Monday, May 28, 2012

Sine Die

by Steve Fair

The 2012 Oklahoma legislative session is over.  By law, the state legislature must adjourn by 5pm on the last Friday in May.  Faced with a potential special session, lawmakers passed a $6.8 billion dollar state budget on Thursday by just one vote in the House.  The budget is $300 million more than the previous year’s budget.  Here are some of the highlights of the 2012 session:
The Governor signed a bill that will add forty additional Oklahoma State Troopers across the state.  Lawmakers also passed a bill adding a trooper academy.  That is a plus. This is a core service that has been neglected for years.  
The legislature passed and the Governor signed a bill that allows Oklahoma citizens to openly carry firearms effective November 1st.  The bill permits those who are licensed, or already have been licensed, to carry a firearm under the Oklahoma Self Defense Act to openly carry a weapon or conceal it.  It also allows property owners to openly carry a firearm on their property without a concealed carry permit for the purpose of self defense.  There were also other victories for 2nd amendment advocates this session.
The legislature passed a Joint Resolution that will send to a vote of the people a constitutional amendment change which would exempt intangible property from taxation.  Intangible property tax is also known as personal property tax.  Oklahoma is one of only ten states that still tax personal property. 
Lawmakers also passed a bill that is supposed to save Oklahoma taxpayers about 30 million annually.  The program directs all state agencies and higher education institutions to achieve an energy efficiency and conservation improvement target of at least 20 percent by the year 2020. Improvement is based upon benchmark prior to implementation of program. Upon implementation, all agencies are required to input historical utility cost into approved software on a monthly basis.  In other words, taxpayer owned buildings will have to watch their utility bills just like taxpayers do at their homes and businesses. 
Legislators passed a bill that will require those applying for welfare benefits to be subject to random drug testing.  They also passed bills that penalized those who get unemployment benefits through fraud. 
The legislature continued their ten year funding plan to repair and build more roads and bridges after years of neglect. 
Lawmakers set up a plan to sell excess state government buildings and use the proceeds to fix up the ones that are being used without going into debt.  That makes sense and will long term save taxpayers millions.
Because the legislature passed HJR #1092, voters in November will get to decide if they want to eliminate the DHS Commission and allow the Governor to oversee the huge state agency.  With all the problems DHS has experienced in the recent past, this seems like a good idea.  The buck has to stop somewhere and having unelected people oversee the agency has certainly not worked well. 
Some of the disappointments from this year’s session were:
There will be no elimination or reduction of the state income tax.  After discussion of completely eliminating the state income tax, critics of the plan wanted specific cuts to state agencies to be identified at the same rate the revenue was going down.  When no agreement could be reached on that proposal, the legislature and the Governor attempted to agree on reducing the income tax rate.  Hopefully next session will produce a plan that will reduce the tax burden on Oklahomans and streamline state government at the same time.
Proposals to eliminate tax credits were not reached.  Both chambers passed bills, but no agreement could be reached on which credits should be eliminated. 
A proposal to give the State Auditor and Inspector the authority to perform performance audits on state agencies failed to come to a vote in either chamber.  This legislation is necessary and fundamental to Oklahoma’s ‘streamlining government’ initiative.  Until legislators recognize where waste exists, it will be next to impossible to intelligently eliminate it. 
A bill to raise the age by just three months when a child starts kindergarten failed to get a hearing in either chamber, even though it was overwhelmingly supported by kindergarten teachers across the state. 
There were other disappointments including no agreement to fund needed repairs to the State Capitol.  Those who have visited the Capitol know the facility needs work, but with a record amount of funds going into the rainy day fund, perhaps funds can be taken from it.
Thankfully no ‘bond issues’ were passed- either for the Capitol, the Pops museum in Tulsa or the Indian Cultural Center in Oklahoma City.  Lawmakers rightly chose to not borrow money for those projects.
Oklahoma’s Republican led ‘part time’ legislature deserves a great deal of credit this session for living within their means.  Their fiscal responsible actions send a message that Oklahoma is open for business.      

