Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nelson Statement on Oklahoma Supreme Court Ruling on Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, issued the following statement regarding the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling today that upheld the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program, reversing an earlier decision by a Tulsa district judge:

“The families who have been sued by the Jenks and Tulsa Union school districts for using the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program have even more reason to be thankful this Thanksgiving weekend. The decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court validates what I and many other people have been saying since the lawsuit was filed – that the school districts lack standing and that their vindictive actions against these parents were without merit. I am grateful to the attorneys who have stood with these parents for their hard work and effective legal defense of the scholarship program.

“As recently as last week, I received an emotional e-mail from a parent who detailed how being able to use the scholarship has changed their child’s life for the better. I’ve never doubted that we were right on the law and it’s nice to have the confirmation of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. This is a program that saves the public school system money while benefiting children with special needs by giving them more educational options that meet their unique needs. Today’s ruling will allow these families to breathe a sigh of relief after months of uncertainty.”

Jenks and Union Schools Continue Vendetta Against Children with Special Needs (September 7, 2011)

Updated: Well established case law says House Bill 3393 is constitutional

Oklahoma Capitol - It is well established case law that a legislative act is presumed to be constitutional and will be upheld unless it is clearly, palpably and plainly inconsistent with the Constitution (1). The Oklahoma Supreme Court has consistently held that statutes should be construed whenever possible so as to uphold their constitutionality(2). There is no indication that the provisions of HB 3393 are plainly inconsistent with the Constitution. Other scholarship programs that were “neutral” or “of direct benefit to students” have been upheld by the Supreme Court and other courts. The unconstitutionality of a statute may not be urged by resort to hypothetical applications (3).

The rules on construing legislative language have also been clearly set by the courts. Construction which would render the legislation absurd must be avoided; rational constructions are favored if language fairly permits (4)

(1) Matter of Daniel Deborah and Leslie H., Okl, 591 P 2d 1175 (1979); In re Napier, Okl. , 532 P 2d 423 (1975).

(2) City of Norman v. Liddell, Okl., 596 P 2d 879 (1979); Newman v. Tax Commission, Okl., 596 P 2d 530 (1979); Post Oak Oil Co. v. Okla. Tax Commission, Okl., 575 P 2d 964 (1978); Ruble v. Redden, Okl., 517 P 2d 1124 (1973).

(3) In re Napier, Okl., 532 P 2d 423 (1975).

(4) In re Vrooman's Estate, 206 Okl. 8 , 240 P 2d 754 (1954); John C. Winston Co. v. Vaughan, 11 F. Supp. 954 (W.D.Okl. 1935) affmd. Vaughan v. John C. Winston Co., 83 F.2d 370 (10th Cir. 1936); City of Enid v. Champlin Refining Co., 112 Okl. 168, 240 P. 604 (1925).

AG Statement on Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Decision

Attorney General Scott Pruitt
Oklahoma City - Attorney General Scott Pruitt today issued the following statement regarding the Oklahoma Supreme Court decision on the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program Act:

"From the beginning, we believed it was improper for these school districts to sue the parents of special needs children simply for following the law. We are pleased Oklahoma’s Supreme Court agreed, and ruled that these school districts lacked standing to make their claims against the children’s families. The Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship Act is the law and districts must follow the law." 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Updated: Oklahoma Will Not Pursue a State-Based Exchange or Medicaid Expansion

Speaker-Designate Shannon Applauds Decision

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today released the following statement announcing that Oklahoma will not pursue the creation of a state-based exchange or participate in the Medicaid expansion in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA):

“For the past few months, my staff and I have worked with other lawmakers, Oklahoma stakeholders and health care experts across the country to determine the best course of action for Oklahoma in regards to both the creation of a health insurance exchange and the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Our priority has been to ascertain what can be done to increase quality and access to health care, contain costs, and do so without placing an undue burden on taxpayers or the state. As I have stated many times before, it is my firm belief that PPACA fails to further these goals, and will in fact decrease the quality of health care across the United States while contributing to the nation’s growing deficit crisis.

