When Six of One is NOT Half a Dozen of Another

When Six of One is NOT Half a Dozen of Another - July 30, 2017

State Representative David Perryman

                My Dad was a Vo-Ag Instructor of the old school. He taught hundreds of young men about much more than just farming and ranching. Maybe it was because he grew up young having lost his mother, enlisted in the Navy and married my mother all before he graduated high school. Maybe it was because he understood that in life few decisions are either good or bad but the bulk of our decisions are what we make of them.

He taught young men that dwelling on success was just as harmful as dwelling on failure and that if a decision was not obvious, then it was probably “six of one and half a dozen of another.” In fact, that was one of my Dad’s most often used phrases. It wasn’t that he didn’t counsel students; they were taught to fully assess their options. He simply made certain they knew when a decision is made, it is time to move forward with life and not be burdened with ‘second guesses.”

While “six of one and half a dozen of the other” aptly describes many of our life decisions, it is not a suitable adage when we consider how to address Oklahoma’s revenue shortfalls. All taxes are NOT the same.

As the Oklahoma legislature concerns itself with budget shortfalls, revenue failures and devastating cuts to agency appropriations, the debate over cause and effect still echoes through the Capitol rotunda. One group, mostly ultra conservative Republicans, still maintain that the state does not have a revenue problem and that the solution to Oklahoma’s financial situation is to make more budget cuts.

Of the two groups who do believe that Oklahoma has a revenue problem, one, mostly moderate Republicans, seek to cure Oklahoma’s funding problem through the implementation of fees and taxes like a sales tax on new and used automobiles; charging an additional 7.5 cents for each cigarette purchased; and capping the amount that non-itemizing Oklahomans may claim as a standard income tax deduction.

The other, mostly moderate Democrats, believe that Oklahoma’s budget woes are directly related to income tax cuts and oil and gas gross production tax cuts over the past decade. They point to statistics issued by the Oklahoma Policy Institute that those tax cuts cost the state of Oklahoma somewhere between $1.6 and 1.8 Billion per year. That amount of money would go a long way toward filling our budget hole and doing things like paying teachers, repairing highways and making Oklahoma safer.

So what have Oklahomans received in return? Well, the 20% of Oklahomans who make less than $12,700 pay $4 per year less income tax than they did before the cuts. The next 20% who make less than $28,400 annually have seen their income tax go down by $6 per month. The monthly savings for the third 20% who make less than $49,800 is only $19 per month. Unfortunately, these meager savings are eclipsed by literally hundreds and thousands of dollars of lost services, potholes and cuts to education, all of which directly impact low income Oklahomans.

The real winners in the tax cut game are those who earn in the upper 20% of wages who see thousands of dollars in income tax savings. For instance, the upper 1% saw their income tax bill drop an average of $16,519 per year.  That is a lot, but only a very small portion of their average income of $1.6 Million per year.

Unfortunately, those legislators who want to ignore the income tax cuts and make up the difference in sales tax and taxes on services and tobacco are simply piling more of a burden on lower income Oklahomans who spend 100% of their income while allowing the wealthy who keep much more of their income (and very likely spend less in our state) to enjoy the lower income tax rates.

As a result, Oklahoma’s tax burden has been shifted from high income earners to low income earners. Perhaps that was the goal all along since “six of one is not half dozen of the other.”

Thank you for allowing me to serve in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. It is truly an honor.  Call or write with any questions 405-557-7401 or David.Perryman@OKHouse.gov.

A Zenger of a Publisher

A Zenger of a Publisher - July 23, 2017

State Representative David Perryman

                In January 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote to fellow Virginian and Continental Congressman Edward Carrington, that, “the basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter, but I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”

Jefferson believed that a free press and an educated electorate were essential to a free society. His belief was based upon more than a whim. He knew the story of a small, family owned newspaper that was published on Manhattan Island for only 18 years, but during that short span laid the groundwork for one of America’s most enduring and important freedoms. You too should know that story in the era before the Bill of Rights and when truth was not a defense to a charge of libel or slander directed toward the government.

The year was 1708 and impoverished German refugee Nicolaus Zenger had taken his family in search of a better life. In England, his group was called “disease-ridden, Catholic bandits who had arrived in England ‘to eat the Bread out of the Mouths of our People.’” That country was politically polarized over the immigration debate from local pubs to the floor of Parliament.

The group was “dispersed” to New York in 1710 where Nicolaus died shortly after arrival. One son, John Peter Zenger served a six year apprenticeship and opened his own print shop at age 29. When Zenger was 35, King James II, appointed William Cosby as the 24th Colonial Governor of the Province of New York. Cosby was very wealthy and oppressive and shortly after being installed demanded that a popular former governor pay him half of the money earned prior to Cosby’s arrival. When his request was denied, Cosby sought to but anticipated that he would lose in a jury trial. He disposed of this problem by demanding that the case be heard by three judges in lieu of a jury of the defendant’s peers. Two of the judges were friendly to the new Governor and ruled in his favor, but the third wrote a stinging dissent detailing the illegality of the proceeding. Cosby promptly fired the dissenting Judge.

In the following weeks, Cosby attempted (but failed) to rig the election of an assemblyman; enrich himself through a multitude of other improprieties including the illegal seizure of lands; stole tax dollars; failed to protect settlements from Indian attack; and even colluded with the enemy French by allowing spy ships into New York Harbor.

John Peter Zenger responded to the oppressive and wrongful acts of Cosby by detailing the antics in his New York Weekly Journal, and called Cosby’s acts “a threat to the liberties and properties” of the people.

It would not have been out of character for Cosby to have been alleging a “witch hunt;” or that the media was “out to get him;” or that the “failing” New York Weekly Journal was full of “fake news.” History tells us that Cosby retaliated by attempting to get Zenger indicted for libel by a grand jury and to seize and burn copies of the Journal. When unsuccessful, Cosby ordered Zenger arrested and jailed for nine months awaiting trial in the pre-Bill of Rights Era.

At Zenger’s eventual trial, 282 years ago next week, his attorney, Philadelphia lawyer Andrew Hamilton, famously told the jury, “It is not the cause of one poor printer, but the cause of liberty.”  Fortunately, the jury was convinced and according to historian Leonard Levy “the Zenger verdict made people exult in liberty and the relationship of liberty of the press to liberty itself.”

That relationship exists today and it is essential that Americans understand that relationship. We are fortunate that Jefferson and our forefathers knew the story of Zenger’s newspaper and guaranteed that right in our First Amendment Freedom of the Press.

Oklahoma's Ship of State

Oklahoma’s Ship of State - July 16, 2017

State Representative David Perryman

Between the 30th and 38th Parallel are high pressure belts that are often characterized by low winds and little rain. Over land, this phenomenon produces dry arid deserts like northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. At sea, undependable winds and extended periods of calm made the zones dreaded by early sailors.

During the era of sailing ships, vessels transporting goods across the Atlantic to and from the New World would often become stalled for days or even weeks when they encountered the areas of no wind. Many of these ships, particularly from Spain, carried horses to the Americas as part of their cargo.

Stalled and unable to sail, crews frequently ran low on drinking water and to conserve scarce fresh water and lighten their load they sometimes threw the horses overboard. Explorers and sailors reported that the seas were strewn with bodies of horses. Consequently, the area became known as the Horse Latitudes.

Coincidentally, Oklahoma also lies squarely between the 34th and 37th Parallel and failed policies have proven every bit as catastrophic to our state as the lack of wind was to 17th and 18th century sailing ships.

Instead of throwing horses overboard, Oklahoma voters have been duped into casting citizens aside.

What began as an attack on the wages of Oklahoma’s middle class has resulted in low pay and few benefits for hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans. What started as an assault on our public schools has evolved into a devastation of our educational system from kindergarten through college.

For the past ten years, Oklahoma voters have chosen elected officials who govern at the whim of corporate interests and lobbyists hawking tax cuts for the wealthy and tax increases on the poor and working class.

After a decade of blind adherence to trickle down economic theories, the poor get poorer. Hospitals, ambulance services and clinics are closing because of the number of uninsured Oklahomans who rely upon emergency room doctors as their primary care physicians.

Last week the House Leader of Oklahoma’s majority party admonished the Oklahoma Department of Human Services for cutting programs serving vulnerable children and adults. Those programs include senior nutrition, foster child care and keeping disabled adults in homes rather than nursing homes. In truth, the blame falls on a lack of funding and not the Department of Human Services.

Earlier this month, the State Department of Education announced that Oklahoma would break another record this year in the number of non-certified teachers in our classrooms. Once again, the fault lies with a lack of funding and not the State Department of Education.

The lack of revenue continues to affect scores of agencies that deal with government services like roads, mental health and corrections. Perhaps Oklahomans will someday realize that elections matter.

Not that it can’t get worse...along the equator is another dead zone. It’s called the Doldrums. In the Doldrums, moist air is superheated generating extreme weather like squalls and hurricanes that bear down on stalled ships that were unable to get out of the way. Shipwrecks and castaways often resulted.

Oklahoma’s “Ship of State” is already in Dire Straits and does not need the Doldrums.

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

A Noble Act

A Noble Act - July 9, 2017

State Representative David Perryman

                Last week Oklahoma’s Second District Congressman, Markwayne Mullin once again brought the issue of term limits to the political forefront. Rep. Mullin had promised his constituents in 2012 that he would self-impose a six year (three-term) limit on his service in the United States House of Representatives. The newsworthy element of that story was that while nearing the end of his third term, he decided that his work in D.C. was not done and he therefore would run again.

