Monday, March 25, 2013


Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

Three years ago last week, President Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act- aka ObamaCare.  Oklahoma government and the majority of Oklahoma citizens haven’t embraced it.  In fact in November 2010, Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly voted to amend the state constitution to allow citizens to opt out of ObamaCare.  But that doesn’t mean ObamaCare is going away.

On January 1, 2014, all American citizens must have qualifying insurance coverage and large employers must provide that insurance or face stiff penalties.  That is also the date when the ‘health care exchanges’ will go into effect.  The exchanges are websites where citizens can buy health care insurance that is federally subsidized.  Thus far Governor Fallin and the Oklahoma legislature have rejected the federal money to establish a state government operated health care exchange.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has filed a lawsuit challenging the Internal Revenue Service’s unlawful attempt to impose ObamaCare’s taxes on exempt employers and individuals. “Oklahoma’s lawsuit has never been about the policy or politics of the Affordable Care Act; it is about the legality of the IRS rule and ensuring that the federal government complies with implementation of its own law,”  Pruitt said. Along with challenging the new IRS rule, the complaint asks the Court to recognize that the Supreme Court’s designation of the health care act’s individual mandate as a tax means it no longer conflicts with Oklahoma’s constitutional provision that says no law or rule can “compel any person, employer or health care provider to participate in any health care system.” 

The Cato Institute last week issued a reported titled, “50 Vetoes: How States Can Stop the Obama Health Care Law,” which urged other states to follow Oklahoma’s lead and refuse to establish exchanges.  They also said Pruitt’s lawsuit was one that could be the downfall of ObamaCare.  Thirty three other states have said they are not building exchanges, but none have the lawsuit challenging the authority of the feds to impose a tax without statutory authority.  You can read the entire report at

"Oklahoma is in a unique position with the only active lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act to hold the federal government accountable in how it implements the law.  Now that the Supreme Court has deemed the ACA a tax, and therefore constitutional, the federal government must follow the law and proper procedures, and that is not being done,”  Pruitt said. If Oklahoma doesn’t build an exchange, neither the subsidies nor the penalties can come to the state, Pruitt argues.

“A critical mass of states exercising their vetoes over exchanges and the Medicaid expansion can force Congress to reconsider, and hopefully repeal, the rest of this counterproductive law,” the Cato report says.  Don’t bet on that.  So called trailer bills or clean up bills are seldom run and when they are they usually don’t make a great deal of difference.  That doesn’t mean states shouldn’t pressure their federal delegations to work for repeal of ObamaCare.  

One of the most controversial provisions of ObamaCare is the expansion of Medicaid.  Under OmabamaCare, the federal government would pay 100 percent of the cost of new benefits for the first three years of Medicaid expansion. After that, a share of the costs would be shifted to the states, with the state’s share capping at 10 percent in 2022. Fallin has argued that the state can’t rely on the federal reimbursement promises.

Three observations:

First, companies will not pay fines and penalties- their customers and clients will.    Any fine or penalty accessed to a company will be simply passed onto consumers in the form of a price increase.  In a down economy the last thing we need is increases in goods and services.  And think of the snowball effect these increases will have- every company will pass not only their health care increase down to the consumer, but the increase they received from their suppliers. 

Second, there is simply NO such thing as FREE healthcare.  Somebody pays for it.  Either the consumer, the taxpayer or the health care provider.  While it would be great to be able to provide health care to every American at no charge, the federal government simply cannot afford to do it.  America is drowning in a sea of debt and unless we get federal spending under control, we will not survive as a county. 

Third, we are quickly becoming a welfare state in America.  There are less Americans working as a percentage of our population than in the past thirty years.  Yet today, those same citizens are outraged while the government(taxpayers) balk at providing them food, healthcare, and free cell phones.  They fail to see that ObamaCare is just another way to give government more control over their lives and make them a slave to the government.

The ONLY free gift mankind has ever gotten is the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ.  Rest assured, ObamaCare is not free, somebody is paying the bill and it is probably you.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Incarceration Rates must be dealt with!

