OKGrassroots

Congressman Bridenstine voted to send HR 4909, the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) from the House Armed Services Committee to the full House this morning.  The bipartisan bill authorizes funding for America’s armed forces and sets Department of Defense policy.  Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act 53 years in a row.  

Three major amendments sponsored by Congressman Bridenstine were adopted in the bill:

  • Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports — Codify in law a 30-day limit for Department of Energy (DOE) to issue final decisions on applications.  Congressman Bridenstine commented, “Energy security is national security. Exporting LNG to our allies strengthens our national security by reducing dependence on hostile regimes, plus it grows the American economy.  America is the world’s largest producer of natural gas. Oklahoma is the fourth-largest producing state.  DOE bureaucrats are currently holding up 30 LNG export applications which have already completed full environmental and permitting reviews. ”   
  • Prevent re-listing of Lesser Prairie Chicken and de-list American Burying Beetle from Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Bridenstine noted, “Training and operations on military bases is disrupted by compliance with ESA mandates.  This is unnecessary when the species are not actually threatened.  Additionally, ESA requirements make base expansion and modification cumbersome and expensive.  These two species populations are present at Altus Air Force Base, Fort Sill, and McAlester Army Ammunition Plant.”   
  • Prohibit housing unaccompanied alien children on U.S. military installations.  The Congressman said, “Housing children on bases with ongoing operations – including live artillery ranges – is inappropriate. The Obama Administration has commandeered military bases to temporarily house unaccompanied children, including Fort Sill in Oklahoma in 2014.  Housing them on bases damages military readiness by shifting limited defense resources to non-defense missions.  Rather than imposing on an overstretched military, the Administration could use some of the 77,000 vacant or underutilized buildings owned by the Federal government.”  

NDAA includes other provisions that Congressman Bridenstine worked to support Oklahoma’s National Guard, including:

  • Redirected funding to procure F-16 simulators.  The 138th Fighter Wing at Tulsa Air National Guard Base flies F-16s.
  • Redirected funding to support critical requirements for National Guard State Partnership Program.

NDAA includes several provisions from Bridenstine’s American Space Renaissance Act (ASRA).  Earlier this month, Congressman Bridenstine introduced HR 4945, groundbreaking legislation to enact bold reforms across military, civil, and commercial space sectors.  NDAA is the first step in Congressman Bridenstine’s strategy to enact ASRA piece-by-piece in different legislative vehicles. NDAA includes ten provisions, including:

  • Establishing a pilot program for the Air Force to buy, test, and evaluate commercial weather data.  Utilizing data provided by innovative private sector weather companies can lower costs to taxpayers, produce better weather products for the warfighter, and complicate the targeting solutions of our enemies by distributing space architectures.
  • Redirecting funding to jump start a pilot program to test next-generation satellite communications (SATCOM) technologies.  Private sector SATCOM companies are offering leap-ahead capacity for commercial customers.  The Department of Defense should take advantage of this through a pilot program. 
  • Modifies SATCOM Analysis of Alternatives to ensure accurate cost estimates and full consideration of commercial SATCOM technologies.

 

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Congressman Bridenstine voted to send HR 4909, the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) from the House Armed Services Committee to the full House this morning.  The bipartisan bill authorizes funding for America’s armed forces and sets Department of Defense policy.  Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act 53 years in a row.  

Three major amendments sponsored by Congressman Bridenstine were adopted in the bill:

  • Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) exports — Codify in law a 30-day limit for Department of Energy (DOE) to issue final decisions on applications.  Congressman Bridenstine commented, “Energy security is national security. Exporting LNG to our allies strengthens our national security by reducing dependence on hostile regimes, plus it grows the American economy.  America is the world’s largest producer of natural gas. Oklahoma is the fourth-largest producing state.  DOE bureaucrats are currently holding up 30 LNG export applications which have already completed full environmental and permitting reviews. ”   
  • Prevent re-listing of Lesser Prairie Chicken and de-list American Burying Beetle from Endangered Species Act (ESA).  Bridenstine noted, “Training and operations on military bases is disrupted by compliance with ESA mandates.  This is unnecessary when the species are not actually threatened.  Additionally, ESA requirements make base expansion and modification cumbersome and expensive.  These two species populations are present at Altus Air Force Base, Fort Sill, and McAlester Army Ammunition Plant.”   
  • Prohibit housing unaccompanied alien children on U.S. military installations.  The Congressman said, “Housing children on bases with ongoing operations – including live artillery ranges – is inappropriate. The Obama Administration has commandeered military bases to temporarily house unaccompanied children, including Fort Sill in Oklahoma in 2014.  Housing them on bases damages military readiness by shifting limited defense resources to non-defense missions.  Rather than imposing on an overstretched military, the Administration could use some of the 77,000 vacant or underutilized buildings owned by the Federal government.”  