His announcement ignited a firestorm of allegations about “broken promises".  Former United States Senator Tom Coburn was particularly harsh when he went so far as to say that Mullin “had drunk the Kool-Aid” and that “the arrogance of power has affected his thinking and when a man’s word doesn’t mean anything, nothing else matters.”

However, the story behind the story is really more about voter participation than it is about Mullin reneging on his word. Oklahomans have long had a distrust of government. While the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution addresses freedom from religious oppression and freedom of speech, the press and assembly, Oklahoma’s forefathers focused on the POWER OF THE PEOPLE.

The exact language in Section 1 of Oklahoma’s Bill of Rights is, “All political power is inherent in the people; and government is instituted for their protection, security, and benefit, and to promote their general welfare; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it..”

Those alterations and reforms have been frequent and often involve the process of Initiative and Referendum. Lloyd Noble II freshly stinging from a campaign defeat used considerable resources to promote an Initiative Petition for term limits on the state’s elected officials. In September if 1990, when State Question 632 passed by a two-to-one margin, Oklahoma became the first in the country to impose a 12 year lifetime limit on state representatives and senators.

The motto that “Politicians, like diapers, should be changed frequently and for the same reason” was humorous but wholly ignored the fact that voters always have the ability to “term limit” THEIR OWN representative. In all honesty, term limits are more about limiting the terms of SOMEONE ELSE’s representative than one’s own.

Legislators have brought some of this on themselves by undermining the intent of voters who clearly state their intent in Initiative Petition elections. Two recent examples are State Questions 640 and 780.

SQ 640 was the 1992 ballot that passed by 56 to 44 percent and made it clear that any revenue raising measure must be approved by the people UNLESS it received a 75% approval in both the House and the Senate. Legislative leaders promptly tossed that requirement to the wind when they decided to pass revenue measures by a simple majority rather than negotiate about gross production taxes.

SQ 780 was the 2016 ballot that passed by 58 to 42 percent and reclassified some drug and property crimes as misdemeanors instead of felonies. As a result, legislation was introduced to “save voters from themselves” and block other criminal justice reforms.

Another example of elected officials blatantly disregarding the will of the people involves SQ 662, adopted in September 1994. That ballot actually limited the terms of U.S. Representatives (6 years) and U.S. Senators (12 years). Despite the clear message (by a 67% to 33% vote) sent by Oklahoma voters, a federal court ruled that federal term limits violated the U.S. Constitution.

Despite the Court’s ruling, the will of the Oklahoma voters was clear and Article 2, Section 12A remains on the books. One of Oklahoma’s Congressmen is going on 24 years and another is at 14, both greatly exceeding the limits set by voters.  Likewise, one of Oklahoma’s Senators has nearly doubled the time that voters wanted set.

It is no wonder that one of the primary reasons that people don’t vote is that they believe that their vote doesn’t count. Unfortunately, neither the term limits imposed as a result of Lloyd Noble’s crushing defeat nor Markwayne Mullin’s reversal alleviate it one bit.

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

Houdini Was An Amateur

Houdini was an Amateur - July 2, 2017

State Representative David Perryman

Magician Harry Houdini was legendary. He performed hundreds of magic tricks but he was best known for his “escapes.” He used containers and boxes of wood, boxes of glass, boxes of metal and about any other material a person could imagine. Sometimes the containers would be submerged in water. Sometimes they would be fastened with screws or bolts and sometimes he would be shut inside a riveted iron box. One famous act used a plate glass box secured with chains and padlocks and another “death defying” act involved the spike-lined “Spanish Maiden” box.

While the common theme throughout all of Houdini’s box tricks was the “Art of the Escape,” each individual box contained hidden panels, hidden hinges, removable pins, fake bolts or hidden doors. Houdini was a performer, an actor who controlled his props with precision.

In real life, away from the theatrics of illusion, boxes and containers are designed to provide security and to keep valuables inside beyond the reach of those who might seek to remove or misappropriate the contents.

One such box that Oklahomans have depended on for 32 years is the secure lock box that we call the Rainy Day Fund. Our Rainy Day Fund, or “Constitutional Reserve Fund” was established by a vote of the people in response to the oil bust of the early 1980’s. The rules regarding the fund are extremely strict and created to be a true “lock-box.” Money can be placed in the fund ONLY by the legislature when Oklahoma’s Revenues create a surplus and may ONLY be removed by the legislature and then ONLY in limited percentages.

For example, each year, the Legislature is limited to using only 3/8 of the fund to make up for a shortfall in the current year’s collections. The design of the Constitutional Reserve Fund is to securely protect dollars from being raided by random bureaucrats.

For over three decades, the Fund worked properly. In lean times the LEGISLATURE would, in compliance with the Constitution, use part of the Fund and in times of surplus, the LEGISLATURE would, in compliance with the Constitution, replenish the Fund.

Earlier this year however, Preston Doerflinger, Mary Fallin’s Secretary of Finance, chose to remove 100% of the Constitutional Reserve Fund balance without the permission, consent or knowledge of the State Legislature. While the economic conditions that caused Doerflinger to take the money was a shortfall in this year’s collections, Doerflinger removed $240.7 Million of Oklahoma’s financial safety net and that amount was $149.6 Million more than even the Legislature could have legally removed for that very same purpose.

This week, in a classic case of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” Attorney General Mike Hunter, also a political appointee of Mary Fallin, has waded into the fray to espouse that simply because the State Treasurer is the officer who performs the ministerial duty of placing the money INTO the Rainy Day Fund, that somehow makes the Constitutional Reserve Fund just another treasury fund that the Governor’s staff can move around at will.

The Attorney General totally ignored the fact that when Oklahoma voters adopted State Question 587 by a margin of 2 to 1, the Ballot Title clearly said the “MEASURE LIMITS THE WAY THAT RESERVE FUNDS CAN BE SPENT.”  Yes, Court Decisions trump A.G. Opinions, but why would one Fallin appointee force citizens to spend money to litigate to protect the integrity of our lock-box just to bail out another Fallin appointee. Houdini’s tricks of deceit and diversion don’t hold a candle to these political antics.

For comments and questions, David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.

Labor Omnia Vincit

Labor Omnia Vincit - June 25, 2017

State Representative David Perryman

Most every Oklahoman is familiar with the state’s motto, Labor Omnia Vincit and many are able to translate the Latin to English, Labor Conquers All. Few however know the significance of those words and how the state came to claim that motto.

The phrase can be traced to the Roman poet, Virgil, who first used a similar phrase in 29 B.C. to promote Caesar Augustus’ encouragement for laborers to “return to the land.” Through the centuries, the phrase has been used to recognize the virtue, pride and power of reaping the rewards of one’s own labor.

In 1893, Frank Greer, a civic minded Guthrie newspaperman undertook to promote a Grand Seal for the newly formed Oklahoma Territory. His design was described in the Second Territorial Legislatures’ HB 66 as recounted by a 1957 article in the Chronicles of Oklahoma.

On March 10, 1893, the seal became official and Oklahoma Territory proudly proclaimed the value of labor. A 1907 State Seal Committee commissioned by the Constitutional Convention was headed up by Native American Gabe Parker combined the Grand Seal of Oklahoma Territory with the Official Seal of the proposed State of Sequoyah and thus the Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma’s proudly proclaimed that LABOR CONQUERS ALL.

The Oklahoma Constitution’s Preamble provided a similar theme in that the State’s premier law would be to “promote our general welfare.” In fact, recognizing the dangers and pitfalls of forces that are hostile to labor, Article 2, Section 32 of the Oklahoma Constitution was included to make it clear that, “Perpetuities and monopolies are contrary to the genius of a free government, and shall never be allowed.”

For more than ninety years, Oklahoma and the people of Oklahoma emphasized the importance of labor. Oklahoma’s labor statutes, Title 40, came to include a couple of statutes clearly outlining the importance of Oklahoma’s employees.

Section 197.1 says that, “The welfare of the State of Oklahoma demands that the working people of Oklahoma be protected from conditions of labor which have a pernicious effect on their health or morals. The State of Oklahoma, therefore, exercising herein its police and sovereign power, declares that inadequate wages and insanitary conditions of labor exert such pernicious effect.

Section 197.2 provides, “It shall be unlawful to employ workers in any industry or occupation within the State of Oklahoma under conditions of labor detrimental to their health or morals and it shall be unlawful to employ workers in any industry within the State of Oklahoma at wages which are not adequate for their maintenance.”

So where along the way did Oklahoma lose its emphasis on the value of labor? Why are Oklahomans no longer concerned about the “pernicious effect” that inadequate wages have on the health and morals of Oklahoma’s families?

A number of things have changed to shift the power from employees to “perpetuities and monopolies” and the effect is devastating. The sole policy goal of the state legislature over the past decade has been to make Oklahoma more “business friendly.” Governor Mary Fallin’s press release of June 22, 2017, touted Oklahoma’s continued efforts to “position itself well for business.” It cited a Chief Executive magazine article where Oklahoma had moved from 18th to 17th as the “Best State for Business.” What Governor Fallin did not tout was the finding by the magazine that all is not well in Oklahoma and as a state is one of the most depressed visited.

Perhaps a return to our roots would improve our state. A goal of making Oklahoma better for its citizens would be welcomed. Maybe doing ANYTHING for its citizens would be welcomed.

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

Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo

Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo - March 16, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

The term “Spaghetti Western” is used to describe a movie about the American West but directed and produced by Italians and normally filmed in Europe. This motion picture genre has been around for more than 70 years.  Outdoor scenes are often shot in an area of Spain that bears a striking resemblance to the Southwestern United States.

