Enemies of Our Enemies

Enemies of Our Enemies - June 23, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

The ancient idea that “The Enemy of My Enemy is My Friend” is widely attributed to the Arabs. But in truth, it is much older. The proverb can actually be traced to the military strategy writings of an Indian named Kautilya who is often referred to as the “Indian Machiavelli.” Kautilya’s 4th century B.C. treatise on warfare and economic policy is named the Arthashastra or the “Science of Politics” but has a much broader scope and actually addresses the collective ethics that hold a society together.

It includes books on the nature of government, law, civil and criminal court systems, economics, markets and trade, theories on war, the nature of peace and the duties and obligations of a king. It addresses public projects and advises that the king, in times and in areas devastated by famine, epidemic and such acts of nature, or by war, infrastructure should be reinforced and tax policy should reflect the needs of those regions.

Interestingly, while Kautilya’s work contains powerful messages regarding the common good, the most enduring concept of the Arthashastra is that, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” an idea that fuels the partisan divides in our nation and in our state. Unfortunately, activists on the left and right leave little room for lawmakers to overcome that political chasm.

The most recent case in point involves the couple of dozen Democratic candidates for President. Last week when one of the candidates, a former U.S. Senator, pointed to his ability to work across the aisle, he was chastised for cooperating on legislation with Republican Senators who were known segregationists. It did not matter that the common legislation had nothing to do with segregation.

Another recent article involved elements in the Oklahoma State Democratic Party who had urged party activists to chastise or blacklist current or former elected officials who were known to have endorsed a Republican in a political race. While such bi-partisan endorsements are unusual, the alternative is rigid, unbending partisanship that gives rise to the existence of rules such as the GOP’s 11th Commandment, “Thou Shall Not Speak Ill of Any Republican” that has existed since the 1964 California Republican Gubernatorial Primary when Ronald Reagan was accused by a fellow Republican candidate of having been a “member of several communist front organizations.”

Today, it is not unusual for Republicans who work across the aisle to be called, “RINO’s,” an acronym for “Republicans In Name Only” and Democrats are often called “DINO’s.” However, it is not unusual for members of one party to work with another. In fact, during the hard fought 2017 Oklahoma legislative session, the Democratic House Caucus had one goal and that was to increase state revenue for education and state services that had endured a decade of cuts.

The most obvious source of revenue was to increase the Gross Production Tax on oil and gas. Oklahoma’s rate on horizontal wells at that time was effectively in the 2% range while the rest of the nation ranged from 7 to 12%. With only 26 members in a 101 member body, there was not much that the Democrats could do until Democratic leadership recognized a split in the Republican caucus where one group did not want to increase the GPT at all and the other group had bought into the oil and gas industries plan to cap GPT at 3%.

Democrats took advantage of the GOP schism, siding with a faction of the GOP that refused to increase GPT to the paltry level sought by oil and gas and the state chamber. Then, when negotiations yielded not 3, not 4 but a GPT increase to 5%, Democrats unanimously shifted their votes to complete a bi-partisan bill that provided sufficient revenue to make education funding that year and this year much easier. Frustratingly when the dust cleared, the oil and gas industry chastised Republican legislators for caving to the demands of Democrats and Democratic Legislators caught flak from constituents for not getting the GPT set at 10% or at least the national average.

Sometimes, in the end, it is tough to tell who your enemies are and who your friends are. Thank you for allowing me to serve Oklahoma. For questions or comments call me at 405-557-7401 or email me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.

We Are Better Than That

We Are Better Than That - June 16, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

Most Americans, including me, don’t know how social media algorithms work or how posts from across the political spectrum show up on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram. Like most red-blooded grandparents, what I really want to see is the latest photograph of any or all of my eleven grandchildren.

Nonetheless, last week up popped a message that said, “If you do not support our president, please find a country whose leader you do support and MOVE there.” My first thought was whether the poster had sent a similar message during the administration of the last president? Of course, the current political and societal division is not the first time that this sentiment has been vocalized. Those of us who are past our late fifties remember the “America Love It or Leave It” slogan from the Vietnam War era.

My next thought centered on why anyone would choose to promote a black/white, either/or false dichotomy in a country that is founded on equality and freedom of expression and freedom of ideas. Rather than urging citizens to relocate them and their families to another part of the world, we should be looking at the hundreds of concerns that unite us like a common desire to have better roads and better paying jobs. Those are issues that we should focus on collectively.

It makes sense that the more Oklahomans that are around the table the more likely the proposed solutions would be relevant and viable and it is incomprehensible that Oklahomans, of any political stripe, are not united on these issues:

Health Care and Health Outcomes. Oklahoma ranks second highest in the nation for its percent of uninsured citizens and fourth in the nation for its percentage of uninsured children. Nearly one in seven (545,000) Oklahomans are uninsured. That is 14.2% of our citizens according to the Oklahoma Hospital Association webpage. Consequently, Oklahoma hospitals provide more than $592 million in uncompensated care annually. The Governor and the Legislature should put aside partisan bickering and enact a legitimate solution to this situation.

Untreated Mental Health Issues. Oklahoma’s rate of mental illness is second in the nation. One in five Oklahomans (more than 630,000) is suffering from some form of mental illness. According to a 2014 Report in the Oklahoman, Oklahoma trails only West Virginia for the percentage of residents with a severe mental illness, and only Utah in the percentage of residents suffering from mental illness of any kind and with budget cuts over the past four years, the situation has gotten worse. Right now the only proposed solution is to reduce the uninsured rate by accepting federal dollars (like we do for about 40% of the state budget) through the initiative petition process.

It is time for Oklahomans to call upon all Oklahomans to bring all solutions to the table. Currently about 40% of the Oklahoma budget is made up of federal funds that pass through to agencies. Additional federal funding is available that will help both of these issues. Accepting federal funds at the rate of $9 for every $1 that would be invested by the state legislature is a win-win solution that addresses both physical and mental health outcomes. That is one solution. We should be all ears from any others regardless of party affiliation. What we cannot afford is divisive rhetoric that does not come with solutions. We are better than that.

Questions or comments, please call or write 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.

Fifth Down and Goal to Go

Fifth Down and Goal to Go - June 9, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

For decades, the officials of the old Southwest Football Conference were considered the most biased in the game. The fact was if was nearly impossible for a gridiron team to escape stadiums in Houston, Dallas, Waco, Lubbock, Austin, Fort Worth or Fayetteville with a victory. But what has been referred to as one of the most egregious calls in the history of college football occurred during a Big 8 match on October 6, 1990 on Faurot Field in Columbia, Missouri, the home of the Missouri Tigers and while it decided the outcome of the game, the beneficiary of the call was not the home team.

Instead, the Colorado Buffaloes were allowed two running plays and two spiked passes before Buff backup quarterback Charles Johnson scored on what the officials thought was a “fourth and goal” play from inside the one yard line. In the aftermath of the 33-31 “win” Colorado went on to win the conference title and was recognized by the Associated Press as the 1990 National Champions.

Even though the error was apparently an honest mistake, Big 8 Commissioner Carl James suspended J.C. Louderback and his entire officiating crew indefinitely, The logic was simple, mistake or otherwise, the outcome of athletic contests in our society are far too important to allow those who apply the rules to arbitrarily determine the results.

Compare and contrast that to our judicial system. Judicial reform in the 1960’s has provided Oklahoma with an exceptionally fair system that has placed thousands of qualified and unbiased jurists on the bench all across our state. The process of selecting fair judges is important because of the real impact that judges make in the lives of people and families whose cases appear on their dockets.

