Casey Murdock

Beaver

 

108 S Douglas - PO Box 490 - Beaver, Oklahoma 73932

A Positive Web Page for Beaver, Oklahoma

Murdock’s Minutes
By Sen. Casey Murdock
Senate District 27
Beaver, Cimarron, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Texas, Woods, Woodward counties
For Immediate Release:  April 15, 2019
   Our state and this Senate district is filled with men and women who have a heart for service and stand ready to put the safety and welfare of others before their own.  This past week, my fellow members and I had the privilege of honoring some of these heroes at the State Capitol.
Members of law enforcement never know what each day will bring.  Sometimes what appears to be a routine call or stop can become something far more dangerous.  You may recall the name of Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Austin Ellis.  Last August in the Woodward city limits, he observed a driver not wearing a seat belt.  When Trooper Ellis tried to pull the driver over, the man fled a short distance before stopping in a parking lot of a motel.  The driver refused to comply when Trooper Ellis told him to show his hands and exit his vehicle, and after a few minutes, began firing several rounds at Ellis with a 9-millimeter handgun.  Ellis exchanged fire.
Despite being injured, Trooper Ellis pursued the suspect when he fled in his vehicle.  Ellis called for backup and when they arrived, along with an ambulance, only then did he seek treatment for his injuries. The suspect was later arrested, treated for a gunshot wound and then taken to jail. 
Trooper Ellis suffered broken ribs and a punctured lung and was eventually airlifted to an Oklahoma City Level One Trauma Center.  Fortunately, Austin made a full recovery and returned to work.  This past week, we honored Trooper Ellis, who was named a 2018 Trooper of the Year for Heroism.
The following day, we met in a special joint session of the Legislature to honor the 45th Infantry and Oklahoma’s National Guard.  Not only do these men and women answer the call to serve their nation in times of conflict, they also do a tremendous service on behalf of their fellow citizens right here at home, particularly when we face natural disasters like wildfires, tornadoes and flooding.  It is always a privilege to be able to pay tribute to these outstanding Oklahomans each year at the Capitol.
Finally, I want to mention a bill that I was able to receive approval for in a Senate Committee before the April 11 deadline—this legislation would be extremely helpful to another group of Oklahomans on the front line of our public safety efforts.  Our prisons are tremendously overcrowded and we do not have enough prison guards.  The ones we have often work 12 hour days guarding some of the most dangerous inmates in our state.  For that, they receive about $13.74 an hour.  This legislation would give corrections officers a $2.00 an hour pay increase.  That legislation now goes to the full Senate for a vote.
To all our active military and veterans, to all who serve in law enforcement, to our corrections officers, firefighters and other first responders, I want to again thank you for your service and sacrifice.            This is your State Capitol, and I look forward to welcoming you to the Senate. You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

 

 

4-11-19

Murdock’s Minutes

By Sen. Casey Murdock

Senate District 27

Beaver, Cimarron, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Texas, Woods, Woodward counties

For Immediate Release: April 8, 2019

This past Wednesday was Agriculture Day at the Capitol. It’s an opportunity to showcase the importance of agriculture in Oklahoma to every man, woman and child in our state. Farmers and producers bring samples and displays and talk about what it is they do and the impact they have in our lives—it’s always one of the days people most look forward during the legislative session.

I was principal author of Senate Resolution 3 which was heard and unanimously approved on Agriculture Day, paying tribute to the importance of agriculture in Oklahoma. Jimmy Harrel of Elk City was also presented with Governor Kevin Stitt’s Outstanding Achievement in Agriculture Award.

Jimmy grew up learning about farming ranching and riding with his family. He participated in 4-H and FFA in high school and after graduating from OSU with a double major in Animal Science and Vocational Agriculture, he went on to teach vocational agriculture for several years. A man of many interests and talents, he eventually became one of the owners of the Bank of Western Oklahoma with branches in Weatherford, Woodward, Vici, Cordell, Elk City and Geary. He continues to support the future of agriculture in our state through the Oklahoma Youth expo, donated his resources and time to help today’s youth become tomorrow’s leaders. Congratulations to Jimmy Harrel for this well-deserved honor.

I also want to congratulate Seiling Elementary School teacher Amanda Templin for being named a 2019 Ag in the Classroom Exception Teacher. I also want to congratulate Seiling Elementary student Ethan Rohla, the kindergarten poster contest first place winner for the 2019 Oklahoma Agriculture Poster contest. Congratulations also to Kinsley Pike, the pre-kindergarten poster contest 1st place winner. She’s a student at Cornelsen Elementary in Fairview.

Lastly, I want to urge your support for the Turpin Robotics team. They won their regional championship to advance to the First Lego League World Championships in Houston. They’re raising funds for this trip and will be holding drawings for raffles on Tuesday, April 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Turpin School Auditorium. Congratulations to the Turpin Robotics team, and thank you to all who are supporting them.