A young actor who wore a white hat in the television series “Rawhide” from the late 1950’s had, according to his own account, grown weary of “kissing old ladies and dogs and being kind to everybody,” and was looking for a way to break free of this squeaky clean image.

So for $15,000 and Director Sergio Leone’s promise of a Mercedes automobile upon completion of a movie, Clint Eastwood headed to Rome in 1964.  He was to star in the first movie in a series of films that were later referred to as the “Dollar Trilogy.”  That movie, “A Fistful of Dollars” was completed and released with little fanfare and followed the next year by “For A Few Dollars More.”

Eastwood rose to international fame in his role as “The Man With No Name,” after his third movie, “Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo, was released first in Europe and then in the U.S. as “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”

Clint Eastwood’s image of the white hatted nice guy was forever replaced with that of a poncho wearing loner whose distance from humanity was as much a survival instinct as a matter of choice.  He later recalled that as a non-smoker, the foul taste of the cigar the director required him to smoke put him in the mood for the character of the Man with No Name.

Last week marked the midway point of the 2014 regular session of the Oklahoma legislature and as usual, there were plenty of bills and votes that qualify as Good, Bad and Ugly.

For example House Bill 2763 by Rep. Brian Reneger of McAlester and the vote on it qualified as Good. The bill authorized custodial grandparents to claim a $5,000 income tax deduction.  In Oklahoma, 8.6% of all children are living in a grandparent’s household.  According to data taken from research published by the Population Reference Bureau and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, nationally, $45,000 is the median income for families with grandparent households responsible for grandchildren under 18.  Often those grandparents have significant health problems and many grandparents are forced to re-enter the work force or delay retirement to care for grandchildren and meet other aging related expenses.  This bill passed out of the house 91-0

The Bad was the infighting of the majority party during questions on House Bill 2540 by Rep. Terry O’Donnell, a conscientious and dedicated Freshman Republican.  Rep. O’Donnell’s bill was a reintroduction of a bill similar to Rep. Curtis McDaniels’ bill from last session to curb texting and other distracting use of mobile devices while driving.  Under siege, Rep. O’Donnell withdrew his bill before it could be voted on.  It was a worthy bill.  In 2012, there were more than 11,000 Oklahoma crashes in which distraction played a role.  That is more than one reported crash every 50 minutes in the Sooner State. Nationally, in 2011, there were 3,331 people killed in distraction related crashes.  When are the citizens of Oklahoma going to stand up and hold the legislature responsible for the fact that we do not have a law prohibiting texting while driving.

The absolute Ugly is the politicization of the School Storm Shelter and Safe Room issue.  First Rep. Joe Dorman kicked off an Initiative Petition for a vote of the people to fund a bond issue with corporate franchise taxes.  The Attorney General ruled that the language was not sufficient and the Petition process stalled.  That Petition is now tied up in Court with allegations of partisanship from both sides.  Subsequently the Governor pushed legislation to place a state question on the ballot to fund storm shelters with increased property taxes.  Once again, both sides have alleged partisan politics.  You should investigate both proposals and hold the party or parties that have politicized this issue accountable.  Being a citizen is not an easy job.  You have a duty to study the issues and know the truth.  The fact that the safety of our children is at stake makes this an ugly, disgusting and despicable escapade.

Clint Eastwood’s character was memorialized by Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly in the scene in Back to the Future when he recreated the scene where his life was saved by a piece of steel armor worn under a familiar poncho.  Hopefully, Oklahoma’s elected officials will get past partisan bickering, get beyond the past, get back to the future of our children and all citizens of this great state by championing education and improving the quality of life in the Sooner state.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, call me at 405-557-7401 or email me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Have Bazooka - Will Travel

Have Bazooka -- Will Travel and the Common Good - March 9, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

For seven seasons from 1957 through 1963, actor Richard Boone played a gentleman gunslinger named Paladin in the CBS television, Have Gun—Will Travel.  The storyline involved Boone’s character, a highly educated and cultured mercenary whose residence was the Hotel Carlton in wild-west era San Francisco.  Paladin’s business card intimated that he had no qualms about using his Colt .45 revolver or his single action Marlin rifle for hire, wherever his career would take him.

While the specifics of Paladin’s occupation is slowly being forgotten, the title of the show, “Have Gun – Will Travel” has impacted pop culture as a phrase for the ages.  Over the past 50 years, the blank in “Have ____, Will Travel” has been filled by hundreds of different words playfully connoting an equal number of reasons why one’s services may be needed anywhere, anytime.

This theme, coupled with a common tendency to engage in “overkill” or use of excessive force or action to achieve a goal, naturally results in awkward phrasing during the legislative process.  For instance, when an existing law, or even the absence of a law, raises the ire of a constituent, sometimes legislators are called to address a concern.  A legislator will often respond by drafting a bill to create or amend a statute to correct the constituent’s perceived problem.

Thorough analysis is time consuming and frequently the language chosen by a legislator is not properly “vetted” and is introduced without the legislator being aware of unintended consequences.  I sometimes refer to this process using a bazooka to kill a gnat.  Others speak of this phenomenon as “Cracking pecans with a sledgehammer.” Most cultures and languages have similar idioms.  In China, the literal translation is “killing a chicken with a knife intended for a cow” and the Russian equivalent is “Shooting sparrows with cannon.”

You get the picture. Thus, when the phrase “Have Bazooka – Will Travel” is applied to the legislative process, we all need to speak up about the impact of what could become a bad law.  Such is the case with House Bill 2620.  It contains a total prohibition on the ability of a city or a county to require real property to be registered.  In all fairness, there has been an attempt by several cities and towns, particularly in Florida to impose onerous annual registration fees on real property that is vacant or that appears to be vacant, without regard to how well it is maintained.

Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s HB 2620 is a classic example of trying to perform eye surgery with a hacksaw.  The bill not only totally prohibits registration anywhere in the state, but also invalidates statewide all registration requirements that are already on the books.  For instance, many cities and counties require storm shelters and safe rooms to be registered so that after a tornado, emergency workers and police officers will know where to check to make certain that residents are not trapped in shelters by fallen trees or storm debris.  HB 2620 voids that registration.

Many cities require that owners of commercial buildings register their buildings and provide a floor plan with the locations where people may be working or, in the interest of firefighter safety, where chemicals or materials of an explosive or noxious nature might be stored.  HB 2620 voids that registration.

Many cities require that when a loan on a property goes into default, the mortgage company registers the name, address and phone number of the contact person with the mortgage company who is in charge of a property, so that if storm damage, vandalism, or weeds and trash accumulate, contact may be made quickly to alleviate the problem and prevent neighbors from having their property values damaged.  HB 2620 voids that registration.

For these reasons, I voted against the bill when it was in my committee and I voted against the bill when it was heard on the house floor. It is absolutely true that government should not be allowed to charge fees on well-maintained properties and should not harm or hinder private property rights without a clearly justified public safety purpose.  In short, there should be no imposition on property owners who are maintaining their property and no fee in that situation should be warranted.

Local control is always best.  Each city and town best knows and understands the problems that it is required to deal with.  Unfortunately, HB 2620 is the classic example of “Have Bazooka – Will Travel.”  It is ironic as stated on the March 5, 2014, editorial page of the Daily Oklahoman that, “The party that touts the merits and importance of local control is thus pushing to tell municipalities how to conduct their affairs.”

Hopefully, through the Senate process, the bill will be amended to address these serious concerns.  With a little tweaking it could be a good law rather than the knee jerk reaction that it currently represents. Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, call me at 405-557-7401 or email me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Bucket Lists

Bucket Lists and the Common Good - March 2, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

What is on your Bucket List? Composing a list of what you would like to experience, do, feel or see before you ‘kick the bucket’ may allow a person to focus on goals or aspirations that may not otherwise be well defined.  Remarkably, the term, ‘Bucket List’ did not even exist before the 2007 release of the Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson movie about the impact of a chance meeting of two men of very diverse backgrounds whose paths were not likely to cross.

The Bucket List is a phrase that communicates clearly and concisely that we all realize our mortal nature and that individually we all seek that unique experiential blend of events, occurrences or emotions tailored by us for us. In short, no one else can compile your bucket list.

In the movie Freeman plays Carter, a blue collar mechanic whose dream to be a history professor was cut short by the reality that circumstances and life’s challenges often mold futures.  Consequently, Carter’s life revolves more about what he must do to nurture and raise his family while foregoing his own aspirations.  Though never a college professor, he becomes an expert at Jeopardy and is a genuine intellectual.  Unrealized aspirations do not impinge Carter’s character but hang in the back of his closet like an unworn jacket.

Nicholson on the other hand plays Edward, a billionaire and four-time divorcee who amassed his fortune in building medical facilities and has no time for anything except his own eccentricity.  Edward’s life choices have resulted in estrangement from his daughter and no family other than a personal secretary whose life he delights in tormenting.  Outwardly, Edward has no unfulfilled dreams.

The men meet for the first time after having been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and that common fate weaves these two divergent lives into a story of mutual respect, support and quite frankly, compassion on a level that is not often achieved in our superficial society.

Both men grow through what they each bring to the relationship and while Carter’s list is fulfilled, it is Edward’s life that is fulfilled.  Through the example of Carter’s humility, Edward ultimately is able to gain a grasp of humanity.  While the fulfillment of Carter’s bucket list takes the two men around the globe, Edward’s reward is the understanding of the true meaning of family and the benefit of doing for others. 

