Two bills headed to the Governor

My first two bills are headed to the Governor’s desk, after successful passage in the House.

The first is SB 282, which is explained here.  Hopefully, this will help law enforcement.    Here is coverage from Broken Arrow on the bill.

The second is SB 160, which allows for grand prix races in Oklahoma.   It was well-explained by the Oklahoma Gazette here.

The Oklahoman: “Playing On a Tragedy”

The Oklahoman editorializes today against the union television ad exploiting the Oklahoma City Bombing here, and below:

Playing on a tragedy

Oklahoma City firefighters won praise, and rightfully so, for their work after the Oklahoma City bombing. Firefighters are now getting flack, rightfully so, for trying to exploit those efforts. Remnants of the bombed federal building are among many images used in an ad by the International Association of Firefighters, which is fighting a bill that would change how contracts between cities and public-sector safety unions are handled. “We’re there when you need us,” the ad says, urging viewers to tell legislators to defeat Senate Bill 826. Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, called the ad tasteless and wants it pulled. The firefighters union says that won’t happen. Our sense is viewers will draw their own conclusion and that lawmakers don’t have to worry about being inundated with calls.

Doing what’s right

Well, it’s been an interesting two days.   Thursday morning, the IAFF and AFL-CIO labor unions began running a tasteless television commercial that uses images of the April 19, 1995 Oklahoma City bombing to encourage viewers to oppose my bill (SB 826), which reforms the binding arbitration process by which cities negotiate with their unions.  

Believing this politicization of the Bombing was beyond the pale, I asked the unions to pull the ad, and I was even joined in my call by the Fraternal Order of Police, which is not opposed to SB 826.   Within 24 hours, the story had crossed the nation, and by lunchtime today, friends were texting me that Fox News was showing my picture on national television.  

As a result of all this, I’m receiving phone calls and e-mails of support from around the country.    For that support, I am deeply grateful, but I take no pleasure in the attention.  I just wish the unions would take the ad down, and show a little respect for the victims and heroes of April 19th.   That doesn’t appear likely, unfortunately.   In the meantime, we’ll keep fighting for the taxpayers and pressing for the passage of SB 826.

Here are just a few of the hundreds of stories and blog posts crossing the nation about this:

The Oklahoman

Glenn Beck’s ‘The Blaze’

KJRH Channel 2 in Tulsa

Capitol Beat OK

The McCarville Report

BreitbartTV

Gateway Pundit

Huffington Post

KOKC

Senator Holt’s Bethany Tribune Column

Below is Senator David Holt’s column this week for the Bethany Tribune.

State Capitol Report

By Senator David Holt

March 18, 2011

Greetings, Tribune reader!   It is time again to provide you an occasional update as to what is happening at your State Capitol.

When last I wrote, the 53rd Legislature had just begun.    Since then, we have spent the time hearing bills in committees and considering them on the floors of our respective chambers.  As you read this, the Legislature has completed much of that work, and now bills that have survived this far will make the journey across the building to the opposite chamber for consideration there.

The House and Senate have each tackled many of the same issues, and those priorities largely reflect the agenda set out by Governor Fallin in her State of the State address that began this session.  That agenda focused on education reform and pro-business initiatives.

In education, the Legislature has moved ahead with reconsideration of some long-held bureaucratic and labor assumptions.   In the area of encouraging economic growth, the Legislature has advanced milestone lawsuit reform and workers compensation reform.  

In addition, both chambers have continued their mutual work on a fiscal year 2012 budget, which will require some tough choices to address a half-billion dollar gap.  Both chambers have also been meeting together in a special task force to consider immigration legislation.   Individually, the House and Senate have also considered pro-life bills, pro-Second Amendment bills, pension reform, property and income tax relief, and government modernization.

Though every legislator plays a role in the development of the legislation considered in their committees and in each chamber, the members of your Tribune delegation are particularly engaged in their own legislation.

Senator Cliff Branan has been focused on energy and transportation legislation, plus bills to encourage use of natural gas by utility companies, and to create a task force to study the potential privatization of the state’s golf courses.

Rep. Charles Key has been focused on insurance legislation, plus bills to increase access to the ballot for third parties, and to increase the teaching of our founding documents.

Rep. Sally Kern has been focused on pro-life and education legislation, plus bills to increase the consequences for child pornographers, to strengthen safeguards against the use of foreign law in Oklahoma courts, and increase access to long-term care counseling.

Rep. Elise Hall has been focused on education legislation, plus bills to limit government growth and publicly-funded art.