Monday, May 21, 2012

Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair     

     Effective November 1st, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services will begin screening welfare recipients for drug use as a condition of eligibility.  House Bill #2338, authored by five Republican State Representatives- Liebmann, Bennett, Billy, Roberts and Vaughn and State Senator David Holt, (R-OKC), requires DHS to screen adults for drug use who apply for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.  The legislation allows DHS to request a drug test if there is reasonable cause to believe the applicant is illegally using a controlled substance. If the applicant refuses to participate or is determined to be using an illegal drug, they could not receive the assistance.  With the passage of HB #2338, Oklahoma became the fourth state to approve a drug-screening bill this year.
     Applicants who undergo a substance abuse treatment program can reapply for benefits six months after the date of the denial. Child-only cases and underage parents are exempt from the drug screening under the legislation and an alternative payee can be named when a parent has been found ineligible for benefits.
    “This legislation was carefully constructed with input from numerous lawmakers and was ultimately passed with wide bipartisan support,” said Liebmann, R-Oklahoma City. “Oklahomans don’t want to pay to support illegal substance abuse and this bill will encourage addicts to undergo substance abuse treatment and tax dollars to go to those who are truly needy.”
     Governor Fallin signed the bill into law on Wednesday saying, "Drug addiction and illegal drug use contribute to child abuse and child neglect.  They also make it difficult to find and hold a job.  Additionally, HB 2388 helps to preserve the mission of state-funded welfare – to provide a social safety net helping the unemployed and needy get back on their feet, find work and support their families. Unfortunately, drug abuse prevents many recipients of welfare from achieving any of these goals. ...It is important for drug users and those with substance abuse problems to seek treatment rather than simply being handed a check from Oklahoma taxpayers."
     Two other states- Michigan and Florida – passed similar laws, but their enforcement was struck down by the courts for being unconstitutional.  The fourth amendment protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures, but applicants for public assistance do it voluntarily.  They don’t have to seek taxpayer help to get over the rough spots.  They have a choice- apply and don’t use drugs or don’t apply and party on. 
     This bill was not without its critics.  They claim drug testing for Oklahoma welfare recipients will hurt children and will not help an already desperate situation.  They point out that most drug addicts have to "hit bottom" before they reform and contend living on welfare is "hitting bottom."  They point out that space in cheap or free drug recovery programs is already full and this bill will ultimately hurt people who are already hurting.  Those are valid points and worthy of consideration, but  some folks getting a helping hand from Oklahoma taxpayers agree this bill is needed.  Rick Giacomo of McAlester who is a father of two receiving benefits from the state told OKC TV Channel Six that drug testing is a small price to pay for help.  "You're getting free help. I mean, why couldn't you be right and pass and drug test?"  Giacomo asked.  Markeon Harley also receives help from the state and said, "The government is here to help you, not help you get high,"  
    Critics of the bill point to other addictions- drinking, gambling, smoking- and say many welfare recipients are using our tax dollars to fund those addictions.  That is certainly true, but it is not the taxpayer’s responsibility to fund any addiction.  I’m not convinced it’s the taxpayers ‘responsibility’ to lend a hand to those that need a hand up.   You certainly can’t find that in the US Constitution.  That said, most citizens would support a safety net program to help their fellow citizens who truly need help.  Americans are generous people, but none would support a program that allows drug addicts to use tax dollars to support their habit.    This law is needed, because it will help ‘defund’ the drug business in Oklahoma.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Open Carry

Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

Last week, the Oklahoma State Senate passed Senate Bill #1733, authored by State Senator Anthony Sykes, (R-Moore) and State Representative Jeff Hickman, (R-Dacoma).  This bill will allow Oklahomans with a valid conceal and carry permit the option of carrying their weapon either concealed on open- holstered in public. 

On Saturday at the State GOP Convention in Norman, Governor Mary Fallin announced to the 1400 plus delegates she would be signing the bill.  “We believe it’s a responsible piece of legislation that allows licensed gun owners to be able to open carry if they choose. If they choose not to, they don’t have to. It also has sufficient protections in it that will allow businesses, certainly government institutions, and those who don’t want guns on their facilities to have those protections, too,” The new law will take effect on November 1st.

“The Legislature has made it clear that Oklahomans will have the right to defend themselves,” said Sykes, R-Moore. “The right to self-defense is God given and inalienable, and we intend to do everything in our power to defend it. This legislation further guarantees this right will not be taken from Oklahomans who choose to protect themselves and their families.”
The bill had broad based support across Party lines in the legislature.  It passed the House 85-3 and the Senate 33-10.  All Republicans voted for the open carry bill.  A similar bill passed the legislature in 2010, but was vetoed y then Governor Brad Henry. 