Our system of government survives only when the legislative, executive and judicial branches are allowed to properly and independently execute their individual functions. The naturally resulting checks and balances allow government to stay in sync and provide the services and protections to which its citizens are entitled.

When a government falls out of sync or is pushed out of sync by politically motivated groups, its citizens suffer. Key to the judicial branch is the freedom to impose Orders of legal equity that will hold parties accountable for actions that harm others or society as a whole. Oklahomans must diligently guard against organized efforts that are calculated to impede the ability of judges to equitably address damages, injuries and overreach by those who seek to place themselves above the law and make them less accountable to others.

In Oklahoma, the effort has not only capped damages to which injured persons are entitled, it has made it more cumbersome for an injured person to file an action. Those who seek to protect corporate interests have gone so far as to identify and target judges who they feel have made decisions that are not “business friendly.” An analysis of the litigation and the standards used clearly shows that the definition of “business friendly” is the antithesis of “good for people.”

Not to be left out, the oil and gas industry has devoted millions of dollars to rank judges and justices based on decisions made in environmental cases categorizing them as either “a positive decision for the state’s economy” or “not a positive decision for the state’s economy.” For example, evaluators gave a negative ranking to a judge who determined that individuals exposed to toxic chemicals by an electric transformer explosion had a right to sue the manufacturer for compensation for their injuries. A judge who held that the Oklahoma Water Resources Board lacked the jurisdiction to order a company to clean up polluted waters after a pipeline rupture received a positive rating.

While most people simply want a fair umpire on the sports field or an unbiased judge in the courtroom, there are groups that are actively investing millions of dollars in hopes of getting back many times that amount by tilting the scales of justice decidedly in their favor.

Questions or comments, please call or write 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.

The Conundrum of Desperation

The Conundrum of Desperation - June 2, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

Desperate times call for desperate measures. With a white supremacist madman in control of perhaps the most technologically advanced military machine in the history of the world, the future looked bleak.

Those around the world who opposed his path toward destruction could not understand how he had persuaded so many citizens to blindly follow his lead and to sit on their hands while he engaged in hateful rhetoric that was so foreign to their nation’s past. In fact, hundreds of thousands fell in line with his unprincipled behavior and outright supported him because of promises to rid the nation of immigrants and to put the country on a path toward economic success.

The year was 1944. The man was Adolph Hitler and his atrocities had rocked the world.

In a desperate response, on June 6, 1944, the United States, Britain, and Canada conducted Operation Overlord, landing 156,115 soldiers on five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of France’s Normandy region.

We are often reminded of the enormous amphibious landing and the brave soldiers who died and the ones who survived to make the operation a success. We know of the 6,939 ships and landing vessels and 2,395 aircraft and 867 gliders that delivered airborne troops and equipment and machinery.

Those efforts were heroic and forged alliances of trust and unity that lasted for over seventy years. What we don’t readily know about were a number of clever innovations that were used on D-Day. Many of the innovations were somewhat experimental and were used simply because desperate situations require desperate measures. Recently, the British Imperial War Museum openly discussed some of those measures.

Because Hitler had charged Rommel with the fortification of the beaches and it was thought that any attack would occur during high tide, German mines and structures had been installed just below high tide along the beaches to hamper Allied efforts. With this knowledge, the allied forces chose to land during low tide when the mines and structures would be most exposed. The allies commissioned British mathematician Arthur Thomas Doodson to develop a tide-prediction machine, a mechanized calculator to reveal tidal patterns. Using this and weather models, Doodson identified the exact time that the landing would be most effective and directed that D-Day should fall between June 5 and June 7.

A second innovation involved Horsa Gliders that were towed by transport or bomber aircraft before gliding into the Normandy landing zone. They transported heavier equipment and supplies that could not be delivered via parachute drops. The hinged nose and removable tail sections allowed cargo to be unloaded relatively easy. These gliders were flimsy, constructed mainly of fabric over a wood frame. They were difficult to operate, but were effective in the support effort.

Perhaps the most impressive D-Day Innovation was the PLUTO that was designed to provide fuel support to the massive invasion. PLUTO was an acronym for “Pipeline Laid Under The Ocean.” Massive lengths of 3-inch steel pipes were literally wound around a huge floating spools called a Conundrum and unwound across the English Channel. The pipes were used to pump fuel to the allied effort and by wars end, at least one of the pipes was nearly 500 feet long.

These and many other critical innovations allowed good to prevail over evil and the men and women who fought for allied powers around the world to be successful in an era where margins of victory were then.

On this 75th Anniversary of D-Day, we must remember the honor of working with other nations to pursue peace, freedom and prosperity against those who would take it from us and as we see that greatest generation pass from our midst find a way to preserve that honor for our posterity.

Questions or comments, please call or write 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.

Water, Water Everywhere

Water, Water Everywhere - May 26, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

Annie Edson Taylor was a school teacher and like many Oklahoma school teachers are required to rely on other sources of income to make ends meet. Ms. Taylor was resourceful and imaginative. So much so that on her 63rd birthday, she tried to secure her financial future and avoid the poorhouse by becoming the first person to ride over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Ms. Taylor’s feat took place in 1901 and fortunately today, parents and grandparents who are nearing their 63rd birthdays are counting the months until they will become Medicare eligible and begin drawing their Social Security. Annie Edson Taylor did not have that option as the partisan fights surrounding Social Security was more than three decades away and the goal of attaining a universal health care system for America’s retirees was not realized until President Johnson’s similar struggle in the 1960’s.

On October 24, 1901, Annie’s custom made oak and iron barrel with a mattress inside was put in the water near Goat Island, above the falls. She climbed in and the barrel was sealed and then a bicycle pump was used to compress the air inside. The drop was more than 188 feet and the water volume over the falls was nearly 225,000 cubic feet per second and Ms. Taylor succeeded with only a small gash on her head.

Today, the peak flow of Niagara Falls is just over 100,000 cubic feet per second and it is ironic that the power and majesty of the water flow over those majestic falls is dwarfed by the water in Oklahoma’s watersheds the past several days. In fact, water being released from just a single Oklahoma reservoir, Keystone Lake is exceeding the flow from Niagara Falls. Last week officials announced that the flow would be increased from 80,000 cubic feet per second to 160,000 cfs,the equivalent of 1.6 million gallon jugs of water per second.

On the Friday before Memorial Day, the Corps of Engineers announced that the flow had been increased to 250,000 cfs and the morning Memorial Day the flow was increased to 275,000 cfs, or nearly 3 times the peak flow of the powerful Niagara. Despite the dangers and devastation, the situation could have been much worse if another political struggle had not occurred in the mid-1930’s. One of the many infrastructure programs promoted by the Franklin Roosevelt administration was a system of Soil and Water Conservation districts.

While many conservative and right wing groups attacked it as socialistic and unaffordable, legislation was passed that enabled Oklahoma to participate in the program beginning in 1937. Over the past 82 years, countless lives, homes, and other properties have been saved, not to mention the benefits that have inured to Oklahoma’s soil.

Today, Oklahoma has 2,107 small watershed upstream flood control structures - more than any other state. Oklahoma has always been a leader in flood control, beginning with the construction of the first flood control dam in the nation in 1948.

