Category Archives: Oklahoma Politics

Oklahoma Property Rights Protection Bill or Property Rights Destruction Bill?

 

little house

Kaye Beach

May 1, 2014

As promised from the start, HB 2620 which is supposed to prohibit cities from mandating vacant property fees and registration, and HB 3363 which defines “abandoned buildings” as a public nuisance, have been combined. The title for the new version of HB 2620 remains “Protect Property Rights Act”  (Call me cynical but such titles of bills always make me think “PATRIOT ACT”)

There are some grave issues with this measure but for now I am only going to address the first portion.  (I will post the about the rest of it before this weekend in over)

The reasoning for merging the registry ‘ban’ bill (HB2620)  with the abandoned property definition bill (HB3363) is so that owners of property with ‘bad’ vacancies CAN be targeted, forced to register and accrue a variety of fines and fees which if not paid will result in a lien being placed on their property.

Both bills were passed by the House and sent to the Senate (Hb3363 with title off) HB3363 was not heard in the Senate but was combined with HB 2620 after the bill was passed by the senate.

What we have now is a mess that is due to be heard in the House General Government Conference Committee  next week.  I am almost certain that our legislators will not pass this monster of a bill in anything resembling its current state but you never know….and I am concerned enough about it that I am going to begin squalling now rather than taking the ‘hide and watch’ approach and end possibly up regretting that later on.

The first portion of the committee substitute for HB2620 is supposed to prohibit municipalities from implementing mandatory fees and registries for real property.  Rep. Steve Martin, the House author,  says he wants to  protect property owners from onerous and expensive city mandates such as the recent OKC vacant property registration ordinance which he feels goes too far.

Residential properties that are vacant for 30 days must register the property with the city.  If your property is,  at a minimum, 1. vacant  and 2. water and electric has been shut off for more than 60 days, you are required to pay a $285 fee and an annual renewal fee of $190.  It doesn’t matter if the building is entirely up to code.  If those two conditions apply, your property is designated a “vacant property” that requires you to pay for some special attention from the city government.  Read more about OKC’s new vacant property registry here

I agree with the House author of HB 2620 that state intervention in municipal actions that violate city residents’ right’s is appropriate.  However, it is doubtful that the current language will survive to passage of the bill.

For one thing, it is too broad. As currently written this measure would not only nullify all existing vacant property registries and fees but also other existing registries such as for storm shelters which allows rescuers to find and search all shelters in the aftermath of a disaster. Not only will the cities vehemently oppose such a measure, citizens might as well.  Whether or not you agree with the premise that there should be no mandatory registries of real property, understand that the bill is not likely to survive to address the stated goal of halting vacant property registries when written this broadly.

More concerning than what may appear to be merely a stubborn stance on principle (which I usually don’t criticize) is that numerous statements made by the bill’s authors clearly indicates that they do not really oppose all “registration of real property” as the bill states but simply mandatory registration of otherwise perfectly maintained property that happens to also be vacant.

‘Treat also sponsored House Bill 3363, which defines abandoned buildings and how they should be handled by a city. He said he could merge the two bills to help better define what is an abandoned or vacant building. Treat also said Oklahoma City’s fee requirement will not reach those it is intended for – improper property owners’ Link

Its going to be a real trick to separate these proper and “improper” owners, I’m afraid.  In fact, it will be impossible to pass such a measure that will not inevitably harm what you and I might classify as good property owners.

When you consider the fact that state law already allows for the city to deal with “improper” property owners which are those whose use or neglect of their property harms the general right of others, you might wonder what it is we are missing here.   Protecting our rights is precisely the purpose of government in the first place and they are well-seasoned to the task.  City government has broad police power to intervene anytime the rights its residents are threatened furthermore, city governments in this state also have specific statutory authority abate common public nuisances. (See Title 11 )  So what problem do we have that is so new and extraordinary that we need to grant cities some brand new powers?

I don’t agree that some vacant property registries are necessary or proper and think It would be a grave mistake for the state legislature to further burden  property owners with such registries or fees at all.   

Registration is not necessary as cities already know where the problem properties are and how to contact the owners. For example, this is from a 2013 City of Norman Council Oversight Meeting where the issue of a vacant property registration was discussed.

‘Ms. Leah Messner, Assistant City Attorney said locating the property owners is not an issue’

It is important to note that city, state and federal properties are exempt from enforcement of such city ordinances. Government properties (even the ones that may have been taken fro you for being an ‘improper’ owner) can sit happily vacant for as long as the government wants them to with no penalty.  As noted by the Norman assistant City Attorney, banks can be exempt and the outcome of recent federal lawsuit indicates that federal mortgage holders like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are also exempt from such city ordinances.

Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Exempt From Chicago Vacant Building Ordinance

 However, there are no exemptions for the average property owner or financially struggling individuals.  When the Norman Assistant City Attorney was asked if there were any exemptions from a vacant property registry and the attendant fees for low-income property owners her answer was simply “No

It is easy to see why property owners might feel that vacant and abandoned property programs are open to abuse and possibly a racket that will result in an even greater transfer of wealth from the ordinary citizen to government and their cronies.  In fact, in cities across the nation where vacant and abandoned property programs like the one Oklahoma City is apparently embarking on,  are well advanced, there is plenty of evidence that such fears are complete warranted.

Here is what I’m afraid might happen;  if the HB 2620 is amended at some point prior to final passage to protect only perfectly pristine vacant properties  registration and fees wouldn’t it also, by omission, bless city ordinances to mandate registration of any other vacant properties?  This would end up being a case of the exception that swallows the rule.

I guess the question is do you support subjecting property owners (except for the government and big banksters) to more bureaucracy, fines, fees and risk of having their property taken?  Do we have a right to own property that is vacant?

If you think we do have the right to really own our private property then you might want to encourage the members of the  General Government Conference Committee  to be careful and not allow HB2620 to be amended to turn a what is supposed to be a property rights protection measure into a property rights destruction law.

All vacant property registries should be prohibited.

The rest of the measure is an utter nightmare and deserves it own separate post which will go up sometime this weekend.

Okla. Stop HB2904! Would classify e-cigarettes as tobacco product, lead to higher taxation

rlc

Kaye Beach

Feb. 25, 2014

Oklahoma Vapors phone calls, emails needed today to stop HB 2904

HB 2904 is scheduled to be heard in the House Judiciary committee today at 3PM.

HB 2904 by Rep. Ownbey would define electronic cigarettes as a tobacco product opening the door to higher taxation on vapor products.

Please contact members of the House Judiciary Committee members and ask them to please vote NO on HB 2904!

Tell them to keep lifesaving vapor products accessible and affordable for smokers.  (Copy and paste email addresses below)

Vaping is NOT smoking and vapor products should not be treated like tobacco cigarettes

Here is my email to House Judiciary committee members:

Dear Representative,

I am a 30 year, pack a day smoker.  I have failed at every attempt to quit until I tried a personal vaporizing device.  I have not touched a cigarette in over six weeks.  I consider this technology to be a literal lifesaver for myself and other smokers.

HB2904 opens the door to higher taxation on electronic cigarettes.  This is wrong! We should keep vapor products accessible and affordable for smokers so that more people may improve their health and longevity.  Electronic cigarettes do not contain tobacco and are estimated to be 99% safer than smoking.

Please vote NO on HB 2904!

You can call House Judiciary Committee members at House Switchboard 800-522-8502 and 800-522-8506.  (Just ask for the Representative you wish to speak to and the operator will connect you)

Chair Rep. Osborn, Leslie 

Vice Chair Rep. Stiles, Aaron

or Email them in one blast by copying and pasting the emails below.

House Judiciary Committee Members:
leslie.osborn@okhouse.gov; aaron.stiles@okhouse.gov;  ; scott.biggs@okhouse.gov; jon.echols@okhouse.gov; randy.grau@okhouse.gov; scott.inman@okhouse.gov; dennis.johnson@okhouse.gov; fred.jordan@okhouse.gov; stevemartin@okhouse.gov; charles.mccall@okhouse.gov; mark.mccullough@okhouse.gov; richardmorrissette@okhouse.gov; tom.newell@okhouse.gov; bensherrer@okhouse.gov; emily.virgin@okhouse.gov ; cory.williams@okhouse.gov

Oklahoma Vapers call to Action Calls, E-mails needed in support of SB 1892

Kaye Beach

Feb. 17, 2014

**Update**  Feb. 18, 2014  The bill is SB1892 not SB1852 as I had listed.  Sorry about that.

SB 1892 passed the Senate Finance committee today  but due to a minor snafu the title was stricken.  The bill will have to go to conference committee for title to be restored.  If all that sounds confusing, the bottom line is that it will end up before the committee and have to be voted on again.  This should happen shortly and so if you didn’t get your calls or emails in, it wouldn’t hurt to do so now.

Will update again as soon as there is any movement on this bill.  Thank you!