For my part, I’ve been focused on legislation to put the taxpayers back in charge of local spending decisions that are now being made by unaccountable arbitrators, plus bills to lower the state income tax, to simplify the prosecution of registered sex offenders, to make grand prix races possible, to reschedule our presidential primary to comply with new national party rules, to name the Interstate 44 bridge over the Red River after President George W. Bush, and to increase the preference for Oklahoma products when state agencies make acquisitions.   I will also be spending a great deal of time in the coming weeks considering our new Senate district lines, as I am the Vice Chair of the Redistricting Committee, responsible for Central Oklahoma.

Just over two months remain in the 2011 legislative session, and as always, I encourage you to express your thoughts to myself and the rest of your Tribune delegation.   You can find our contact information at www.oksenate.gov or www.okhouse.gov.   We are honored to serve you.

OCPA Fellow: “Preserving Unity and Momentum”

Today, OCPA Fellow Andrew Spiropoulos writes here in the Journal Record that binding arbitration should be repealed or reformed.

OCPA: “Oklahoma Should Follow Wisconsin’s Lead”

Jonathan Small of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) calls for the end of binding arbitration here.

Holt in Lawton Constitution: “Practice Binds City Taxpayers to Utility Hikes”

Senator Holt published an op-ed in Saturday’s Lawton Constitution regarding binding arbitration.  

Practice Binds City Taxpayers to Utility Hikes

by State Sen. David Holt

March 12, 2011

In our representative democracy, it would be hard to imagine that major decisions about your local tax dollars would ever be made by someone from out-of-state who is unelected and unaccountable to you.   And yet, this happens every year across Oklahoma, and Lawton is no exception.

Since “binding arbitration” was barely passed by the Legislature in 1994, in cases where municipalities and their unions cannot agree on an employment contract, their conflict is handed over to an arbitration board.   The deciding arbitrator is usually an out-of-state attorney recommended by the Federal government.   This person picks one of the sides and their ruling is final, unless the city calls for an election.   The election option has emerged as rare and impractical because of the cost, the inability of a city to conduct a campaign, the unlikelihood that negotiations and an election can all be completed in the fiscal year as required, and the fact that the arbitrator being challenged chooses the ballot.  

Because the election option has been practically unusable, the final decision has almost always stayed in the hands of the arbitrator.   This is why this process is known as “binding arbitration,” and it is also why it must end or be reformed this year.  As then-candidate Frank Keating said in 1994 when binding arbitration became law: “The decision to raise taxes and spend the public’s money must in our system be on the shoulders and in the hands of those who are elected to do it.”

Arbitrators have no knowledge of a city, and they answer to no one in that city.   In 2003 in Lawton, while departments were being cut and the city was in a hiring freeze, your elected representatives believed that you could not afford the raises demanded by your city’s unions.   The arbitrator substituted his judgment for yours, and he ruled that the unions should receive raises, even if it meant laying-off police officers.   That captures the irony of binding arbitration – unions like the process because they enjoy larger raises, but money is finite, and cities end up laying off new officers to pay the new salaries of those who remain.   The loser in that game is you.

This is why I have introduced SB 826, which in its current version would significantly reform binding arbitration.   Rep. Scott Martin has introduced HB 1576 in the House to repeal binding arbitration.   Both bills are moving through the process and merit your support.   SB 826 also enjoys the support of the Oklahoma Academy, the State Chamber, the Oklahoma Municipal League, and Labor Commissioner Mark Costello.   The bills also enjoy the strong support of your local Lawton officials.  I encourage you to make sure your elected representatives at the legislator feel the same way.  It’s time the taxpayers were put back in charge.

State Sen. David Holt is an Oklahoma City Republican.

Steve Fair: “Unbind the Taxpayers!”

Here is a great column by Steve Fair of Duncan regarding binding arbitration.

KOSU: “Making Changes to Binding Arbitration Procedures”

KOSU reports on the passage of Senator Holt’s binding arbitration bill here.

The Oklahoman: “Bill Changing Collective Bargaining Process in Oklahoma Passes State Senate”

The Oklahoman reports on the passage of SB 826 here.

Reform of Binding Arbitration Passes Senate

Today, the full Senate passed my binding arbitration bill (SB 826).    I am so grateful to my fellow Senators for believing in this important reform.   The taxpayers of Oklahoma won a victory today, now we just have to rack up a few more.   Here is the release on today’s events.

Oklahoma Gazette: “Start Your Engines”

The Gazette covers Senator Holt’s auto racing bill here.

McCarville Report: “Senate Approves Presidential Primary Date Move”

The McCarville Report covers the Senate passage of Senator Holt’s presidential primary bill here.

McCarville Report: “Senate Approves Bush Red River Bridge Honor”

The McCarville Report covers the recent Senate passage of Senator Holt’s bill to name the Interstate 44 bridge after President George W. Bush here.

Tulsa World: “Legislation would affect Oklahoma’s government workers”

Today, the Tulsa World covers Senator Holt’s binding arbitration bill here.