NDAA includes other provisions that Congressman Bridenstine worked to support Oklahoma’s National Guard, including:

  • Redirected funding to procure F-16 simulators.  The 138th Fighter Wing at Tulsa Air National Guard Base flies F-16s.
  • Redirected funding to support critical requirements for National Guard State Partnership Program.

NDAA includes several provisions from Bridenstine’s American Space Renaissance Act (ASRA).  Earlier this month, Congressman Bridenstine introduced HR 4945, groundbreaking legislation to enact bold reforms across military, civil, and commercial space sectors.  NDAA is the first step in Congressman Bridenstine’s strategy to enact ASRA piece-by-piece in different legislative vehicles. NDAA includes ten provisions, including:

  • Establishing a pilot program for the Air Force to buy, test, and evaluate commercial weather data.  Utilizing data provided by innovative private sector weather companies can lower costs to taxpayers, produce better weather products for the warfighter, and complicate the targeting solutions of our enemies by distributing space architectures.
  • Redirecting funding to jump start a pilot program to test next-generation satellite communications (SATCOM) technologies.  Private sector SATCOM companies are offering leap-ahead capacity for commercial customers.  The Department of Defense should take advantage of this through a pilot program. 
  • Modifies SATCOM Analysis of Alternatives to ensure accurate cost estimates and full consideration of commercial SATCOM technologies.

 

—  30  —

“Restoring military readiness means lifting burdens on our military installations where possible and reasonable” Congressman Bridenstine said.  “The U.S. military takes great pains to comply with the many regulations imposed by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  ESA imposes costs on our military every day.  We need to balance those costs against the imperative of training and preparing the force.” 

The Congressman noted errors in the studies for the original listings of two species, the Lesser Prairie Chicken and the American Burying Beetle.  The LPC has already been de-listed.  Both species are subjects of repopulation efforts and are thriving.  Neither species is endangered or threatened, but both hinder military readiness.

Bridenstine further explained, “The McAlester Army ammunition plant in Eastern Oklahoma sits squarely in the Beetle’s known range.  The plant jumps through hoops every day to deal with the ESA requirements and future plans to expand and modify the plant are impacted, too.  We shouldn’t be burdening this Army ammunition plant or any other military installation for a species which is clearly thriving.

“There are seven military bases within the historic range of the Chicken, including in New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma.  All of these installations would face significant impacts if the LPC is relisted, particularly in terms of future expansion.  Before we jeopardize readiness, let’s give time for the state-based conservation program to work.” 

The amendment was approved as part of the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  The bipartisan bill authorizes funding for America’s armed forces and sets Department of Defense policy.  Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act 53 years in a row.

“Restoring military readiness means lifting burdens on our military installations where possible and reasonable” Congressman Bridenstine said.  “The U.S. military takes great pains to comply with the many regulations imposed by the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  ESA imposes costs on our military every day.  We need to balance those costs against the imperative of training and preparing the force.” 

The Congressman noted errors in the studies for the original listings of two species, the Lesser Prairie Chicken and the American Burying Beetle.  The LPC has already been de-listed.  Both species are subjects of repopulation efforts and are thriving.  Neither species is endangered or threatened, but both hinder military readiness.

Bridenstine further explained, “The McAlester Army ammunition plant in Eastern Oklahoma sits squarely in the Beetle’s known range.  The plant jumps through hoops every day to deal with the ESA requirements and future plans to expand and modify the plant are impacted, too.  We shouldn’t be burdening this Army ammunition plant or any other military installation for a species which is clearly thriving.

“There are seven military bases within the historic range of the Chicken, including in New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, and Oklahoma.  All of these installations would face significant impacts if the LPC is relisted, particularly in terms of future expansion.  Before we jeopardize readiness, let’s give time for the state-based conservation program to work.” 

The amendment was approved as part of the FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  The bipartisan bill authorizes funding for America’s armed forces and sets Department of Defense policy.  Congress has passed the National Defense Authorization Act 53 years in a row.

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Editorial Opinion:  ​We can generally say that addictive behaviors are detrimental to human development and achievement. We can even see that many addictions are deadly.

  But does it therefore follow that the wisest course of action is to empower our government to outlaw addictions and exact punishments, fines, and other retributions; as a strategy to successfully end the scourge of addictive behavior in our society? And do we really want a society when police actions are so draconian?