SB 1892 will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee tomorrow morning at 10:30 AM in Rm 535

Call or email the Senate Finance committee members tonight or first thing tomorrow morning and tell them to vote YES on SB 1852!

Electronic cigarettes and vapor products are NOT tobacco and should not be categorized as such.  SB 1852 defines “vapor products’ separately from tobacco products and does not allow vapor products to be taxed like tobacco products.  This is GOOD!  It keeps the safer option of ‘vaping’ accessible to more smokers who have been unable or unwilling to quit smoking.

Briefly tell the committee members how you or your loved ones have benefitted from using a personal vaporizing device.  Ask them to vote YES on SB 1852 and thank them for their time.

Here is the Oklahoma Vapor Advocacy League’s Alert on SB 1852.  (Find out more about OVAL at http://ovalok.org)

oval alert sb 1852

You can email the Senate Finance committee members in one swoop by copying and pasting their emails as provided;

mazzei@oksenate.gov; Brinkley@oksenate.gov; Aldridge@oksenate.gov; dahm@oksenate.gov; david@oksenate.gov; fordj@oksenate.gov; halligan@oksenate.gov; johnsonc@oksenate.gov; jolly@oksenate.gov; mcaffrey@oksenate.gov; simpson@oksenate.gov; sparks@oksenate.gov; treat@oksenate.gov

You can call the Senate Finance committee members by dialing the Senate Switchboard and asking to be connected to the Senator you wish to speak with.   Senate switchboard (405) 524-0126

Senate Finance Committee Members are as follows:

Senator Mike Mazzei – Chair
Senator Rick Brinkley – Vice Chair
Senator Cliff Aldridge
Senator Nathan Dahm
Senator Kim David
Senator John Ford
Senator Jim Halligan
Senator Constance Johnson
Senator Clark Jolley

Senator McAffrey
Senator Frank Simpson
Senator John Sparks
Senator Greg Treat

Clearing the Air on the Oklahoma E-cigarette War

Kaye Beach

Feb. 11, 2014

Recently I wrote an article for The Oklahoma Constitution on the politics and money behind the e-cigarette bans in our state.

Many credible health experts have also noted a curious imbalance regarding the claims made by some public health advocates about
e-cigarette health dangers. . . .  Judging from the reaction to the sudden spate of prohibitions on vaping in our state, the public t buying the hype either. What most people want to know is,  why are they being banned? Who is being hurt by the use of an electronic cigarette? . . . This innovative technology is not a threat to public health but is a grave threat to the entire multi-billion tobacco industry as it exists today.

. . .You’ll find TSET grant funding everything from OETA to bike racks, but let’s look at the “Communities of Excellence in Tobacco Control” incentive grants that are driving the vapor bans.

You can read the article ‘Clearing the Air on the Oklahoma E-cigarette War’ in its entirety  at The Oklahoma Constitution.

Also, you may want to see this rebuttal to the OK. State Dept. of Health’s alarmist e-cigarette advisory. FINAL OSDH rebuttal 2 9 2014

And if you haven’t done it yet, subscribe to The Oklahoma Constitution!

Oklahoma Bill to Stop Unconstitutional NSA Actions!

SB 1252 nsa

Kaye Beach

Jan. 28, 2014

SB 1252 The Fourth Amendment Protection Act by Sen. Nathan Dahm has been assigned to the Rules Committee.  Read more about SB 1252 here and you can read the bill (SB 1252) here

The bill must receive a majority vote to pass and your support can make the difference.  Specific action items are provided below.

A nationwide coalition, Nullify NSA, has formed in an effort limit NSA surveillance abuses through state legislation.

Nullify NSA website http://nullifynsa.com/

Nullify NSA on Facebook

The most important part of SB 1252 would bring a halt to the practice of  NSA intelligence being used to investigate people on matters unrelated to national security and then cover up the source of the information as was revealed by Reuters a few months ago.

(Reuters) – A  secretive U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration unit is funneling information from intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records to authorities across the nation  to help them launch criminal investigations of Americans.. . .documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how such investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from  prosecutors and judges.  Read more

That revelation was responsible for the outburst from one outraged Oklahoma Republican at a Town Hall meeting that went viral last August.

Apparently OK Congressman Lankford was less than fully informed about some of the NSA’s programs that were being reported on, along with documentation, by the news media.  His audience, however,  was informed and Rep. Lankford’s seeming denials of what was known produced some understandable consternation.

