told CapitolBeatOK that she believed members of the school boards in question had violated their oaths of office when they voted to impede implementation of the law.

The law written by state Rep. Jason Nelson of Oklahoma City and state Sen. Patrick Anderson of Enid -- with key co-sponsors including state Reps. Jabar Shumate and Anastasia Pittman -- was named in honor of Lindsey Nicole Henry, the daughter of the governor and his wife, Kim, who died in infancy of a rare disease.

Shumate’s support of the legislation provoked an all-out effort by labor unions, including the Oklahoma Education Association, to defeat the black Democrat from north Tulsa in the July primary. Shumate survived the political assault and was reelected.

Lindsey’s Law allows students with special needs (a wide range of disabilities) presently enrolled in public schools to access scholarships if they enroll in a private school. Critics have questioned the measure’s constitutionality. The measure did not increase funding for special education, and operates within the framework of existing finances.

According to a release from SoonerPoll, “When asked whether school districts should comply with the law until a constitutional ruling is made, 61.4 percent believe that they should compared to 29.5 percent who believe that school districts are not obligated to comply until a constitutional ruling is made.”

In all, the boards of education in five public school districts -- Owasso, Jenks, Union, Bixby and Broken Arrow – have chosen to defy the law. A sixth district, the Tulsa public school system, voted to process a few early applications but has turned away all other families seeking to access the program.

The defiance of the law has drawn critical response from parents of special needs children and from the bipartisan group of lawmakers who shepherded the law through the Legislature, including income Speaker of the House Kris Steele.

On Monday, an Owasso parent told a Tulsa television station, “Now we need to think about suing the school board to make them do what’s right. Because they’re choosing to violate the law they don’t agree with. It makes no sense.”

When the legislation cleared the Legislature last spring, SoonerPoll found 54.7 backed the measured. Today’s SoonerPoll analysis said the new results means “one of two things; support for the legislation has grown since its passage or many opposed to the bill believe it should be complied with regardless of their opinions.”

In a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, Bill Shapard, CEO of SoonerPoll, said: "It is interesting to note that when the results are cross-tabulated by party and political label no major statistical differences are seen between Republicans and Democrats or liberals and conservatives. It is remarkable to see such a controversial issue split so evenly among political groups and ideologies."

Doug Mann, the lawyer for both the Broken Arrow and Jenks public school systems, has guided the school boards’ defiance of the new law.

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs commissioned the new survey from, which conducted its “scientific study using live interviewers by telephone of 518 likely voters from Nov. 5 – 11. The study has a margin of error of ± 4.3 percent.”

NOTE: Patrick B. McGuigan is editor of CapitolBeatOK. Stacy Martin is editor of The City Sentinel, a weekly newspaper where McGuigan is senior editor.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Family speaks-out about Owasso Public School's failure to follow the law

Click headline to watch video

House Bill 3393 is a measure I authored with Senator Patrick Anderson during the 2010 legislative session. The bill was signed into law by Governor Henry in June. The new law provides publicly funded scholarships for special education students to attend a private school of their choice that meets their unique education needs. 

Currently six Tulsa area school districts are openly defying this new law and denying the scholarships to eligible students. The districts failing to follow the law are Tulsa, Jenks, Broken Arrow, Union, Bixby and Owasso. 

Governor-elect Mary Fallin Names Jim Reese Secretary of Agriculture

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Governor-elect Mary Fallin today announced that former State Executive Director for the Oklahoma Farm Service Agency Jim Reese will serve as secretary of agriculture in Fallin’s administration and cabinet.

Governor-Elect Mary Fallin Launches Transition Website

Governor-Elect Mary Fallin has launch her transition website and is seek input from citizens.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

House GOP Majority Caucus Elects Leadership

House GOP Majority Caucus Elects Leadership
Speaker-elect Steele, Speaker Pro Temp Hickman & Caucus Chair Watson Chosen

Speaker Kris Steele
OKLAHOMA CITY – Following on the heels of elections that gave Republicans a historic 70-31 margin of control in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, the House GOP caucus today chose its leadership and re-affirmed state Rep. Kris Steele as their choice for House Speaker-elect.
            “I am honored and humbled by the support of my colleagues,” said Steele, R-Shawnee. “As we face the significant challenges of the coming session, I am committed to a process that utilizes the talents of all 101 members of this chamber to develop and advance pro-growth, conservative policies that will move Oklahoma forward.”
            The GOP caucus elected its three top leadership positions today. In addition to Speaker of the House-elect, Republican lawmakers also selected House Speaker Pro Tempore-elect and Majority Caucus Chair.
Rep. Jeff Hickman
            In addition to electing Steele, the GOP caucus chose state Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Dacoma, as Speaker Pro Tempore-elect and state Rep. Weldon Watson, R-Tulsa, as Caucus Chairman.
            Over the next several weeks Steele plans to announce additional appointed GOP leadership positions.
            On Tuesday, November 16 at 1:30 p.m., the newly-elected members of the entire House will be sworn in at the Capitol. In early January, the full House will convene for an organizational day to formally elect House leadership.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Picking-up yard signs

I'm out in the district picking-up my campaign yard signs after the election yesterday. When you're placing them during the camapign it never seems like you have enough signs out. You have a different attitude when it is time to pick them up. Where did all these signs come from?

