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WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today voted for the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act (S.167), legislation he co-sponsored that would improve mental health and suicide prevention programs for military members and veterans. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 99 to 0, and will now go to the President’s desk.

“I applaud Congress for giving swift, strong bipartisan support to those who have served in our military by sending the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act to the President’s desk,” Inhofe said. “From 2005-2012 the annual suicide rate among veterans in Oklahoma increased by 34 percent, totaling 1,018 veteran suicide deaths during this time. An average of 127 deaths per year is not acceptable. The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for Americans bill maintains our nation’s promise to its veterans to help them access the best mental health and suicide prevention programs available. The legislation accomplishes this by providing opportunities for the VA to work collaboratively with local community organizations. The bill will also require an evaluation of the various mental health care programs to identify the efficiencies, or lack thereof, and allow the VA to compete in recruiting necessary supporting staff. Many of our veterans have, and continue to pay, the price for us and our great nation. It is our duty to honor the promises made to our veterans in return for their sacrifices.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) experiences challenges in recruiting psychiatrists because they are unable to compete with the private sector, therefore this bill serves as an incentive for psychiatrists to work for the VA. The bill authorizes no additional funds to be appropriated. Instead, it provides Congressional oversight of the VA while requiring the Department to leverage resources it already has to improve its care of veterans.

The legislation accomplishes the following:

Calls for a 2 year evaluation of mental health care and suicide prevention programs of the VA by an independent third party;
Creates a publication of an internet website of the VA to provide information regarding mental health care services as a centralized source of information for veterans;
Creates a 3 year pilot program for repayment of educational loans up to $30,000 for psychiatrists that agree to serve for 2 years or more of obligated service for the Veterans Health Administration, and prohibits an individual participating in another federal program that repays education loans from simultaneously using this program;
Calls for a minimum of 5 year pilot program on community outreach to improve access of veterans to mental health services;
Calls on a collaboration on suicide prevention efforts between the VA and non-profit mental health organizations that will provide the exchange of training session and best practices to help with suicide prevention.

After the regular order of business, the Okmulgee County Commissioners only had on agenda item after the regular order of business.

The Board approved the Lease Purchase Agreement with Boxcer Equipment for a 2006 Kobelco Excavator for District #1.

'Rubbish,' Morrissette Asserts on 'Your Vote Counts'

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A GOP legislator from Canadian County said his proposal to modify Oklahoma's advanced placement U.S. History course was misinterpreted, "taken out of context." An Oklahoma City Democrat, though, derided the measure as "rubbish."

House Bill 1380 filed by state Rep. Dan Fisher decreed, "By the 2015-2016 school year, the State Board of Education shall identify and adopt a United States History program and corresponding test which school districts shall offer in lieu of the Advanced Placement United States History course and test" offered by the College Board.

The proposed law also mandated that beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, the State Board of Education "shall not award any grants to school districts or make any expenditure of state funds ... for equipment, instructional materials, course development, professional development or training, examination awards or examination scholarships for the Advanced Placement United States History course until the College Board changes the framework for the course and reverts back to the course framework and examination that were used prior to the 2014-2015 school year."

HB 1380 was approved by the House's Common Education Committee in a party-line vote Feb. 17 and was referred to the full House for a vote. Subsequently a furor erupted and publicity about the legislation spread nationwide.

Fisher, R-Yukon, tried to "gut" the A.P. course because he deemed it to be "negative about America," state Rep. Leslie Osborn explained during the "Your Vote Counts" program televised Sunday morning.

"It's nuts! It's lunacy!" state Rep. Richard Morrissette said of HB 1380. "It's rubbish." Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Democrat said, "We have serious problems in this state" that ought to be addressed by the Legislature, such as "children going to school hungry in the morning."

Morrissette noted that Fisher, a second-term legislator, is a member of the Black Robe Regiment, which Morrissette described as "an extreme right-wing group". Republican legislation such as HB 1380 is "the gift that keeps on giving for Democrats," he quipped.

Because of the hostile public reaction to HB 1380, it has been "pulled back," Osborn related. The Mustang Republican speculated that when the bill is considered on the House floor, it probably will simply instruct the state Board of Education to examine the advanced placement U.S. History content "a little closer."

The Black Robe Regiment proclaims that it is "thirsting for truth in God's plan for us and willing to push back against an overreaching federal government and secular society."

