Category Archives: Oklahoma State Government

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!

Mistaken for a Dead Man? Oklahoma Driver’s License Renewal Gets Complicated

dmv line
Kaye Beach
August 8, 2013

In recent months I have personally had a number of people tell me that they have had more than the usual hassle when trying to get their licenses renewed or replaced.  They are being redirected from the tag agency to the Dept. of Public Safety and the problem seems to be that their name or other identifying information was similar to another person that had some violation of fine on their driving record.

Often the matter was cleared up by a visit to the Dept. of Public Safety (DPS) but even in the most straightforward of circumstances, these people anywhere from a few hours or even days of work or school to dealing with the DPS and they are none to happy about it.

The National Drivers Registry

From what I can tell, many of these problems trace back to the National Drivers Registry (NDR) Every state submits information to the NDR about drivers who have had the driver’s license suspended, revoked or who have been convicted of serious traffic violations. (NHSTA.gov)

When a person applies for a driver’s license or renewal the DMV (or in our case, a Tag Agency) the person’s name and other identifying information such as date of birth, license number or social security number, is checked to see if they show up on the National Drivers Registry. If there is a match, he or she has to go to the state Department of Public Safety in order to clear the problem up before a driver’s license can be issued.

(More about the NDR http://www.nhtsa.gov/Data/National+Driver+Register+(NDR) )

Mistaken for a dead man

In one case that I am aware of, a young man with a rather common name, lost at least a day of school day at DPS to prove that he was not another man in another state who was actually deceased but also had an outstanding traffic ticket on his record.  Mistaken identity?  The solution was straightforward enough –go to the Dept. of Public Safety, they compare the information and the young man is cleared.

The never ending story

In reality, he lost two half days of school waiting in line at the Dept. of Public Safety. And it doesn’t end there. This gentleman found out that he, like many others with this ‘mistaken identity’ issue, can look forward to going through the same issue again and again -every time he needs a new driver’s license. The National Driver’s registry cannot be annotated in any way to indicate that the matter has already been investigated and cleared.

For those who may have had an old ticket or violation that had actually been settled but is erroneously showing up in the system, the problem gets even stickier. They have to sort the matter out with the state that the information originates from before they can hope to get their Oklahoma license. This can takes days or even months and sometimes even a trip in person back to the originating state.

The burden is on you

So the National Driver’s License registry is designed to make it hard for an offender to escape punishment or penalties by making sure their record follows them no matter which state they may go. This system provides obvious utility for government but what about the completely innocent person that is losing time and money to prove their innocence and can look forward to repeating the same process every few years?

And why are tag agencies are empowered to issue driver’s licenses why can they not receive the information that will allow them to do their jobs efficiently and verify this info on the spot?

Redirects on the Rise?

Judging from the number of spontaneous reports I have been receiving on this specific problem, this is happening to many people lately. The National Drivers Registry in not a new system but problems associated with it seems to be on an uptick. I wonder why?

I would be interested in hearing from others who have experienced this or similar bureaucratic nightmares involving their Oklahoma state driver’s license.

AxXiomForLiberty@gmail.com

Fallin and Pals Go to Paris to Promote OK DRONES

drones drones dronesKaye Beach

June 11, 2013

Oh they wish we would stop calling them that!  Drone, drone, DRONE!!!

Looks like our local media will comply.

To supplement your local news providers who fail to mention anything about drones, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) at all in their reporting of Gov. Fallin’s trip to the Paris Air Show, I thought I would provide you the press release that is circulating in the industry circles.  It is interesting to compare this one with the (drone) sanitized versions circulating in local media.

Industry circulated releases;

Kallman.com

U.S. DELEGATION FROM OKLAHOMA TO PARTICIPATE AT 2013
PARIS AIRSHOW
Oklahoma Department of Commerce Leads Delegation to one of World’s largest Aerospace Gathering to
Promote Oklahoma’s Aerospace and UAV Sectors
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, May 2013
 The Oklahoma Department of Commerce’s foreign direct investment team has formally announced the state’s participation at the upcoming Paris Airshow taking place outside of Paris, June 17-23, 2013
 “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase Oklahoma’s value proposition and the many business factors that make Oklahoma a top destination for the global aerospace industry,” said McKeever
McKeever said Oklahoma has the infrastructure and policies in place that make the state a global center of excellence in aerospace and Unmanned Aerial Systems.
sUAS News

Oklahoma Department of Commerce Leads Delegation to one of World’s largest Aerospace Gathering to Promote Oklahoma’s Aerospace and UAS Sectors

“. . .Oklahoma has become THE PLACE in the United States for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) both for commercial and military applications.”

Local media news releases;

News9

Governor, Oklahoma Officials To Attend Paris Air Show

Governor Mary Fallin is leading an Oklahoma delegation on a week-long trip to the Paris Air Show.

Fallin will be joined by her cabinet secretary for science and technology as well as aerospace companies and economic development agency officials at the Paris Air Show next week.