Weekly Opinion Editorial

Incarceration rates must be dealt with!
by Steve Fair
According to the US Department of Justice, Justice Reinvestment is a data-driven approach to improve public safety, reduce corrections and related criminal justice spending, and reinvest savings in strategies that can decrease crime and strengthen neighborhoods. The purpose of justice reinvestment is to manage and allocate criminal justice populations more cost-effectively, generating savings that can be reinvested in evidence-based strategies that increase public safety while holding offenders accountable. States and localities engaging in justice reinvestment collect and analyze data on drivers of criminal justice populations and costs, identify and implement changes to increase efficiencies, and measure both the fiscal and public safety impacts of those changes.

In his last year in office(2012), former Oklahoma Speaker of the House Kris Steele, (R-Shawnee), embraced the justice reinvestment plan and authored HB #2131 which was designed to make the criminal justice system more efficient and cost-effective. The bill was signed into law in May.  At the time of the bill’s signing, Steele said, “It’s (HB #2131) increasing public safety and it's being more responsible with taxpayers' resources.” Steele’s goal was to decrease the number of non-violent offenders in Oklahoma prisons by implementing a system that provided alternate punishment to incarceration.

The JRI plan starts by establishing a bipartisan working group of elected and appointed officials to work with criminal justice policy experts. This working group then consults with prosecutors, public defenders, judges and corrections and law enforcement officials to work through two phases in a 2-3 year period.  In Phase 1, they analyze data, develop policy options, and adopt new policies.  In Phase 2, they implement the new policies and evaluate how well they are working. 

At the time, JRI was lauded as a great idea by The Oklahoman.  In an editorial, they wrote, “This proposal also would apply the brakes to the runaway train that is Oklahoma's prison population. Instead of growing by more than 2,500 to a total of 29,720 in fiscal year 2021, as is projected, the inmate population would increase by about 600 during that time. Beginning in fiscal year 2014, the slower-growing prison population would save the state $13 million annually.”

After the establishment of the JRI working group, co chaired by Steele and Oklahoma County DA David Prater, nineteen total members were appointed to start the process.  The Working Group was supposed to be the supreme authority in the implementation of JRI, but evidently that is not the case. 

Last week, during the Working Group’s meeting, Governor Mary Fallin’s Chief Counsel Steve Mullins called the Working Group an ad hoc committee that didn’t have the authority to implement JRI.  After a heated exchange, Steele and Prater resigned.

Interestingly just the night before the meeting, the Oklahoma House passed HB # 2042 authored by Representative Jason Murphey, (R-Guthrie) by a 57-35 margin.  If it passes the Senate and is signed into law, it would formalize the implementation of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative.  “The JRI initiative is part of a ‘smart on crime’ philosophy that I have long advocated for,” said Fallin. “I am absolutely committed to seeing this initiative succeed. We need to get non-violent offenders whose crimes are related to addiction and substance abuse the help they need to get sober and be constructive members of their community. That’s why it’s so important we get JRI right.

The Tulsa World attacked Murphey’s bill calling it a ‘backstab’ of Steele.  In an editorial they said; “Conservative lawmakers elsewhere, such as Texas, have instituted JRI reforms with stunning results. Texas has its lowest violent crime rate in 30 years and closed a prison because of declining prison growth. If Oklahoma does nothing, someday it will end up with a court ordering it to depopulate prisons. State leaders had the chance to do this themselves, systematically and rationally. But, oh no. Our leaders are smarter than those in Texas and elsewhere, right? What's the real reason they don't want to contain prison growth?”

The bottom line is Oklahoma has a high incarceration rate and needs to address it.  Oklahoma's rate of female incarceration is more than twice the national rate and is increasing every year. Oklahoma's incarceration rate ranks fourth nationally for males and first for females. Approximately 24,000 people are incarcerated in Oklahoma today.  JRI has worked in other states.  Oklahoma government must commit to seeking other alternates to just throwing lawbreakers into the slammer.

On a personal note, the Stephens County Republican Party lost a true friend last week when Ed Hicks died.  Ed was unapologeticly Republican, but more importantly he was a patriot.  I remember him giving me a picture of his grandchildren years ago when I was running for the State Senate and telling me that was why he was so passionate about his country.  Ed put his money where his mouth was when it came to politics.  I will miss him.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Showboat or Patriot?

Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair
A filibuster is a type of parliamentary procedure where debate is extended, allowing one or more members to delay the vote on a bill or issue.  It is sometimes called, “talking out a bill,” and is considered a form of obstruction in a legislative body.  Most Americans know about the filibuster from the movie, "Mr Smith goes to Washington." 

Clare Boothe Luce, the first women appointed to a major ambassadorial post and the wife of the publisher of Time magazine, said about the filibuster; “They say women talk too much.  If you worked in Congress you know that the filibuster was invented by men.”

The elimination of the filibuster in Congress  has been debated for years, but it always stays intact because the majority Party recognizes that at some point they could be the minority Party and they may need it in their tool box.

Last week, Senator Rand Paul, (R-Kentucky), launched a talking filibuster to stall John Brennan’s confirmation vote for the position of Director of the CIA.  Paul demanded an answer to the question "Should a President be allowed to target, and kill an American by drone attack, on American soil, without due process?" Paul’s question was in response to comments from Attorney General Eric Holder before the Senate Judiciary Committee. When Senator Ted Cruz, (R-Texas), asked Holder whether he believed it would be constitutional to target an American terror suspect who was simply 'sitting at a cafe' .  Holder said it was, in his opinion, constitutional, but he could only seeing it happen in the most extreme of circumstances. 

Senators Paul, Cruz, Scott, Rubio, and eleven others held the floor of the Senate for thirteen(13) hours until Paul’s bladder could stand no more and he yielded the floor.  One of those who commended Paul for filibusting was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Kentucky).  McConnell faces re-election next year and that could be one of the reasons he spoke. 

As expected, John Brennan was confirmed as Director of the CIA, however Paul believed his question was relevant since Brennan is considered to be the main architect of the unmanned drone program used by the U.S. government.

Senator Paul held the floor for  12 hours and 52 minutes- the 9th longest filibuster in U.S. history. Interestingly, some GOP Senators were critical of their colleague.  Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that Paul’s actions just fired up the opposition Party and were disingenuous.   Graham said,  “To my Republican colleagues, I don’t remember any of you coming down here suggesting that President Bush was going to kill anybody with a drone, do you?” Graham said. “They had a drone program back then, all of a sudden this drone program has gotten every Republican so spun up. What are we up to here?” McCain quoted from a Wall Street Journal editorial which said,  “If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously, he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in college dorms.”  

So was the filibuster a stunt or was it an act of patriotism? I believe it was the later and here is why:

First, Paul was successful in getting the media to cover the real issue- potential drone attacks in the US on Americans.  While McCain and Graham may not believe the government would ever think of using drones against their own citizens, how many events and misuses of governmental authority have transpired in our country in recent years we never thought possible?  And after Holder’s comments to Congress, why wouldn’t it be possible?

Second, the filibuster and the pressure from the general public forced Holder to clarify the administration’s position on drone use.  Holder sent a letter stating: "It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: 'Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil.' The answer to that question is no." If Paul would not have filibustered, then the ambiguity of

Third, the filibuster revealed that some of the newly elected younger Republican Senators will not be content to sit in the back of the room and wait their turn.  They have the ironrail up the shirttail to take on the administration and bad policy.

There may be hope for America yet.  Thanks Senator Jefferson Smith- I mean Rand Paul- for reminding us that one person can make a difference.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Weston for State GOP Chairman!


I have known David Weston for over ten years.  He is a man of integrity and ability.   These two attributes are necessary for a leader of any organization to be effective.  David’s character defines him.  He is active in his local church, serving as a deacon. He is unapologetically Christian and politically conservative.  David is pro-life and pro- traditional marriage.  He supports the 2nd amendment and sound fiscal policy.
While some people are honest, without the second attribute of ability, it wouldn’t be of much practical value.  David has ability.  He is personally organized and a visionary.  He knows how to delegate responsibility and inspire people to follow him.  David has a detailed plan on how to lead the Oklahoma Republican Party to build a solid foundation(county by county) that will last for years to come. 
Principled leadership with ability to actually accomplish something is rare.  David brings these two characteristics to the table.  I urge you to join me in voting for David Weston April 20th for Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman.  Email me at if you have questions.
Steve Fair
National Committeeman
Oklahoma Republican Party

Monday, March 4, 2013

Keep Our Right to Vote!

