Oklahoma Politics: April 2007 Archives

As you've heard by now, SB 714, which would have gotten Oklahoma taxpayers out of the abortion business, was vetoed by Gov. Brad Henry. Although the bill passed with a veto-proof majority in both houses, it was close enough that the defection of one senator, Shawnee Democrat Charlie Laster (405-521-5539), was enough to cause the override attempt to fail. Tulsa Republican Sen. James Williamson promises to try again, as is possible under the Legislature's rules, so it is still worthwhile to call state senators to thank them for their vote for SB 714 or to ask them to change and support overriding the Governor's veto.

There were three other Democrats in the Senate who voted for SB 714 in committee before voting against it last week and again during the override vote. They are:

Nancy Riley (Tulsa), 405-521-5600
Joe Sweeden (Pawhuska), 405-521-5581
Charles Wyrick (Fairland, Miami, Grove), 405-521-5561

Nancy Riley represents western Tulsa County and was elected as a Republican in 2000 (by a narrow margin) and 2004 (by a two-thirds) vote. In 2006, after finishing third in the Republican Lt. Governor's primary behind two very well-funded candidates, she crossed the aisle and became a Democrat. (My disappointment with that decision was as much personal as political.)

Not only has she changed parties, apparently she has changed sides on the issue of public funding for abortion. Brandon Dutcher has unearthed a flyer from Nancy Riley's first run for State Senate in 2000, in which she proclaims her pro-life bona fides. He notes that there are only five words in the piece that she deems important enough for ALL CAPS:

I will also fight for:

** Tough parental consent laws;

** Enforcement of a mandatory “cooling off” period before anyone can receive an abortion;


You can read the whole thing at Brandon Dutcher's blog. According to this piece of campaign literature, this issue was not just one among many to her, but was "one of the reasons why [she] decided to run for the State Senate."

With a margin of only 265 votes, and given the socially conservative makeup of her district, I have to believe that she would have lost the seat had she not taken a strong, uncompromising pro-life stance.

I said last year that the honorable course for Sen. Riley was to follow in Phil Gramm's footsteps and resign her seat, then run again as a Democrat and let the voters decide whether having her as a state senator is more or less important to them than being represented by a Republican.

That's not likely to happen, but at the very least, she can keep the promise she made to the voters: "NO STATE FUNDING FOR ABORTION."

A bill that would have enabled cities to establish fire districts and levy property taxes in those districts was narrowly defeated in the Oklahoma House, killing it for two years.

A floor version of SB 605 (link opens Rich Text Format file) which omitted the most objectionable features of the bill, but it was assumed that these would be readded by a conference committee before final approval.

The debate against the bill was led by Oklahoma City Reps. Mike Reynolds and Randy Terrill and Tulsa Reps. Pam Peterson and John Wright. The Tulsa Metro Chamber was lobbying heavily in favor of the bill.

It will be interesting to see how Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor responds to the failure of this bill. She had been planning to go after this source of revenue. For example, now that it's off the table, will she be more likely to sign the fairgrounds annexation ordinance, because it would mean additional revenue for the City.

One of my favorite state senators, Randy Brogdon of Owasso, is profiled in the current issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly. One of the many things I appreciate about him is that, unlike some Republicans, he believes that being pro-business means reducing government's burdens on all business, not providing special subsidies to politically favored businesses. When asked for examples of government waste, here's what he told UTW reporter Brian Ervin:

So, where is the government spending irresponsibly?

"Corporate welfare," answered Brogdon as an immediate example.

The governor's Opportunity Fund and EDGE Fund were specific examples he cited.

"It's not right for the state government to spend money to handpick which companies are going to prosper," he said. "If was governor and I was going to make that decision, I would set a level playing field and set up a free market."

Senator, are you announcing your candidacy for governor in 2010?

"Not today," answered Brogdon in mid-laugh.

I hope he will.

Elsewhere in the issue, sports columnist Dwayne Davis reviews a Tulsa and Muskogee-based sports talk station called the Sports Animal. This paragraph caught my eye:

[Host Geoff Haxton] is joined by local sports broadcasting legend Bob Carpenter and/or Channel 6's John Holcomb depending on the day of the week. It is refreshing to hear Tulsa talk from guys who understand the town.

Interesting note about Carpenter. For years he could be found on sports talk rival AM 1430 The Buzz. The 'Carpenter Call' was a staple of the afternoon show with Pop and Plank.

Dwayne is probably too young to remember this, but Bob Carpenter was a pioneer of local sports talk back in the late '70s, with his nightly hour of Sportsline on KRMG. (Sportsline was 6-7, Nightline with David Stanford was 7-8, then Johnny Martin came on with big band music until one o'clock in the morning.)

I missed this when it first ran two weeks ago, but Katharine Kelly gave a very good review to a Filipino restaurant called Phil-Asia, near 36th & Sheridan. We'll have to give it a try.

My Urban Tulsa Weekly column this week is on two very different events: last Saturday's Oklahoma Republican State Convention and last Friday's inaugural gala for the National Fiddler Hall of Fame. The convention story covers the race for state party chairman and a brief description of what delegates were saying about next year's presidential race. (More about the NFHOF gala in a separate entry.)

In plugging my own column, I shamefully neglected to call attention to Brian Ervin's excellent piece on Gov. Brad Henry, and his pique at the Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature for coming up with a budget agreement -- a bill that passed the Senate unanimously -- while he was away on a spring break vacation in the sun. Ervin has a quote from Henry supporter Frosty Troy:

"Brad Henry is the single laziest governor we've ever had," said Frosty Troy, founding editor of the Oklahoma Observer, Pulitzer nominee and long-time fixture within the Capitol press corps.

Troy, who's covered seven governors during his nearly 50 years of reporting on the state Capitol, said Henry's typical pattern during his five years in office is to keep a low profile during session, if he's present at all, and then show up at the end to take credit for many of the more popular pieces of legislation.

"He shows up late at the Capitol and keeps pretty much a social calendar," said Troy.

If for no other reason, you need to click through to Brian Ervin's article to see the wonderful caricature of Henry that adorns the story.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Oklahoma Politics category from April 2007.

Oklahoma Politics: March 2007 is the previous archive.

Oklahoma Politics: May 2007 is the next archive.

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