More than 55 companies with some Oklahoma presence are expected to have exhibits at the show and Fallin has said it’s critical to emphasize the state’s reputation as a key player in the aerospace industry

Read more

The Oklahoman

Oklahoma’s Gov. Mary Fallin will lead delegation to Paris Air Show

By Michael McNutt June 10, 2013

Gov. Mary Fallin, aerospace companies doing business in Oklahoma and economic development agencies will attend next week’s Paris Air Show.

Not to be unduly harsh with our local media who has apparently dropped a few important descriptive terms from their vocabulary (like drone and UAV) as some did raise an important issue regarding taxpayer money being spent on travel, luxury hotels and meals for  private industry representatives.

Michael McNutt, Senior Reporter,  The Oklahoman;

Two years ago, Fallin was criticized about the cost of sending four state officials to the air show, which is held every other year.

Records showed that the state paid for $400-a-night rooms at a luxury Paris hotel, $188 daily meal per diems and more than $3,000 in airfare. Fallin didn’t attend the show in 2011 but defended Oklahoma’s participation.

Several private Oklahoma-based aerospace companies, along with a delegation from the chambers of commerce in Ardmore and Oklahoma City, also participated in the 2011 show and reimbursed the state for nearly half the $154,000 total cost.

This year, more than 55 companies with a presence in Oklahoma will exhibit at the show. The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, the Tulsa Regional Chamber and the Broken Arrow Chamber of Commerce all will be represented in the Oklahoma delegation

Read  more

So industry officials get to live it up on our dime.  This is just one of the problems with Public Private Partnerships.

“The OSU University Multispectral Laboratories located in Ponca City Oklahoma is a public private partnership boasts that the UML’s partnership is “unique in the country” in that it has “truly fused” government, private industry and academia.”

I wonder what kind of government we get when we fuse “government, private industry and academia”?  I can tell you this much – it’s not a very representative one!

Read more about the pitfalls of ‘Public Private Partnerships’

Public-Private Partnerships, (PPP’s or P3’s), and initiatives and legislation supporting them, are a prominent trend in State and Federal government. They are often supported by Big Government advocates as “innovative financing” and by Crony Capitalism advocates as “free market solutions.” However, they are a direct threat to the free market and are an incentive for corporatists to engage in unproductive ventures and monopolists to exclude competitors. PPP’s are the source of the sort of political corruption that undermines the rule of law and the sort of central planning that is at the heart of the anti-capitalist

mentality. Everyone who supports U.S. Free Enterprise should be on their guard against supporters of PPP’s.

oklahoma best drone package

Gov. Fallin and Steve McKeever’s Drone Questing Collaboration

fallin red queen

Kaye Beach

March 27, 2012

Interesting article published today by FastCompany;

Inside Oklahoma’s Quest To Dominate The American Drone Industry

How politicians, universities, and aerospace firms are teaming up to turn the Sooner State into America’s UAV capital.

. . .Oklahoma businesspeople, academics, and politicians are collaborating through an organization named USA-OK, which aims to make the heartland state the focal point of American UAV development. A quasi-affiliated group, the Governor’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Council (PDF), was formed via an executive order from Governor Mary Fallin in 2011. Both organizations are lobbying for commercial drone test sites in Oklahoma and increased government assistance [that means your tax dollars!] in luring more large military contractors to the state.

Stephen McKeever, Oklahoma’s Secretary of Science and Technology and a prominent figure in the state’s UAV industry, told Fast Company that Oklahoma is already home to approximately 15 companies servicing the UAV industry. . . According to McKeever, the state offers a variety of incentives and subsidies for aerospace companies of all sizes.

McKeever and Fallin are busy luring this industry to Oklahoma meanwhile Mckeever and Fallin killed HB 1556 which would have simply required law enforcement to get a warrant before engaging in targeted surveillance of individuals and prohibit weaponization of the drones.

. . .Last month, the FAA announced that they are seeking six domestic test sites for UAVs. Due to the obvious commercial possibilities in, say, selling small aircraft for $1,000 a pop to farmers and real estate agencies looking to do aerial monitoring on a budget, UAVs are potential huge business. Giants such as Boeing and hundreds of smaller companies see commercial UAV usage as a gold rush waiting to happen.

State authorities inside Oklahoma issued a strategic drone plan detailing ways to build up the local UAV industry. These plans center on bringing one of the domestic UAV test sites to Oklahoma, which already tests military UAVs. . .

The FastCompany article mentions the Oklahoma UAS [DRONE] Summit held this Tuesday in Norman, but like the media in general, provides little detail on the conference.  (No mention of ‘Pesky Critters’ at all.)

This week, a major UAV convention took place in Oklahoma as well. . . .The agenda includes discussions of UAV use by emergency first responders, the Homeland Security Department’s proposed domestic spy drones. . .

Drone manufacturers even have lobbyists. [You don't say!]  . . .Michael Toscano, the organization’s president, advocates the integration of commercial drones into American airspace. Toscano, in an interview, stressed job creation possibilities if the FAA legalizes commercial drones.

AUVSI spent big dollars in lobbying on the FAA bill that expanded the use of drones in US airspace.  Their money was well spent too.

