Capitol Updates

 This week's Capitol Updates newsletter:


November 12,2018

It's tempting to try to dissect the politics of the election last week, but I think it's more helpful now to look beyond the election. With 46 new House members out of 101 and 11 new Senators of 48 and a new governor, accurate predictions are difficult. I noticed that Sen. Greg Treat (R-OKC) said Governor-Elect Stitt is a listener. I believe that is true. I went to one of his very early campaign events at the offices of his mortgage company in Tulsa. At that time, he had donated the first $500,000 to his campaign and had raised another $500,000. Anyone with $1 million in his campaign account months before filing will be a serious candidate. I came away from that meeting believing he would be the Republican nominee (although I admit to vacillating at times during the campaign.)

But, more to the point, the thing he said that evening that gives hope is that he had been interviewing the state agency directors and others in state government to learn all he could about state government. He had even interviewed State Auditor Gary Jones who was at that time an announced Republican primary opponent. So, I think Sen. Treat is right, that Governor-Elect Stitt is a listener. The real question is, to whom will he be listening? It won't take him long to learn that most everyone at the Capitol has an agenda. So far as I can tell, his agenda was to get elected and to lead the state to a better future. You can pretty much fill in the blanks from there. He's accomplished half of that. My hope is that he'll accomplish the other half.

The 57 new legislators, plus many of the additional 46 members who just finished their first term, are going through the same learning process. What, specifically, does this mean for the policies of the state next year? I'll venture a guess on five policy issues. First, it's doubtful there will be more revenue bills passed. With Drew Edmondson running on raising more revenue for schools and Governor-Elect Stitt saying no, legislators are likely to feel Oklahomans rendered their verdict. Plus, with the uptick in the economic cycle bringing in more revenue, it will be easy to avoid that issue.

Second, expanding Medicaid next year is unlikely since Governor-Elect Stitt came out against it. It's a legislative issue, but the governor would need to take the lead to get that done. Best possibility would be for Governor-Elect Stitt to endorse an "Oklahoma plan" which Governor Fallin was never willing to do, but I'd say that's doubtful. If Oklahomans want Medicaid expansion any time soon, they'll need to pass it at the ballot box.

Third, criminal justice reform is still on most people's agenda, and more will likely happen. Governor-Elect Stitt has endorsed the idea. Whether the pace of reform can be increased will likely depend on the governor's leadership. It would be a great thing if he used his honeymoon period to take giant steps in reforming Oklahoma's criminal justice and corrections systems.

Fourth, government structure. There has been a movement toward eliminating boards and commissions that currently are largely appointed by the governor and who then set policy for agencies and hire directors. Instead the governor would be given the power to hire directors and set the policy for agencies. In the past Oklahomans have been unwilling to give one person that much direct power. Governor-Elect Stitt wants to increase the power of the governor, on the theory that this leads to more efficiency and accountability, and you can look for the legislature to mostly go along. And there could be some realignment of agencies. There are many more issues legislators and the new governor will face. New is always interesting - and sometimes productive!