Additional federal flood control legislation, also opposed by conservatives as socialistic, gave rise to a network of Corps of Engineers projects on Oklahoma’s larger rivers that continue to save lives, property and provide Oklahomans with critical recreational revenues.

Programs like these benefit all Oklahomans everyday including in times of natural disaster. Programs like Social Security and Medicare benefit Oklahomans everyday on a personal level helping them with health concerns and keeping them from suffering abject poverty. They also keep our retirees from performing stunts like going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Questions or comments, please call or write 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.

How to Build a Better Mousetrap

How to Build a Better Mousetrap - May 19, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

Ralph Waldo Emerson, America’s quintessential philosopher, famously said, “If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon or make a better mouse trap than his neighbors, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.” While Emerson’s philosophical and literary contributions to American society were much broader than this simple quote, the truth found at the core of this mid-19th century Emerson statement embodies at once the American spirit, the American experience and the finite frailty of American exceptionalism.

Nearly a century before Emerson’s observation, according to Rick Atkinson’s new book, “The British Are Coming,” June 1773 saw King George III celebrating his reign over the greatest, richest empire since ancient Rome. Less than two years later, after a series of provocations, the king’s soldiers took up arms against his rebellious colonies in America. Atkinson’s book details that the war would last eight years and though at least one in ten of the Americans who fought for independence would die for that cause, the prize was valuable beyond measure: freedom from oppression and the creation of a new republic.

The concept of a better book, a better sermon and a better mousetrap had been achieved by the new republic. The new government was a shining beacon on a hill and was a celebrated form of government not so much for the individual rights retained as for the manner in which the collective rights of the electorate were served by the balanced powers of three branches of government, each individually existing of, by and for the people.

The transformation from what existed to what exists today was both foreseeable and preventable. Our founding fathers knew that there would be a struggle between the branches of government. The unanticipated factor was the abdication of civic responsibility by the citizenry. Because citizens have shirked their duty to protect their own interests and fail to diligently exercise the power of the people, nefarious influences have energized groups that have no regard for the common good of our nation and the families that inhabit it.

In Oklahoma where tens of thousands lack access to health care, life expectancy rivals third world countries, student college debt is at all-time highs, mental health goes untreated and public education is perpetually underfunded, rural infrastructure and fire protection is virtually ignored, there is a fundamental failure of our government to protect citizens from powerful interests that profit from the perpetuation of these conditions.

Oklahoma’s founding fathers recognized that government could become self-serving and gave us the Initiative Petition. Exercising the right to vote in all elections and the power of Petitioning for Ballot Initiatives is the only way to curb the organized power of corporate interests, the partisan gerrymandering of legislative districts, the suppression of the right to vote, and the dangers of excessive financial influence in campaigns.

Addressing these four issues directly is a step toward restoring a model of a “better mouse trap” that will benefit all of our citizens.

Questions or comments, please call or write 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.

Rendering the Lard

Rendering the Lard - May 12, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

One branch in my family tree connects directly to the Ozarks and while most regions of the country have unique sayings that have been passed down through generations, none are more numerous or colorful than those repeated over the decades by residents of the Appalachian and Ozark hill country.

For instance, one could not get much luckier than a farmer who had “cut a fat hog” on butchering day. While today we may believe that swine are killed for ham, bacon, sausage and pork chops, a product that was possibly more essential was the layer of fat that could be rendered into lard and used in cooking for the coming year.

Today, the term “cutting a fat hog” may be used to refer to an unearned windfall that occurs without excess effort and often produces an excessive amount of monetary gain.

Currently, a Bill is laying on the Governor’s desk that may provide such a windfall to lawyers that could be hand-picked by the Oklahoma Department of Insurance. Seldom are windfalls accidental and those that involve government contracts are always suspect. Senate Bill 251 is definitely suspect.

By way of background, Oklahoma and Federal law require that any person who receives Medicare or Medicaid benefits to treat an illness or injury that was caused by an accident or by the wrongful acts of a company or some other person, must repay Medicaid and/or Medicare before they can benefit from a recovery through a lawsuit. For instance, if a person runs a stop sign and injures someone who is on Medicare, the injured person must repay Medicare for the cost of treatment before they are allowed to keep compensation.

In Oklahoma, three or four employees at the Oklahoma Health Care Authority take care of those collections with a part of the recovery reimbursing the federal government and a part reimbursing the state. Those three or four employees have historically been very efficient. Their total salary is around $150,000 per year and last year they collected $8.7 Million. The year before they collected $7.1 Million and just over $8 Million the year before that.

So the cost of the recovery is just a fraction of a percent of the total amount recovered. In what appears to be a “brother-in-law” attempt to channel attorney fees to someone’s campaign contributor, Senate Bill 251 which passed the Senate 32-13 and the House 74-26 in near party line votes will change all that.

Senate Bill 251, now sitting on the Governor’s desk will REQUIRE that 100% of all claims be turned over to outside private legal counsel who will collect the money due the state and federal government on a contingency fee basis. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that lawyers don’t handle contingency fee cases for less than 1% of the amount collected, or even 10 or 15 or 25% of the amount collected.

Oklahoma stands to “give away” millions of dollars annually in the form of attorney fees to one or more law firms chosen by the Oklahoma Department of Insurance. The beneficiaries of those lucrative contingency fee contracts, just like the owners of those fat hogs will be living in “high cotton” where the crops are good and the prices are too.

Questions or comments, please call or write 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.

If You Build It They Will Come

If You Build It They Will Come - May 6, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

Kevin Costner was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers at the 2019 Western Heritage Awards last month in Oklahoma City. Mr. Costner has written, directed, produced or starred in a number of great movies that bring our nation’s history into perspective. Some are favorable portrayals and some, like the subjugation of native peoples in “Dances with Wolves,” portray periods of American history that are not so glorious.

Costner’s accepted the honor by opening his heart and speaking directly to Oklahomans about how genetically he was on track to be an Oklahoman and how that commonality has affected his life. His speech was touching and impacted my life. All Oklahomans should allow it to impact theirs. The speech can be accessed online through a number of sources, including YouTube.

Mr. Costner explained that his father was from the panhandle of Oklahoma. Guymon to be exact. His grandfather, Walter, was one of eleven children. He was a farmer/rancher and was 19 when he married his lifelong sweetheart, Tig, who was only 14. Tig told the story about how Walter worked hard. He sold cattle in a banner year and had in storage 50,000 bushels of wheat. At 11 o’clock one morning Walter went to the bank and took every penny with him. His plan was that even if there was not a good crop of wheat or cattle for the next four years, the family would still be taken care of.

Walter knew the banker. Walter knew the teller. There was no wink, no nod, no whisper: “Don’t do it, Walter.” In perhaps the biggest betrayal that his family has ever been subjected to, an hour later, at 12 noon, that bank closed, never to open its doors again. It was the Great Depression. The 50,000 bushels of wheat spoiled waiting for the price to go up. It never did. The Dust Bowl rolled over a generation.

Costner’s family, along with thousands of others, left with whatever they could carry, to carve out a new life. Costner said that “California wasn’t always very welcoming back then and making a go of it wasn’t easy if you were an Okie.”

Unfortunately, a recent article in the Journal Record reported that, “More people have moved out of Oklahoma in recent years than have moved in from other states, an indication of better job prospects in other parts of the country.” The first half of that sentence is a fact and the last half of the sentence only paints half the picture. Low paying jobs ARE a key factor in the outflow of population but other factors include an underfunded educational system; a lack of access to health care, particularly in rural Oklahoma; public policy that is based on trickle-down economics and an attitude among the state legislature that hinders anyone from success through hard work.