As a PowerPoint presentation recently obtained by Republic Report shows, the industry group all but wrote the legislation. “Our suggestions were often taken word-for-word,” it says. Read More

Mr. Toscano wasalso  right by Gov. Fallin’s and Stephen McKeever’s side on Jan 17th at a press conference held at the State Capitol in order to unveil the marvelous benefits of drone technology that is being cultivated with our tax dollars.

Interestingly, Toscano thinks that there is no need for addition privacy regulation.

Toscano says the drone industry thinks existing laws are sufficient: ”We believe that your Fourth  Amendment rights are protected.

Well that figures since legislation like Oklahoma’s HB 1556 might interfere with what Toscano sees as an open market.

Toscano. . .says there are nearly 19,000 law enforcement entities in the United States, of which only 300 now have aerial surveillance capacities.

“Those departments have helicopters which cost about $1,500 an hour to operate,” Toscano says. “You can fly these drones for maybe less than $50 hour. A lot of smaller departments can now afford this technology.” read more

Fallin_UAS_0

At the Jan. 17th press conference, McKeever said;

 “We fully recognize that reasonable people could have reasonable concerns and these must be dealt with that’s what our elected officials and government authorities are for.”

Fallin added that;

“We’re not interested in spying on anyone.”

Mary Fallin isn’t counting the little people.  Maybe she doesn’t consider what we would consider spying as spying.  Maybe she just thinks of as over sight.

Did you know that ‘OverSite’  is actually another great surveillance technology program  being promoted out of OSU’s Multispectral Laboratories and tested on unsuspecting Oklahomans at sporting events. 

‘To look at their RV parked at a game or concert, you’d never know that inside is all this technology and more’ link

umlThe Oklahoma State University Multispectral Laboratories (UML) is a public-private partnership “between the University and Anchor Dynamics Inc (ADI), which receives support from Ponca City Development Authority and ConocoPhillips, designed to accelerate commercialization of new technologies.”  http://www.okstate-uml.org/content/company-history

The UML acts as a “Trusted Agent” for U.S. Government, technology developers and operators.

Naturally, like the non-spying drones,  this is being done with a little boost from the non-spying Department of Homeland Security

The proof of concept demonstration was funded by the Department of Homeland Security. Link

OverSite incorporates facial recognition technology and a trick camera to spy on the crowd without them ever knowing a thing.  (but it’s not spying! It’s ‘OverSite’!) Read more 

And with all of the time, energy and money that has been spent, not one thing has been done to address the biggest concern of ordinary Oklahomans which is their privacy and safety.  It is the ordinary people of this state, after all,  who are paying for the ‘incentives’ being offered to court the drone industry here.

Little people, little problems.  We have our nightmares and they have their dreams. . .

Stephen McKeever, a transplanted Brit living in Oklahoma, dreams of turning his state into the capital for drones — the unmanned aircraft that, the Federal Aviation Administration predicts, will swarm the skies by the thousands within two decades. Read more

‘Pesky Critters’ and the Oklahoma Drone Summit 2013

UAS summit

Kaye Beach

**Update June 11, 2013

“Most recently in March 2013 Oklahoma was host to a UAS Summit in Norman,
OK which provided a platform for the state to describe its plans and
objectives with respect to UAS. The Summit covered a diverse set of
subjects and topics including the use of UAS for agriculture, advanced
weather monitoring and research, along with law enforcement and military
applications of UAS technology” Link

March 26, 2012

The 2013 Oklahoma Unmanned Aerial Systems Summit was held today in Norman. http://www.uasoklahoma.com/agenda2.pdf

I would have loved to attended this event but the attendance conditions were quite intimidating even if I had of found out about it in time.  I did scout about for information on social media where often tech events are heavily covered, without much luck.  Monitoring twitter proved disappointing.  Strange since the Summit included a ‘social media’ meeting last night.  Actually, I found just one person that was attending the event that was using twitter.  Courtney E Howard, the Editor in Chief – Avionics Intelligence.  You can read her tweets on the event here

This tweet of Howard’s I thought was rather funny;

People do say things [about #UAVs] that are ridiculous & they say it loudly.–Professor of Political Science at University of Oklahoma (OU)

She is quoting one of the last panelists in the line up today who were covering Privacy and Social Implications of drones.  This panel was chaired by Prof. Stephan Henderson

I wonder what ridiculous things people say loudly about the drones?  One of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard about drones actually comes from one of today’s speakers at the Oklahoma Unmanned Aerial Systems Summit.  His name is Kirk Kloeppel and he was slated to speak on the Department of Homeland Security’s RAPS program that Oklahoma was chosen as the test site for back in June of 2012.  RAPS stands for Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety.

First reports from the RAPS trials being run in our state struck me as pretty ridiculous since the press release from the Governors office studiously avoided mention of the rather obvious role that the police would play in the DHS’s RAPS program.