Shortly after being challenged about the NSA’s activities at the Town Hall meeting, Rep. Lankford issued this statement:

“As a Member of Congress, I expect to receive accurate and complete information from a federal agency when requested. It is absurd that the
intelligence community was not completely forthcoming in its answers about classified government programs misusing Americans’ private information.  An agency that cannot fully answer questions asked by a  co-equal branch of government can expect significant structural changes and stringent oversight in the future.”

SB 1252 would put a stop to the NSA secretively passing on information collected  about Oklahomans without a warrant.

With the Fourth Amendment Protection Act in place (SB 1252), defense attorneys will be able to challenge data gathered without a warrants and passed on to state or local law enforcement.  Such data would be excluded as evidence. Judges will be obligated to disallow data gathered without a warrant.

“We know the NSA is sharing unconstitutionally gathered information with state and local law enforcement agencies – and it has nothing to do with keeping us safe from terrorists. This should offend every American who cares about the Constitution,” Tenth Amendment Center communications director Mike Maharrey. “Oklahoma may not be able to stop the NSA from vacuuming up the data, but it can darn sure make it as useless as a three dollar bill to state and local cops.” Read more

Nullify NSA provides the following Oklahoma action items to support SB 1252 in Oklahoma:

Oklahoma Action Steps

On January 6, SB1252 was prefiled by Sen. Nathan Dahm. This bill would big steps forward to protect Oklahoma residents from unwarranted surveillance (learn about it here).

STATUS – SB1252 has been assigned to the Rules committee where it will need to pass by majority vote.

YOUR ACTION IS NEEDED NOW. It doesn’t matter where in Oklahoma you live, take these actions today.

1. Contact the Committee Chairman.  Be strong but respectful. Ask her to promptly move SB1252 forward to a hearing and vote in the committee. Ask her to vote YES on SB1252

AJ Griffin (405) 521-5628 griffin@oksenate.gov

2. Contact all the other members of the committee. Again, be strong but respectful. Ask them each for a YES vote on SB1849. If they say they’re opposed, ask them why. If they’re undecided or will not commit to a YES vote, let them know you will be following up in a few days after they have a chance to consider it.

Rob Johnson (405) 521-5592 johnsonr@oksenate.gov
Don Barrington 405.521.5563 barrington@oksenate.gov
Cliff Branan (405) 521-5543 branan@oksenate.gov
Kim David (405) 521-5590 david@oksenate.gov
Eddie Fields (405) 521-5581 efields@oksenate.gov
John Ford (405) 521-5634 fordj@oksenate.gov
Jim Hlligan 405.521.5572 halligan@oksenate.gov
Constance Johnson (405) 521-5531 johnsonc@oksenate.gov
Clark Jolley (405) 521-5622 jolley@oksenate.gov
Ron Justice (405) 521-5537 justice@oksenate.gov
Bryce Marlatt 405.521.5626 marlatt@oksenate.gov
Al McAffrey (405) 521-5610 mcaffrey@oksenate.gov
Jubar Shumate (405) 521-5598 shumate@oksenate.gov
Frank Simpson (405) 521-5607 simpson@oksenate.gov
John Sparks (405) 521-5553 sparks@oksenate.gov
Rob Standridge (405) 521-5535  standridge@oksenate.gov
Gary Stanislowski 405.521.5624 stanislawski@oksenate.gov
Charles Wyrick (405) 521-5561 wyrick@oksenate.gov

3. Call Back – any NO or UNDECIDED – in 3-4 days. Ask if they’ve had a chance to review the legislation and what their opposition might be. Comment below or contact us at info@offnow.org with any information you get.

4.  on Twitter?  Retweet

5. Write a letter to the editor. Look up your local newspaper and submit a letter to the editor voicing your support for SB1252. Following strong legal principles, it’s essential that Oklahoma no longer help the federal government spy on all of us. Passing SB1252 will make that happen.

http://offnow.org/oklahoma/

‘Vape Ban Warning’ Issued for 26 Oklahoma Counties

super cell 1

Kaye Beach

Jan. 25, 2014

Feb 11, 2014 UPDATE: On Feb. 10th the TSET apparently decided to revamp their entire website and all of the informative links below were rendered dead.  THANKFULLY the Internet has a very long memory and all links were restored on Feb 11th via The Wayback Machine.

 

An electronic cigarette or personal vaporizer (affectionately known by its fans as a ‘vape’) is a battery-operated device that heats a liquid containing nicotine (but not always) and various flavors to produce,  not smoke, but vapor, thus eliminating tar and toxins associated with burning tobacco cigarettes.   Thousands of Oklahomans have switched from smoking to vaping, potentially improving their health and longevity.