Another organization that is dissatisfied with the way U.S. history is taught in schools is the Bill of Rights Institute, which was founded in 1999 and is financed by the conservative Koch brothers, Charles and David, whose assets are valued at more than $80 billion. Their goal is to influence the country's social-studies curriculum and "educat[e] young people about the Constitution."

The College Board is a non-profit organization founded in 1900 to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is comprised of more than 6,000 of "the world's leading educational institutions" and is "dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education."

ELDERCARE

Another issue that entered the public spotlight recently is how Oklahomans care for their elderly citizens and relatives, "Your Vote Counts" moderator Scott Mitchell said.

The federal government recently adopted more-rigorous standards in its five-star rating system for nursing homes, and nearly one-third of Oklahoma 308 nursing homes experienced a drop in their grades. Only 12% retained the top rating.

Among the 308 nursing homes in this state, 38 managed to keep their coveted five-star rating; 56 received four stars, 71 rated three stars, 58 got two stars, and 82 received the lowest rating of just one star. Ratings for three other nursing homes were unavailable. The ratings can be found on the web at https://data.medicare.gov/data/nursing-home-compare .

Morrissette said he and Republican state Rep. David Dank "have been trying for years" to improve eldercare in Oklahoma but lobbyists "cut the legs out from under us." The two Oklahoma City legislators have teamed up again this year, on House Bill 1327 [http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf_pdf/2015-16%20FLR/HFLR/HB1327%20HFLR.PDF], which Morrissette described as "a senior relief bill."

WINNOWING the LEGISLATION

Mitchell also asked Osborn and Morrissette about the sheer volume of legislation filed this year and how much will actually survive the legislative meat grinder. (State Representatives filed 1,232 bills and 26 joint resolutions for consideration this year, while state Senators filed 815 and 32 joint resolutions.)

"Just because a bill is introduced or is passed out of a committee, it hasn't even gotten to first base yet," said Morrissette, who is in his 11th year in the Oklahoma Legislature. A bill that clears a committee still has to be voted on by the entire 101-member House, "and then it goes to the Senate," where the process is repeated. "It's difficult to get anything done" at the State Capitol, he said.

An example is the proposed pay raise for teachers, Osborn said. That measure passed through a House committee "but it's misleading," she said. "It's not going to happen," because the Legislature is coping this year with a $611 million budget deficit.

In a previous episode of "Your Vote Counts," Mitchell asked the two lawmakers whether the Legislature has the requisite "skill set" to manage a state budget that has a gaping $611 million hole.

The Legislature has the necessary skills, Morrissette said, "but not the will and the commitment." He asserted that the Republican-controlled Legislature and Republican Governor Fallin should defer the state income-tax reduction (from 5.25% to 5%) that's scheduled to start in Fiscal Year 2016 and should tap the $535 million "rainy day" fund to plug the budget gap.

Osborn, too, agreed that her colleagues have the necessary skills. "But do we have the stomach?" she asked rhetorically. "We have to have the guts to say 'no'" to state agencies when their officials ask to be exempted from budget cuts or request more money than the Legislature is able to appropriate.

PROGRAM on the 'NET

"Your Vote Counts" is a 10-minute program that features a point-counterpoint format. It airs Sunday mornings on KWTV-9 in Oklahoma City, and afterward the show is uploaded to the Internet at www.news9.com/yourvotecounts

Friday, 20 February 2015 17:03

County Commissioners agenda for February 23

AGENDA FOR REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
OKMULGEE COUNTY

As required by Section 311, Title 25 of the Oklahoma Statutes, notice is hereby given that the Board of County Commissioners of Okmulgee County will hold a regular meeting on February 23, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. The meeting will be held in the County Commissioners Conference Room in the County Courthouse, located at 314 W. 7th, Okmulgee.