“Despite my ongoing opposition to the federal health care law, the state of Oklahoma is legally obligated to either build an exchange that is PPACA compliant and approved by the Obama Administration, or to default to an exchange run by the federal government. This choice has been forced on the people of Oklahoma by the Obama Administration in spite of the fact that voters have overwhelmingly expressed their opposition to the federal health care law through their support of State Question 756, a constitutional amendment prohibiting the implementation of key components of PPACA.

“After careful consideration, I have today informed U.S. Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius that Oklahoma will not pursue the creation of its own health insurance exchange. Any exchange that is PPACA compliant will necessarily be ‘state-run’ in name only and would require Oklahoma resources, staff and tax dollars to implement. It does not benefit Oklahoma taxpayers to actively support and fund a new government program that will ultimately be under the control of the federal government, that is opposed by a clear majority of Oklahomans, and that will further the implementation of a law that threatens to erode both the quality of American health care and the fiscal stability of the nation.

“Furthermore, I have also decided that Oklahoma will not be participating in the Obama Administration’s proposed expansion of Medicaid. Such an expansion would be unaffordable, costing the state of Oklahoma up to $475 million between now and 2020, with escalating annual expenses in subsequent years. It would also further Oklahoma’s reliance on federal money that may or may not be available in the future given the dire fiscal problems facing the federal government. On a state level, massive new costs associated with Medicaid expansion would require cuts to important government priorities such as education and public safety. Furthermore, the proposed Medicaid expansion offers no meaningful reform to a massive entitlement program already contributing to the out-of-control spending of the federal government.

“Moving forward, the state of Oklahoma will pursue two actions simultaneously. The first will be to continue our support for Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s ongoing legal challenge of PPACA. General Pruitt’s lawsuit raises different Constitutional questions than previous legal challenges, and both he and I remain optimistic that Oklahoma’s challenge can succeed. 

“Our second and equally important task will be to pursue state-based solutions that improve health outcomes and contain costs for Oklahoma families. Serious reform, for instance, should be pursued in the area of Medicaid and public health, where effective chronic disease prevention and management programs could address the trend of skyrocketing medical bills linked to avoidable hospital and emergency room visits. I look forward to working with legislative leaders and lawmakers in both parties to pursue Oklahoma health care solutions for Oklahoma families.”

Speaker-Designate T.W. Shannon Comments:

Oklahoma House Speaker-elect T.W. Shannon released the following statement today in response to the announcement by Gov. Mary Fallin above.

“I applaud Gov. Fallin for her courage in taking a stand for the people of Oklahoma. Oklahomans have long opposed Obamacare because they recognize how intrusive and unworkable the law is going to be. Our Medicaid program is already unsustainable and needs to be reformed at the state level with solutions that reflect our unique challenges.

“Regarding the health insurance exchanges, it is important to understand that even if we were to create an exchange, the rules are written in Washington, D.C. and the exchanges are going to be controlled by the federal government. The law does not give the state enough flexibility to create an exchange model that would work for Oklahomans.

“Any state initiated exchange as allowed for under Obamacare would require Oklahoma to create a massive new bureaucracy and would enable new federal taxes on our employers. I am confident the lawsuit filed by Oklahom’s Attorney General to mitigate the harmful consequences of Obamacare is going to succeed, and the unworkability of the law will lead to its repeal.

“It is increasingly evident that reform will come from the state level. Oklahoma has drawn a line in the sand, and I am proud to stand with Gov. Fallin and our citizens to continue leading the fight against a federal government that increasingly overreaches and tramples the rights of individuals and the states.”

Monday, November 12, 2012

House Schedule for 2013 Legislative Session

Ready-or-not, Here We Come!

  • Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 11 a.m. - Oath of Office Ceremony, House Chamber
  • Friday, December 14, 2012 - Deadline for Representatives to request bill drafting for potential legislation
  • Thursday, December 27, 2012 - Deadline for Representatives to submit substantive bill language to staff for bill to be drafted with language by bill filing deadline
  • Tuesday, January 8, 2013 - Organization Day, Speaker of the House will be formally elected
  • Thursday, January 17, 2013 - Deadline to introduce bills for consideration during 2013 Legislative Session
  • Monday, February 4, 2013 - First day of the 2013 Legislative Session
  • Thursday, February 28, 2013 - Deadline for House Bills to be heard in House Committee
  • Thursday, March 14, 2013 - Deadline for House Bills to be heard in the House
  • Thursday, April 11, 2013 - Deadline for Senate Bills to be heard in House Committee
  • Thursday, April 25, 2013 - Deadline for Senate Bills to be heard in the House
  • Friday, May 31, 2013 - Sine Die, last day of the 2013 Legislative Session. (Governor has 15 calendar days after Sine Die in which to sign or veto bills passed during the last week of the Legislative Session.)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Update 2: Charges Filed Against 2 Former DHS Workers in Serenity Deal Case

I will be posting more information as I get it ...

(Updated 11-9-12 at 8:00 p.m.)

Statement from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services reference misdemeanor charges filed against former child welfare workers in Serenity Deal case:
"The tragic death of little Serenity Deal shocked and saddened everyone at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.  We share the District Attorney's belief that the child welfare workers handling Deal's case, Jennifer Shawn and Randy Lack, were negligent in their duties which is why they were terminated last year.  We continue to regret the heartwrenching outcome of this child's case."

(Updated 11-9-12 at 6:00 p.m.)
Link to copies of the charges that were filed

Thursday, November 8, 2012

House Republican Majority Caucus Elects Leadership

OKLAHOMA CITY – Two days after the election that gave Republicans a historic 72-29 seat control in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, the House Republican caucus today elected its leadership and re-affirmed state Rep. T.W. Shannon as their choice for House Speaker-elect.

Speaker-elect T.W. Shannon
Speaker-elect Shannon is only the sixth Republican speaker in state history.

“I am truly honored and, frankly, humbled by the support of my colleagues,” said Shannon, R-Lawton, who ran unopposed for the position. “We face many challenges in the upcoming session, but I view challenges as opportunities to lead and make our state better for every Oklahoman.

“Our nation is at a tipping point, and I truly believe Oklahoma can be a light for the rest of the nation to follow. Leaders in Washington, D.C. have proven they are incapable of leading. We have the will to get things done, and I am ready to collaborate with the entire House body to develop a conservative, free-market, limited-government agenda that will create strong, prosperous families and grow our economy.”

The Republican caucus also elected several top leadership positions today and voted on proposed caucus rules.

In addition to electing Shannon, the caucus chose state Rep. Mike Jackson as Speaker Pro Tempore-elect.

“I am looking forward to working with Speaker-elect Shannon and the members of the caucus,” said Jackson, R-Enid. “It is a privilege to serve the members, and I feel like 2013 is going to be a great year for the people of Oklahoma.”

State Rep. Weldon Watson, R-Tulsa, who also ran unopposed, was chosen as Caucus Chairman.

"It has been a privilege to serve the caucus as Chairman during the past two years, and I am honored to continue serving," said Watson. "Our caucus has continued to grow. We have a great opportunity to govern and I am excited about the potential we have to make a difference for the future of Oklahoma."

Other elected leadership positions include:

  • Vice Caucus Chairman, state Rep. Harold Wright, R-Weatherford, who ran unopposed.
  • Caucus Secretary, state Rep. Elise Hall, R-Oklahoma City, who ran unopposed.
  • Assistant Majority Floor Leader, state Rep. Lee Denney, R-Cushing.
  • Assistant Majority Floor Leader, state Rep. Charles Ortega, R-Altus.
  • Assistant Majority Floor Leader, state Rep. Randy McDaniel, R-Oklahoma City.
  • Assistant Majority Whip, state Rep. Mike Sanders, R-Kingfisher.
  • Assistant Majority Whip, state Rep. Steve Vaughan, R-Ponca City.
  • Assistant Majority Whip, state Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell.
  • Assistant Majority Whip, state Rep. Sean Roberts, Hominy.