The good news about this safer alternative to smoking is being clouded by a potent mix of financial and political interests making conditions ripe in 2014 for potentially disastrous vaping bans and other dangerous political phenomena such as unreasonable taxation of vaping products.

Oklahomans should be advised that the political environment may turn treacherous at any moment.

At 4:59  PM CT AxXiom for Liberty’s Nanny State Prevention Service has issued a Vape Ban Warning for the following Oklahoma counties:

vape ban watch

The previous  state-wide Vape Ban Watch is now upgraded to a Vape Ban Warning for these counties.

TSET funds at work

Residents of these twenty-six Oklahoma counties are advised to expect a whirlwind of TSET funded anti-tobacco coalition agitation at the city level, accompanied by media saturation of anti-electronic cigarette propaganda, local political maelstroms, and SWAT (Students Working Against Tobacco) team activation.

Immediate city level organization is necessary to  protect life and property from dangerous government overreach.

Don’t wait until the vape ban is on top of you – take your  big government precautions now!   

Oklahoma TSET Communities of Excellence In Tobacco Control

Communities of Excellence in Tobacco Control FY 13 budget: $6 million (Source: TSET Program Fact Sheet)

A Vape Ban Watch means that conditions are favorable to the formation of e-cigarettes and vaping bans.  85% of Oklahoma has been under the Vape Ban Watch since last fall when the same political influences that threaten areas in 2014 produced damaging bans in Oklahoma communities such as Shawnee, Ada and others.

Sporadic outbreaks of vaping bans and e-cigarettes prohibitions this fall prompted vigilant vapers and other Oklahomans leery of the nanny state  to take action on impending bans.  Oklahoman’s may feel overwhelmed by sudden storms produced by the explosive combination of cold cash and hot air but as the residents of Tahlequah demonstrate, citizen preparedness and quick action can save the day.

Be proactive.  Call your city council member now and tell them that TSET bribes are not a good reason to ban vaping!

Please remain vigilant.  Under normal circumstances, community health coalitions are relatively benign and even helpful entities but when fueled by tobacco settlement funds granted by the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust, these entities can coalesce becoming supercells that produce twisted efforts that can devastate opportunities for Oklahomans to improve their personal health.

tobacco free coalitions TSET

Right now these coalitions are primed to start firing off  Vaping Bans in cities that fall under the 26 county (highlighted in green pg 31-33)Vape Ban Warning area.

Detail is as follows:

These twenty-six Oklahoma counties are part of a ‘Communities of Excellence’ coalition/consortium and are  eligible for TSET Communities of Excellence in Tobacco Control funding for  fiscal year 2014.

In 2014, flush with tobacco settlement cash extracted from predominately low-income smokers, the TSET has doubled the grant funds available to communities as part of the Healthy Communities Incentive Grant for Tobacco Control.

If you live within one of these twenty-six  counties, chances are good that your city will be targeted by one or more TSET funded anti-tobacco groups operating in your area in over the course of this year.  TSET has set aside 4.1 million dollars in 2014 just to fund the anti-tobacco coalitions that you will find agitating for the Vape Bans.  (Page 3 http://www.ok.gov/tset/documents/RFPCXTC_1_Nov_25.pdf )

‘Additional grant money of $42,000 would be granted to Choate’s group as part of TSET’s Communities of Excellence in Tobacco Control.

An amount of $200,000 is received annually by her group from the tobacco settlement.

She emphasized that it is not money that motivates them to push ecig ban.’

(Reported by North West Watch http://www.northwestwatch.org/news/speculations-that-money-push-council-to-ban-ecigarettes/)

These health related coalitions work within our communities to promote public health education and policies that many of us welcome and support but the TSET and it’s partners have decided to focus in on eradicating the imaginary scourge of e-cigarettes and are funding the coalitions to be the tip of the spear in this misguided effort.  Given the well established and devastating effects of smoking, redirecting health activists’ efforts away from this and other pressing health concerns can only be described as perverse.

turning point coalition e cigarette

Coalition applicants must develop work plans to address five (required) Core Indicators defined in TSET’s 2014 Request for Proposals (RFP) for Communities of Excellence in Tobacco Control funding. (Page 24 http://www.ok.gov/tset/documents/RFPCXTC_1_Nov_25.pdf)

Required “Core Indicator 1″ is a city-wide tobacco-free policy which is defined to include e-cigs/vapor products.