As Oklahoma approaches the 2020 Census, we would normally say that the worst thing that could happen to Oklahoma would be for it to lose another congressional district. Unfortunately, that fear has been displaced by a fear that Oklahoma will continue to block federal health care funds, continue to underfund education and continue to favor wealthy campaign contributors while stepping on the backs of Oklahomans who struggle every day to feed, clothe and educate their families.

Kevin Costner doesn’t just do westerns. He also starred in another one of my favorite films, “Field of Dreams”. It is about love, and family connections, risks and rewards, and includes a little bit about baseball. One of the immortal lines from that movie was, “If You Build It, They Will Come.” When will our state realize that if we allow it to be torn down, they will go.

Questions or comments, please call or write 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.

Pig in a Poke

Pig in a Poke - April 28, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

The English colloquialisms “turn out to be a pig in a poke” or “buy a pig in a poke” mean that something is sold or bought without the buyer knowing its true nature or value. The phrase can also be applied to accepting an idea or plan without a full understanding of its basis.

In the middle ages, con artists would often put a dog or a cat in a bag, commonly called a “poke” and sell it as a suckling pig to an unsuspecting customer. This past week, legislators were placed in a similar situation regarding Senate Bill 441.

As you will recall, SB441 originated in the Senate when legislators who had imposed the nations deepest cuts on Oklahoma’s public schools became embarrassed after the national news carried stories about Oklahoma’s four day school weeks and the lack of emphasis that Oklahoma places on public education.

The Bill added no funding to public schools but was a dictatorially arrogant legislative directive that the nearly 100 financially strapped state school districts that had resourcefully found a way to educate students despite draconian cuts, return to a five day per week calendar.

Then things got messy. Apparently fearing that legislators on the Common Education Committee would not vote in favor of a stand-alone directive for five day school weeks, the Speaker of the House sent the Bill to the Rules Committee, twice. The Rules Committee, fearing that the full house would not vote in favor of the mandate, sweetened the pot by adding a section granting every teacher in the state a $1200 per year raise.

What the Speaker and the Rules Committee forgot was that the drafters of Oklahoma’s Constitution foresaw the danger of passing a bad bill by attaching a good bill to it. In Oklahoma that is referred to as violating the constitutional single subject rule and reminds me of the family whose baby was so ugly that they had to tie a piece of bacon around his neck to get the dog to play with him.

Thus, during an evening session last week Senate Bill 441 came to the house floor. Representatives who didn’t want to vote for the unfunded mandate were enticed to hold their noses and vote for a teacher pay raise. Likewise, legislators who did not want to take away from local school boards the ability to tailor class hours, days and school calendars to the best benefit of the local school district were assured by their leadership that rural communities would be forgiving if teacher pay in Oklahoma was increased.

Proponents of Senate Bill 441 also claimed that certain schools might be able to avoid the five day week mandate if they could meet the guidelines of the Oklahoma Department of Education. Frustratingly, the rules and guidelines of the Oklahoma Department of Education have not yet been written. Rural schools across the state were skeptical about the unwritten standards. After all, the future, unknown rules would be written by the same State Department of Education that has been trying to close and consolidate successful and economical rural school districts for years.

As the Bill was debated and examined on the floor, the tension rose. Many legislators expressed concern about their conflicted positions. Finally as the vote was about to be taken, a Motion was made to Divide the Question and to allow the five day school week mandate to be voted on separately from the teacher pay raise. So much for the legislators who had claimed to be conflicted. Scores of legislators voted in the best interest of the Speaker of the House and against the best interest of their local school districts.

When the dust cleared, the Senate Bill passed the house with both subjects intact. The House Amendments have now been returned to the Senate.

Although the President Pro Tem of the Senate has indicated that the House Amendments may violate the Oklahoma Constitution, Oklahoma’s rural school districts are hanging their hats on a hope and a prayer that, if the Governor ultimately signs the SB441, the “pig in a poke” rules drafted on some future date by a hostile State Department of Education will legitimately allow them to justify that until the legislature properly funds public education, four day school weeks are a resourceful, frugal and effective way to educate students in financially strapped districts.

Questions or comments, please call or write 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.org.

Lipstick on a Pig

Lipstick on a Pig - April 21, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

There are a number of phrases and rhetorical statements that may be used to describe the vanity that exists when one wants to exude an image for which there is simply no underlying basis. A British sitcom of the mid 1990’s named “Keeping Up Appearances” captured that idea. In that show, Hyacinth Bucket (which she insisted be pronounced ‘Bouquet’) was a snobbish lower middle class social climber who was forever attempting to prove her social superiority and gain favor with those whom she considered upper class.

A similar concept is captured by the phrase "Keeping up with the Joneses" and the often unsustainable situation where an individual strives at great length to appear to be as affluent as the proverbial well-to-do neighbor.

As a state, Oklahoma is in the midst of a similar personal crisis.

Over the past nine or ten years, the Oklahoma legislature with full cooperation of the state's governors, hundreds of millions of dollars have been cut from the state's K-12 budget. In fact, prior to last year's teacher pay raise, Oklahoma's K-12 education funding had been cut by more than 28%, representing the deepest cuts of any state in the union.

Coupled with those cuts were a number of policy bills that diverted additional dollars from traditional public schools. Those policy bills set up state wide charter schools, education savings accounts, private and charter school scholarships and other voucher like bills that harmed schools across the state by diluting the scarce amount of funds that were not cut.

The natural consequence was that a number of school boards and administrators across the state took immediate steps to make certain that their students remained well educated even in the wake of drastic budget cuts. One of the more common cost saving responses was to change the format of the school week from five days per week to four days per week. Those schools adapted well and recognized fiscal saving while also taking care that academics were not compromised.

Then came the blowback. National media outlets widely publicized Oklahoma's budget cuts and used the four day school week format as clear evidence that Governor Fallin and the Oklahoma legislature did not value education and were satisfied with relegating our state (and its population) to a less than promising future.

So how would Oklahoma's leaders respond?

The answer became abundantly clear when this year's legislation was filed. Instead of properly funding education so that schools could afford to return to five day school weeks or otherwise improve the quality of education available to our youth, legislation filed this year included additional voucher type legislation and tax credits for private school scholarships.

Those bills and others like them further diluted funding that would otherwise be available for public education. Adding insult to injury, in response to bruised pride related to their neglect of education Senate Bill 441 was filed that mandated that all schools return to five day school week.

Some would say that they were just trying to "Keep Up Appearances" but the situation goes much deeper than that. By mandating that schools return to a five day week without properly funding public education and by continuing to dilute the funds available to public education, the legislature that is overly concerned about appearances could be described as putting Lipstick on a Pig to salve their own feelings of inferiority.

Many schools across Oklahoma are seeing the academic, economic, disciplinary and teacher retention benefits of four day school weeks. This is an area where local control and the wisdom of local administrators, parents and school boards should prevail.

This week, SB441 may be heard and possibly sent to the Governor. Proper public school funding and not a thick layer of lipstick should be the legislature's response.

Questions or comments, please call or write 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.org.

Ring Around the Rosie

Ring Around the Rosie - April 14, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

Ring around the rosie, Pockets full of posies; Atischoo, atischoo, We all fall down. For generations, this simple rhyme has been heard on playgrounds across the country. In reality, it is a grim reminder of disease and death of the great European plagues that resulted from poor hygiene, widespread unsanitary conditions and concentrated populations of people that were overrun with disease carrying rodents and vermin.

