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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Women Win

   
 In May, 2013 the Oklahoma Legislature passed House Bill 2226.  This new law told females under age 17 that they must have a doctor’s prescription for getting over-the-counter emergency contraception (called Plan B or the morning after pill).  This contraception if taken within 72 hours after unprotected sex will most likely prevent pregnancy but will not terminate an existing pregnancy. 

However, getting an appointment with a doctor for a prescription could cause unacceptable delays.

Equally bad, a female age 17 and older must prove her age with identification which she may or may not have.

Thankfully, the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights joined the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice in filing a court challenge to this new law.

 In response, on January 23, Oklahoma County District Judge Lisa Davis struck down this new law. She called it unconstitutional because it violates the single-subject provision of the Oklahoma Constitution.  Specifically, the Oklahoma Constitution declares that “Every act of the Legislature shall embrace but one subject.”     However, section one of the new-law-in-question deals with insurance regulation and section two deals with prescription drug benefits.   

Judge Davis was simply following the law --- the Constitution’s ban on multiple subjects in one bill.

Finally, the legislature has passed a barrage of bills over the last few years which oppose abortion. One would assume that abortion foes would be among the strongest proponents of all types of contraception.  Or maybe it’s all about controlling women’s bodies?

Wanda Jo Stapleton  
Former State Representative

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Is China Lending Us Our Money?


It's amazing to me that so many people are oblivious to the pending trauma that may occur if we default on our national debt by not raising the debt ceiling. Interest rates will rise for everyone and the cost of everything will go up. How will that help us achieve a balanced budget? Tea Party advocates repeatedly claim that we need to grow our economy to increase government revenue and the only way to do that is to lower taxes and government regulations.

Let's look at the world's current most successful economy and see how they manage things. That economy is China, both the largest creditor of the U. S. outside of the Social Security Trust Fund and now the manufacturing base for many of the products used by Americans. They are not even a Capitalistic society. They are a totalitarian regime with rigid control by the central government and that rigid control keeps working conditions abysmal and wages low. That totalitarian regime is able to lend America trillions of dollars because the Chinese government has lots of money.

Where do they get that money? Do you think the successful manufacturers in China just share their money with the government because they love it or do you realize that China has taxes too? The Chinese government controls everything that Chinese business does if you don't realize that, I fear for your sanity. Check out http://www.taxrates.cc/index.html to see how much the Chinese system demands in taxes. This site shows that they have a progressive income tax system that requires their richest citizens to pay 45% far above the 35% our richest citizens pay. They do have a lower corporate rate of 25% compared to our 39.2% but if you continue reading you will see they have a VAT,aka sales tax of 17% while the U. S. leaves the sales tax issue to the states and none have higher than 7% for the state and probably no more than 3% for the lower levels of government. Keep reading on this site and you will see that they also have a multitude of other business taxes which evidently rake in enough money to make China able to lend money to the rest of the world. Their tax rates also have several lower rates for industries they want to encourage like high tech and yes green industries.

Some day the Tea Party folks are going to realize that government services are not free and different governments use different forms of taxation to get to the same place and that place is where ever they decide will give them enough money to run their country. I don't know about the rest of you but I think that when an American company would rather pay taxes to China they should have to move there. Now their CEOS use the slave labor available there and lower Chinese corporate rate along with the lower U. S. rate on income to milk both systems.

They keep telling us America is the greatest country in the world while they do everything possible to bring the wages down of American workers and get an even better income tax rate for themselves. It just seems basically Unamerican for a company to pay taxes to another country that turns around and lends it to America. This is a grand scam and the American people are the suckers.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Wake Up Call


All four of Oklahoma’s Republican Congressmen got their wake-up call on Tuesday, May 24. That long-distance call came from upstate New York where a stunning upset occurred. Kathy Hochul, a Democratic challenger, defeated Jane Corwin, a well-financed Republican insider, in deeply red Congressional District 26.

Medicare became the defining issue in that campaign and, most likely, will define numerous 2012 elections as well.

Regarding Medicare, Oklahoma’s Republican Congressmen agree with defeated Jane Corwin’s position. In fact, Congressmen John Sullivan, Frank Lucas, Tom Cole, and James Lankford, voted “yes” for Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget bill (HCR 34) which ends Medicare as we know it.