Jason Nelson Re-election Vote Totals

9,514 total votes cast in House District 87 Race.

5,147 votes    54.1%.    Nelson
4,367 votes    45.9%.    Orwig

Support and volunteer help made the difference - especially in the major surge of activity during the last week. 

Will post more tomorrow after some sleep. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

WIN: Nelson 54% to Orwig 46%
Four of thirteen precincts reporting: Nelson 59.2% to Orwig 40.8%

Polls open for next two hours

If you live in House District 87 please cast your vote for Jason Nelson. This will be one of the closest legislative races in the state.

Friends of Jason Nelson watch party tonight

Please remember to vote and don't forget to stop by our Election Day watch party in Suite 1508 at the OKC Marriott on NW Expressway after the polls close at 7pm. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Campaign watch party planned, Election results will be posted here

Our campaign watch party is schedule from 7 to 8:30 pm tomorrow, Tuesday, November 2nd in Suite 1508 at the Marriott at NW Expressway and Independence.

Friends and supporters are welcome to attend.

If you are unable to make the watch party you can keep-up with the returns here. We will be posting our election results here as they are called in by volunteers beginning at 7 pm. We will have the results for our race posted here much quicker than anywhere else. Hopefully we will have the final results by 7:45 pm.

Halloween surprise: Late tactics target pro-lifers

By Patrick B. McGuigan at

Strongly pro-life legislators, including two with “perfect” answers on the Oklahomans for Life survey of candidates for positions in the state Legislature, have been targeted with late mailers, radio spots and/or television advertisements. The communications which hit Friday and Saturday of last week, were designed to mislead voters about their records on pro-life issues.

One of the state’s leading advocates of pro-life protections, Oklahoma Family Policy Council Executive Director Mike Jestes, issued a statement saying attempts to use his critical analysis of one bill last legislative session were unwelcome and inaccurate.
In statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, Jestes said:

“Oklahoma Family Policy Council regrets the way in which our previous comments, which were internally directed at members of the Oklahoma Legislature, are now being used in partisan, political ways to scare concerned Oklahoma voters about the pro-life values of some very fine conservative, pro-life Oklahoma legislators.

“Unfortunately, many fine state legislators, including Rep. Ann Coody, Rep. Steve Martin, Rep. Jason Nelson, and possibly others, are being incorrectly characterized for partisan purposes as not pro-life.

“Their votes in 2010 over Senate Bill 1902 were about the regulation and control of Oklahoma's equine and animal husbandry industry. There were not then — nor are there now — any documented problems in Oklahoma about veterinary drugs being used for back-alley abortions or date rape.

“The bill in question, S.B. 1902, was later, at our suggestion, amended in the Senate to correct any possible deficiencies and is now consistent with federal law.”

Jestes concluded: “Voters in these affected districts should exercise their common-sense about politics in the last few days before an important election. Check out the records of these legislators directly, or via well-known pro-life organizations like Oklahomans for Life. Don't rely on charges by unknown political action committees. Don't be fooled.”

Rep. Nelson, the incumbent in west Oklahoma City’s District 87, garnered a perfect “pro-life” rating on the 12-question survey of Oklahomans for Life (LINK), as did Ann Coody of Lawton (District 64).

Nelson’s opponent, Dana Orwig, did not answer the pro-life questionnaire; nor did Coody’s foe, Michael J. Corrales. Both Orwig and Corarales are Democrats.

Steve Martin, the Republican incumbent in District 10 (Nowata, Osage and Washington counties), answered 11 of 12 questions in agreement with the Oklahomans for Life survey. His Democratic opponent, Nick Brown, agreed with Oklahomans for Life on ten questions, disagreed on one and did not answer another.

A key critic of S.B. 1902 who asked not to be identified told CapitolBeatOK on Saturday “it was the Dem [Democratic] House Political Action Committee who paid for the brochures.” Veterinarians involved in the fight over S.B. 1902 have also told CapitolBeatOK the mailer is distorted and inaccurate.

In interviews with CapitolBeatOK, Jestes made clear his earlier concerns about legislation relating to misuse of prescription medicines relating to veterinary medicine had been addressed in a series of Senate amendments.
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