Over the past hundred years, great strides have been made in the reduction of these causal factors. Concurrently, medical research has generated thousands of vaccines that have allowed millions of people, young and old, to avoid the often deadly and debilitating effects of disease.

Many of those diseases have been effectively eliminated particularly in the United States where childhood vaccination is the choice of most parents. From a global perspective, the results are promising has not yet been achieved. For instance, according to the World Health Organization, the 1988 adoption of a Resolution by the 41st World Health Assembly called for the worldwide eradication of polio. Groups like Rotary International, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UNICEF and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recognized that the 350,000 cases reported in 125 countries in 1988 was unacceptable. The focus and resources provided by those groups and others have reduced the worldwide incidence of new polio cases to only 33 in 2018.

The miracle of vaccination does not end with polio. However, eradication of polio and many other diseases requires attention, focus and most importantly vaccination. When experts speak in terms of eradication, they understand that as long as a single child remains infected, anywhere in the world, children in all countries are at risk of contracting the disease. This is particularly true in an increasingly mobile society.

Currently, the United States is facing a nationwide measles epidemic. Measles is a highly contagious respiratory disease and spreads through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The virus may remain airborne for up to 2 hours in a room after the person with measles has left an indoor area. While measles is generally viewed as a childhood disease, according to the Oklahoma Department of Health it can lead to pneumonia and other complications, especially in young children and adults over 20. The disease can also cause serious problems in pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems. According to the Center for Disease Control, measles is so contagious that if one person has it, up to 90% of the people close to that person who are not immune will also become infected.

In today’s edition of the Oklahoman, readers were informed that there had been 465 confirmed cases of measles in 19 states. As of today, that number had increased to 555 cases in 20 states. Those 90 additional confirmed cases represent an increase of nearly 20% during the time required for news to be printed. That is the classic definition of an “epidemic.”

Measles vaccines are readily available. Each year in other parts of the world, measles kills 90,000 people and is the leading cause of death of children under age 5. It can happen here if we let our guard down. Those who refuse to immunize place not only their children at risk but also the children of their friends and neighbors and women who are infected during their first trimester of pregnancy have up to a 90% chance of delivering an infant with congenital rubella syndrome (CRS).

Questions or comments, please call or write 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.org.

A Well Rounded Education

A Well Rounded Education - April 7, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

                There are three principles regarding the role of government in American society that overwhelmingly occupy the majority of our time and resources. Those, in no particular order, are defense, poverty and public education.

                Of course defense is addressed by the men and women who serve our state and country and the military contracts that our federal government let for our national safety.

                Since the 1930’s, Social Security has been in place to prevent an elderly or disabled population from retiring into abject impoverishment. Later, in the 1960’s Medicare was added as a part of the social safety net to improve the quality of life of America’s retirees.

Public Education on the other hand has seen a much longer and more beleaguered existence. As early as 1647, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts mandated that every Township provide a trained teacher and grammar school at taxpayer expense. The concept grew quickly in the northeastern United States and more slowly in the South.

Public education had become the American norm by the time that Oklahoma was admitted to statehood but that had not eliminated opposition based on objections that have existed for centuries.

Those objections revolve around two main factors: 1) use of public funds; and 2) control of curriculum and continue to resurface.

House Bill 1017 was a landmark education funding and reform bill that was championed by Governor Henry Bellmon and passed with broad bipartisan support in 1990. The legislation reduced class size, increased minimum teacher salaries, established alternative teacher certification, funding equity, early childhood programs, statewide curriculum and testing standards.

 Immediately, opponents of public education reform initiated a petition and were able to get State Question 639 on the ballot. Fortunately, by a 46-54 percent vote, the effort to repeal HB1017 was defeated.

Last year, after 12 years of funding neglect, education in Oklahoma had reached a point that it could no longer meet the needs of Oklahoma children. As a result, Oklahoma was suffering socially and economically. Teachers, parents and interested citizens came to the State Capitol to demand that proper resources were devoted to education in Oklahoma.

Citizens, including teachers, exercised a fundamental constitutional right enumerated in both the Article 2, Section 3 of the Oklahoma Constitution and the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.

Oklahoma’s version says, “The people have the right peaceably to assemble for their own good, and to apply to those invested with the powers of government for redress of grievances by petition, address, or remonstrance.” Likewise, the national version says, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech,…or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

A number of lawmakers did not like being held accountable to their constituents and others who demanded proper education funding. As a result, bills were filed to prevent teachers from coming to the capitol during session. Some political groups are even now threatening to penalize educators and supporters of education by fining the school districts where they are employed or associated.

Many students from across the state saw concerned citizens peaceably assemble at the state capitol in support of education and will ultimately benefit from additional appropriations. It was not enough and more is needed, but those teachers and those parents provided an excellent example of democracy in action. It would seem that by exercising constitutional principles and constitutional rights, both students and legislators learned a lesson. Perhaps a lesson that will need to be repeated. That is a “Well Rounded Education.”

Questions or comments, please call or write 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.org.

Pharmaceutical Phairness

Pharmaceutical Phairness - March 31, 2019

State Representative David Perryman 

In 2017 there were approximately 464 independent community pharmacies in Oklahoma. Today there are fewer. I know that because one community in the rural house district that I represent lost its pharmacy last year. There were six and there are now five. That represents a decrease of over 16% in one house district alone.

Some would say that businesses closing in rural Oklahoma are simply a way of life and a sign of the times. However, when a country drug store that has existed for generations as one of the primary businesses in a community closes, the severity of the impact on the town begs answers as to why.

Whether a drug store sells gifts, dry-goods, or any of a miscellany of non-pharmaceuticals or even if it houses a fountain or snack bar, the driving force behind its existence and the primary generator of foot traffic is the filling of prescription drugs and other pharmaceuticals.

Of course, this is America and our economic system is based on concepts of supply and demand and theoretically based on the premise that well managed businesses that compete in the marketplace will succeed while others will fall by the wayside.

However, underlying those concepts are assumptions of fairness and equality. That is, an assumption that retailers have access to wholesale markets, pricing structures and incentives that are non-discriminatory and do not undermine a retailers ability to compete.

For years, Oklahoma’s community pharmacists have sought more transparency in the wholesale price that they pay and the reimbursements that they receive. While this is a problem that is limited to Oklahoma retailers, Oklahoma’s elected officials, including the legislature, the governor and the state’s Insurance Commissioners have failed to level the playing field, to the detriment of locally owned pharmacies.

As a result, the cost of medications for both small town Oklahoma pharmacies and the citizens they serve continues to skyrocket as out-of-state Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) corporations make multibillion dollar profits. PBM corporations continue to squeeze local pharmacies by inequitable drug pricing and a reimbursement process that favors certain large pharmacy chains often owned by the same parent corporation as the PBM itself.

Each time an attempt is made to require the mega-corporations to allow local pharmacies to purchase products at the same price as the favored corporate drug retailers, the PBM’s and their lobbyists threaten that the action will make drug prices skyrocket. Newsflash….inaction has not resulted in any price decreases.

PBMs’ continue to alter pharmacy contract terms, suppress reimbursement rates to community pharmacies and continuously redefine what pricing benchmarks are utilized to reimburse pharmacies for their services. This session Oklahoma community pharmacists are back at the state Capitol respectfully requesting support for HB2632 and SB841. These bills takes needed steps to ensure a transparent and sustainable medication delivery system that is not tilted in favor of mega-corporations and against our local pharmacies.