"I'm humbled that my colleagues feel I have good judgment and trust me to do the job," said Wright, who was elected for a second term. "I always look at this position as a way to serve the members, much like I serve my own constituents. Serving the caucus can be a thankless job sometimes, but it is vitally important if you are going to build coalitions that get the people's work done."

"I am very honored to be elected by my fellow representatives to a position of leadership," said Hall. "We have a great opportunity to enact truly conservative policies during the next two years and I plan on working as hard as I can to repay my colleagues for their support."

During the next several weeks Speaker-elect Shannon will announce additional appointed leadership positions.

On Wednesday, November 14 at 11:00 a.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.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Nelson Wins! Final Results 55.4% to 44.6%

Oklahoma House District 87 - I received a friendly concession call from my opponent Nick Singer around 10 p.m. Election Day. He ran an aggressive race and was a formidable candidate in a diverse district. 

Thank you for your support, prayers and encouragement. I look forward to continuing the important work I began during the last four years. 

Nelson #
Singer #
Precinct #
Nelson %
Singer %


In 2008, I won with 50.6% of the vote and in 2010 I won with 54.1% of the vote. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Jason Nelson Campaign Victory Watch Party Planned

Supporters and well-wishers are invited to our Campaign Victory Watch Party after the polls close on Election Day. 

Election Day, Nov. 6 at 7 p.m. 

OKC Marriott, Suite 1615

Volunteers will be reporting the vote count results directly from the polling locations around House District 87 to the watch party. We will have the final results long before they are reported by the Election Board and the media. Please make plans to stop by and join us for a victory celebration. Thank you for your support!

If you can't make the party but want to follow the results, we will be posting them on this blog and on Facebook and Twitter @jasonnelsonok. We will begin posting precinct results around 7:30 p.m.

Friday, November 2, 2012

SQ 765 necessary to rebuild Oklahoma’s broken Department of Human Services

Supporters say the welfare of Oklahoma’s children need a voice

OKLAHOMA – Passage of State Question 765 is a major component of Oklahoma’s effort to rebuild and improve the state’s broken Department of Human Services (DHS). The welfare of Oklahoma’s children, families, aging and disabled need a voice, supporters and authors of the ballot measure said Friday at a news conference at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

“Currently, the Department of Human Services is largely governed by a volunteer board which, however well-intentioned, does not answer to voters,” said Governor Mary Fallin. “The passage of SQ 765 will put authority for appointing an agency director in the hands of the governor, who was chosen to represent the people of Oklahoma and whose job it is to be responsive to their concerns. I am supportive of SQ 765 because it offers the governor more flexibility to pursue the reforms and improvements needed to keep Oklahoma children safe and to deliver higher quality services.”
Under the watch of the DHS nine-member board, the Oklahoma Commission of Human Services, numerous child deaths, lawsuits and the resignation earlier this year of the DHS chairman have occurred.

Five-year-old Serenity Deal died while in the custody of the state in 2011, after repeated concerns were expressed by her foster parents about the danger she was in. DHS employees testified as to the safety of her father’s home, despite proof of repeated physical injuries.

Linda Terrell
“The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy fought hard last session to bring bold reforms to the broken child welfare system through the Serenity Project,” said Linda Terrell, OICA executive director. “The next crucial step is for voters to say yes to SQ 765 to abolish an antiquated oversight commission to bring greater accountability and ensure the safety of our most vulnerable Oklahomans.”

“The death of any child is tragic, but when a child dies because a government bureaucracy failed them is simply unacceptable,” said Annette Deal, grandmother of Serenity Deal. “Voting yes on State Question 765 means we are doing everything in our power to ensure no family has to endure the pain of losing a child the way our family lost Serenity.”

Under the watch of the DHS commission, DHS recently paid $9,500 to settle a lawsuit filed after a temporary DHS worker picked up the wrong girl from a Harrah elementary school in 2006. Additionally, the agency is involved in a lawsuit with a New York-based child advocacy group, Children’s Rights, that alleges Oklahoma’s system of caring for abused and neglected children is so bad that children are being injured and otherwise harmed while in shelters and foster homes. Earlier this year, the state of Oklahoma paid $300,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a mother who hid her young girl after DHS workers allegedly rejected concerns the girl had been molested.