Governor Mary Fallin Joins Department of Homeland Security, Oklahoma National Guard to Announce New Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program in Oklahoma

Gov. Fallin assures the public that ‘drones for use by the military or police investigations will not be tested at the Oklahoma site.’

Source: NewsOK, June 29, 2012, Oklahoma chosen as test site for drones http://newsok.com/oklahoma-chosen-as-test-site-for-drones/article/3688386

Here is an excerpt from a reporters observation of the very first trials of RAPS;

FORT SILL — The small, winged drone quietly soared overhead as SWAT team members closed in on a building at Fort Sill.

When a suspect sprinted from the structure, the drone banked through a cloudless afternoon sky in an effort to track the person.

A few miles away, two Lockheed Martin technicians sat in a converted bedroom of a ranch-style house using a laptop computer to control the drone’s movements. They followed the action on a video relay.

NewsOK, Dec. 31, 2012 Wary eyes shift to the skies as unmanned aircraft are tested in state

So the RAPS program itself might strike some as being at least mildly ridiculous but what Kirk Kloeppel is best know for, his ‘Pesky Critters’ would almost certainly strike most as utterly ridiculous.

robofly

Pesky Critters was written by Kloeppel in 2005.  Here is a brief excerpt from the paper;

“The hunter-killer pursues specific individuals and eliminates them. These devices have the unique deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) signature for individual leadership in their memory and examine the environment for a match. Once the proper candidate is isolated, the fly inserts a probe into the victim, injecting a toxic substance or altering the victim’s own genetic material with a virulent composition, causing quick incapacitation. The victim notices the “sting” from the robot but considers it a pest and thinks nothing of the consequences.

A day or two would pass before the targeted leader is not a further factor in the warfighting. These miniscule vehicles offer a unique, stealthy cap ability for a government. From the exterior, the robots appear to be common houseflies. They mimic the performance of the housefly in nearly every aspect except for the internal composition. Their innocuous existence offers implementers military advantages. While the development of a hunter-killer weapon may breach legal boundaries, its potential is illustrative of the possible alternative applications, many of which, such as the intelligence and surveillance approaches, are perfectly legal.

The above scenario may seem implausible—something dreamed within the mind of a science fiction writer—but the capabilities are closer to reality than one might imagine. The design, manufacture, and use of an unmanned aerial vehicle the size of a common housefly is feasible and worth exploring.”

Read 34 more pages of ridiculousness here

Or check out some more recent work by Colonel Kirk Kloeppel;

Air Force scientists are looking for robotic bombs that look — and act — like swarms of bugs and birds. In a recent presentation, Colonel Kirk Kloeppel, head of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s munitions directorate, announced the Lab’s interest in “bio-inspired munitions.”

These, “small, autonomous” machines would “provide close-in [surveillance] information, in addition to killing intended targets,” the Colonel noted.  And they’d not only take out foes in urban canyons – the self-guided munitions would “operat[e] within buildings,” too.

Jan. 1, 2008 Wired, Air Force: Bug-Like Robo-Bombs for Indoor Ops

Or this Kloeppel presentation from 2009

Here is the most ridiculous thing of all about the drone explosion that has been actively courted and developed by Gov. Fallin with our tax dollars; not one thing has been done to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of the people she was elected to serve.

In fact, it was the direct intervention of Gov. Fallin and Stephen McKeever, her Secretary of Science and Technology, that killed the fairly narrowly tailored legislation that would have simply prohibited the police from doing targeted surveillance of individuals and equipping them with weapons.

This is what I call ridiculous!

Mary Fallin puts an end to Oklahoma’s drone privacy bill

Mary Fallin puts an end to Oklahoma’s drone privacy bill

fallin dronesKaye Beach

March 13, 2013

House Bill 1556 authored by OK Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, working in conjunction with the Oklahoma ACLU,  would have required law enforcement to get a warrant before using drones for surveillance and prohibited civilian drones from carrying weapons.

But today the Governors office put an end to this bill.

Reported by KFOR-TV March 13, 2013;

Bill on drone surveillance put on hold

OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill that would have required law enforcement to get a warrant before using a drone for surveillance has been put on hold.

House Bill 1556 will be held over for the next session.

. . . The move comes as a result of opposition from Gov. Mary Fallin.

Read more and watch the video report at KFOR http://kfor.com/2013/03/13/bill-on-drone-surveillance-put-on-hold/

Enjoying a groundswell of popular support that notably spans the political spectrum, HB1556 appeared to have a great chance of being passed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives until the Governor’s office decided it was time to intervene.

Citing concerns that pending legislation would hurt Oklahoma’s chances to be one of the six states chosen by the FAA to be a testing site for drones, Governor Fallin’s office took issue with the bill.  However, upon closer inspection of the FAA”s application by the bill’s author and the Dir. Of the OK ACLU, Ryan Kiesel, it was found that the FAA is explicitly does not automatically treat pending legislation as a negative.  

This fact, when raised made no impact on opposition to HB1556 by the Governor’s office which begs the question: Why would the Governor be opposed to the passage of this very modest bill?