Today’s Medicare would end for people now under 55 when they become elderly. Instead of Medicare,they would get a voucher as partial payment on health insurance from a private company. One person
at a time trying to buy health insurance would greatly increase the price and a lone individual could easily be denied coverage because of age.

If these four Oklahoma congressmen prevail, good luck to granny, who is supposed to enjoy her “freedom” from the “bonds of the mean old government” with its guaranteed health coverage.

Wanda Jo Stapleton

Friday, February 4, 2011

Smaller Government Phooey!

Every time I pick up the paper there is news of another ethically challenged appointment by one of our new Republican state wide office holders. First it's the governor appointing Glenn Coffee, term limited and now former state senator as Secretary of State. The former Secretary of State pulled in about 94K. It will be interesting to see what Coffee ends up making.

Next John Doak, the Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner, appointed 3 former Republican legislators who lost in the primaries to now serve as deputy insurance commissioners. The Democratic Commissioner had only 4 deputies but now we need 7? Their credentials are outstanding too, one was a wholesale air-conditioning distributor, another a realtor, and the third a banker. How any of those disciplines are relevant to the insurance commission beats me.

The Superintendent of Education has hired lobbyists and campaign workers to be her assistants. Jobs that have a regulatory requirement for personnel to have at least a masters in education. It seems obvious that in this instance, who you know is more important that what you know.

Many of these people were hired despite the fact that our state Constitution prohibits hiring legislators with appropriated funds for two years after they leave office. All were hired in agencies that claim to be predominately funded with fees instead of appropriations. I wonder how they keep that money separate.

According to the state finance office website, salaries for deputy commissioners range from $67,900 to $92,000. This will be a hefty raise for legislators who only make about $50,000 a year when you include their per diem and other benefits. If they work for the state for only three more years at the higher salary, it will literally double their retirement benefits.

That's okay though, our state pension fund is the most underfunded in the U. S. and is scheduled to be unable to pay full benefits by 2020. I wonder if these newly appointed state employees remembered all the money they borrowed for other expenses with these funds when they decided to work on a larger pension?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Coffee's Mexican Vacation


According to a 14 April Tulsa World article, Republican Senate President Pro Tem, Glen Coffee, and former State Representative, Fred Morgan, took a little vacation to Mexico with Brett Robinson, a lobbyist for GEO, a private prison company.

Information provided for fiscal year 2008 by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections shows that the state spent slightly more than $78 million to house inmates in private prisons. Of that amount, slightly more than $41 million was spent with GEO.

Was this cozy little friendship between GEO and Coffee the reason that Coffee requested an analysis from the State Board of Corrections of what it would cost to close 3 state prisons?

Oklahoma has one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation. When the private prison industry is sure we have no other alternatives to house our prison population, they will jack up the cost per inmate and Oklahoma will be at their mercy. That's exactly what they did in New Mexico. Yes, today, they do it slightly cheaper, but when we put ourselves in a position where there is no competition for the private prisons, they will gouge us big time. Those trips to Mexico are not cheap.
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Friday, October 10, 2008

DRIBBLE DOWN ECONOMICS


The Oklahoma legislature again followed lobbyist money instead of the interests of their constituents when they voted to give the owners of the Sonics a 60 million dollar tax break by passing HB1819 last session. To see how much your legislator received from Sonic lobbyists, check out this website (http://davidhglover.googlepages.com/reverserobinhood)

Overall lobbyists for the tax credit gave about $600,000.00 in campaign contributions to legislators while encouraging them to vote for a 60 million dollar tax break. I sure wish I could get even half that on my investments. If you do an in depth calculation on the voting patterns; it shows that Representatives voting YES on the bill received an average of $3,167 in contributions while legislators voting No on the bill only received $1820. Senators voting YES were a little more expensive. They received an average of $7,100.00 while Senators voting no only received $3950. .

Meanwhile the infrastructure in our state is falling apart. The ASCE web site, http://www.asce.org/reportcard/2005/page.cfm?id=76, calculated in 2005 that the total bill to bring our bridges, roads, water and sewage systems up to par would be over 2.34 billion dollars. I have a feeling it is going to be very hard to get there if our legislature continues to let the lobbyists run our state.