House Minority Leader loses seat; Democrats lose two net seats overall

Sidney Lee, eCapitol

Many wondered if Oklahoma's House of Representatives would elect more educators on Nov. 6, especially after many more conservative Republican incumbents lost their seats in the primary and primary runoff elections. But in the general election, Democrats went from 27 members in the House to 25 members as three Democratic incumbents lost their seats, including Rep. Steve Kouplen, D- Beggs, the House Minority Floor Leader.
Democrats ended the Nov. 6, 2016, election night with 26 members and the 2018 legislative session ended with 28 Democrats and one vacancy.
The other two incumbents who lost their seats Tuesday were Rep. Donnie Condit, D- McAlester, and Rep. Karen Gaddis, D- Tulsa. Both are retired educators.
During the primary and primary runoff, many educators and education supporters focused on Republican legislators who voted against the funding package that made teacher pay raises possible and 11 of these incumbents lost their seat. Rep. Tom Gann, R- Inola, Rep. Kevin West, R- Moore, and Rep. Tommy Hardin, Madill were the last three incumbents who voted against the funding package with races yet to be decided. Each secured their seat Tuesday.
The three Democrats who lost were the only incumbents who lost in the general election, while only Republican incumbents lost their seats in the primary and primary runoff.
Between term limits, retirements and primary defeats, many seats were open to new members before the election. With the three incumbent losses on election night, a total of 45 new members will be sworn in on Nov. 15.
Ken Luttrell, who previously won the Republican primary for House District 37, is neither an incumbent and nor a new member of since he previous served in the same seat as a Democrat.
The following is result of each House election:
House District 2, Republican Jim Olsen won with 52.9 percent, or 5,177 votes against Democrat Tom Stites with 4,619.
House District 3, Republican Lundy Kieger won with 54.6 percent of the vote, or 5,146 votes against Democrat Troy Dyer with 4,281 votes.
House District 5, Incumbent Rep. Josh West, R-Grove, beat challenger Democrat Ed Trumbull with 68.3 percent of the district's 12,059 votes.
House District 6, Republican Rusty Cornwell, won with just under 66 percent of the vote, or 8230 votes against Democrat John Myers with 4,245 votes.
House District 7, Incumbent Rep. Ben Loring, D-Miami, beat challenger Republican William Leonard with 51.5 percent of the district's 10,285 votes.
House District 8, Incumbent Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola, beat challenger Democrat Derrell Moore with 57.2 percent of the district's 11,995 votes.
House District 9, Incumbent Rep. Mark Lepak, R-Claremore, beat challenger Democrat Clay Layton with 68.7 percent of the district's 13,882 votes.
House District 10, Republican Judd Strom, won with 65.2 percent of the vote, or 7,925 votes, against Democrat Kevin Stacy with 4,232 votes.
House District 12, Incumbent Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow, beat challenger Democrat Cyndi Ralston with 59.9 percent of the district's 11,980 votes.
House District 13, Incumbent Rep. Avery Frix, R-Muskogee, beat challenger Democrat Jolene Armstrong with 68.8 percent of the district's 10,251 votes.
House District 14, Republican Chris Sneed, won with just under 53 percent, or 5,696 votes, against Democrat Jack Reavis with 5,061 votes.
House District 15, Republican Randy Randleman, won 65.5 percent, or 6,980 votes, against Democrat Judy Moore with 3,670 votes.
House District 16, Incumbent Rep. Scott Fetgatter, R- Okmulgee, beat challengers Democrat Chandler Torbett and Independent James Delso with 55.8 percent of the district's 10,625 votes.
House District 17, Republican Jim Grego won with 63.4 percent, or 6,978 votes, against Democrat Peggy Defrange with 4,029 votes.
House District 18, Republican David Smith beat Incumbent Rep. Donnie Condit, D- McAlester, with 51.6 percent of the district's 10,779 votes.
House District 19, Incumbent Rep. J.J. Humphrey, R- Lane, beat challenger Democrat Lewis Collins with 68.3 percent of the district's 10,217 votes.
House District 20, Republican Sherrie Conley, won 72.2 percent, or 8,877 votes, against Democrat Steve Jarman with 3,414 votes.