This unanswered question takes me back to the press conference that I attended that was held by Gov. Fallin, along with her Secretary of Science and Technology,  Stephen McKeever,  and drone industry representative Michael Toscano, the president and CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International on Jan 16, 2013 at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Fallin_UAS_0

When it came time to take questions from members of the press, not surprisingly, the very first question asked was in regards to privacy and civil liberties.  At that time the Stephen McKeever made it crystal clear that they were not amenable to any statutory or even policy level changes that might protect the privacy rights of Oklahoman’s.  McKeever was quite clear in his statements explaining that while it was not unreasonable to have some concerns about drones and privacy, he was opposed to any real efforts to secure our privacy rights for fear that it might hinder  the drone industry in some way in our state.

That is when I knew that any legislation to advance the protection of our rights was going to be an uphill battle to say the least. 

Recently, the Congressional Research Service issued a report;  “Integration of Drones into Domestic Airspace: Selected Legal Issues”

The report states that “perhaps the most contentious issue concerning the introduction of drones into U.S. airspace is the threat that this technology will be used to spy on American citizens.” 

That this is an issue is not a surprise to anyone. Yet with all of the time, money and effort invested by this state to ensure that Oklahoma becomes drone central, USA,  nothing has been done to hear the concerns of Oklahoma citizens or ensure the rights of Oklahomans are protected.

There has been years of groundwork laid in making Oklahoma the premier state for the drone industry.

In 2009 the Unmanned Systems Alliance of Oklahoma (USA-OK) was created to promote the emerging unmanned systems industry in Oklahoma.

In 2011, Gov. Fallin issued an Executive Order to create the Unmanned Aerial Systems Council and appointed 13 members to her Unmanned Aerial Systems Council.  The council was to advise the governor on ‘all issues related to UAS, including education, economic development, job creation and investments’ so that Oklahoma could become a national leader in the UAS industry. 

This Council was created to advise the Governor on “all issues related to UAS”

How surveillance technology laden drones might infringe upon our Fourth Amendment rights has not been a primary or even secondary issue worth considering when officials were obviously working so hard at covering all the bases.

In all of the materials covering Governor Fallins efforts to develop the drone industry in Oklahoma that I have read, I have found  but one brief mention of the fact that drones present a real threat to our civil liberties.  It is in the Report of the Governor’s Oklahoma Unmanned Aerial Systems Council, released on July 8, 2012.   This recommendation made by the Oklahoma UAS Council, a small as it was, is one that should have been given some attention.  It wasn’t.

The Oklahoma UAS Council stated that  “The growth of UAS has the potential for enormous good and economic benefit for all residents, introducing new capabilities simply not possible at present. As with any new technology, however, new capabilities come with the potential for abuse. The state of Oklahoma takes these issues and concerns seriously. We support calls for thoughtful and informed dialogue to address these concerns and for the industry to work with privacy advocates, policymakers and legislators to provide the necessary protections against misuse.”  Source: Report of the Governor’s Oklahoma Unmanned Aerial Systems Council  A Strategic Plan for the Development of an Unmanned Aerial Systems Enterprise in the State of Oklahoma 

To my knowledge, no one from the drone industry or the Governor’s office reached out to the ACLU, OK-SAFE, or any other organization that is known for privacy advocacy in the state.

No.  It was not until HB1556 gained real traction and only after a last minute attempt by the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce to kill the bill in committee did the Governor’s office make any effort to connect with anyone and that was to put the brakes on the bill.

Rep. Wesselohoft worked openly and diligently to address any possible concerns by law enforcement or any others over the language in the bill.  Nevertheless, he was sideswiped by the Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce shortly before the bill was to be heard in the House Aerospace and Energy committee when a Chamber representative told him that her organization was unhappy with the bill but refused to specify exactly what was problematic denying the Representative any opportunity to address their concerns.  The Chamber representative then proceeded to pass out to all committee members what was described as a ‘hit piece’ on the bill in an attempt to kill the legislation.

Despite this last minute attempt by the Chamber to sink HB1556, the bill passed the committee by a vote of 23-4.

To protect the rights of the people of the state of Oklahoma is the first duty of our elected representatives,  especially the Governor.  In reality, protection of our rights has registered dead last on Governor Fallins drone ‘to do’ list and this is unacceptable!

Another example of what I consider to be bad faith on the part of the Governor regarding the drone issue is her studied lack of forthrightness on the nature of the Dept. of Homeland Security’s RAPS program currently active in Oklahoma.

On June 29, 2012 Gov. Fallin announces Oklahoma is the first state chosen by the Dept. of Homeland Security as a testing site for small unmanned aircraft (drones) in the Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety (RAPS) program.

Gov. Fallin assures the public that ‘drones for use by the military or police investigations will not be tested at the Oklahoma site.’

Source: NewsOK, June 29, 2012, Oklahoma chosen as test site for drones http://newsok.com/oklahoma-chosen-as-test-site-for-drones/article/3688386

However, the Dept. of Homeland Security’s own documentation describes the RAPS program to include; “real-time law enforcement tactical operations support, and crime scene situational awareness.”