This is your State Capitol, and I look forward to welcoming you to the Senate. You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

 

3-14-19

Murdock’s Minutes

By Sen. Casey Murdock

Senate District 27

Beaver, Cimarron, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Texas, Woods, Woodward counties

For Immediate Release: March 11, 2019

As we began the sixth week of the 2019 session, we had a full load of work ahead. With a March 14 deadline for the full Senate to vote on bills that began in this chamber and had won committee approval, we knew we had some long days ahead. As of Monday morning, there were 333 bills and joint resolutions awaiting Senate votes.

I have about a dozen bills that are either awaiting votes by the full Senate or have already been approved and sent over to the House.

Of course one of my bills awaiting a House committee vote is the bill making the ribeye the official steak of Oklahoma. We’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on that one. I can’t tell you how many people emailed or texted to say after hearing about the bill they were going to go out that night and have a ribeye steak. It’s even made national news. You can see the story at this link: https://www.msnbc.com/mtp-daily/watch/icymi-oklahoma-has-a-high-steaks-bill-in-the-works-1447023171592. The point is, Oklahoma’s cattle industry is vital to this state’s economy, and I’m very pleased to help promote it and the countless Oklahoma stores and restaurants that sell Oklahoma beef, especially ribeye steaks.

Senate Bill 304 is one of mine that is awaiting a floor vote. It’s a simple bill—it prohibits someone from flying a drone over agricultural property without the property owner’s permission. The bill includes land used for farming, ranching, hunting, fishing or forestry purposes. Even if you live out in the country in the middle of a farm or ranch, you should have the right not to be spied on with a drone. There are exemptions, including for law enforcement or someone working under the direction or on behalf of law enforcement and oil and gas companies if they’ve notified the property owner in advance, although that notice wouldn’t be required for an emergency evaluation of a pipeline or utility infrastructure. Violators would face a fine of up to $500 or up to a year in jail or both.

Another bill that’s already been sent over to the House is Senate Bill 544, and it deals with people who sell prepared or processed foods at farmers markets. I know we have people in the district who like to make salsa, pies or other homemade goods to sell at local farmers markets, but the licensing fee can be pretty costly. For people who don’t have restaurants or commercial bakeries but sell exclusively at farmers market, this bill drops the fee from $100 to $25.

I had also proposed government accountability legislation this year—these concepts were championed by the leaders in both chambers and the governor. Leadership versions of those measures are now working their way through the House and Senate. Under the current system, agency directors are not directly accountable to the governor. They are hired by a board or commission appointed by the governor and legislative leaders. These measures enable the governor to hire and fire the executive directors of his choice at five of the state’s larger agencies.

I believe this will make the agencies much more responsive as the governor works to implement the programs and priorities he promised voters he would pursue. And there’s a direct accountability to the voters that doesn’t exist in the current system. If the agencies aren’t performing the way the public thinks they should, they can go straight to the top and fire the man who put those directors and policies in place. In other words, they can hold the governor accountable at the next election.

Please feel free to contact my Capitol office regarding legislative issues or other questions about state government. You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

 

3-7-19

Murdock’s Minutes

By Sen. Casey Murdock

Senate District 27

Beaver, Cimarron, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Texas, Woods, Woodward counties

 

For Immediate Release:  March 4, 2019

                                             

             We just passed the deadline for getting Senate bills out of our committees and we’re focusing now on getting those measures heard on the floor by the March 14 deadline. It’s been a very busy four weeks, but very productive.  We’ve already tackled quite a few important bills this session.

            I was very proud to cast my vote on the Senate floor Wednesday for the Constitutional Carry Bill.  I’m a staunch defender of our Second Amendment rights.  Under House Bill 2597, Oklahomans 21 and older could legally carry a firearm without a permit.  Veterans, active duty, and reserve military over the age of 18 and over would be allowed to carry without a permit under this same bill. 

The fact is that 15 other states already allow Constitutional Carry, and because of reciprocity laws, people who enjoy this freedom in their home state can also enjoy Constitutional Carry when visiting or working in Oklahoma.  This includes citizens from bordering states like Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri.  It’s just our own citizens who do not currently have this right. 

            It should be pointed out the bill also has important protections in it.  The legislation prohibits felons and those with domestic violence convictions or those who have been adjudicated as having a mental illness from carrying a firearm.  Current protections that allow private property owners, including businesses to prohibit firearms from being carried will continue under this bill.  It also maintains the ability of colleges and universities to set their own policies about firearms on campuses. The same day the Senate joined the House in passing HB 2597, Governor Kevin Stitt signed it into law. It takes effect this November.

              Speaking of our governor, earlier on Wednesday the Senate Rules Committee approved five pieces of legislation that will give the governor the authority to hire and fire the heads of five different state agencies—The Department of Corrections, the Health Care Authority, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the Office of Juvenile Affairs.  Right now the heads of these agencies are hired by boards or commission.  Many of those board members may have been chosen by a previous governor. 

Although these are executive branch agencies, if the governor has a policy or program he’d like to prioritize as part of his agenda, those boards and directors can simply ignore him if they want to. And because they are all appointed, there’s no accountability directly to the public.  Allowing the governor to hire and fire the people who run the executive agencies will ensure he can enact his agenda—and if it isn’t in line with what the public wants, he will be held directly accountable at the next election.