As the characters become closer, Carter is able to mark off “laugh till I cry” as he explains to Edward the role that the Asian Palm Civet plays in the processing of Kopi Luwak, Edward’s favorite coffee. Through their time together, Edward comes to realize that the BEST three months of his life were the LAST three months of Carter’s life. 

Sadly, obtaining drivers licenses and identification cards in Oklahoma has become a ‘bucket list-type achievement.” On a cold winter morning last week, 30 to 45 people were already standing outside the Chickasha license examination office at 7:45 a.m. for a chance to apply for a license and take a written and driving test. 

Gone are the days when a new driver simply went to the courthouse in their own county.  With state budgets slashed, the state’s ability to deliver this core service has been devastated. For instance, the residents of the 18 non-metropolitan counties south of I-40 and west of I-35 in Southwest Oklahoma are served by only 5 driver license offices.  Those sites are Chickasha, Ardmore, Lawton, Altus and Clinton.  Thirteen counties in southwest Oklahoma have no driver’s license bureaus and many larger communities like Hobart, Anadarko, Duncan, Elk City, Pauls Valley, Weatherford and Purcell have no facilities to serve their residents. 

So when we see a long line of people in below freezing temperatures before the sun is up in Chickasha, those applicants are just as likely to be from Caddo County, McClain County, Garvin County or Stephens County as they are from Grady County.  That means to get in line, they and their parents had to leave home at 6 a.m. or before, missing work and school simply to apply for a license.

1.125 million Oklahomans who are new drivers, have moved into the state or simply need a state issued ID are required to run this gauntlet each year to be served by 116 examiners who, on average, each process nearly 9,700 applications each year.  It is no wonder that many who arrive to get in line are not served and have to come back on other days since an examiner has to verify a birth certificate and verify three or four other records and if the applicant is a student, there are a couple or three school records that must be verified.  The number of applications that can be processed is limited and in a short staffed office like Chickasha, the problem is compounded if one of the examiners is sick or on vacation.

Driver’s license offices across Oklahoma are understaffed.   I have looked to see if I can find any waste in the DPS budget and I cannot.  These employees have not had a raise in nearly eight years and it appears that the overhead has been cut as much as it can be. 

It has been an eye opener for me.  

Ultimately, Edward’s bucket list includes things such as “kissing the most beautiful girl in the world,” a feat that he was able to mark off when he and his estranged daughter were reconciled and he kissed the cheek of his little granddaughter. He is also able to cross off "help a complete stranger for the good" from the list as he eulogizes his friend at Carter’s funeral.

Getting a driver’s license in Oklahoma should not be a bucket list event.  Until the budget is increased, we can’t expect much improvement.  Remember that the next time someone mentions that we need a cut in the income tax!

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or email me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

The Truth and the Whole Truth

The Truth and the Whole Truth……For the Common Good - February 23, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

Before a 1951 Chevrolet Pickup was a classic antique, it was just an old truck and I had one.  It had belonged to my grandfather who had passed away not long before my 13th birthday.  We had cattle and all five kids did whatever was needed to help Mom and Dad.  As our older brothers and sister went away to college, my younger brother, Doug, and I took up the slack.

Dad was a Vo-Ag teacher and often had to work with his students on their projects and visit with their families and do all the things for farmers in the community that make ag teachers special people.  During the late fall and winter, the sun often went down before Dad would make it home so Doug and I would put out hay and range cubes for the cattle while there was still daylight.

On one snowy day, we got home from school knowing that Dad would be late so we loaded a couple of sacks of cubes and several bales of hay into the back of the old pickup to feed the cattle.  Doug drove while I broke bales in the back and tossed them over the side of the pickup bed.  It was really unavoidable that the pickup slid a little while we were feeding and once Doug took an opportunity to “cut a donut” in the snow. 

After the cattle had been fed, I dropped Doug off at the house so that I could go take care of my show steer.  Then, with all chores done, I returned to the hillside pasture with the pickup and spent several minutes cutting my own “donuts” in the snow from one end of the pasture to the other. Sure enough, it was pretty late when Dad got home so he did not have an opportunity to check the cattle until early the next morning.

Doug and I were eating breakfast the next morning when Dad came back to the house from the pasture and asked with some degree of agitation, “Who in ‘Sam Hill’ has been cutting donuts in the pasture?”  Now Doug being a good boy and unaware of my escapades, admitted that he was the culprit.  I was stunned that he admitted the error of his ways so readily and inadvertently accepted the blame for what was mostly my transgression.  I could have corrected him, but didn’t come forward with the pertinent information.  I did not tell a lie, but I did not tell the whole truth.

Currently, the US 77 Purcell-Lexington Bridge over the South Canadian River and the Heartland Flyer railroad track is in the news.  The bridge was shut down by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) in January even to pedestrian traffic because it “could collapse under its own weight.”  ODOT spokesmen had reported that the bridge had developed 17 to 22 cracks and estimated that the repair would cost approximately $5.1 Million.  Bids were sought and one contractor’s bid of just over the estimated amount was rejected because of a technicality. Another bidder was awarded a contract in excess of $10 Million with a $2500 per hour incentive that could make the bridge repair cost much more.

Because bridges are required to be inspected at a minimum of every two years, I was alarmed that this bridge could deteriorate in a two year period to the point that it could collapse. I had visited Minneapolis not long after the 2007 collapse of the I-35 truss bridge over the Mississippi River and saw the resulting damage first hand. In an attempt to discover whether the US 77 bridge was damaged by seismic activity or by a heavy load, I requested copies of the inspection reports.  What I received back was information that alarmed me.  Not that ODOT was withholding information, it just wasn’t telling the whole story in the absence of direct questions. 

As facts unfold, it appears that in January 2013 before ODOT spent $1.2 Million Dollars for bridge rehabilitation, the bridge had NO cracks. A part of the rehabilitation contract that began on April 15, 2013, resulted in more than 200 welds in a manganese alloy support beam.  That contract was a 150 day or five month contract that should have been completed by its own terms in the fall of 2013.  In a bizarre twist, ODOT now admits that the manganese support beam stretching the entire length of the 7/10 mile long bridge which should never have been welded received over 200 welds and each weld that was supposed to strengthen the bridge actually undermined the stability of the structure and weakened the bridge to a dangerous condition.

In short, ODOT inadvertently paid a contractor $1.2 Million to damage a bridge and made it necessary to spend $10 Million plus on a bridge that will have a life of no more than ten years before it will be replaced with a new $40 Million bridge, all the while leaving Oklahoma taxpayers to foot the bill.  Additional information will come to light when the right questions are asked.

In the 1970’s on that hillside pasture covered with circular pickup tracks, it wasn’t long before Doug learned the extent of the damage and did not hesitate to correct and qualify his earlier admission.  Shortly, our parents learned the truth and the whole truth.  The taxpayers of the state of Oklahoma deserve the same from ODOT.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or email me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

A Woman's Place Is...In The Winner's Circle

A Woman’s Place Is…..In The Winner’s Circle……For the Common Good - February 16, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

The sun rose in the east as domino players from the region and across the country gathered in Carnegie, Oklahoma this month for the 70th replaying of the World Championship Domino Tournament. Competitors began filtering in for coffee hours before the games were to begin.  Old friendships were renewed as players like eight-time champs Max Bender of Lawton and Jim Hulsey of Weatherford strolled in.  Bender ducked out of college classes in the 1960’s to play in his first tournament and has been present every year since.

Despite subfreezing temperatures, people continued to congregate as the Carnegie Herald’s list of past champions became the focal point of conversation and recollection. Surprisingly, the roster contained several names of people that I have known through the years.  Two-time champions Robert Farmer from Minco and Randall Jackson from Pocasset. I was proud as I saw the name of two-time champion Edwin Horton.  Uncle Ed was my mom’s brother and Max Bender referred to him as the best domino player he had ever known.  That is a pretty heady compliment coming from a man who had won 8 of the nearly 50 straight tournaments that he had attended.

Dominoes is a game that represents an indispensable slice of Americana. Non-players often scoff at the “waste of time,” however, players and their families know that those 28 tiles represent more than a game.  As surely as there are degrees in the Masonic Lodge and colored belts in martial arts, competence in dominoes is gradual, engrained and respected.  On the simplest level, novices learn that “you don’t score if you can’t make the spots add up to multiples of five.” Shortly comes the realization that “opponents don’t score if you can keep their spots from adding up to multiples of five.” Many players do not progress further.  However, those on the roster of past winners are Masters who attained the intellectual equivalent of a black belt, taking a comprehension of the game to levels that amaze the rest of us.

Yes, the sun came up in the east and set in the west, just like it when it was first won by a team of Native Americans in 1967 when Sports Illustrated covered the tournament.  Likewise, the sun traveled east to west in 2013 when the winners were African American. This year, the final match pitted Leisha Barber of Denison, Texas and Tammy Garrett of Calera against C.B. Cox of Anchorage, Alaska and Oliver Kern of Cache.  When the final point was tallied, the 2014 Champions were the all-female team of Barber and Garrett. 

My, how times have changed at the oldest continuous World Championship of Dominoes.  However, gender based pay inequality still exists across America.  A few years ago, job listings in the newspaper were separated by gender. It was legal to pay women less than men. Banks legally denied married women credit or loans. We have seen some improvement as we encounter women doctors, lawyers and college professors.  Three women are now United States Supreme Court Justices and we have had three female Secretaries of State. More recently, a woman, Janet Yellen, now serves as the chairman of the Federal Reserve.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, when the 1963 Equal Pay Act was signed into law by President Kennedy, women were earning an average of 59 cents on the dollar compared to men. While women hold nearly half of today's jobs, and their earnings account for a significant portion of the household income sustaining the financial well-being of their families, they are still experiencing a gap in pay compared to men's wages for similar work.