DHS explains that “Typical test scenarios include search and rescue missions, fire and
hazardous material spill responses, and simulated law enforcement tactical operations.”

Source: Privacy Impact Assessment for the Robotic Aircraft for Public Safety (RAPS) Project http://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/privacy/PIAs/privacy_pia_st_raps_nov2012.pdf

And then on Dec. 31, 2012 we get a real New Year’s surprise from a news article describing the first RAPS tests taking place in Oklahoma as a SWAT policing exercise.

FORT SILL — The small, winged drone quietly soared overhead as SWAT team members closed in on a building at Fort Sill.

When a suspect sprinted from the structure, the drone banked through a cloudless afternoon sky in an effort to track the person.

A few miles away, two Lockheed Martin technicians sat in a converted bedroom of a ranch-style house using a laptop computer to control the drone’s movements. They followed the action on a video relay.

The simulated chase this month was among the first test flights in a U.S. Department of Homeland Security program designed to evaluate the possible civilian use of “Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems.”

Source: NewsOK, Dec. 31, 2012, Wary eyes shift to the skies as unmanned aircraft are tested in statehttp://newsok.com/wary-eyes-shift-to-the-skies-as-unmanned-aircraft-are-tested-in-state/article/3741815

Governor Fallin misrepresented this program.  That is very concerning to me.

What is it that the drone industry plans on doing in Oklahoma that makes a simple piece of legislation protecting basic rights so offensive to Governor Fallin?

Here is the bottom line for the grassroots activists who are rightfully outraged by the governors direct role in quashing this bill; it is up to you to make sure that such actions by our governor politically painful enough that she will think twice about disrespecting the rights of the people of this state which she has sworn to defend.

First, call her office and register your opinion of her actions.

The Office of Governor Mary Fallin

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

Don’t forget.  You can also connect with Governor Fallin on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GovernorMaryFallin

And Twitter https://twitter.com/GovMaryFallin

No need to be rude or threatening but tell her this is truly a blatant example of profits over people and she needs to get her priorities straight!

Contact the news stations and ask them to investigate the relationship between the industry and state officials.  Ask them to cover the ire of the people of this state about the amount of investment in this industry and the lack of attention to our concerns about privacy and arming the drones with weapons.  Do your own research and see what you can uncover.

Find out where Governor Fallin is speaking and show up with signs to let people know how little she respects them.

And last but not least, when she runs for re-election, make this issue a campaign issue that she will have to answer to!

Be creative -  but please do something to expose this problem!  If we don’t make this an issue-no one else will!

Oklahoma Action Alert! SB618 DNA Collection Before Conviction

dna prison

Kaye Beach

March 6, 2012

SB618 by Sen. Clark Jolley and Rep. Leslie Osborn will be heard as early as today tomorrow in the OK Senate.

SB618 would require mandatory collection of your DNA following arrest for felony and even some misdemeanor offenses. 

If there is a reasonable suspicion that the arrestee is connected to other crimes, law enforcement can get a warrant for the sample.  Collecting and databanking of DNA on arrestees as a matter of course and not upon any particular suspicion of a connection to a specific crime, negates the principle of innocent until proven guilty which is the cornerstone of our justice system.

The original mandate of DNA databases – to record genetic markers from convicted offenders, on the dual theories that convicts are;

1) likely to reoffend

And

2) their diminished expectation of privacy legitimizes the search.

The expansion of circumstances from which DNA can be collected, analyzed and indexed to people arrested but not convicted of a crime goes well beyond the purpose and intent of creating a criminal DNA database

Please Contact your Senator and ask them to please VOTE NO! on SB618.

e-mail block.  Use bcc and send out one e-mail;
aldridge@oksenate.gov, allen@oksenate.gov, anderson@oksenate.gov, ballenger@oksenate.gov, barrington@oksenate.gov, bass@oksenate.gov, bingman@oksenate.gov, boggs@oksenate.gov, branan@oksenate.gov, brecheen@oksenate.gov, brinkley@oksenate.gov, brooks@oksenate.gov, brownb@oksenate.gov, burrage@oksenate.gov, coates@oksenate.gov, crain@oksenate.gov, dahm@oksenate.gov, david@oksenate.gov, ellis@oksenate.gov, efields@oksenate.gov, fordj@oksenate.gov, garrisone@oksenate.gov, griffin@oksenate.gov, halligan@oksenate.gov, holt@oksenate.gov, ivester@oksenate.gov, johnsonc@oksenate.gov, johnsonr@oksenate.gov, jolley@oksenate.gov, justice@oksenate.gov, loveless@oksenate.gov, marlatt@oksenate.gov, mazzei@oksenate.gov, mcaffrey@oksenate.gov, newberry@oksenate.gov, paddack@oksenate.gov, schulz@oksenate.gov, sharp@oksenate.gov, shaw@oksenate.gov, shortey@oksenate.gov, shumate@oksenate.gov, simpson@oksenate.gov, sparks@oksenate.gov, standridge@oksenate.gov, stanislawski@oksenate.gov, lewis@oksenate.gov, treat@oksenate.gov, wyrick@oksenate.gov,

Senate Members http://www.oksenate.gov/Senators/Default.aspx?selectedtab=0

Here is the letter I wrote to the Senators;

Dear Senator,

Our DNA contains our most private information.