House District 22, Incumbent Rep. Charles McCall, R-Atoka, beat challengers Democrat Wayne Eidson and Independent Renae Ward with under 66 percent of the district's 10,939 votes.
House District 23, Incumbent Rep. Terry O'Donnell, R- Catoosa, beat challenger Democrat Craig John Hoxie with 58 percent of the district's 8,381 votes.
House District 24, Republican Logan Phillips, beat incumbent Rep. Steve Kouplen, D-Beggs, with 51.7 percent of the district's 9,858 votes.
House District 25, Republican Ronny Johns, won with 49.3 percent, or 5,848 votes, against Democrat Daniel Manuel and Independent Gary Rhynes with 5,441 and 573 votes respectively.
House District 26, Incumbent Rep. Dell Kerbs, R-Shawnee, beat challenger Democrat Terry Hopkins with under 60 percent of the district's 10,951 votes.
House District 28, Incumbent Rep. Zach Taylor, R-Seminole, beat challengers Democrat Steve Barnes and Independent Kyle Webb with 60.6 percent of the district's 10,163 votes.
House District 29, Incumbent Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Depew, beat challenger Democrat Jesse Goodwin with 75.3 percent of the district's 12,016 votes.
House District 31, Republican Gary Mize won with 70.8 percent, or 10,914 votes, against Democrat Kara Sawyer with 4,497 votes.
House District 32, Incumbent Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, beat challenger Democrat Christi Wolff with 70.6 percent of the district's 11,669 votes.
House District 34, Democrat Trish Ranson won with 57.4 percent, or 5,225 votes, against Republican Aaron Means with 3,877 votes.
House District 35, Republican Ty Burns won with 71.9 percent, or 8,211 votes, against Democrat Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk with 3,202 votes.
House District 39, Incumbent Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, beat challengers Democrat Devyn Denton and Independent Richard Prawdzienski with 61.1 percent of the district's 16,575 votes.
House District 40, Incumbent Rep. Chad Caldwell, R- Enid, beat challenger Democrat Norman Grey with 59.7 percent of the district's 9,255 votes.
House District 41, Republican Denise Crosswhite Hader won against 66.7 percent, or 11,416 votes, against Democrat Sarah Peterson with 5,706 votes.
House District 42, Republican Cynthia Roe won with 65.6 percent, or 7,812 votes, against Democrat Liz George with 4,090 votes.
House District 43, Republican Jay Steagall, won with 68 percent, or 9,631 votes, against Democrat Chantelle Cory with 4,527 votes.
House District 45, Democrat Merleyn Bell won with 53.5 percent, or 7,834 votes, against Republican Marc Etter and Independent Tom Hackelman with 5,818 and 990 votes respectively.
House District 46, Incumbent Rep. Jacob Rosecrants, D-Norman beat challenger Republican Bryan Vinyard with 53.1 percent of the district's 16,173 votes.
House District 47, Republican Brian Hill won with 66.8 percent, or 10,237 votes, against Democrat Sarah Carnes with 5,095 votes.
House District 48, Republican Tammy Townley won with 63.2 percent, or 6,523 votes, against Democrat Cheryl Key with 3,796 votes.
House District 49, Incumbent Rep. Tommy Hardin, R-Madill, beat challenger Democrat Miranda Shelton with 67.3 percent of the district's 11,298 votes.
House District 53, Incumbent Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore, beat challenger Democrat Leslie Bonebreak with57.4 percent of the district's 13,190 votes.
House District 54, Incumbent Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, beat challenger Democrat Katelyn Dockery with 59.3 percent of the district's 10,592 votes.
House District 55, Incumbent Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, beat challenger Democrat Denise Duggar with 52.7 percent of the district's 10,793 votes.
House District 56, Incumbent Rep. David Perryman, D-Chickasaw, beat challenger Republican Charles Wells with 60.7 percent of the district's 9,684 votes.
House District 61, Republican Kenton Patzkowsky won with 70.4 percent, or 6,683 votes, against Democrat Ashley Lehnert with 2,805 votes.
House District 62, Republican Daniel Pae won with 50.3 percent, or 4,120 votes, against Democrat Larry Bush with 4,078 votes.
House District 63, Republican Trey Caldwell, won with 71.2 percent, or 6,702 votes, against Democrat Joan Gabelmann with 2,712 votes.