 The Women’s National Law Center says American women who work full-time, year-round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts and in Oklahoma, a woman makes 76.2 cents for every dollar a man makes.  Unfortunately, African American women earn only 62.9 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man makes and Hispanic women earn only 49.3 cents for every dollar a white, non-Hispanic man makes.

We cannot turn our back on the women – widowed, divorced, or single -- who can’t draw on a second income from a man.  We cannot rest as long as 70% of the nation’s poor are women and children.  This travesty is not about glass ceilings, it is about all the women who are glued to the sticky floor of dead-end jobs that provide no benefits and no health insurance, women who, at the end of each month, have to decide whether to pay the electricity bill or feed their children.

The Domino Tournament is history for another year.  Through the years the championship has been claimed by minorities and women and the sun still comes up in the east.  It will continue to do so even if we do the right thing and make sure that women receive equal pay for equal work.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

My Brother Darryl and My Other Brother Darryl

My Brother Darryl and My Other Brother Darryl - February 9, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

For nine television seasons, ending on May 21, 1990, Dick Louden and his wife, Joanna, played by Bob Newhart and Mary Frann, operated the Stratford Inn, a two century old quaint country lodge in rural Vermont.  During the 1980’s the Newhart Show made us laugh as only Bob Newhart’s unique and dry brand of comedy could.

Having moved from New York City, Louden, a self-help book author and his wife, encountered a cast of Vermont natives whose quirkiness confounded, astounded, amazed and continually kept their “normalcy” off-balance. The inhabitants of the village were caricatures reflecting any personality disorder or regional eccentricity that a person could ever imagine in dyed in the wool Vermonters who lived in a state where wandering moose are the greatest road hazard and funds are appropriated each year to control rabid raccoons.

The show introduced us to George, the hard-working, but dim handyman. There was Kirk, who owns a nearby restaurant and has a truly difficult time with the truth. Chester was the Mayor and of course the town had a shoe store owner who was the quintessential racist and chauvinist rolled into one.

During the show’s tenure, scores of big name guest stars visited Stratford Inn and received or doled out the anecdotal humor that transplanted urbanites often consider themselves entitled to enjoy.  Some of the show’s more memorable characters were three brothers who first appeared as backwoods shack-dwellers who occasionally wandered into civilization to “do anything for a buck.”

Only one brother spoke regularly and routinely introduced the trio by reciting, “Hi, I’m Larry; this is my brother Darryl, and this is my other brother Darryl.  We never learned the brothers’ last name or the circumstances by which Darryl and Darryl ended up with the same name.

Newhart used the rarity of siblings sharing a given name as a comedic punch line. However, when a thief or scammer takes a person’s name or identity it is no laughing matter. As an attorney and as a legislator I have been called upon to intercede numerous times to assist a client or constituent whose identity has been stolen or used without consent.  A stolen identity can literally cost thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours to straighten out.

It is not my intent to frighten readers; however, today I have been contacted by yet another constituent who has been scammed.  This comes on the tail of the December 2013 Target Corp. security breach in which 70 million records, mine included, were stolen.  Frustratingly, that breach was comparatively small.  It was only the seventh largest in history and only the sixth largest in the past decade.  Amazingly, it was only the second largest in 2013, being dwarfed by the Adobe Systems breach where 152 million records were stolen.

In today’s plastic non-cash economy, debit and credit card holders alike should always remain diligent about the prudent use of their financial records ranging from bank accounts to card numbers. It is incumbent on you to realize that you can trust your bank.  Understand your liabilities that you may have with your credit cards and your debit cards.  If your credit card is not issued by your bank, you should only discuss the card with persons who you call at the numbers shown on your card or on your card statement and not in response to calls made to you.

It is imperative that you promptly and thoroughly review your bank statements and credit card statements as soon as they are available to you.  Not only will you be helping yourself, but you will also be helping your bank or credit card issuer and you may help catch a thief or keep someone else from being defrauded.

Never send money or share your card number or other personal information with someone who initiates contact with you.  Another recent scam involves a caller who promises to open a charge account for you if you will send them money.  They may ask you to purchase gift cards or cash cards and provide them the numbers of the cards that you purchase.

Currently, state and federal law contain little preventive protection and focus more on prosecuting the criminal after they are identified.  I am reviewing Oklahoma’s statutes to see if further changes can be made.  In the meantime, if you suspect that you are the victim of fraud, do not be ashamed.  Keep good notes and records of when you were contacted, who contacted you and how they contacted you. Call the phone number on the back of the card that the fraud related to or if the fraud involved your bank account, immediately contact your bank.

During the final episode of the Newhart show, in a twist of creative genius, the lead character “woke up” and assumed the character of Dr. Bob Hartley, who he had portrayed in an earlier series, thereby making his move to Vermont and all nine years of the series a dream.  Unfortunately, identity theft is no dream.  It is a nightmare.  Be cautious.   

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Good Night Mrs. Calabash, Wherever You Are

Good Night Mrs. Calabash, Wherever You Are - February 2, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

In 1940 as Jimmy Durante headed to the door of Coleman’s Restaurant in Calabash, North Carolina, he turned to 28 year old Lucy and with a smile said, “Good Night, Mrs. Calabash.”  For the rest of his life, until his death in 1980, every Durante appearance ended with his trademark phrase, “Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.”

As with most entertainers who rose out of vaudeville, Durante’s style included repetitious skits and catchwords, not only phrases, but also songs and mannerisms.  His famous “Ah-cha-cha-cha-cha” and self-references to his own nose as the “Big Schnozzola” always brought the house down.

In addition to his “Inka Dinka Doo” skit, one of Durante’s most popular routines originated in 1935 when he appeared on Broadway in the play, Jumbo.  In the play, Durante was working for a cash-strapped circus that had more creditors than customers.  When the sheriff appeared to seize the assets of the circus, Durante attempted to save his beloved pachyderm, Jumbo, by removing the animal from the circus grounds.  As Durante led Jumbo across the stage, the sheriff asked, “Where are you going with that elephant?” and Jimmy responded with the immortal line, “What elephant?”

The skit was performed repeatedly by Durante for years after the Broadway show had closed and from the first day that the audience laughed at the elephant that Jimmy Durante desperately wanted to be invisible, “the elephant in the room” has been a metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is either being blatantly ignored or goes unaddressed. Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s K-12 educational system has two elephants in the room, unfair evaluation and a disgraceful lack of funding.

Faced with a debate over how to improve our schools, the dialogue has been hijacked by partisan division and destructive rhetoric.  Forces whose goal is to undermine public education pit parents against teachers and instructors against administrators. Standardized testing mandates rob students of a broad and enriched education. A culture of high stakes testing and antagonistic demoralization robs gifted and talented teachers of their spirit to serve our children.

Eliminating high stakes and non-stop standardized testing will eliminate the need to “teach to the test” and help improve our educational system.  The result will be that Oklahoma’s quality teachers would be able to provide a more complete learning experience to their students.  Remember, teachers are not afraid of evaluation or accountability.  They want the public to know what they do and how well they do it.  Oklahoma’s teachers simply want to be assessed in a way that accurately reflects the job they are doing.

While Oklahoma’s public schools are performing as well or better than schools in other states that are comparably funded, that is like being proud of receiving the highest D in the class.  In other words, Oklahoma students are “blowing the socks off” students from other states that are also in the bottom funding tier.  That is not good enough for my children and grandchildren and it is not good enough for my neighbor’s children or grandchildren.

State aid funding for Oklahoma’s schools has not recovered from 2008 levels.  In fact, the K-12 budget has decreased by $224 million, more than any other state, over the past 5 years while the student enrollment has increased by more than 32,000.  A new study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities validates the existence of the draconian cuts and focuses on dollars used directly in Oklahoma’s K-12 classrooms.  According to the study, an estimated $810 per student is cut each year, mostly affecting teacher salaries and shrunk school budgets.

The Oklahoma Policy Institute reports that Oklahoma will soon require children who do not pass a reading test to be retained in the third grade; however the state legislature zeroed out more than $6 million in funding meant to help students meet these new requirements. That same organization reported that $3 million was eliminated from Literacy First, a proven program for reading instruction.

The elephant does not stop there.  OPI also released numbers regarding Oklahoma’s student-teacher ratio.  Class size limits in place since 1990 have been suspended because schools cannot afford to meet them.  There is strong evidence that smaller class sizes promote student achievement—particularly in the early grades and for low income students.  Many schools are cutting teaching positions to cope with budget cuts.  Statewide the number of students per teacher has increased from 13.7 in the 2007-08 school year to 16.0 in 2010-11.

Get the facts.  Engage in the debate.  Be vocal. Hold your elected representatives accountable.  Let them know your priorities.  Jimmy Durante and Ms. Calabash may both be gone, but the next time you see an elephant in the room, tell it that you want our children’s education properly funded.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Dance With The One That Brung Ya

Dance With The One That Brung Ya for the Common Good - January 26, 2014

 

State Representative David Perryman

Loyalty is a virtue that brings meaning to the Golden Rule. No gratitude exceeds that feeling experienced when one is lifted up by a faithful friend in times of trouble.  Loyalty transcends race, creed, religion and even national origin, but it is a non-factor when it comes to the propane manufacturing industry.

