Editor’s Notebook: terrible talk, Tulsa tops, Kern’s concern, Senate’s site
Published: January 19th, 2013
From an editor’s notebook, federal officials are treating seriously a series of threats aimed at U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin.
In other news, there is some good news about good jobs in Tulsa, state Rep. Sally Kern presses a legal reform to benefit victims of human trafficking, and the Senate Appropriations Committee launches a new site likely to help the press and the public to keep an eye on funding decisions.
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On Jan. 19, U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin’s chief of staff said death threats have been received that were aimed at the first-term Republican, his wife and children.
Karl Ahlgren, Mullin’s top aide, said in a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK that law enforcement officials consider this a “serious matter due to the content and nature of the threatening letters which were received.”
Saying precautions have been taken to protect the Second District representative and his family, Ahlgren said. He declined further comment and directed inquiries to the House Sergeant of Arms Communications Officer.
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From Tulsa, some good news: Verizon On January 18 announced it will add 500 new jobs, in finance and accounting. at its North Lakewood facility. It is a big jump for the company, which presently has 900 working at the site.
In a statement sent to CapitolBeatOK, Gov. Mary Fallin said: “These positions represent the kind of high-quality, good paying jobs we are working to bring to the state. We appreciate Verizon’s investment in Oklahoma and are excited about the 500 new jobs coming to Tulsa. Today’s announcement is another great example that our pro-growth, pro-business policies are working and are making Oklahoma an even better place to do business.”
Verizon has roughly 1,200 employees statewide, with an annual payroll of about $85.3 million. A prepared statement to reporters pointed to several factors in the decision, including “the quality and availability of financial services talent, quality of life considerations, the cost of living and more.”
Michelle Robinson, a Verizon vice president, credited the Sooner State’s “business-friendly environent that encourages investment’’ for the decision. She added, “Selecting Tulsa as a new financial services hub for Verizon allows us to take advantage of the financial services talent throughout Oklahoma.”
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Rep. Kern, an Oklahoma City Republican, filed House Bill 1058 in this week’s wave of proposed laws at the state Capitol, where both the House and Senate return to work on February 4.
Kern’s bill would allow victims of human trafficking to expunge prostitution records.
She told CapitolBeatOK, “I think no one would expect a human trafficking victim to have to have prostitution on their record. When an individual has been rescued from the horrors of human trafficking and is no longer willingly involved in prostitution, society should help these victims overcome the negative effects of this modern day forced slavery.
“It’s just common-sense, but has been overlooked, unfortunately. I hope that this will improve the lives of victims, so that they do not have to have a constant reminder of the crime that has been committed against them.”
Last year, Rep. Kern worked with state Sen. Josh Breecheen, a Coalgate Republican, to enact a state law modifying Oklahoma law concerning “human trafficking for commercial sex” to include recruiting, enticing, harboring, maintaining, transporting, providing, purchasing or obtaining, by any means, a minor for commercial sex acts.
The act specified that a minor’s consent to involvement in sex acts cannot be used as defense in judicial proceedings.
Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, when he served as Senate Majority floor leader in 2010, fashioned previous laws aiming to combat human trafficking, a scourge that has impacted Oklahoma due to the state’s location at the intersection of three major interstate highways in Oklahoma City.
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This week, state Senate Appropriations Chairman Clark Jolley, an Edmond Republican, briefed members of the state Capitol press corps on a new website making it easier for reporters and the general public to study budgeting decisions “in process.”
With the legislative session set to begin Feb. 4, budget review hearings commence this coming week, Capitol staff completed installation of a large screen monitor in Room 419-C (the conference room that normally hosts Senate Appropriations hearings). Jolley and committee staff demonstrated what they deemed “enhanced services” that will make more user-friendly access to information in the review and performance hearings.
Live webcasting and streaming of hearings will be enhanced, Jolley said, and faster access to document texts, committee votes and proceedings will be assured. In response to a question from CapitolBeatOK, Chairman Jolley confirmed that the new technology will make it easier for senators to take “remote testimony” from witnesses when weather or other circumstances require that.
The Appropriations website can be accessed here and through the Senate’s homepage here.
You may contact Patrick B. McGuigan at Patrick@capitolbeatok.com and follow us on