AGENDA

The following is a list of the business to be conducted by the Board of County Commissioners at the above-mentioned meeting:

1. Call to Order
Invocation
Pledge of Allegiance

2. Possible approval of minutes from regular meeting

3. Input by the Public on any non-agenda items

4. Order of Business:

A. Discussion and possible action of Officers' Reports

B. Discussion and possible action of Blanket Purchase Orders

C. Discussion and possible action of Employee Status Reports

D. Discussion and possible approval of submitted Utility Permits

E. Discussion and possible approval of Private Property Agreements

F. Possible award of Bid #14 for purchase of used track-hoe

5. Report from Emergency Management Director

6. New Business

7. Discussion and possible approval of claims and/or signing of documents

8. Adjourn

Okmulgee Commissioners proclaimed naming February Oklahoma Emergency Management Week in their Feb 17 regular meeting.  After the County Commissioners regular order of business, they had the following agenda items:

The Board opened Bid #14 for the purchase of a used track-hoe. Bids were received from Boxcer Equipment, Kirby-Smith Machinery and Yellowhouse Machinery. This was tabled to allow time to review the submitted bids.

The Board approved the Proclamation naming February 22 through February 28, 2015 as Oklahoma Emergency Management Week. (SEE PHOTOS BELOW)

The Board approved the Interlocal Agreement with the City of Beggs for Emergency Management Services for the period of March 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015.

The Board approved the Agreements for the removal of shale between "Landowner" and the "County" as follows: Billy Clarkson and Charles Clarkson, Landowners, with Highway District #1; Teresa Hamilton, Landowner, with Highway District #3.

The Board acknowledged and approved to publish the listing of all employees who received a payroll voucher from Okmulgee County in the 2014 calendar year, as presented by the County Clerk. This is published annually, in the month of February, as required by Oklahoma Statute.

The Board approved the annual Cooperation and Payment in Lieu of Tax Agreement with Muscogee (Creek) Nation for the 2015 tax year.

The Board approved the reimbursement claim for expenditures of the District Attorney's Office for the month of January 2015.

The Board approved the reimbursement claim for the Election Board Secretary's salary for the month of January 2015.

The Board approved the monthly Appropriations.

CommissionersGroup

Okmulgee County Commissioners. (L-R) Ron Ballard District 1, Shelley Stephens Secretary, Tim Craighton Okmulgee EMS Director, Bobby Hardridge District 2, James Nichols MCN EMS, Becky Thomas County Clerk and James Connor District 3.

JamesNichols&TimCraightonEMS

MCN Emergency Management Supervisor James Nichols and Tim Craghton Okmulgee Emergency Management Director.

Monday, 16 February 2015 17:03

County Commissioners agenda for February 17

AGENDA FOR REGULAR MEETING OF THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS
OKMULGEE COUNTY

As required by Section 311, Title 25 of the Oklahoma Statutes, notice is hereby given that the Board of County Commissioners of Okmulgee County will hold a regular meeting on February 17, 2015 at 9:00 a.m. The meeting will be held in the County Commissioners Conference Room in the County Courthouse, located at 314 W. 7th, Okmulgee.

AGENDA

The following is a list of the business to be conducted by the Board of County Commissioners at the above-mentioned meeting:

1. Call to Order
Invocation
Pledge of Allegiance

2. Possible approval of minutes from regular meeting

3. Input by the Public on any non-agenda items

4. Order of Business:

A. Discussion and possible action of Officers' Reports

B. Discussion and possible action of Blanket Purchase Orders

C. Discussion and possible action of Employee Status Reports

D. Discussion and possible approval of submitted Utility Permits

E. Discussion and possible approval of Private Property Agreements

F. Open and possible award of Bid #14 for purchase of used track-hoe

G. Discussion and possible approval of Proclamation naming Oklahoma Emergency Management Week

H. Discussion and possible approval of Interlocal Agreement for Emergency Management Services

I. Discussion and possible approval of Agreement for shale

J. Acknowledgment and possible approval to publish the listing of Okmulgee County employees' salaries for 2014

K. Discussion and possible approval of Cooperation and Payment in Lieu of Tax Agreement

L. Possible approval of reimbursement claim for expenditures of the District Attorney's Office

M. Possible approval of reimbursement claim for Election Board Secretary's salary

N. Possible approval of monthly Appropriations

5. Report from Emergency Management Director

6. New Business

7. Discussion and possible approval of claims and/or signing of documents

8. Adjourn

After the regular order of business, the County Commissioners had the following agenda items:

The Board approved the Proclamation naming February 15 through February 21, 2015 as Oklahoma Farm Bureau Week.

The Board tabled the Proclamation naming Oklahoma Emergency Management Week until the meeting of February 17, 2015.