This week, Oklahoma and at least 21 states are in a critical propane shortage threatening the viability of small businesses and endangering the health, safety and welfare of millions of thousands of citizens.  This tragic impact is being felt nowhere more severely than in Oklahoma.

Propane retailers, most of whom are small family owned business are in crisis mode. Deliveries of propane that weeks ago cost $8,000 to $10,000 now cost more than $40,000.  That is the equivalent of purchasing gasoline at $2.90 per gallon and a few weeks later pulling in for a fill-up at a price of $14.50 per gallon.

I have spoken to propane retailers in my district who are so distraught over the price increase that they are looking for any way possible to lessen the impact on their customers.  While retailers are scrambling to protect their customers, the cost would be devastating to consumers even if the retailer sold propane at wholesale cost.

Oklahoma families are struggling to stay warm; many of whom find themselves without funds to refill propane tanks. Agribusiness owners, who lack monetary resources, face the potential loss of losing poultry and swine located in barns that they cannot afford to heat. Operators of these facilities are paid only when they rotate out their animal production.  Consequently, their already strapped cash flow may be weeks or months from being received.

When cash is not available to pay propane retailers who are being charged 4 to 5 times the amount they are normally charged, the retailers cannot afford to replenish their supply and as a result the hog farmer and the chicken farmer have animals in subfreezing temperatures, sometimes as low as 9 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit, that are facing a real threat of death.

We often hear that it is a matter of security for us to have oil and gas production at a self-sufficient level.  The current propane shortage and its potential impact on our food chain is no less a matter of national security.

The travesty is that the shortage and financial crisis was avoidable.  Propane gas was discovered in 1910 by Dr. William Snelling when a Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, motorist complained that nearly half of his gasoline evaporated before he could get home. Dr. Snelling used a still to determine that the evaporation was the result of escaping propane and butane.  The refining process was altered to capture propane that quickly became a popular household fuel and ever expanding domestic, commercial and industrial uses spurred a multibillion dollar industry.

Important to Oklahoma is that the processing of natural gas and the refining of crude oil each produce about half of the propane produced in the world.  Also important is that the current “shortage” did not start this month or even November or December of last year. 

The propane industry has for months been intentionally under producing propane.  An article in the October 2013 edition of Agriculture.com, an online magazine of the Meredith Corporation, analyzed the supply situation and pronounced a short supply going in the fall.  According to a November 4, 2013, article in the Oil & Gas Journal by Dan Lippe, the spot propane price in Mont Belvieu, Texas, the largest underground storage facility in the nation, had increased by 21 cents per gallon in the spring and summer of 2013 due to “gradual reduction in inventory surplus.” 

The Lippe article predicted tighter supply-demand balances of propane on hand during the fourth quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of 2014 and predicted an additional price increase of 15 to 30 cents per gallon.

In addition to this Texas facility, millions of gallons of propane storage are available in vast underground salt mines in Conway, Kansas. Despite this storage capacity, the propane industry, cumulatively and calculatedly lowered U.S. propane inventory throughout the spring and summer of 2013 to end at 62.1 million barrels, an inventory level that was 15.7% lower than the 2012 inventory according to the StanfordLPgas.com website.  Despite record domestic demand, the industry further endangered domestic supply by lowering reserves to a 14 year low and recklessly increased 2012 exports in 2013 by 50.8% up to 258,000 barrels of propane per day.

Therefore, all Oklahoma taxpayers who directly or indirectly consume propane are being victimized by an industry that produces propane from oil and gas production that is hugely subsidized by state and federal tax credits. The taxpayers who subsidize the industry or who “brung them to the dance” are the very same propane retailers and consumers who are paying prices that have escalated by 400 to 500% over the past few months.

In 1999 Oklahoma adopted a consumer protection statute called the Emergency Price Stabilization Act. The act expressly authorizes the Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma to pursue any person or corporate entity that engages in price gouging during emergencies that have been declared by the Governor. 

Emergencies are defined to include weather related emergencies. I know of no more classic definition of price gouging than an industry that manipulates supply of a government subsidized product resulting in a 500% price increase.

We have a Governor, we have an Attorney General.  We have hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans whose health, safety and welfare are being threatened by governmental inaction. Join me in calling for action on this critical issue.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

2014 Session Preview

2014 Session Preview - January 19,2014

State Representative David Perryman

February 3 marks the beginning of the second regular session of the current Oklahoma legislature.  Throughout the year, Representatives are often contacted by constituents who have experienced recent personal or business issues as a result of state statutes.  We take those questions and suggestions and review current law to determine if the problem is widespread among citizens and whether a change in a statute could alleviate the problem without causing more problems.  I have received a number of these calls and have prepared legislation for the upcoming session accordingly.  Today, I would like to provide information about those bills so that you may track them through the upcoming session.

One issue that was brought to my attention dealt with the taxability of purchases made by civic clubs for distribution or donation to our youth or needy families.  Specifically, the Anadarko Kiwanis Club, a qualified 501(c)(3) entity purchased a substantial amount of food for distribution during the holiday season.  Of course the funds used by the club come from money raised by the volunteer efforts of the organization or by donations to the club.  Despite there being literally scores of exemption from the imposition of sales tax, there was no exception that would allow a civic club to purchase a turkey tax free to give to a family that would not otherwise have a Thanksgiving dinner.  I have filed HB 2430 so that groups like this hardworking club and Lions, Optimists, Rotarians across the State will be able to let the funds serve more needy persons.

Another area of concern that has been brought to my attention by tenants who were displaced by the 2013 tornados and relates to statutes that impose a criminal penalty on landlords for relatively minor infractions that harm the rights of tenants.  These statutes provide that the violator is subject to prosecution by the district attorney; however, most district attorneys in our state are literally overwhelmed protecting the public from criminals who commit major crimes.  One example is a statute requiring landlords to place rental damage deposits into a trust account that is segregated from the landlord’s personal funds.  The comingling of the rental damage deposits with the landlord’s personal funds is a crime and subjects the landlord to criminal prosecution.  While it is very important that those damage deposits be kept separate, it is counterproductive to burden the district attorneys with the prosecution of such minor cases unless the landlord habitually commits that crime or unless that crime is one of many committed by the landlord.

Another example of this problem is the statute that requires an employer to be prosecuted if he does not pay an employee according to Oklahoma law. Once again, the statute that requires compensation to be paid according to the level required by law, states that in the event the employer fails to do so, the employer will be prosecuted by the district attorney.  While prosecution may be appropriate under some circumstances where the employer has intentionally and systematically harmed employees in this manner, there is normally no need to clog the docket of the district attorney with that type of case.

Consequently, I have filed HB 2432 and 2431 to address these issues and provide a civil remedy for the person who has suffered loss.  The civil remedy does not eliminate the criminal action and the wrongdoer is still subject to that prosecution if the damaged tenant or employee has not received compensation according to the new bill.

I also have filed HB2992, a bill to remove some obsolete language from the statutes that allows district courts to empower municipalities to have jurisdiction over minor, first offense juvenile violations.  This change will eliminate troublesome language that has allowed some defense attorneys to question the validity of existing municipal juvenile courts.  I will discuss that bill and other bills next later, including a bill that has been requested by the law enforcement community to prevent a new scheme that has been occurring involving fraudulent liens being placed on automobiles for work that was never performed or performed at an unreasonably high cost.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as State Representative.  If you have questions or comments about this issue or any other matter, please contact me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.

Saving the Sooner Sub

Saving the Sooner Sub for the Common Good - January 12, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

In 2006, Pixar Animation Studios released the movie Cars and introduced us to Radiator Springs, an imaginary town along Route 66 that long ago had been bypassed by a freeway beyond the city limits. The characters are personified vehicles with names like Lightning McQueen, Sally Carrera, Mater the Tow Truck, Doc Hudson, Flo, Luigi and a whole host of other cars and trucks.

Viewers see a community where the slower pace and quality of life is enhanced by knowing and caring about one’s neighbors. The essence of the film is caught in a conversation between McQueen, a stock car literally lost in the rat race of society and Sally, a baby blue Porsche 911 who has intentionally escaped that world to pursue wholesomeness and harmony in Radiator Springs, a community where despite hard economic times, relationships matter.

After McQueen has experienced the virtues of Radiator Springs and developed feelings for Sally, he is amazed that the thousands of cars that zip by daily on the freeway do not know what they are missing. Sally explains that before the Interstate, cars came across the country in a whole different way and that before the Interstate “cut” through the land, the road “moved with the land…it rose, it fell, it curved.” Cars didn’t drive on it to make great time, they drove on it to have a great time.

While Radiator Springs is bypassed to “save ten minutes of driving,” it is a mythical composite of hundreds of communities across the nation that are constructively “cast aside” by highway engineers who cater to a new societal goal of getting from “point A to point B” as quickly and smoothly as possible.  Roads lose their unique character as the villages and towns along the way fade into a forgotten yesterday.  The countryside speeds by and distant glimpses of Americana rarely occur in sufficient time to catch the exit ramp. Tourist attractions slip out of sight and out of mind.

As the redesign of our highway system changes our culture, a similar fate was experienced by the shipping industry.  Inexpensive vehicles and cheaper gasoline had long been transforming passenger rail. Low cost fuel and population shifts stripped rail carriers of being anything more than a means of moving bulk tonnage from one urban area to another.  Business and industry in the towns along the way were neglected and suffered accordingly. Train traffic primarily became an interstate mode of shipping with no stops in the towns along the line. 