House District 64, Incumbent Rep. Rande Worthen, R-Lawton, beat challengers Democrat Ashley McCarter and Independent David Pilon with 50.6 percent of the district's 6,855 votes.
House District 65, Republican Toni Hasenbeck won with 58.9 percent, or 5,367 votes, against Democrat Brandon Thompson with 3,743 votes.
House District 66, Incumbent Rep. Jadine Nollan, R- Sand Springs, beat challenger Democrat Angela Graham with 58.5 percent of the district's 11,764 votes.
House District 67, Republican Jeff Boatman won with 65.7 percent, or 11,031 votes, against Democrat Carly Hotvedt with 5,773 votes.
House District 68, Republican Lonnie Smith won with 57,4 percent, or 7,072 votes, against Democrat Michael Ross, Independent Heather Chenoweth and Libertarian J. Lee Miller Jr.
House District 69, Republican Sheila Dills won with 70.5 percent, or 11,597 votes, against Democrat Andy Richardson with 4,848 votes.
House District 70, Incumbent Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa, beat challenger Democrat JJ Burnam with 54.6 percent of the district's 16,906 votes.
House District 71, Democrat Denise Brewer won with 56.2 percent, or 6,600 votes, against Republican Cheryl Baber with 5,149 votes.
House District 75, Republican T.J. Marti beat Incumbent Karen Gaddis, D- Tulsa, and Libertarian Kelli Krebs, with 53.4 percent of the district's 10,527 votes.
House District 76, Incumbent Rep. Ross Ford, R-Broken Arrow, beat challenger Democrat Forrest Mayer with 67.2 percent of the district's 13,519 votes.
House District 77, Democrat John Waldron won with 58.4 percent, or 4,311 votes, against Republican Todd Blackburn with 3,069 votes.
House District 78, Incumbent Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa, beat challengers Republican Paul Royse and Libertarian Gene Bell with 59.5 percent of the district's 12,703 votes.
House District 79, Democrat Melissa Provenzano won with 52 percent, or 6,495 votes, against Republican Dan Hicks with 5,993 votes.
House District 80, Republican Stan May won with 69.3 percent, or 10,854 votes, against Democrat Janis Graham with 4,803 votes.
House District 81, Incumbent Rep. Mike Osburn, R-Edmond, beat challenger Democrat Jackie Phillips with 58.1 percent of the district's 13,813 votes.
House District 82, Republican Nicole Miller won with 66.1 percent, or 13,366 votes, against Democrat Oraynab Jwayyed with 6,845 votes.
House District 83, Democrat Chelsey Branham won with 52.1 percent, or 8,328 votes, against Republican Jason Reese with 7,643 votes.
House District 84, Incumbent Rep. Tammy West, R-Bethany, beat challengers Democrat Lauren Morris and Libertarian William Cagle with 57.9 percent of the district's 9,918 votes.
House District 85, Incumbent Rep. Cyndi Munson, D- Oklahoma City, beat challengers Republican Matt Jackson and Libertarian Stephen Paulsen with 57.9 percent of the district's 16,574 votes.
House District 86, Republican David Hardin won with 59.7 percent, or 5,427 votes, against Democrat Rhonda Cox with 3,658 votes.
House District 90, Incumbent Rep. Jon Echols, R- Oklahoma City, beat challenger Democrat Lavelle Compton with 59.2 percent of the district's 8,375 percent.
House District 91, Incumbent Rep. Chris Kannady, Oklahoma City, beat challenger Democrat Amanda Jeffers with 62.6 percent of the district's 14,486 votes.
House District 94, Democrat Andy Fugate won with 60.4 percent, or 5,873 votes, against Republican Jason Sansone with 3,850 votes.
House District 95, Democrat Kelly Albright won with 49 percent, or 4,847 votes, against Republican Jack Beall Jr., Independent Rashard Bickman and Libertarian Paul Brewbaker.
House District 96, Incumbent Rep. Lewis Moore, R- Arcadia held his seat against Democrat Kathy Wallace with 61.9 percent of the vote, 10,559 votes compared to Wallis' 6,490.
House District 98, Republican Dean Davis won with 61.8 percent, or 8,038 votes, over Democrat Kilmyn Easley-Graf with 36.1 percent and Independent Sean Parrish with 2.1 percent of the vote.
House District 100, Republican Marilyn Stark won with 54.5 percent, with 6,860 votes, over Democrat Zach Pearson's 45.5 percent of the vote, or 5,733 votes.
House District 101, Republican Robert Manger won with 60.4 percent of the vote, or 8,939 votes, over Democrat John Carpenter's 39.6 percent, or 5,866 votes.