SB618 would require mandatory collection of your DNA following arrest for felony and even some misdemeanor offenses. Our Constitution guarantees your right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.  Taking DNA prior to conviction is a warrantless search.   If there is a reasonable suspicion that the arrestee is connected to other crimes, law enforcement can get a warrant for the sample.

One of those *misdemeanor offenses that SB618 would require a DNA sample for is for urinating in public (outraging public decency) It ought to be a banner opportunity for bolstering the *CODIS system with DNA samples from harmless Oklahoma college kids.  And that is exactly the purpose of SB618-to populate the CODIS database in the hopes of raising the number of hits on unsolved crimes.

*The Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) is a software system that  allows for state, local and federal authorities to share DNA profile information.

*See page 26 SB618 for a complete listing of offenses that will require DNA sampling and inclusion into the CODIS database.

Right now the Supreme Court is debating a case (Maryland v. King, 12-207) that may overturn as many as 29 state and federal laws that allow the collection of DNA samples when a person is arrested.  The Court’s decision on this case will be rendered in June of this year.

The original mandate of DNA databases – to record genetic markers from convicted offenders, on the dual theories that convicts are;

1) likely to reoffend

And

2) their diminished expectation of privacy legitimizes the search.

The expansion of circumstances from which DNA can be collected, analyzed and indexed to people arrested but not convicted of a crime goes well beyond the purpose and intent of creating a criminal DNA database

Whether or not collecting DNA samples from arrestees is an effective way to solve crimes is a moot point.  The ends do not justify the means.

On this point Supreme Court Justice Scalia agrees;

“I’ll bet you if you conducted a lot of unreasonable searches and seizures, you’d get more convictions, too,” Scalia said. “That proves absolutely nothing.”

Source: Bloomberg, February 26, 2013, DNA Collection Questioned as Court Weighs Privacy Rights http://mobile.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-26/dna-collection-questioned-as-court-weighs-privacy-rights.html

This bill should receive a NO vote on its lack of constitutional merit alone.

But if that isn’t enough for you, there is more to consider. Once we cross the threshold of DNA collection prior to conviction and without a warrant what is next?

I will let Greggory LaBerge, Director, Crime Laboratory Bureau, Denver Police Department tell you exactly where we are heading.

“I’ll give a brief talk on forensic genetics of DNA database expansion, and specifically the CODIS database as it sits today, and where we think it will go in the future.

. . . We talk in the near term about how this database can be expanded. . . .There are states also looking at all arrestees legislation. . .”

Source: GENETICS AND PUBLIC POLICY CENTER AT JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY “A PERFECT MATCH? DNA IN LAW ENFORCEMENT” http://www.dnapolicy.org/resources/GenePOPSforensics_transcript.pdf

SB618 is a critical step towards mass DNA databasing of non-criminal
citizens and  DNA familial searches.  Eventually the ‘vision’ is DNA samples for roadside traffic stops, and merging our property records and financial profiles, workand medical history files, demographic data along with other biometric data including DNA.

The ultimate goal is a universal database of DNA profiles thatcan be used to predict our propensity for criminal behavior before any crime is committed.

Don’t believe me?   Believe Director LaBerge.

Source: The Forensic Genetics of DNA Database Expansion http://www.dnapolicy.org/resources/LaBerge-National_Press_Club_07.pdf

LaBerge lays out law enforcements vision for the CODIS DNA database;

Near Term DNA database Expansion (slide 8)

  • All convicted felons-current
  • All felony arrestees-currently expanding
  • All arrestees
  • Some misdemeanors

He lists the following near term desired uses of the CODIS DNA databases in the United States (slide 19)

  • Familial DNA searches
  • All military personnel DNA collected (now) and run (later) and searched against national CODIS as condition of enlisting
  • DNA databases based on privilege like DNA from teachers, driving, government and law enforcement jobs etc.

And eventually- (slide 21)

Relational databanks-biometric data merged with:

– DNA,

– fingerprints,

– photos,

– vehicle registrations,

– facial and body index/structure characteristics,

– Accurate ethnicity, race prediction

– demographic data,

– work and medical history,

– financial profiles,

– behavior modeling

– Criminal history,

By 2022 LaBerge predicts (slide 22);

laberge outer limits 1

  • Rare allele databases that relate genotype to geographical data
  • Predictive databases for crime propensity
  • Integrated police forensic intelligence databanks
  • Medical condition databases and DNA markers that characterize conditions-Research database access?
  • Roadside DNA profiling at every police stop
  • Universal databases

Read more Envisioning the future of the CODIS DNA database final

SB618 is moving us closer to this dystopic future.  Forced DNA testing should stop with people convicted of crimes.

Please vote NO on this unconstitutional and inhumane bill!