Time and again these out-of-state PBMs oppose small business-friendly legislation in Oklahoma, with their claims that any transparency will result in cost increases to the system. When these baseless scare tactics prove to be successful the only result is that Oklahoma small businesses make less, the cost of medication for patients increases, yet the PBMs continue to record multi-billion dollar profits.

The result is invariably the closing of community pharmacies that are essential to Oklahoma’s economy. When the playing field is level, community pharmacies and their excellent customer service with a personal touch results in Pharmaceutical Phairness, stores stay open and Oklahomans win. 

Questions or comments, please call or write 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.org.

The Ethic of Reciprocity

The Ethic of Reciprocity - March 24, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

                The Ethic of Reciprocity is found in nearly every world religion and philosophical tradition or dispensation. Bahá'í Faith: Choose for your neighbor what you would choose for yourself. Jewish Faith: (The Talmud) – What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow men. Buddhist Faith: Hurt no others with that which pains yourself.  Muslim Faith: You are not a believer until you desire for your brother what you desire for yourself.

The list goes on. Hindu Faith: One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself. This is the essence of morality. All other activities are due to selfish desire. Analects of Confucius: Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire. Isocrates: Do not do unto others what angers you if done to you by others.

Christianity’s version is: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. Of course you recognize this Ethic of Reciprocity as The Golden Rule.

Unfortunately, those in charge at the Oklahoma Capitol have ascribed a different meaning to “The Golden Rule.” The state government version is more similar to that espoused in a May 1965 “Wizard of Id” comic strip where the king declares: “REMEMBER THE GOLDEN RULE!” and a peasant responds: “WHAT THE HECK IS THE GOLDEN RULE?” and a musician replies: “WHOEVER HAS THE GOLD MAKES THE RULES.”

Most all Oklahomans are aware that several decades ago Oil and Gas Exploration companies were able to convince Oklahoma Courts that the mineral estate was the dominant estate and the surface estate was the subservient estate. This “profit a prendre” determination gave mineral owners the absolute right to use so much of the surface as is necessary to produce the minerals.

While there were basically no regulatory limitations on oil and gas exploration in rural areas, municipalities for more than 8 decades were able to protect people and property from encroachment by establishing setbacks, requiring surety bonds to cover damages to homes, businesses, water sources and roads, and regulating other nuisances caused by oil and gas operations.

In 2015, in the face of increases in the number and severity of earthquakes and the introduction of hundreds of millions of gallons of Oklahoma’s valuable fresh water into the drilling process, “he that had the gold” undertook to convince the legislature that the 80 year old rule was too burdensome. As a result, a new “golden rule” was established in the form of 52 O.S. Section 137.1 requiring that any municipal rule, except for an undefined “reasonable setback and fencing” requirement had to be “consistent” with the rules of the Corporation Commission and moved all such regulations away from cities, towns, counties to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

Not only did this move undermine the ability of municipalities to protect its citizens and their property, it firmly solidified the jurisdiction of the Corporation Commission, historically the favorite lapdog of the oil and gas industry, and pre-empted local control on most issues.

Now, it seems that the oil and gas industry wants to totally extinguish the ability of local government to have any say in protecting houses, businesses and other property values. The current legislation, HB2150, would require municipalities and counties to compensate oil and gas business interests for any regulation or restriction that may limit oil and gas operations, even if the restrictions are intended to benefit the health and safety of the community.

The bill will punish cities, towns and communities for trying to protect citizens from pollution and is an attempt to scare municipalities away from passing any ordinance that might impact oil and gas. HB2150 is an overreach of state authority over local city and county governments and is further evidence that “Whoever has the gold makes the rules.”

Thanks for allowing me to serve. If you have any questions or comments, please call or write, 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

Knowing When No Means No

Knowing When No Means No - March 17, 2019

State Representative David Perryman 

                What do low self-esteem, depression, mental health and a high teen pregnancy rate have in common? If your answer was Oklahoma, you are eons ahead of 56 members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

                That is the number of men and women who last week voted against House Bill 1007, which would have given Oklahoma public schools the option to teach age-appropriate consent and healthy relationship education. Who would not want their children and grandchildren, and more importantly, the FRIENDS and potential acquaintances of their children and grandchildren, to understand what is and what is not consent, and what is and what is not a healthy relationship.

                As the author, Jacob Rosecrants, a Norman Democrat explained the legislation, there were attempts to derail passage by the eight or so legislators who were vocal in their opposition to the Bill and who refused to see that the Bill was not a liberal, backdoor attempt to introduce “sex education” into the classroom.

                At one point, another legislator who favored the Bill attempted to explain that teaching young people to have the self-esteem to “say no” and teaching them to respect that lack of consent would likely reduce the incidence of unhealthy relationships and teen sexual activity. He went on to say that he believed that consent and healthy relationship education in the past might have reduced the high number of legislators who may have engaged in a sexual relationship before or outside of marriage. In response, one of the legislators who opposed the Bill complained to the Speaker of the House that he had been “disparaged.”

Nancy Schimelpfenning, a free-lance author writing in September 2018 in the online publication, A Very Well Mind, stated that more often than not, teens do not have the needed maturity to deal with the risks and responsibilities associated with sex. And when they turn to risky sexual behavior to cope with their feelings of depression and inadequacy, it can create many life-altering situations for them, such as pregnancy, abortion, sexually transmitted disease, and parenthood.

Even though the Bill as voted on allowed a parent to opt their child out of the curriculum, there was opposition from vocal legislators who want their children to learn about self-esteem, healthy relationships, boundaries and interpreting consent from their family or from their church. They were not convinced however, that passage of the proposal could make a positive impact on the lives of students who do not receive that message from their family or a church.

According to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention webpage of the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the reality is that the Oklahoma Teen Pregnancy Rate (29.7 per 1000 females) is 36.7% higher than the national average of 18.8 per 1000 teen females and is closely linked to critical social issues such as poverty, educational attainment, and increased health care costs. More than 40% of teen moms live in poverty within the first year of giving birth; by the time the child is three, the figure increases to 50%.

 Nearly 64% of Oklahoma teens that gave birth in 2012-2013 said that their pregnancy was unintended, while another 21% were not sure if they wanted a baby later, sooner, then, or at all.

More than once, the word “abstention” was mentioned by those who opposed the Bill. What better way for a young person to protect their right to abstain by instilling in him or her the self-esteem to take that stand and by instilling in his or her friends the knowledge of when he or she is or is not consenting.

Thanks for allowing me to serve. If you have any questions or comments, please call or write, 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@okhouse.gov

The Best Government Contains Checks and Balances

The Best Government Contains Checks and Balances - March 10, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

In 1907 the People of the State of Oklahoma chose to establish a form of state government in which directors of agencies were chosen to run those agencies based on qualifications. To accomplish this task, agency board members were likewise appointed based on knowledge, experience and qualifications.

Like most early 20th Century Americans, Oklahomans did not trust partisan, oligarchical attitudes prevalent in the spoils systems of the era that favored rich and privileged patrons who flourished under those conditions. Consequently, most states moved toward longer ballots and states such as Oklahoma that came into being in that period had both long ballots and weak governors.