Republicans continue control of Senate as Democrats gain two seats in general election

Tyler Talley, eCapitol

Republicans maintained control over the Senate in Tuesday's general election while losing their grasp on two formerly Republican-held Oklahoma City districts.
Democrat Julia Kirt, former executive director of the Oklahomans for the Arts, will succeed former Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, as the new senator of Senate District 30. She saw victory over GOP candidate John Symcox.
Fellow Oklahoma City Democrat Carri Hicks will join Kirt in the Senate, representing Senate District 40. Hicks, a teacher, defeated Republican Joe Howell and Independent Christopher Hensley to replace Sen. Ervin Yen, D-Oklahoma City.
Democrats accrued only a net gain of one seat Tuesday however as Senate District 32 went to Rep. John Montgomery, R-Lawton. Montgomery defeated Democrat Jacob Crowley to succeed Sen. Randy Bass, D-Lawton.
Both Montgomery and Rep George Young, D-Oklahoma City will move from the House to the Senate. Young handily defeated Republican Willard Linzy for the Senate District 48 seat.
All Senate incumbents were successful over their respective opponents, including:
* Sen. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore, defeated Jennifer Esau, the Democratic candidate, and will retain his seat as senator for District 2.
* Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro, resecured his seat in District 4, defeating Democratic challenger Eddie Martin.
* Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, will return to represent District 8, having defeated both Democrat Shannan Tucker and Independent Marlena Nobles.
* Sen. James Leewright, R-Bristow, was reelected to his District 12 seat, defeating Democrat Rick Parris.
* Sen. Frank Simpson, R-Ardmore, celebrated a sound victory over Democrat Justin Arledge for the Senate District 14 seat.
* Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, beat Democratic challenger Charles Arnall to retain the District 18 seat for Republicans. David has been named the incoming Senate Majority Floor Leader by Senate President Pro Tempore-designate Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City.
* Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, won her race in District 22 against Democrat William Andrews.
* Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud, won over in District 28, securing his seat and defeating Independent Stephanie Sanders.
Other Senate victories Tuesday night included:
* Republican David Bullard beat Democratic opponent Arnold Bourne in the District 6 race.
* Democrat Mary Boren defeated Republican Becki Maldonado for the District 16 seat, maintaining the district for Democrats.
* Republican Chuck Hall will represent Senate District 20, having beaten Democrat Heady Coleman.
* District 24 went to Republican Darrell Weaver, who beat Democratic challenger Renee Jordan.
* GOP Candidate John Haste claimed victory over Democrat Brian O'Brian in District 36.
* Republican Brent Howard will be the new senator for District 38, having beaten his Democratic opponent Jeff Berrong.
* The race for District 42 saw Republican Brenda Stanley overcome her opponents, Democrat Linda Wade and Independent candidate Matt Campbell.
Republicans will outnumber Democrats 39 to 9 when the 57th Legislature convenes Jan. 8. There will be 11 new faces in the chamber.