CI red lined

Pg 25 http://www.ok.gov/tset/documents/RFPCXTC_1_Nov_25.pdf

Oklahomans fed up with the ever encroaching nanny-state would do well to inform themselves by spending a little time perusing the TSET’s website http://www.ok.gov/tset/    (Well, not so much now since they have removed MANY public information links!) You should get to know these coalitions that are getting their paychecks and marching orders from TSET while professing to represent ‘the community’ and thus YOU!

Each of the twenty-six  counties eligible for TSET tobacco control grants in 2014 are listed below.  They are linked with their respective TSET funding pages that identifies the lead coalition as well as their most recent yearly and cumulative total TSET funding to date.

Coal
End Advisory.
When the political weather heats up, stay tuned to AxXiom for Liberty, we’ll keep you advised.

Gov. Fallin Banishes E-cigs, Promotes Dangerous Drugs Instead

fda approved

Kaye Beach

Dec. 30, 2013

On Dec. 23, 2013 Gov. Mary Fallin issued an executive order (Executive Order 2013-43) banning the use of e-cigarettes or personal vapor devices on any and all property owned, leased or contracted for use by the State of Oklahoma “including but not limited to all buildings, land, and vehicles owned, leased or contracted for use by agencies or instrumentalities of the State of Oklahoma.”

There are many problems with this approach and as a result a backlash is brewing in Oklahoma.

Many are outraged by the action itself apart from the issue of e-cigarettes entirely. Oklahoma is a decidedly populist leaning state and the public generally frowns upon unilateral, un-deliberated decision making such as the edict issued by Governor Fallin in 2012 banning all tobacco use on state property and her most recent arbitrary addition of e-cigarettes (which contain no tobacco)  to the previous ban. It is also arguable that this executive order exceeds the scope of power of the Governors office.

The order becomes effective on Jan 1st, a mere ten days after the governor issued it and despite the order being announced right before Christmas when it could have been overlooked entirely, it has prompted a cadre of Oklahoma citizens (many of whom neither smoke or ‘vape’) to answer the call for an assembly at the state Capitol on Jan. 1st at 1PM to express their disapproval of her unilateral lawmaking and poor reasoning for issuing the e-cigarette ban.

If you want to know more about this event, follow this link to Snuff Out the BAN! 

As of today about 100 (and rising!) Oklahomans have committed to demonstrating their ire with the Governor by showing up at the Capitol on Jan. 1st.  Some of the participants plan to go as far as actual civil disobedience but all will stand in evidence of their disapproval of the governor’s stroke-of- the pen, unilateral lawmaking.

One thing that makes the e-cigarette prohibitions so politically explosive at this time is that the devices are now used widely enough that many people have had some direct or indirect experience with them and have witnessed the benefits.  We have used the devices ourselves or have friends and loved ones, otherwise hopeless smokers, that have succeeded in reducing or quitting smoking with vapor products where all else has failed.  Many have experienced close contact with vapor users and have appreciated the absence of any noxious odor associated with cigarettes and they have shared the enthusiasm of those that have freed themselves from the health burdens of smoking.  We have asked our doctors about using e-cigarettes and have most often been told that ‘vaping’ is far safer than continuing to smoke.

These alarmist statements being made by our public officials regarding vapor devices directly contradict our own experiences as well as defy common sense and as a result, many are beginning to smell a rat. I don’t know if these officials realize it, but their overwrought reactions to the rise in popularity of these relatively benign vaporizing devices is causing them to lose public confidence and personal credibility.

Fallin’s executive order lays out the reasoning behind the ban.  I find the reasoning weak.   A lot of this has been covered in a rebuttal to the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Public advisory on E-cigarettes which can be accessed here.

One faulty point that Fallin uses to justify the need for a ban is the result of an embarrassing misreading of existing e-cigarette research by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.  Executive Order 2013-43 states that secondary e-cigarette vapor contains formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde?!!.

The actual research that the Oklahoma State Department of Health is basing this claim on (see footnotes for their sources) did show a minute increase in formaldehyde that began when the subjects entered the testing room and BEFORE they even began using the e-cigarette.

In the study cited by OSDH the researchers themselves note that the increase in formaldehyde might be caused by the person in the chamber itself, because people are known to exhale formaldehyde in low amounts”

If you want to know more about this, Dr. Farsalinos, a Greek cardiologist and researcher does a great job covering the actual findings of the German study that Fallin and the OSDH are basing their formaldehyde claims on here

Protecting Public Health?

Governor Fallin, by acting in what may appear to be an overabundance of caution, chose to limit the ability to utilize technology that is already helping thousands of Oklahomans successfully reduce or quit cigarette smoking altogether.  She did this without public discussion or debate and without the input of our elected representatives and she did so even though there is little disagreement among scientists, whether for or against, that ‘vaping,’ is much safer than smoking.