Critics of Open Carry contend that it will hurt Oklahoma’s image and we will see gunfights in the street like in the old west.  The reality is Oklahoma is currently one of only seven states across the nation that forbids open carry. There are forty four states that permit some form of open carry, most without permits and eleven states that allow open carry with a permit. This is not a new concept and in fact most states have experienced lower crime rates after they have passed open carry.

Some of the critics are gun owners.  Martin Albright at the Truth about Guns website says, “Open Carry is an invitation to a PR disaster.  Let’s be honest: not all gun owners are rational people. There are crazies out there. With guns. Advocating Open Carry. If one or two of those people push the limits of civilized behavior all firearms owners will get tagged as “crazy gun owners.” That’s infuriating to those of us who consider ourselves to be mature and responsible citizens. But that’s the world we live in. Enough such incidents and the hammer will drop on some serious (read: Draconian) gun laws that will make the now-expired “assault weapons” ban look like a pleasant memory.” Despite what Albright and Motor City madman Ted Nugget say, open carry isn’t just ‘weird’ and it does reduce crime. 
According to a 1985 Department of Justice survey of incarcerated felons, fifty seven (57) percent of the felons polled agreed that "criminals are more worried about meeting an armed victim than they are about running into the police." That makes sense- the police seldom arrive during the commission of a crime. 

Research by the NRA has shown that ninety two (92) percent of criminal attacks are deterred when a gun is merely shown (or, rarely, a warning shot fired). By inference, this means that open carry would have the effect of deterring crime in the same way that a thief might choose another restaurant when he sees police eating donuts at his intended target.

Sykes has authored three pieces of second amendment legislation this session.  He is to be commended for his willingness to stand up for our constitutional rights.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


My opponent for Oklahoma Republican National Committeeman, Richard Engle,  is claiming some of my supporters are spreading false information and lies about him and has called on me to repudiate the information and condemn their actions.  I have not seen the information, so I can’t directly comment on it.  Any negative information about Mr. Engle has not been distributed by me.  I have campaigned on my record of service to the Oklahoma Republican Party and have not attacked Richard- nor will I.  If any of my supporters are distributing information about him, it is without my approval.  If they are knowingly spreading lies and rumors, I call on them to stop it. 

In his public comments, my opponent mentions that we met and ‘warmly’ agreed to not run negative campaigns against one another.  ‘Warmly’ is not an adjective I would have used- it was more like ‘civil.’  We did discuss the National Committeeman campaign in Chickasha prior to the 4th district meeting.  He approached me and said, “I hope we can agree to not run a negative campaign.”  I responded, “I have no reason to run a negative campaign.”  The conversation ended there.  I did not compliment him on his activism and Party involvement as he states. 

During this campaign, I have listened as my opponent repeatedly describes himself as THE ONLY CANDIDATE….with experience, fundraising expertise, etc.  The fact is THERE ARE ONLY TWO CANDIDATES IN THE RACE.  His constant 'THE ONLY CANDIDATE' theme is a clever campaign tactic that allows him to draw a comparison to me without mentioning my name.  To continually refer to himself as THE ONLY CANDIDATE implies that I do not have those qualities he enumerates.  Instead of just stating his qualifications, he has prefaced every point with THE ONLY CANDIDATE IN THE RACE!

If we want to start declaring exclusivity, I can lay claim that I am THE ONLY CANDIDATE IN THE RACE
…to have served three terms as a GOP District Chair
…to have served multiple terms as a GOP County Chair
…to have served on the State GOP Budget Board
…to have served as State GOP Treasurer
…to have served on the Dewey F. Bartlett Foundation board
…to have ran for Oklahoma State Senate.
…to have organized a GOP fundraising event that is the single largest gathering of Republicans outside a state convention each year.
…to have all of my service through the Party and not through support organizations.
…to have hosted a 2 hour conservative political talk show in SW Oklahoma
…to write a weekly newspaper editorial
…to have sold cat liter and jelly (not at the same time)

You get the point.  THE ONLY CANDIDATE comments are meant to put down my accomplishments and draw a direct comparison between us.  I never mention Engle in my remarks-directly or indirectly.  I do encourage those who will vote on the race to do their due diligence and research the track records of both myself and my opponent. That is true in EVERY race and this one is no exception.

The real issue is what will Steve Fair do if elected?  First, I will be a conservative voice on the RNC.  Second, I will work to build our county GOP organizations.  Third, I will help educate the public on issues, and fourth, I will make building the foundation fun.   Those that know me know I don't take myself very seriously, but I take the cause very seriously.