In the heavily Democratic Sooner State, Republican Territorial Governors who had been appointed by Republican Presidents were suspect, in large part because of interparty GOP strife brought on by scandals, most notably in 1901 during the controversy over the mental sanitarium at Norman under a contract with the territorial government. According to an article by Kenny Brown in the Oklahoma Historical Society Encyclopedia, several party members had shares in the company.

Mr. Brown reported that President Theodore Roosevelt dismissed Republican Governor William Jenkins for his suspected role, but then appointed a couple of other Republican Territorial Governors in quick succession, including one of whom was Frank Frantz, a long-time friend of the President who had also served as a Rough Rider under Roosevelt.

Fast forward 112 years and now a movement is underway to shift power to Oklahoma’s Governor. Proponents say that agency directors are not responsive to the Governor and consequently the Governor needs the statutory authority to appoint and remove board members without regard to their qualifications or expertise. Coupled with that power will be the power to appoint and remove agency directors transforming those positions into purely patronage at-will jobs serving at the pleasure of the Governor.

Last week HB2479 (Juvenile Affairs); HB2480 (Corrections); and HB2483 (Mental Health and Substance Abuse) were heard on the floor of the House of Representatives and passed by large margins along party lines. Last week also saw the passage of HB1201 amending the procedure for Agency Rules to be adopted.

Coming down the pike on the House calendar are bills having a similar impact on the Fire Marshall Commission (HB1108); Health Care Authority (HB2481); and Department of Transportation (HB2482). The Senate Calendar also contains measures of like intent.

Shifting the power to and from a chief executive is nothing new and is frequently attempted for partisan purposes. Partisan power shifts are directly contrary to the “Rule of Law” that both parties like to espouse. But alarmingly, that is exactly what is happening in a number of states. In December in Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker signed several bills that were passed by Wisconsin’s GOP-controlled legislature designed to cure the power of incoming Democratic governor Tony Evers. Likewise, in Michigan, in the wake of the election of Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer, Republicans took steps to shift power away from the new chief executive.

Last June, the Charlotte Observer reported that the Republican legislature in North Carolina was actively trying to remove statutory power and authority from Democratic Governor Roy Cooper. Fortunately, in North Carolina former governors, both Republican and Democratic are speaking out about the dangers of the blatant power grab. Who will speak out in Oklahoma?

Questions or comments call or write David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.

117 Years of Daily Influence

117 Years of Daily Influence - March 3, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

Old traditions die hard. Four of my great-grandparents brought their children to western Oklahoma before statehood but for the rest of their lives they remained faithful readers of the newspapers of their youth. In fact, for three generations after Ed and Ethel Horton left Kansas, that state’s “Capper’s Weekly” was a regular family read. Likewise, Judson and Florence Hull continued to receive the “Churubusco Truth” for decades after they moved from Indiana.

Eventually, local news came through the “Carnegie Herald” but they relied on the “Daily Oklahoman” for state and national information. The Daily was delivered by rural mail carrier on Monday through Saturday and for a period dropped by plane into the yard of their farmhouse on Sunday mornings. For more than seven decades after 1902, Edward King Gaylord used the editorial page of the Daily Oklahoman to preach an ultra-conservative agenda, often spilling those opinions over onto the front page of the publication and Gaylord’s opinions were not limited to Oklahoma issues.

In the wake of the Great Depression, as President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Bill to address the abject poverty of millions of elderly Americans, conservative Republican E. K. Gaylord relentlessly fought the proposal. In an August 16, 1935 editorial titled, “Nothing Bad Omitted” Gaylord called FDR’s Social Security an “adventure into Utopia” and said, “The most undesirable citizen Oklahoma ever knew will be made a pensioner along with the most worth citizen Oklahoma ever new. It opens the door to all people who may attain to a certain age and makes to all of them a downright donation from the state treasury without any regard to their past habits or deserts.”

A quarter of a century later, the day after day effects of those editorials, led Robert S. Kerr, Oklahoma’s most powerful United States Senator, confided in Frosty Troy who was then the Washington bureau chief for the “Tulsa Tribune” and later the founding editor of the “Oklahoma Observer,” that the Daily Oklahoman was a primary factor in his prediction that Oklahoma would one day be a Republican state.

Just a few years after that prediction, President Lyndon Johnson was seeking a way for millions of elderly Americans to gain access to health care. In response to LBJ’s Medicare Bill for Americans over age 65, Gaylord used the August 1, 1965 edition of the Daily Oklahoman to issue an editorial named “After 20 Years of Creeping” decrying what he referred to as Fabian Socialism. The opinion piece argued that 9% of the  country’s population was over the age of 65 and allowing those 19 Million Americans access to health care would result in a 10 to 40% increase in that population seeking care for previously untreated health issues.

The editor prognosticated that the health care sought by these previously uninsured seniors would place such a burden on medical and hospital facilities that there would not be enough to go around. In short, the editorialist's fear was that since America’s elderly were already occupying about 27% of the nation’s hospital beds, expanding access to medical care for impoverished elderly “have nots” would jeopardize health care for the privileged “haves.”

The irony of it all was that the Daily Oklahoman editors rarely discussed solutions addressing the impoverishment of the elderly or their lack of access to health care and through the years seldom did more than naysay on issues  relating to public education, employee rights, college debt, the environment or any of hundreds of other issues facing middle and lower class working Oklahomans.

Not many were alarmed in 2008, when the Oklahoman downsized from a statewide newspaper or in 2018, when it announced that only a few communities in central Oklahoma would be eligible for home delivery of that newspaper, but this week in a surprising announcement tucked away on Page A17 of the Sunday, March 3, 2019 edition of the Oklahoman, readers were informed that beginning March 4, the paper would publish Opinion pieces only four days per week and op-ed pages on only two of those days.

Questions or comments call or write David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.

Training? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Training

Training? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Training - February 24, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

The classic 1948 John Huston film, Treasure of the Sierra Madre stands at No. 30 on the American Film Institute’s all-time best movie list. It is an iconic adaption of the B. Travens novel of the same name. True to Travens’ form, the plot examines “oppressed and exploited” characters whose life experiences have left them with few options.

Perhaps the most enduring line from the film came when Fred Dobbs (played by Humphrey Bogart) had been confronted by Gold Hat (played by Alfonso Bedoya) and his Mexican outlaw gang who were pretending to be Federales. When Dobbs questioned the gang’s authority and demanded to see their badges, Gold Hat’s famous response was, “Badges? We ain’t got no badges. We don’t need no badges! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ badges!” Despite misquotes and paraphrases over the past 71 years, the message remains identifiable, constant and clear.

A couple of Bills currently pending in the Oklahoma legislature bring the quote home. House Bill 2597 and Senate Bill 12 have been drafted to repeal the law that requires permits, and more importantly, training for handgun possession.

When questioned, proponents of the Bills claim that the right of all citizens of the United States is a Constitutional Right embodied in the Bill of Rights as the Second Amendment to the Constitution. They claim that any conditions imposed on citizens are an infringement of that right. Despite that position, most Oklahomans believe that permits and training are necessary. In fact, a poll of Oklahomans taken in March 2018 finds that Oklahomans overwhelmingly support the state’s current training and permitting laws.

The poll conducted by Survey USA shows that 89% of Oklahomans want our current firearm training and permitting and background check laws to continue in effect while only 8% want to remove those requirements. When asked whether the law should be changed to allow persons without permits to carry weapons in public, 81% said “No,” while only 15% said “Yes.”

