Tag Archives: 2014

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.

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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

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/