*Update* Oklahoma – Biometric Exemption Bill Passed Committee 12-0! Thank You’s Needed!

target dl 1

Kaye Beach

*Update 2/28/13 HB 1476 by Rep. Ken Walker passed the Government Modernization Committee 12 to 0 today!  Big thanks to all who called or emailed the committee members!  Please be sure to give them a thank you!

Here are the committee members’ emails;

Email block (use bcc)

jason.murphey@okhouse.gov, mike.turner@okhouse.gov, david.brumbaugh@okhouse.gov, david.derby@okhouse.gov, joedorman@okhouse.gov, dan.fisher@okhouse.gov, elise.hall@okhouse.gov, richardmorrissette@okhouse.gov, seneca.scott@okhouse.gov, jason.smalley@okhouse.gov, ken.walker@okhouse.gov, justin.wood@okhouse.gov

*Update 2/27/13 This bill is getting a lot of support!  Thank you to everyone who has called and emailed.  Thurs. morning, before the committee meeting (10:30 AM) It would be very helpfule to have a last push with some phone calls to the committee members. Numbers are listed below.  Thanks Again!**

Feb 26, 2013

Biometrics means “measurement of the body.”  Technology is used to measure behavioral or physical aspects of an individual and transform this personal data into digital code for the purpose of identification.

In Oklahoma, when we get a state driver’s license or identification card  we are having our facial biometrics captured by the high resolution photos.  High resolution digital cameras capture, map, digitize and database our facial features for the purpose of use by facial recognition technology.

Facial recognition technology enables at a distance identification and tracking through networked camera systems without our knowledge or consent.  (Oklahoma also requires a finger scan.)

The standard for the digital image on our ID cards is the adopted international standard of the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization and International Standards exist for one purpose: to enable the global exchange of information.

Americans are experiencing increasing demands by business and government to produce their ID as a condition for access.  Our ability to buy, sell travel (and if Congress gets its way-soon work!) is becoming contingent upon this biometric ID.

In truth, we are being enrolled into a global system of identification and control that links our bodies to our ability to buy sell and travel.  And it is being done through deception, coercion and stealth and these facts has vigilant Christians concerned.

“Oklahoma has a long tradition of protecting religious liberty through its laws.”  OK. AG Scott Pruitt

HB1476 by Rep. Jon Echols Ken Walker will be heard this Thursday in the Government Modernization Committee at 10:30 AM

HB 1476 will permit a religious exemption for those who object to being enrolled into a biometric identification system.

This is, in my mind, the most important bill offered this session.

HB 1476  says that

“Any applicant who has signed the exemption shall be exempt from supplying biometric data to the Dept. of Public Safety.”

And

“The Department of Public Safety shall cease collecting, retaining or disclosing biometric data and from making biometric comparisons of an applicant who has signed the exemption.”

This exemption means that those with a religious objection to biometric identification and enrollment could get a NON-biometric driver’s license or ID card AND that any biometric data previously collected from you would be deleted from the system.

HB 1476 reads in part;

Beginning November 1, 2013, the Department of Public Safety shall modify the application for the issuance of a Class D driver license or an identification card to contain a statement of exemption. The statement of exemption shall contain the following language:

“BIOMETRIC IDENTIFICATION RELIGIOUS EXEMPTION”

“Because of my religious beliefs, I object to enrollment in an international biometric identification system including, but not limited to, facial recognition and digital fingerprinting that directly connects my body to identification and personal biometric information sharing.”

E. Any applicant who has signed the exemption shall be exempt from supplying biometric data to the Department of  Public Safety.

. . .

G. The Department of Public Safety shall cease collecting,  retaining or disclosing biometric data, biometric samples or  biometric templates from and making biometric comparisons of an applicant who has signed the exemption.

Please contact the members of the Government Modernization Committee before this Thursday and ask that they support HB 1476 which will permit people of faith in Oklahoma to avoid being mandatorily enrolled in a system of identification and control that violates their sincerely held religious convictions.

Members of the Government Modernization Committee

Chair Rep. Murphey, Jason  405/557-7350

Vice Chair Rep. Turner, Mike 405/557-7357

Rep. David Brumbaugh  405/557-7347

Rep. David Derby  405/557-7377

Rep. Joe Dorman  405/557-7305

Rep. Elise  Hall  405/557-7403

Rep. Richard Morrissette  405/557-7404

Rep. Dan Fisher  405/557-7311

Rep. Seneca Scott  405/557-7391

Rep. Jason Smalley  405/557-7368

Rep. Ken  Walker  405/557-7359

Rep. Justin F. Wood  405/557-7345

Email block (use bcc)

jason.murphey@okhouse.gov, mike.turner@okhouse.gov, david.brumbaugh@okhouse.gov, david.derby@okhouse.gov, joedorman@okhouse.gov, dan.fisher@okhouse.gov, elise.hall@okhouse.gov, richardmorrissette@okhouse.gov, seneca.scott@okhouse.gov, jason.smalley@okhouse.gov, ken.walker@okhouse.gov, justin.wood@okhouse.gov