The survey also asked if the respondent would be more likely or less likely to vote for a legislative candidate who supported removing the state’s gun permit requirement. In response, 68% said that they would be less likely to vote for that candidate while only 12% said that they would be more likely to vote for a candidate that supported eliminating the requirement of a permit for carrying a gun in public places.

Despite these numbers, when HB 2597 was presented on the House Floor on February 13, 2019, 70 of the 76 Republican members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives voted to allow guns to be carried in public by individuals who have had no background check, no training and no permits.

The dichotomy becomes even more remarkable when a review of the website of the National Rifle Association clearly promotes firearm training, to “Take charge of your family’s safety and get the basic knowledge and skills to safely handle or store firearms and ammunition in the home” and to instill the “techniques needed to develop a defensive mindset” with a goal of developing “the knowledge, skills and attitude necessary to carry and use a concealed pistol ethically, responsibly and with confidence.”

So why would a legislator totally disregard the wishes of an overwhelming super majority of Oklahoma citizens? The answer is simple, the 8% who want to remove training and permitting requirements and the 12% who would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported eliminating those requirements represent the base of those 70 members. Even though the base is relatively small, they are reliable and with a re-election in the balance, more often than not, they are the difference between winning and losing.

Until voters truly become concerned about firearm safety and proper training, the echo through the Capitol Rotunda will be, “Training? We don’t need no stinkin’ training.”

Questions or comments contact David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.

King Oil

King Oil - February 17, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

Prior to Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin in 1792, processing cotton had been a low-profit, labor-intensive drag on the agriculture industry of the American South. In fact, most early Americans believed (and many hoped) that rock bottom cotton prices would never sustain the long term viability of the “peculiar institution” of slavery and that the immorality would eventually be swept away.

Instead, the efficiency of the cotton gin spurred an immediate and unimaginable demand for raw cotton. Skyrocketing prices made Cotton King and for generations, slavery and the southern economy were inextricably intertwined. King Cotton became the foundation of the southern economy, southern culture and southern pride.

The world had never seen an industry that was so wealthy, so pervasive and so overwhelmingly controlling as King Cotton. No other industry of like power appeared until the rise of King Oil a hundred years later. Wielding massive amounts of financial, cultural and political influence, King Oil was allowed to dictate the terms of its own existence. Nowhere has a government been more capitulating than Oklahoma where legislators have drank deeply from the well of oil and gas campaign contributions.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission had no general authority over the industry until 1915 when the commission began hearing cases that dealt with the protection of mineral owners, production companies and affected citizens. That protection within municipalities was largely left to the police power of the local governments themselves. In 1935 the Oklahoma legislature adopted Section 137 to the Oil and Gas Code making it abundantly clear that cities and towns possessed the authority to protect its waters, its residents, its roads and bridges and the property of its citizens from the effects of oil and gas production.

For eight decades the oil and gas industry complied with zoning regulations and setbacks. Through the years, municipalities were allowed to protect their resources from pollution; their citizens from harm and their roads from ruination.

As the industry experienced huge profits and made big campaign contributions, political influence ballooned. In 2015, nearly 80 years to the day after the 1935 Oklahoma legislature had affirmed the power of municipalities to protect citizens, lawmakers abruptly reversed course. The oil and gas industry called its chit. Legislators whose campaign accounts burgeoned with oil and gas cash dutifully obliged with the passage of SB 809, repealing Section 137 and adopting in its place a diametrically opposed Section 137.1 that basically stripped municipalities of their regulatory authority and placed most oil and gas activities under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Corporation Commission.

Cities and counties striving to protect residents by imposing setbacks of wells from homes or fracking noise ordinances or regulate the round the clock flaring of natural gas in close proximity to houses, businesses and other structures, were either sued or threatened with suit. One county that attempted to protect drainage in its ditches, culverts and bridges was sued in the Supreme Court and forced to repeal its regulations.

This session, those same legislators, who four years ago put the interests of oil companies ahead of the people of our state, have been joined by several new faces and are in the process of working HB 2150 through the legislature. This Bill will adopt a Section 137.2 aimed at blocking municipalities from enacting  Ordinances or Resolutions to protect citizens or property rights if the effect of the regulation would “make it more difficult” for the oil and gas to be produced. No matter that the intent of the municipality is to protect things like roads and bridges.

While this will be advertised as a “mineral owners rights bill,” the true benefit will inure to the “King Oil” corporations who own a growing percentage of Oklahoma’s minerals. Unfortunately, campaign contributions from oil companies will once again influence more votes than will what is right or what is best for the citizens of Oklahoma.

Questions or comments contact David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.

With Friends Like These

With Friends Like These - February 10, 2019

State Representative David Perryman

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Warren G. Harding, America’s 29th President once famously said, “I have no trouble with my enemies. I can take care of my enemies in a fight. But my friends…they’re the ones who keep me walking the floor at nights.”

President Harding himself an Ohio Republican, kept less than scrupulous friends. A tight circle of his “friends” were called the “Ohio Gang.” Among the group was Harding’s Attorney General, Harry Daugherty. Daugherty ended up as a joint owner of a bank account after he helped free up some frozen assets that had belonged to a German company at the end of World War I. The kickback was approximately one-tenth of the more than $500,000 that members of the Ohio Gang received in payoffs.

Charles Forbes, another Harding friend, became the first director of the Veterans Bureau. Forbes had helped Harding attain the White House by use of the motto, “Return to Normalcy.” In the less than two years that Forbes held the position, he embezzled approximately $2 million, mainly in connection with the building of veterans' hospitals, from selling hospital supplies intended for the bureau, and from kickbacks from contractors.

A residence at 1625 K Street in Washington D.C. was the unofficial headquarters of the Ohio Gang. So sinister and pervasive were the activities of the men who routinely met there, the moniker, “Little Green House on K Street” entered the American lexicon symbolizing political corruption. The group meeting at the green house devised the “Teapot Dome Scandal.” Teapot Dome involved the transfer and no-bid leasing of military oil reserves and resulted in Harding’s Secretary of the Interior receiving no interest loans in addition to gifts that today would be valued at between $5 and 6 Million Dollars.

Although no collusion was ever proven between Harding and his friends, Warren Gamaliel Harding passed at age 57 after having served only 2 years, 4 months and 29 days. Perhaps President Harding’s demise was due in part to walking the floor at night contemplating the activity of his “friends.”

This past November, Oklahomans elected a number of legislators who claim to support public education. The bills they are filing are betraying their claim of affection. On its face, SB360 purports to help children whose parents are incarcerated. What it really does is attempt to channel money away from public education instead of properly funding strong public schools, social supports and criminal justice reform. Likewise, SB570 purports to protect children who have experienced bullying. It too takes money out of public schools and puts it in private schools where, I guess, no bullying ever exists.

These “Friends of Public Education” have put forth SB14, disguised as a bill protecting teachers but instead, disregards Oklahoma’s science curriculum and allows “scientific information” that isn’t scientific fact to be taught. It is not the teachers who seek to depart from teaching science and teachers around the country consistently oppose legislation of this type. Also, SB592 hampers the ability of any group to peaceably assemble at the Capitol by requiring a $50,000 bond.

Not to be outdone, one member of the House filed HB2214 to make it illegal for teachers to repeat the walkout of 2018 and just last week House leadership had hallway barriers installed on the fourth floor to keep pesky citizens like teachers, parents and students from getting too close to their offices.

Just like President Harding, Oklahoma public school teachers are realizing, “With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?”

            Questions or comments, contact David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.