The Board acknowledged the 2014 Unclaimed Mineral Interest Report from the State Treasurer's Office. This report lists the names and last-known addresses of the owners of record of unclaimed interest in Okmulgee County. The list is available for public viewing in the County Clerk's Office.

The Board approved the Detention Transportation Claims for OJA to reimburse the Sheriff's Office for the transportation of juveniles for the following months: July 2014, in the amount of $1,244.62; August 2014, in the amount of $273.96; October 2014, in the amount of $509.90.

WASHINGTON – Congressman Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) today voted for a bill to approve the northern section of the Keystone XL Pipeline. The legislation passed the House by a vote of 270 to 152, setting the stage for a showdown with the president, who has threatened to veto the bill. The second-term lawmaker issued the following statement after the vote:

“This symbolizes a unified effort by the House and Senate to put the priorities of the American people first. While it has taken far too long for this bill to pass Congress, I am thrilled that we have finally moved it forward.

“The approval of the final leg of this project means jobs, a reduced dependency on foreign oil, and real economic growth. Oklahoma has greatly benefited from the southern leg. And I know that the northern leg will only add to these effects.

“This project is a major part of updating our nation’s energy infrastructure. By doing so, we can maintain low and reliable energy costs—giving our economy the boost it needs.

“Now that this bill heads the president’s desk, I encourage the White House to put excuses and politics aside and reconsider their premature veto threat. It is time for this administration to join a united Congress on good government, bipartisan ideas like this.”

Friday, 06 February 2015 16:28

Senate update from Senator Roger Thompson

The 55th Legislative Session began on Monday, February 3, 2015. Governor Mary Fallin delivered the State of the State address on Monday articulating some of the challenges ahead for the state. As with her inaugural address, the governor outlined three areas she believes the state should focus. Governor Fallin placed an emphasis on education, prison reform and health care. All of these are vital areas that demand our constant attention. I believe each of these areas deserve to throughly evaluated and then action needs to be taken. Too many times we study an issue and no action is taken leading us to celebrate the study instead of the implementation.

I have been appointed to five committees. I am serving as Vice Chair on the appropriations subcommittee of Transportation and General Government. This committee will hold hearings and make recommendations on the budgets for 19 government agencies. Those agencies are: Auditor and Inspector; Bond Advisor; Civil Emergency Management; Election Board; Ethics Commission; Governor; House of Representatives; Legislative Service Bureau; Lieutenant Governor; Office of Management and Enterprise; Merit Protection Commission; Military Department; Senate; Space Industry Development Authority; Tax Commission; Transportation Department and Treasurer.
I am also serving on the Business and Commerce, Judiciary, Education and Appropriations Committee.

Over the past several weeks, I have met with all of the Directors and Commissioners of the 19 agencies learning about their areas and also examining their budget request. It is important to fund the core services for the state and yet it is also necessary to make recommendations to eliminate government programs that are not necessary and therefore wasting money. Budget hearings will continue for the next month.

There is a need in Senate District 8 to bring more jobs to the area. We are still asking every city to provide our office with a list of all available buildings. I have already met with the Oklahoma State Commerce Department in an effort to keep District 8 before them. They have asked for the integration of our list of buildings with their list to make sure that we are ready to move forward when an opportunity arises. Bringing jobs to our district is very important. We need manufacturing jobs. Manufacturing jobs will produce 1.7 other jobs in the same community and therefore leading to more retail and need for housing. Manufacturing in our base and we need to do all we can to enhance their ability to operate in District 8.

One of the main issues this year will be the budget. While the state of Oklahoma is required to have a balanced budget, it can be easily observed that we while we may be constitutionally balanced, we are not structurally balanced. We need to live within our means as a state so that we do not have to balance the budget each year with one time appropriations from revolving funds. I understand in the short term this is necessary, but in the long term, we need a more balanced structural basis to the state's budget. It is also my belief that until we have sufficient means to fund our budget, we need to hold off on any more tax cuts.

Please feel free to contact my office at the capitol if I can serve you in any way. The office number is 405-521-5588 or you can email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Okmulgee City Council Race will be held on Tuesday Feb 10.  Candidates on the ballot are Terry Watkins and Terry Bemis for City Council Seat Ward 3. 

This election is open to all Okmulgee City residents who can vote on this decision. 

Click here to learn about each candidate by clicking on their name:

Terry Bemis                      ----                Terry Watkins