 “We have every reason to believe the hazard posed by electronic cigarettes would be much lower than 1% of that posed by (tobacco) cigarettes . . .if we get all tobacco smokers to switch from regular cigarettes (to electronic cigarettes), we would eventually reduce the US death toll from more than 400,000 a year to less than 4,000, maybe as low as 400.” –Joel Niztkin, MD, MPH, DPA, FACPM, Chair, Tobacco Control Task Force, American Association of Public Health Physicians

As pointed out by The McCarville Report, there is no reason to believe that electronic cigarettes present a public health hazard.  Nevertheless, Governor Fallin implemented this ban under the guise of safety and protection of public health.

Given this fact,  it is interesting to note that implicit in Governor Fallin’s new (and ALL tobacco control) policy that deters smokers from using vapor devices as an alternative to smoking cigarettes, is promotion for pharmaceutical smoking cessation products including Chantix which, unlike e-cigarettes, is actually implicated in some truly dangerous adverse side-effects.

OSDH pushing pharma

(Read the resource page for policy implementation for Executive Order 2012-43 at OK.gov. Promotion of the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline that recommends and provides pharmaceutical smoking cessation products is part and parcel of the policy. http://www.ok.gov/health/Wellness/Tobacco_Prevention/E-cigarettes_and_Other_Vapor_Products/E-cigarettes_and_State_Property/)

Chantix is FDA approved but does that mean it is safe?

The FDA itself warns that this drug can cause serious psychiatric problems, including suicidal thinking.  In addition a wide range of side effects attributed to Chantix have been reported including cardiovascular events, diabetes and renal failure.   Source  In 2009, the FDA approved smoking cessation drug, Chantix, was deemed to require a ‘black box’ warning on the label to alert users to dangerous possible side-effects.

chantix black box

As of March 2012 there were approximately 2,500 lawsuits filed against Pfizer over adverse effects of Chantix.

How does banishing a product like electronic cigarettes that have no indication of significant adverse effects and instead promoting a drug like Chantix protect the public’s health?

What we are finding when we take the time to research the facts about vapor devices and products, is that something is awry.  E-cigarette bans are not in the best interests of public health. Banning them through executive order is an example of poor policy-making that undermines representative government at best and blatant protectionism for established corporate government partners at worst.

 

Mary Fallin: Stroke of the Pen, Law of the Land?

fallin 11

Kaye Beach

Oct. 10, 2013

“Stroke of the pen. Law of the Land. Kinda cool.” –Paul Begala, political  advisor to President Bill Clinton, on executive orders. (Source: The New York Times, July 5, 1998)

On Tuesday the Journal Record published an article that caught my eye;

Fallin reverses agency rules process

“An executive order, quietly issued by Republican Gov. Mary Fallin, is changing the way state agencies develop new rules and policies” http://journalrecord.com/2013/10/08/fallin-reverses-rules-process-capitol/

The word ‘quietly’,  in regards to government actions,  is always a sure hook.

Governor Fallin’s Executive Order 2013-34 was filed on Sept. 10, 2013.

What the Executive Order says is that upon filing a Notice of Rulemaking Intent with the Office of Administrative Rules, the agency should simultaneously file a copy of the complete text of the proposed rule to the Governor and the appropriate Cabinet Secretary.  Further, if within 45 days either the Governor or the Cabinet Secretary disapproved the Proposed Permanent Rule then said proposed rule cannot be adopted.  Period.  End of sentence.

The Journal Record explains;

Before the  order, if a state agency needed a rule change, its officials took the proposal to a member of the Legislature for consideration. Lawmakers and agency representatives negotiated the rule. Often a rule was authorized via joint legislative resolution during the legislative session. Under the state’s administrative procedures act, both the Legislature and the governor had the authority to override a rule or policy change made by a state agency. http://journalrecord.com/2013/10/08/fallin-reverses-rules-process-capitol/

This executive order, however,  appears to go against the Oklahoma Administrative Procedures Act which clearly states that the “Legislature reserves to itself” many rights regarding the rulemaking process.

Six specific rights reserved to the state legislature regarding the rulemaking process are enumerated in the Act but  these two stand out the most;

3. The right and responsibility to designate the method for rule promulgation, review and modification.

And

5. The right to disapprove a proposed rule or amendment to a rule during the legislative review period independent of any action by the Governor by a concurrent resolution.