The stark anonymity and invisibility of the landscape along the freight rail lines is best conveyed by Steve Goodman’s 1970 rail ballad lyrics “passing towns that have no names” and “through the Mississippi darkness” which ended with the chorus, “Good morning, America, how are you…Don’t you know me, I’m your native son…I’m the train they call The City of New Orleans…I’ll be gone five hundred miles when the day is done.”

Railroads in Oklahoma suffered accordingly. Names like Kansas City Southern, M-K-T and Rock Island are gone. Cross-country shippers like BNSF and Union Pacific barely survived.  Over the past 30 years, the state purchased 900 track miles of rail that would have otherwise been lost forever. Most have been returned to private ownership. Those that remain in state ownership are returning hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to the state treasury. 

One rail line that is and should remain in state ownership is the 97.5 mile long Sooner Sub running between Oklahoma City and a point near Tulsa. Acquired in 1998 at a cost of just over $5 Million the Sooner Sub has paid to the state in the last two years alone more than $1.1 Million in lease revenue.

Because it is state owned, the state is able to mandate that the line be used for passenger rail and for the benefit of new and existing businesses along the line as opposed to being solely used to transport freight cross country.

To understand this distinction, one must simply understand the difference between a business located on a highway where traffic can enter and exit as opposed to a business located next to a freeway miles from any exit ramp.  While the Sooner Sub is being used also to transport freight across the country, Watco, the company that is managing it, works closely with the State of Oklahoma and the communities and companies along the route to foster and incubate private enterprise. 

In the past decade or so, this business model concept of growing local enterprise has resulted in approximately 14 new and thriving businesses on the Sooner Sub rail line creating jobs in communities like Luther, Chandler, Stroud, Bristow and Sapulpa.

Watco and Iowa Pacific are currently working toward OKC-Tulsa roundtrip passenger rail. They say that the Sooner Sub is on the verge of being ready for passenger rail speeds of up to 60 miles per hour with trip times comparable to vehicular travel.

Unfortunately, a large interstate shipper who is not concerned about the best interest of Oklahoma and whose business plan does not include passenger rail now wants to purchase the Sooner Sub to enhance its cross country rail transportation system. The small businesses who have located along the rail are concerned that the interstate shipping business model will be disruptive and detrimental to the small companies and the communities in which they are located. I believe that also.

Alarmingly, ODOT, the state agency that has the authority to sell the rail line appears poised to do so.  If the State of Oklahoma sells the Sooner Sub, it will no longer be able to protect and foster business development or the establishment of passenger rail.

I urge you to investigate this matter as you should any issue facing Oklahoma and Oklahomans and take appropriate action. You can help these Oklahoma cities and towns remain vibrant and prevent them from being bypassed like Radiator Springs.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

We Say 'Toe-May-Toe'

  We Say ‘Toe-May-Toe’ for the Common Good - January 5, 2014

State Representative David Perryman

In the 1930’s when George and Ira Gershwin wrote the oft quoted lyrics to “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” they were not only poking fun at regional dialect, but also class differences.  Somehow blue-bloods who spoke ‘Toe-Mah-Toe, Poe-Tah-Toe and Bah-nah-nah’ considered themselves superior to our grandparents who actually knew where tomatoes and potatoes came from.

Today, it is humorous when we hear Republicans insist that we live not in a democracy but a republic and Democrats who simply maintain that ours is the greatest democracy in the history of the world. You may recall the 1960’s commercial where the announcer interrupted two identically dressed young ladies who were arguing over whether Certs was a candy mint or a breath mint.  He interjected, ‘Stop, you’re both right…Certs is two…two…two mints in one, with a sparkling drop of Retsyn.’

Regardless of party registration, we should all pause and consider that the first week of January, 2014, marks the 225th anniversary of the election of George Washington as our country’s first president.  Prior to 1789, we had no Chief Executive because the Articles of Confederation did not provide for an executive branch of government.  A newly ratified Constitution changed all that and the deadline of January 7, 1789, was set for the Electoral College to convene for the selection of the first Chief of the Executive Branch who was to be called President.

In 1789, the Constitution allowed each state to determine the process by which electors would be selected.  Of the original 13 states, North Carolina and Rhode Island had not yet ratified the Constitution and gridlock in New York prevented electors being sent from that state. Only six of the remaining ten states used popular vote to democratically select their electors, elected representatives selected electors in the other four and therefore the question of democracy or republic remained. 

One year later, the 1790 census showed a free population of 2.4 million and 600,000 slaves, but of the 3 million counted, only 1.3% of the population had cast a vote in the first presidential election.  Over the two and a quarter centuries since that first election, the right to vote has been greatly expanded.  Poll Taxes are now illegal and property ownership is no longer a prerequisite to ballot access. Constitutional protection of the right to vote came to African American males (1870) and others regardless of race, color or previous condition of servitude in 1870.  Less than 100 years ago, all women (1919) finally gained that constitutional right of suffrage. 

However, access to the ballot box is still being hampered. While it is imperative that voters be properly identified so that voter fraud be eliminated, our current system does as much to promote voter fraud as it does to prevent it.  Oklahoma law allows a person to vote with a ‘voter identification card’ that is really not a card and does not actually identify the voter.  The “card” is barely more than a slip of paper with a name, address and precinct number and it contains no photograph.  With this slip of paper, an imposter would be allowed to vote. 

Without the “card” the voter is required to present a government issued photo identification card.  For literally scores of reasons, there are displaced and homeless individuals with subsistence and survival priorities who are disenfranchised because their life circumstances do not allow them to maintain on their person sufficient documents to allow them to vote every couple of years.  Keeping track of a piece of paper pales in comparison to knowing where their next meal will come from or where they will be sleeping that night.  The majority of us don’t live that way, but we are kidding ourselves when we deny that truth.  The goal of our state should be to facilitate legitimate voters and prevent fraud.  A possible solution would be obtaining fingerprint scans when a citizen registers to vote.

Fingerprint scanners and readers are inexpensive and reliable identifiers in the absence of identification documents. Today all Oklahoma drivers have their fingerprints scanned at the tag office. Inexpensive fingerprint scanners are used in lieu of passwords on computers.  Inmates are prevented from going through cafeteria lines twice by fingerprint scans.  Many Oklahoma students’ lunch accounts are automatically debited by a fingerprint scan as they go through the school lunch line.

If our state’s goal is truly to prevent voter fraud and not disenfranchise citizens, this method of identification would be ideal.  Currently, with the state’s non-criminal fingerprint database is already protected from potential abuse. I am in the process of drafting language so that an economic impact can be obtained to determine if this method of identification would be a practical and feasible means of protecting the sanctity of the ballot box.

Like you, I love Oklahoma and would not want to live in a part of the country where a tomato is anything but a tomato and it would seem a shame to have fried po-tah-toes, but our absolute goal should be to eliminate all impediments to the ability of all citizens to vote in our “stop, you’re both right…representative democracy.”

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Buckle Up

BUCKLE UP FOR THE COMMON GOOD - December 29, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

As December wanes into January those days between Christmas and New Years are best used to visit friends and relatives not seen in the hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas.  Some use it for travel.  We all ponder on what we did not finish in the past year and anticipate that we will be better and do better next year.

My dad taught vocational agriculture and our Christmas break schedule revolved around the school calendar and a few livestock that we raised.  With Christmas Day passed, those days meant that  time with our cousins was coming to an end and we would be leaving our grandparents to get home to check everything out before school started. Sometimes the weather would dictate the day and time that we would exchange hugs with aunts, uncles and grandparents to begin our return home. 

Mom and Dad had an old Plymouth that was a little eccentric.  Instead of a stick shift in the floor or on the steering column, it had a pushbutton transmission.  Also, some engineer at Plymouth had designed the lug bolts on the driver’s side of this particular model to tighten to the left and the lug bolts on the right side of the car to more conventionally tighten to the right.  Until the fall and winter of 1961, I had the honor of sitting in the front seat between my parents.  I never paid much attention to my three siblings in the back.  One might say that I was riding first class and those behind the front bench seat were basically stowage.  However, things changed in August 1961 and I was bumped by the new kid on the block.  Transporting five kids called for a little more creativity. 

One trip in the old Plymouth stands out in particular. It was December 31, 1961, and Dad had carefully packed and repacked the car getting all of our suitcases, bags, boxes, gifts and food into every nook and cranny of the sedan.  After our goodbyes, my two oldest brothers pushed themselves into small places on the back seat that had been left for them.  My sister wriggled onto a pillow that had been placed between boxes and sacks over the hump in the back floorboard.  Mom and Dad and little brother were in the front.  I shimmied up and over a pile of bags into the best seat in the whole car.  My “seat” was a pallet that had been made on the deck in the rear window of the old Plymouth.  As I adjusted among the other items that were sharing my space, I discovered that I had a skylight, a sound system and a vantage point that would allow me to see everything that was going on everywhere. 

As we sped homeward across the great expanse of rural Oklahoma, I held my cheek against the cold glass. I watched the stars in the sky and most importantly, I listened to the countdown of the Top 100 songs of 1961. Floyd Cramer’s San Antonio Rose and Jimmy Dean’s Big Bad John were somewhere between 80 and 90.  As the numbers became smaller, there were songs by Ricky Nelson, Elvis Presley, the Everly Brothers and the Lettermen.  Long before Patsy Cline sang I Fall To Pieces at Number 2, Bobby Lewis sang the Number 1 Song of 1961, Tossin’ and Turnin’  I was asleep.  Somewhere on Highway 9 midnight had come and gone and we arrived home during the wee hours of New Year’s Day, 1962.