Long-Range Capital Planning Commissioner recommends $150.5 million bond issue

Shawn Ashley, eCapitol

The Long-Range Capital Planning Commission will ask lawmakers to consider approving a $150.5 million bond issue to fund 11 projects when it submits it Fiscal Year 2020 to Fiscal Year 2027 capital improvement plan to the Legislature.
Ben Davis, director of planning for the Office of Management and Enterprise Services' capital assets management division, outlined the FY2019 portion of the capital improvement plan to the commission Thursday. It includes 24 projects with a cost of $21.1 million and an initial payment of $4.9 million for a partial year of debt service. It totals $26.0 million, money that would need to be appropriated to the Maintenance of State Buildings Revolving Fund.
The fund receives its money from legislative appropriations and property sales. No money has been appropriated to the fund in several years and that which was, along with revenue from a few property sales, has been spent, Davis noted.
Davis said the proposed bond issue would have a 20-year term.
The projects include a $12.5 million rehabilitation and expansion of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner's Tulsa office. Davis said the work was part of the office's effort to get reaccredited.
The Office of Management and Enterprise Services has two projects on the list: A $52.2 million renovation of the Jim Thorpe Building and a $7.3 million rehabilitation of the governor's mansion.
The Jim Thorpe Building project, said Davis, would address a number of issues, including water leakage, at the facility and includes funding to move the tenants of the building to another and make the necessary lease payments during the work. The governor's mansion project would address exterior deteriorations and water infiltration issues, he said.
The Department of Human Services is proposing the construction of a new facility at what was the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center (NORC). The department's currently facilities are scattered over an 80-acre campus, he explained. The project would centralize the services into a new facility located on 20 acres and allow the remainder of the land to be sold, Davis said.
The proposed bond issue includes $15.7 million for the Military Department for projects at a number of its readiness centers, said Davis. He noted each dollar in state money will result in $1 of federal matching funds for the projects.
The Department of Rehabilitation Services would receive $9.3 million from the bond issue, Davis told the commission. The money would be used to rehabilitate the cafeteria facilities at the School for the Deaf and the School for the Blind, which were constructed in 1906 and 1904, respectively. Neither, noted Davis, meets the Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
The proposed bond issue includes $16.1 million to improve and expand Department of Public Safety highway patrol troop headquarters in five locations, Davis said. The current facilities are undersized, have no training areas and most suffered from problems resulting from deferred maintenance, he said.
The Department of Veterans Affairs would receive $5.4 million from the proposed bond issue, according to Davis. The funding would be used to expand the laboratory, physical therapy and pharmacy areas at the Veterans Center in Clinton, Davis told the commission.
Some $20.5 million would be dedicated to facility replacement in Oklahoma City and Woodward for the Department of Mental health and Substance Abuse Services. The state operated treatment facilities in Oklahoma City and Woodward would be replaced, Davis said.
The $21.1 million capital improvement plan and the bond issue recommendation were unanimously approved by the commission and will be submitted to lawmakers. Lawmakers would need to affirmatively approve the bond issue for it to be issued, Davis said.

Educators fill Oklahoma Legislature

Sidney Lee, eCapitol

While two former educators lost their seats on election night and another former educator has hit their term limit in the House, the number of former teachers, school administrators and school support staff serving as legislators has more than doubled.
These new educators will join incumbent members in the House and Senate.
In the Senate, Sen. J.J. Dosset, D-Owasso, secured his seat at the beginning of the election cycle and Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, is in the middle of his term.
They will be joined by former teacher Democrat Carri Hicks, who will replace Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, as well as Republican David Bullard in Senate District 6, and Republican Brenda Stanley in Senate District 42. Democrat Mary Boren, a former school counselor who went on to practice law, won Senate District 16.
Hicks was a fourth-grade teacher, Bullard taught Advanced Placement courses across the state border in Texas and Stanley is a retired principal.
There will be many more educators in the House, though two former educators, Rep. Donnie Condit, D- McAlester, and Rep. Karen Gaddis, D- Tulsa, lost their seats.
Even with Condit and Gaddis losing their seats, the House already had multiple former educators and many joined the Legislature either at the beginning of the previous session or during a special election.
Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, Rep. Tammy West, R-Bethany, Rep. Jason Rosecrants, D-Norman, and Rep. Mickey Dollens, D-Oklahoma City, will be the veteran education legislators in the House.
They will be joined by 12 former educators.
Three new Republican representative-elects secured their seats before Nov. 6. Danny Sterling is a high school principal who secured House District 27 in the Republican primary runoff. John Thomas Talley's Democratic opponent dropped out of the race, securing House District 33 for the former teacher and coach. Most recently he has worked as the director of Fellowship of Christian Athletes for North Central Oklahoma.
Former biology teacher and basketball coach Mark Vancuren also secured House District 74 in the Republican runoff.
Nine other educators won seats in the general election. The three Democrats are elementary music teacher Trish Ransom in House District 34, third-grade Dove Science Academy teacher Kelly Albright in House District 95 and assistant principal Melissa Provenzano in House District 79.
Republican Ty Burns, a social studies teacher, will fill the House District 35 seat. Sherrie Conley, the homeless coordinator at Fillmore Elementary, won House District 20. Physical education teacher and Republican Dean Davis won House District 98.
Republican Toni Hasenbeck, a seventh-grade teacher, won House District 65, Republican junior high principal Ronny Jons won House District 25 and Randy Randleman, a Republican and retired school psychologist, won House District 15.

Have a good week. Give me a call at 918.671.6860 if I can be of help in any way.