  Or is it possible that our ‘war on drugs’ has added to the problem of addiction by sending it into desperate hiding? And has the government created a bigger economic problem by incubating a business environment where black market cartels can come in and set up shop? And the inevitable organized crime from black market cartels has therefore led to skyrocketing crime, harming people who had nothing to do with the cartel or the addictive behavior.


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  There are plenty of addictive habits and substances which can be harmful, yet our public policy does not include a prohibition on them.
  The petroleum industry has long known that gasoline huffing is a terrible addiction, but no legislator has taken on the petroleum lobby and sought to restrict the sale and use of gasoline.
  And perhaps that is why the huffing problem is not as widespread as the heroine problem? By keeping gasoline legal and unrestricted, we have kept the drug cartels from having exclusive marketing rights. Their hideous sales forces don’t peddle gasoline near the park and schools.

Some terrible Addictions Are Legal (and should remain so)

A New Path… (Okay, not really new. We did this with liquor, in 1959)

  We’ll avoid the debate over statutory inconsistencies regarding different ‘controlled substances’ and the relative dangers of alcohol vs hemp. But we can look at what an economy would look like if the ‘War On Drugs’ was adjusted so as to carefully begin implementing some of the Colorado reforms, just as we did in 1959 when Oklahoma slowly began to allow liquor marketing in the state.

  The end of Oklahoma’s prohibition brought about 4 big positive changes to our state.
  • Cost savings to our law enforcement agencies and correctional facilities.
  • Revenue enhancements as black market sales transformed into legitimate business and subject to equitable taxation.
  • Human lives rescued, as they came forward to seek treatment for addictions, since the fear of prosecution is gone.
  • The departure of black market organized crime syndicates who lost their monopoly on a product.

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  When we make the shortsighted choice to let government remain our parental authority, we will never really be a free society. We need to have the liberty to perhaps suffer the consequences of our behavior. When government externally controls people, they never really grow up and become who they were created to be. We have let legislators enact shortsighted fixes which have resulted in long term problems. It eventually leads to a socialist society much like the former Soviet Union became. And when that economy collapsed of it’s own weight, the people who were then left to provide for themselves, were terribly unprepared and ill-equipped to compete in a free market. Hence, the black market mafia cartels that now rule the new Russia.

  Conclusion: I’m a teetotaler. That’s an old term for folks who don’t drink liquor. I have been for more than 3 decades. I don’t plan to change any of that. But I do believe the government is punishing me every time they arrest another person for possessing a controlled substance. I and my fellow taxpayers get assessed a $20k annual fee to incarcerate each one of them. And that’s aside from the cost of displaced families, courts, cops, and other damages to society. I want children protected from exploitation and public safety to be emphasized. But if my neighbor gets relief from his PTSD symptoms via an evening dose of cannabis, I don’t have a problem with that.
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  The Oklahoma Republicans are very close to clinching the majority in the Senate, just days after filing has closed. The senate holds elections on half of their seats, plus any special elections. So 25 of the 48 seats are up for grabs this year. …

  There were 21 official challenges filed with the Oklahoma State Election board, for the 417 candidates seeking state office. 15 of the cases actually went before the tribunal of the State Election Board. (the other cases were dropped before their cause was called, in Monday’s hearing.
Some candidates represented themselves, but several secured the legal services of counsel.

PictureBrooke McGowan was the only successful defender of a candidacy who was not a professional litigator.

  Only 3 candidates sustained a litigated challenge and prevailed. One of them was Brooke McGowan of Shawnee. She faced off with Former Senate Pro Tempore, Glenn Coffee, representing his client, Senator Ron Sharp (the incumbent). Despite the intimidation of the setting and high-powered attorneys, McGowan pressed her case, introducing herself; “I’m not an attorney. I don’t have a law degree. I have a seminary degree.”

 McGowan masterfully began with the precedent set in previous cases on the docket; “You have clearly established that residency claims must be judged by intent.”. She went on to indicate (and I paraphrase);

  “I filed for office just prior to closing on our new home. Both our previous residence and our new residence are well within the district, but I chose to list the new home because that’s where I would be residing. But since the home had serious plumbing deficiency, we had to find temporary residence while new toilets were being installed. The Senator had my summons served to the vacant house while it was vacant. My intent is and was to be as accurate and true to intent, as I could.”