In 1962, Mom and Dad purchased a 1961 Chevrolet Station Wagon with all the room in the world…and seatbelts.  Prior to the 1960’s General Motors and other automobile manufacturerss had not placed a high priority on vehicle safety.  Recognizing the skyrocketing number of injuries and deaths caused by car accidents, Robert McNamera, one of the Ford “whiz-kids” of the 1950’s urged the company to focus on vehicle safety.  Ford began crash testing in 1955 and introduced its Lifeguard safety package of five new safety features in the 1956 Ford Crown Victoria.  These safety features involved padded dashboards, less dangerous steering columns, better designed door latches and front and rear seatbelts.  Classically, balking Ford corporate executives observed that “McNamera is selling safety, but Chevrolet is selling cars.”  Fortunately, auto safety prevailed through the mandates of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and those standards have fostered and promoted vehicle safety, protecting generations of Americans.  Corporate America does not always do the right thing when dealing with consumer safety or the environment.  We all wish that they did.  Regulations are a delicate balance.  As your representative, I continue to make certain that corporations are not unduly burdened by government regulation, but that they act responsibly and clean up after themselves.  Nothing more. Nothing less. 

Thank you for allowing me to serve as State Representative.  If you have questions or comments about this issue or any other matter, please contact me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov or 405-557-7401.

Shedding Light

Shedding Light on the Common Good - December 22, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

Included in my great-grandmother’s diary is a story recalling an evening in the year 1902.  Earlier that year, she and my great-grandfather and their children had moved to a homestead eight miles south of what is now known as Carnegie, Oklahoma.  Before there was an Alden community, there was simply an expanse.  Before section lines and the Ozark Trail were cut in and before other quarter sections were settled, there were no landmarks.  The land was new and unfamiliar to them. 

Her diary tells of a trip that her husband and boys had taken to Apache.  Nightfall came and they had not returned.  Sometime after dark, she and her daughters heard them in distance.  She hurriedly lit a lantern and yelled, but was unable to get their attention across the dark prairie.  The men continued several miles northward until they neared the Fort Cobb area and realized that they had passed the homestead.  They redirected to the southwest and with the assistance of the light made it home sometime after midnight.  From that night forward, they hoisted a lantern on a tall pole that they had erected for a beacon to bring them home.

My great-grandmother recalled that the incident brought life to the song, There’s a Light in the Window for Thee, Brother” in a way that no other lesson could.  The need and appreciation for light is rooted in our being.  Virtually every world religion recognizes the primacy of light.  In fact, most faiths emphasize light as a core principle.  Christians are taught that the Bible is a lamp unto their feet and they fail to fulfill an essential biblical charge if they are not a “light unto the world.” 

Allah is spoken of by those of the Muslim faith as the inspiring, motivating and guiding source of light.  Annually, a billion Hindus, Sikhs and Jains light lanterns and earthen lamps in celebration of Diwali, the festival recognizing that light awakens awareness of God and the triumph of good over evil.  Hanukkah celebrants light their menorahs to celebrate the enduring miracle of enduring faith triumphing over evil. Kwanzaa, the secular celebration of black culture involves the lighting of seven candles rising from wooden stands, symbolic of the celebration’s seven principles, and recalling roots in Africa.

Even the Magi were guided by the light that shone from the Star of Bethlehem.  More fundamentally, billions of believers proclaim that Christ was born to be the light of the world, fulfilling God’s first gift to the heavens and earth: “Let there be light.”  

In addition to its spiritual nature, light is the catalyst for the process of photosynthesis enabling the earth to generate food and vegetation.  The spectrum of natural sunlight includes both visible and invisible light waves that are as essential to the earth’s health as vitamins are to us.  Perhaps nowhere on earth is there more exciting news about the science of light than Anadarko, Oklahoma.  Cooperative Research between Oklahoma State University, Unami, LLC and the Delaware Nation Economic Development Authority is being applied in exciting experimental and industrial ways at the Delaware Nation’s Greentech Center in Anadarko.  That scientific endeavor is essential to our future on this earth with the industrial application already employing a growing number of workers whose wages are making a positive impact on Caddo, Kiowa and Grady Counties.

Despite overwhelming evidence of the essential nature of light, we have a tendency to ignore the essential nature of light in our lives and light for the benefit of others.  Perhaps the greatest sorrow is that Oklahoma and Oklahomans are needlessly losing our way.  Just like my great-grandparents needed a light in the darkness of pre-statehood Oklahoma Territory, we need to use the light to redirect our priorities.  Realizing that our teachers are among the best in the world, we will understand that our schools are not struggling because of the quality of teachers.  Our schools are struggling because of demographic factors such as poverty, health, addiction and under-employment.  Our communities are struggling because we have de-emphasized quality of life issues in our communities.  We all strive to make Oklahoma “business-friendly” but fail in our endeavor to adequately fund schools, roads, fire protection, medical services and other quality-of-life functions that make us attractive to businesses and make them want to locate here.  We all strive to make Oklahoma “attractive to industry” but throw caution to the wind and actually jeopardize our future when we call for the repeal of regulations that keep us from becoming the next superfund site. 

The electorate must become engaged in the process, become educated on the issues and be a light to our family, our community and our state.  It takes discernment and we cannot keep our television on a single channel or read a single news source.  It is not an easy job, however, until we all step up to the task, we will continue to be frustrated and we will continue to be a part of the problem.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Time to Put a Penny in the Old Man's Hat

Time to Put a Penny in the Old Man’s Hat for the Common Good - December 15, 2013

State Representative David Perryman

Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat.  Time to put a penny in the old man’s hat.  If you haven’t got a penny, then a half penny will do.  If you haven’t got a half penny, then God Bless You.

Christmas is coming and the season means many different things to different people.  My memories of the winter school break are of traveling between our house and our grandparents to the east and our grandparents to the west.  Before the interstate highway system that meant traveling nearly five hours on an old partially paved Oklahoma State Highway 9.  The holiday meant seeing cousins. It meant getting hugs from my Grandmother and eating those special Christmas cookies that no one else remembers and I cannot recreate.

Visits to grandparents who were born in the 1890’s gave my siblings and me fleeting glimpses at what normal was to an earlier generation. Outhouses, corn cribs, well buckets, milk cows and chicken coops were things of necessity.  One set of my grandparents actually had a bathroom in the house, but it could only be accessed from a screened-in back porch and seemed to have been added as an afterthought, particularly on cold December mornings.

My grandparents are the generation whose sons and daughters went to World War II or worked in factories in support of the war effort.  They are the generation that stopped turning the crank on the old Daisy churn that is now one of my Mom’s prized possessions.  They and their contemporaries were the last to slice cabbage into homemade sauerkraut and pack it in the old four gallon crock that Mom now uses as a vase filled with stalks of wheat.

They are also the generation that predominately evolved from a lifestyle of extended families to nuclear families. The 1950’s and 60’s signaled the end of an era of cohabitation of each generation with the next.  My family was no different.  Both my father’s parents and my mother’s parents cared for their aged parents.  Until the 1940’s and the following decade or two, seeing my grandparents meant seeing my great-grandparents.

In many cases, living arrangements were based totally on economic conditions.  Prior to the enactment of the Social Security System, most elderly Americans had absolutely no alternative but complete reliance on their children.  Almost 80 years ago, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt declared that Social Security would provide “protection against the hazards and vicissitudes of life.”  Because of Social Security 14 million elderly Americans this year are lifted out of poverty.

 While there are virtues to having extended families under a single roof, the autonomy and independence that the social security system has helped generations of retirees enjoy is without doubt the most successful and effective income security program in our nation’s history. Without social security, nearly half of elderly Americans would live below the poverty line; instead, only ten percent do.

Social Security is especially important to seniors of color, who are less likely than white retirees to have private retirement benefits or asset income. Nearly half of Latino and African American seniors rely on Social Security for more than 90 percent of their income, compared with 30 percent of elderly white beneficiaries.  Although Social Security retirement income is very modest and most retirees are not living high on the hog, reducing or eliminating this essential income source would leave millions of seniors effectively penniless and dependent on their working-age children for food and shelter.

In addition to supporting the social security system, it is imperative that we remember this time of year to support the food banks in our communities and the senior nutrition centers as well as the many churches and civic clubs that provide benevolence to our needy.  It is indeed time to put a penny in the old man’s hat.  Recently, I learned that groups like the Rotary, Optimist and Lions Clubs and sometimes Masonic lodges must pay sales taxes even though they are 501(c)(3) organizations.   For instance over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Anadarko Kiwanis Club engaged in a great project delivering food boxes to the elderly and needy.  The Club was required to pay sales tax on Turkeys that were purchased to be distributed.  One of the bills that I have introduced for the 2014 legislative session will prevent these benevolent and charitable civic organizations from having to pay sales tax on items purchased for distribution or donation to the needy.  My legislation will make the donations and funds raised by these organizations go further and help more. 

 I have such great memories of spending Christmases with grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins.  Playing games together and sleeping nights in a house full of relatives, covered by quilts made by generations of ancestors.  I am happy that my grandparents were able to live an independent life supplemented by Social Security and Medicare.  They did not want to be a burden on my parents.  No one wants to be a burden on their children.  Speak up and defend these social programs that have made life better for our parents and can and will make life better for us and for generations to come.

It is the prayer of our family that you and your family are blessed this Christmas and that you are safe and secure and are able to make precious memories with loved ones.  Please join our family in remembering members of the military and their families who will be separated over the holidays. Thank you for allowing me to serve as a State Representative.  If there is anything that I can do to assist you, please call me at 405-557-7401 or eMail me at David.Perryman@okhouse.gov.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.