This executive order removes those rights reserved to the state legislature regarding agency rulemaking with one stroke of the Governor’s pen.

I wonder if the Legislature will mind being having their authority removed by Executive Order?  Can Oklahoma statute simply be erased simply by the Governors decree?

Should be interesting.

Medicaid ExSPAMsion Effort Calls for A Response

Kaye Beach

Oct. 5, 2013

There is an awful lot of work going on both before and behind the scenes to expand Medicaid in Oklahoma.

I think the recent uptick of Oklahoma pro-Obamacare propaganda, social media feather fluffing and “like” padding lends the effort a distinctive SPAM-like flavor but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take this campaign seriously.  In fact, conservative policy-watchers caution against letting our guard down now.

Medicaid expansion, of course,  is an integral part of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) And the states have a choice in whether or not to expand the deeply flawed and expensive system.  25 states, including the state of Oklahoma, have chosen to reject Medicaid expansion.

Oklahoma’s stance against Medicaid expansion is well-established,  however some think that this could change.  As reported by the Oklahoma Council on Public Affairs, ‘Will Oklahoma expand Medicaid?’, Oct. 2, 2013;

“. . a consultant for Gov. Fallin’s re-election campaign — who is also a consultant for entities promoting the Obamacare Medicaid expansion — is on the record saying Gov. Fallin “hasn’t slammed the door either. If it were dead on arrival we wouldn’t be taking our time and energy to do this.”  Read more from OCPA
While we are swivel-heading back and forth over other sensational current events, pro-Obamacare forces are mobilizing.  For instance, the Oklahoma Hospital Association which is leading a PR campaign for Medicaid expansion based on their discovery through market research that by reframing the issue, Oklahomans are a little warmer to the idea of Medicaid expansion.
The strategy of framing the issue as the rejection or acceptance of  federal money — rather than pitching it as Medicaid expansion — appears to be supported by a recent survey done for the Oklahoma Hospital
Association. Read more from NewsOK

The fact remains that majority of Oklahoman’s oppose the implementation of Obamacare and 46.2 percent of Oklahomans across the board specifically oppose Medicaid expansion but the Oklahoma Hospital Association doesn’t seem to mind going the extra mile to  manipulate the public on important policy issues nor the investment of time and  resources  it takes to carry out the time tested strategy of grinding them down.

Jonathan Small, OCPA  does a great job tackling Obamacare boosters’ favorite deceptive arguments such as  “if Oklahoma doesn’t act, our tax dollars will be sent to other states.” and the “it’s our money” line of thinking in this recent article
We should take note,  Obamacare supporters are feeling rather optimistic that Governor Fallin might cave to pressure.
“. . . Fallin is, above all, a creature of Oklahoma’s corporate elite. And many of them — Chambers of Commerce and the big hospital interests, to name two — think the Medicaid expansion is a splendid idea”  Link
Big business does have a lot of pull so please take a few moments this week to fortify our Governor and encourage her to hold fast to her promises not to expand Medicaid.
**Read this excellent editorial by Jonathan Small and Sen. Tom Coburn,

Expanding Medicaid threatens Oklahoma’s bright future

 

Remind the Governor:

The Office of Governor Mary Fallin

Oklahoma State Capitol
2300 N. Lincoln Blvd., Room 212
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Local: (405) 521-2342
Fax: (405) 521-3353

Tulsa Office of Governor Mary Fallin
440 S. Houston Ave., Suite 304
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74127

Phone (918) 581-2801
Fax (918) 581-2835

Secret Service nabs Oklahoma driver’s license equipment burglars

secret service

Kaye Beach

August 20, 2013

Two men are accused of committing multiple felony burglaries at metro area tag agencies. They were after only one thing – the equipment and supplies needed to make Oklahoma driver’s licenses and ID cards.  The Secret Service nabbed them.

Wonder why the Secret Service is involved when the charges were filed in Oklahoma County District Court and not federal court.

Apparently 591 customers had their personal information stolen along with the equipment prompting a notice from the Dept. of Public Safety with instructions on how to get a replacement license or state photo ID.

We keep piling on security feature like biometrics to our state driver’s license but the weakest link is the local DMV or tag agencies as the case is in Oklahoma.  This sort of crime is happening all over the country.  DMV employees are being bribed and license making equipment stolen.  All the personal data and high tech security features in the world will not t make the card secure.  Instead what it does is  make the document a hot commodity for crooks.

Read more from the Edmond Sun who broke the story on August 19th.

Affidavit: Tag agency suspects confess to metro crime spree