  Attorney Coffee then claimed that McGowan missed a redundant box on her original voter registration, some time ago. At that point, The Election Board Secretary, Paul Ziriax said that it would be a “high bar” to rule technically on this, since the oath signed by voters affirms the matters in the box. At that point Senator Sharp’s counsel looked petty and his case fell apart. McGowan was retained on the ballot on a unanimous vote of the 3-member tribunal.

PictureCoffee and Hammons exchange pleasantries while waiting for Setzer’s case to begin.
  A dramatic case was litigated as the last matter on the docket. the Democrat State Party Chairman, Mark Hammons, defended the candidacy of Joshua Setzer. The hearing room transformed into a venue of precedent proportions when the very statutes governing the election board were challenged. 
  Setzer is a recent party-switch and the state statute requires him to be a member of the party for 6 months before he can be a candidate in the name of that party. Hammons was the strongest proponent to represent Setzer because he essentially serves as a witness as well as counsel. Hammons insisted that only party rules should govern such matters, and the state has no compelling government interest in restricting Setzer’s 1st Amendment constitutional rights.
  The case is also made stronger by the fact that the Libertarian candidates only had to be registered party members for 15 days prior to filing, but Democrats and Republicans had to be registered 6 months prior.  The Board refused Coffee’s request for a delay in the hearing for 10 days. Coffee had thought he was going to earn easy money for this case. He expected a ‘slamdunk’ ruling because the candidate reregistered 5 months ago and did not dispute a failure to meet statutory requirements. When the board withdrew into executive session, they decided to wrap up these hearings today and pressed on. Then the boards’s retained counsel essentially became an ally for Coffee and defended the election board’s right to honor the statute, using several federal cases, including Citizens United and some Scalia opinions.
  The board rendered a split decision along party lines (2 republicans and 1 Democrat).

Oklahoma State Election Board
2016 CANDIDATES FOR STATE ELECTIVE OFFICE CONTESTS OF CANDIDACY  

Cause  Name  Office Hearing Decision
2016-01  Stone v. Alvarado  State Representative, District 89 4/25/2016  (Alvarado ordered stricken from ballot)
2016-02  Virgin v. Perry  State Representative, District 44 4/25/2016  (Perry ordered stricken from ballot)
2016-03  Enns v. Coleman  State Representative, District 41 4/25/2016  (Coleman withdrew, Contest withdrawn by petitioner)
2016-04  Rogers v. Conduff-Rogers  State Representative, District 98 4/25/2016  (Conduff-Rogers withdrew, Contest withdrawn by petitioner)
2016-05  Bennett v. Erb  State Representative, District 92 4/25/2016  (Erb withdrew, Contest withdrawn by petitioner)
2016-06  Leewright v. Scroggs  State Senator, District 12 4/25/2016  (Scroggs ordered stricken from ballot)
2016-07  Calvey v. Crawford  State Representative, District 82 4/25/2016  (Contest withdrawn by petitioner)
2016-08  Smith v. Hill  State Representative, District 87 4/25/2016  (Hill ordered stricken from ballot)
2016-10  Meredith v. Culver  State Representative, District 4 4/25/2016  (Culver ordered retained on ballot)
2016-11  Nichols v. Cole  State Representative, District 72  4/25/2016  (Cole ordered stricken from ballot)
2016-12  Marlatt v. Setzer  State Senator, District 27 4/25/2016  (Setzer ordered stricken from ballot)
2016-13  Sharp v. McGowan  State Senator, District 17 4/25/2016  (McGowan ordered retained on ballot)
2016-14  Sharp v. Sturgill  State Senator, District 17 4/25/2016  (Sturgill ordered stricken from ballot)
2016-15  Ford v. Brewbaker  State Representative, District 95 4/25/2016  (Brewbaker ordered stricken from ballot)
2016-16  McDaniel v. Donaldson-Hutton  State Representative, District 83 4/25/2016  (Contest withdrawn by petitioner)
2016-17  Loveless v. Vincent  State Senator, District 45 4/25/2016  (Vincent ordered stricken from ballot)
2016-09  Griffith v. Lynn  State Representative, District 45 4/25/2016  (Lynn ordered stricken from ballot)
2016-18  Etters v. Lynn  State Representative, District 45 4/25/2016  (Ruled moot; Contestee stricken in earlier cause)
2016-19  Moore v. Arnold  State Representative, District 96 4/25/2016  (Arnold ordered stricken from ballot)
2016-20  Baker v. Von Tungeln  State Representative, District 60 4/25/2016  (Von Tungeln ordered stricken from ballot)
2016-21  Matthews v. Knox  State Senator, District 11 4/25/2016  (Knox ordered retained on ballot)