I believe the job of National Committeeman fits me. Grassroots activists within our Party who have been involved for decades agree and overwhelmingly support me in this race.  They know I have been there for years and will be there for local and statewide candidates.   In addition, five people from Oklahoma who have held RNC positions believe this job fits me and have endorsed me. 

I have a proven track record of working and building the Republican Party from the bottom up. What we have accomplished in the Stephens County GOP and the Fourth District GOP- by the grace of God- is amazing.  I would appreciate your vote on Saturday.  You can call or email me if you have questions.

I appreciate your sacrifice for conservative causes and see you this weekend.


Steve Fair
Stephens County GOP
4th District of the Oklahoma GOP
405.990.7449- cell

 BTW: The 8th annual Stephens County Fish Fry is Saturday May 19th in the Stephens County Rodeo Arena.  It starts at 6pm.  Tables of 10 are $250 and that includes 2 tickets to a private reception/photo op with Senator Anthony Sykes, our keynote speaker.  If you are a County GOP elected official and you want to see how a GRASSROOTS FUNDRAISER is executed, buy a table, get your core volunteers and travel to Duncan next weekend.  You'll see grassroots volunteers doing everything and in the process changing their government!  

Call or email me to make your reservations today.   Win or lose Saturday, I will be frying fish the following Saturday to raise money to get local, and statewide conservative Republicans elected.  Come join us- I can guarantee you a good time.  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Where is my building?

Weekly Opinion Editorial

by Steve Fair

     Have you known people who owned something they didn’t know they owned?  Well look in the mirror- that person is you, the taxpayer.  According to a US Government Accountability Office(GAO) report ten years ago, over thirty(30) federal government agencies control hundreds of thousands of real property assets worldwide, including facilities and land, worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Many of these assets are no longer consistent with agencies’ missions. Others are no longer needed. And many of the assets are in an alarming state of disrepair.  The report said that twenty four federal agencies (including the Department of Defense) reported over 45,000 underutilized buildings that cost U.S. taxpayers $1.6 billion per year to operate.
     Here’s the kicker- the report said the GAO couldn’t provide an accurate inventory of what the federal government owned in real property.   The report states:  “Our own internal documents contained data that is unreliable and of limited usefulness. Therefore decision-makers, such as Congress and the OMB, do not have access to quality data on what real property assets the government owns, their value, how efficiently assets are being used and what the overall costs are involved in preserving, protecting and investing in them.”
    Back in 2009, Senator Tom Coburn offered an amendment to a bill that would have established a five year pilot program giving the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) temporary authority to sell or demolish property that the federal government owns but no longer needs.  The amendment failed. 
      In 2010, Dr. Coburn published, “The Oklahoma Waste Report.” You can view the report in its entirety at   In it he details wasteful federal government spending in Oklahoma.  Coburn is not your typical politician who ‘brings home the bacon.’  He knows that when he does that, he is mortgaging our children and grandchildren’s future.  Coburn says taxpayers are spending nearly $20 million each year to maintain thousands of empty or unneeded federal properties throughout Oklahoma. Rather than disposing of the properties, or putting them to good use, they have instead drained precious resources.  He says the federal government owns more than 57 buildings in Oklahoma that it no longer uses  AT ALL, with a replacement value estimated at more than $26.5 million and annual maintenance costs of $457,000.
      And it’s not just the federal government that has this under utilized building issue.  State and local government have buildings and properties they own they no longer need.  Last year, Oklahoma State Representative T.W. Shannon, (R-Lawton), authored HB #1438 which requires the state's Director of Central Services to publish a report detailing state-owned properties, including a list of the five percent most underutilized properties, the value of those properties and the potential for purchase if sold.   
      This year Shannon authored HB #2262 that was approved unanimously by both chambers and signed into law by Governor Fallin on April 24th.  It created a ‘Maintenance of State Buildings Revolving Fund’ to which proceeds from any sales of state assets will be deposited for expenditure on the maintenance and repair of Oklahoma state government’s aging buildings and properties.  Now that’s just common sense- sell an unused building and repair one you are using.  Why borrow money (issue bonds) to fix up the State Capital when we have assets we can sell and use those proceeds to give the building a facelift?  Sounds like a plan.  The feds needs to take note and listen to Senator Coburn. 
      When the US government is borrowing forty three cents of every dollar they spend, it’s time to start liquidating assets and dumping unused buildings and properties is the first step- if we can find them.