Weekly Opinion Editorial
by Steve Fair

In an editorial Sunday, The Oklahoman wrote they supported allowing Oklahoma voters to decide as to whether to continue to elect the statewide offices of Labor Commissioner, Insurance Commissioner and State Superintendent of Public Instruction or make the three offices appointed positions. 

State Senator Greg Treat, (R-Oklahoma City) is the author of SB #598 that passed the Senate General Government committee last Monday which now heads to the Senate floor.  “Our lengthy state Constitution has been set up to divide executive power in a way that invites bureaucratic growth and diminishes accountability,” Treat said. “Making these offices gubernatorial appointments will truly bring them under the executive branch, and allow the executive to be held accountable for the performance of the agencies. This reform is in line with what the voters approved for the Department of Human Services this year, and in my opinion, it is long overdue.”  If the bill passes both chambers, then it will be on the ballot in the next general election- November 2014.

One of the current statewide office holders supports Treat’s proposal.  Mark Costello, the current Oklahoma Labor Commissioner serving his first term, said that although he supports the bill, it doesn't go far enough.

Costello, a Republican, says government has gotten too big. He said the governor should have the authority to hire directors of state agencies and convert their boards and commissions to advisory roles.  "This bill, as worthy as it is, offers too little in structural reform," Costello said.

A couple of thoughts:

First, I am certainly for allowing Oklahoma voters the right to vote on whether they want to continue to directly elect the three secondary statewide offices.  But Oklahoma voters have already voted on this issue three times in the last forty years.  Here is the history:

In 1974, SQ #494, which would have made the Labor Commissioner an appointment by the Governor, was on the general election ballot.  It failed miserably 63% to 37%.  Just a year later, in 1975, SQ # 512, which made the office of Labor Commissioner appointive, BUT added the requirement of Senate confirmation passed in a primary election by the same margin.  One of the Senate authors was then State Senator Jim Inhofe. 

After being an appointed position for thirteen years, in 1988, voters said they wanted to restore their right to vote on Labor Commissioner by passing SQ #613, by a 70% to 30% margin.

Second, While Oklahoma does directly elect more statewide officials than other states, is that necessarily a bad thing?   Oklahoma currently elects eleven statewide officials, Texas nine, New Mexico seven, and Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri elect only six.  

The primary reason we directly elect more statewide officials is because the writers of the Oklahoma State Constitution wanted to make the office of Governor more like a Territorial Governor.  Oklahoma was previously two territories and the office of Governor was designed with many restrictions, and limits of the Territorial Governor.  While the office of Governor in Oklahoma is powerful, it is not as powerful as Governors in our bordering states, some believe because we directly elect so many of the state agency heads.

Should Oklahomans vote to give up the right to directly elect officials in three key positions in government?  I say no.  Directly electing secondary office holders doesn’t grow government.  Appointing someone instead of electing them to the position will not eliminate payroll or expenses.  Appointing them will create more bureaucrats, not less.    Taking away the vote from the people will create an oligarchy, where power effectively rests with a small number of people.  This proposal consolidates power and creates the potential of a Governor making appointments of political cronies, donors, and the unqualified to key positions.

In the editorial, The Oklahoman pointed out through the years these three offices have been won by some questionable characters.  There is no doubt we’ve had more than our share of knot heads (from both Parties) who have held statewide office in Oklahoma, but making an office an appointed position doesn’t eliminate that possibility.  Rest assured, there are more squirrels in appointed positions in government than elected ones

The voters in Oklahoma get it right the vast majority of the time.  Just twenty five years ago, voters expressed their opinion on this issue and overwhelmingly voted to restore their right to vote and directly elect the Labor Commissioner.  If this makes it to the ballot, voters should AGAIN say they want to keep their right to vote.