“The agency’s governance structure is broken. It’s a 1930s governance model that fails to meet the needs of a complex 21st century agency,” said Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City and leader of the House DHS Working Group. “Nearly all the agency’s major problems can be traced back to an unaccountable commission and the historical tendency to insulate the director from any real accountability. If DHS is really going to improve, it must start at the top.”

In 2009, 3-year-old Ryan Weeks was beaten to death after being placed back in his mother’s custody from foster care despite pleading with the agency not to return the boy to the home. The mother’s live-in boyfriend eventually pleaded no contest to first-degree murder.

“Weeks spent his entire life in a home plagued by drug abuse and domestic violence,” said Steven Dow, executive director of the Community Action Project of Tulsa County and former DHS commissioner. “Children like him need the support and encouragement of a child welfare system that works and acts as a savior.”

DHS Commission meeting earlier this year
Three former or current Oklahoma Commissioners of Human Services, including Dow, are in favor of SQ 765 and getting rid of the commission altogether. The additional members include, Anne Roberts and former chairman Brad Yarbrough, who is a current commissioner.

Voter approval of the measure would end Oklahoma’s distinction as the only state where the director reports to an unelected commission rather than a governor whose elected position makes them directly accountable to the people ofOklahoma.

If the state question passes, HB 3137, passed in the legislature earlier this year, would require the DHS director to be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. Currently, the director is hired by the Commission for Human Services.

“It puts the agency’s leadership closer to the people because the governor is accountable to all the people of Oklahoma,” Nelson said. “The pressure will be on the agency director to do what is right or they’ll have to answer to all the people ofOklahoma rather than an unelected, unaccountable commission. This agency is too important to leave it in the hands of people who don’t directly answer to the public.”

HB 3137 would also establish advisory panels that would monitor each of the agency’s divisions to help agency leadership make informed decisions. The legislation was developed and supported collectively by a bipartisan group of legislatures comprised of House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee; Reps. Wade Rousselot, D-Okay; Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City; Pat Ownbey, R-Ardmore; Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa; and Sens. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City and Rick Brinkley, R-Owasso.

“The state question would not only abolish the commission but also a bad statute that goes back to 1936, Dow said. “Nothing has happened or can happen to improve the system because of the laws that are currently in effect. It’s time to change our system and SQ 765 is the first step.”

“A vote for SQ765 is a vote to fix DHS,” said Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City. “It is a vote to bring greater oversight and accountability that is desperately needed.”

Supporters of SQ 765 to gather for news conference

Nov. 1, 2012

Supporters of SQ 765 to gather for news conference on importance of rebuilding Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services

OKLAHOMA CITY– Authors and supporters of legislation that led to State Question 765 will gather at 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 2 in the Blue Room at the Oklahoma State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., to voice their support to help Oklahoma rebuild and improve the state’s broken Department of Human Services. 

Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City
Linda Terrell, executive director of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy 

Conference in support of State Question 765 to rebuild and improve the Oklahoma Department of Human Services

10 a.m., Friday, Nov. 2

4th Floor Broadcast Room at the Oklahoma State Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd.


Vote early!

The Oklahoman reporting that lines had formed at the Oklahoma County Election Board before early in-person absentee voting opened this morning at 8 a.m. 

You can vote early at the County Election Board office in the county where you are registered to vote from 8 AM to 6 PM on Friday and Monday before all elections.  For state and federal elections only, you also can vote early from 8 AM to 1 PM on Saturday before the election.

Voters in House District 87 can vote early at the Oklahoma County Election Board, 4202 Lincoln Boulevard (North of the Capitol).

Early Voting Dates and Hours

General Election
Friday, November 2
8 AM - 6 PM
November 6, 2012
Saturday, November 3
8 AM - 1 PM

Monday, November 5
8 AM - 6 PM

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