Editor’s Notebook: Ban ends, protestors Occupy, Mitt visits, coal defended, cash portal, interview show premieres
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Published: 28-Oct-2011

Today (Friday, October 28), Governor Mary Fallin announced the state burn ban now in effect for 14 counties will be lifted at 1 p.m. next Tuesday. County commissioners will still have options to implement local burn bans if they so choose.

Fallin said, in comments provided to CapitolBeatOK, “With cooler temperatures and higher humidity we are seeing a lower occurrence of wildfire. These factors combined with recent precipitation across the state allow the ban to be lifted.”
The release from Fallin’s office encouraged Oklahomans “to remain cautious with campfires, debris burning, outdoor cooking, welding and other activities that include an open flame.”

Information on burn bans and the drought situation are available from Oklahoma Forestry Services, online at www.forestry.ok.gov. 

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Occupy OKC is leading a protest march to the state Capitol tomorrow (Saturday, October 29). According to sources with the Occupy movement, groups from around the state will gather at Oklahoma City’s Kerr Park late morning, and move toward the Capitol to hear speakers and live music. They will be “protesting the undue influence of money on our political system.” By 3 p.m, the marchers plan to return to Kerr Park for a last afternoon concert.

On Sunday, after another afternoon music concert, Occupy participants say they will host a Candlelight Vigil honoring first responders and war veterans. Rolling forward, Occupy plans “a safe family-friendly Halloween event” for Monday. A release from the group said: 

“Occupy OKC stands in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street and we are unified in the desire to make our Government more responsive to ordinary citizens instead of just being responsive to those interests – like the wealthy elite, banks, wall street & big corporations - that have the most money. We all would like to see meaningful campaign finance reform and other measures enacted that actually ensure this change occurs.

“Beyond that, each of us bring our own issues and concerns, and we highly encourage everyone's participation. This is why we do not affiliate with or support any particular political party & welcome anyone to join us regardless of their political affiliation.” 

A week ago, Occupy activists joined an “Occupy Romney” ally to protest former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s fundraising events at the Sports Hall of Fame on Lincoln Boulevard in Oklahoma City. State Democratic Party Chairman Wallace Collins led chants and the crowd of several dozen activists called for “RomneyCare for all.” 

At the Democratic party state headquarters north of the Romney event, the part charged $20.12 for parking. 

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Speaking of Romney, last week he created a positive impression with both the Republican donors he spoke to after a high-dollar breakfast and conservative grass roots activists who interacted with him at a mid-morning session at the Sports Hall of Fame. Admission to the grass roots event was an affordable $20.12.

Asked at one point if any Republican governor had a better record than Mitch Daniels of Indiana, Romney said the Hoosier executive was among the best. He went on to offer praise for a few other state chief executives, including Chris Christie of New Jersey and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, for taking aggressive steps to curb government spending and redirect government priorities. 

Romney observed that even Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York is working to rein in the Empire State’s massive government growth. 

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Mark Allen, a Republican senator from Poteau, today sent Capitol reporters a statement asserting, “We need to realize that the coal industry is a fundamental part of our economy.  Failing to support coal mining would be devastating to communities throughout southeastern Oklahoma and the many individuals and families who depend on it for their livelihoods.  A strong and vibrant coal industry means those families can continue to put food on the table.”

Two days after an often critical analysis of business incentive programs, particularly the coal tax credits (which are transferable), Brown said, “I believe it is absolutely appropriate to scrutinize programs that may not benefit our economy, including transferrable tax credits.  But at the same time, we must remember that we’re all still fighting for Oklahoma’s economic recovery.  We must proceed in a thoughtful and responsible manner that recognizes how tax policy impacts families at the most basic level.”

State Rep. David Dank, an Oklahoma City Republican, is leading the Task Force on State Tax Credits and Economic Incentives. The group is taking a multi-layered look at programs, and seems headed toward concluding that some work, some can’t be improved, and some should be ended 

* * * 
Treasurer Ken Miller said a new online portal for use in assisting the unclaimed property process will make it much easier for businesses o file reports. Oklahoma is ninth state to develop an online mechanism for unclaimed property reports. 

A release from Miller’s office said 9,200 businesses listed unclaimed property in reports to his office in 2010. Miller’s office holds some $350 million in property for as many as 600,000. Lists are published in newspapers and also made available online. Over the last year, Miller said, some 12,000 Oklahomans were assisted in finding some $19 milion. 

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OETA, the state’s tax-financed television network, is launching a weekly series focused on legislators and their districts. The program premieres next Tuesday, November 1, to p.m. Each edition will feature three legislators in one-on-one sessions. 

Host John McCarroll, also the network’s executive director, said the new program (dubbed “Roll Call”) “hopes to reveal the unique aspects of our Oklahoma communities, economies, industries, histories, geographies, services and values that make this state great.”

The first installment will feature two Republicans and one Democrat: state Sen. Clark Jolly, an Edmond Republican, and Reps. Jeff Hickman, a Dacoma Republican, and Wade Rousselot, an Okay Democrat. 

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