            Another bill winning committee approval by this past week’s deadline was Senate Bill 1, which will create the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT).  This will give the Legislature accurate, objective financial information about all state agencies.  LOFT will be overseen by a bipartisan committee of House and Senate members.  It will conduct performance evaluations of agencies, programs or specific divisions and will have open access to all data and budgets.  It will be staffed by a small group of nonpartisan, highly educated professionals and all of the reports produced will be available to the public.

            This legislation will help us make even better budget decisions and increase transparency on behalf of the public.  This bill and the bills giving the governor authority over choosing specific agency directors will be voted on by the full Senate in the next couple of weeks.

            Please feel free to contact my Capitol office regarding legislative issues or other questions about state government.  You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

 

 

2-28-19

Murdock’s Minutes

By Sen. Casey Murdock

Senate District 27

Beaver, Cimarron, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Texas, Woods, Woodward counties

For Immediate Release: February 25, 2019

Week three of the 2019 session is over and the pace can best be described as fast and furious as we work to get bills heard in committee by the February 28 deadline. Some of our most high profile bills have already been voted on and are headed to the full Senate for a vote.

Those of you who know me understand that I am a staunch believer in our citizens’ Second Amendment rights. This past week, a Senate committee gave approval to a measure known as Constitutional Carry. Under this bill, Oklahomans 21 and older would be able to carry a firearm without a permit. Additionally, veterans, active duty and reserve military 18 and over could carry without a permit.

It’s very important to point out there are protections built into the bill. Felons and people convicted of domestic violence are those adjudicated as having a mental illness would be prohibited from carrying a firearm. Current protections for property owners to be able to prohibit firearms will continue, and colleges and universities will still be able to set their own policies regarding firearms on their campuses.

What many people may not realize is that 15 other states already allow constitutional carry, and because of reciprocity laws, those citizens can enjoy that right even when in Oklahoma, and that includes people visiting or working here from Kansas, Arkansas and Missouri—so we actually have constitutional carry happening in our state, but not for our own citizens. It’s time for Oklahomans to enjoy that same right.

I also want to note that I was very happy to get the full approval of the Senate for my bill making the ribeye the official state steak of Oklahoma. This is something I am very serious about and I think it is extremely appropriate. We have 5.1 million head of beef cows in Oklahoma and we’re third in the nation in the number of beef cows, with annual cash receipts for cattle sales in our state totaling $3.3 billion. Ranching is a huge part of our history and our contemporary identity—we have some 51,000 beef cattle ranchers in Oklahoma and they’re in all 77 counties.

I cannot even imagine the Scissortail Flycatcher not being our official state bird, or "Oklahoma!" not being our official state song. They help us promote our state and the things that make our Oklahoma so special. Promoting our beef industry and the ribeye steak—hands down the best cut there is—helps us promote Oklahoma in a very positive way. This bill now moves over to the House of Representatives and it is my sincere hope that they will work quickly to get this to Governor Kevin Stitt’s desk for his signature.

Please feel free to contact my Capitol office regarding legislative issues or other questions about state government. You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

 

2-7-19

Murdock’s Minutes

By Sen. Casey Murdock

Senate District 27

Beaver, Cimarron, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Texas, Woods, Woodward counties

This past week, the Senate Republican Caucus released our 2019 legislative agenda. While there are many areas of interest and importance that will come before the Senate this session, this agenda focuses on four areas we’ve identified as top legislative priorities this year.

Last year the State Health Department, a major state agency, said they didn’t have enough money to pay the bills and their payroll. It turns out, after they let go some 200 employees and requested a $30 million supplemental appropriation, it was all unnecessary. Call it mismanagement or poor accounting—but good, experienced medical professionals and other employees lost jobs for no reason.

That serves as an excellent example of why the Legislature needs accurate, independent fiscal data when determining appropriations for state agencies. The Senate Republican agenda calls for the creation of a legislative budget office to provide greater accountability and transparency of taxpayer dollars. That office would also be able to assess the success or failure of specific programs within agencies which would enable us to be better stewards of public dollars.

Our agenda also calls for greater accountability by agency directors. Currently they are appointed by boards and commissions and may have little or no interest in helping an incoming governor reach the policy goals he or she has set forth. Regardless of what party our chief executive belongs to, they should have the ability to pick the people they believe can best help them achieve those goals. Our agenda would enable the governor to directly choose the directors of five of our state’s larger agencies.

Education remains a top priority for us in 2019. Last year we approved the biggest pay increase for teachers in state history. It was an important step to help us keep good teachers here in Oklahoma where they are needed. But there is more to be done. Several districts in the state had reduced their schedule to four-day work weeks. Companies that would like to locate in Oklahoma or expand existing operation and create new jobs need to know that we have a highly educated workforce they can draw from, and that our schools can offer an excellent educational experience to their employees. Having schools only open four days a week has hurt our reputation throughout the country. We need to restore 5-day school weeks.

For decades, Oklahoma has been locking up nonviolent offenders. The result is increasingly overcrowded prisons that often are simply revolving doors. State’s that have invested more in alternative programs that hold these individuals accountable while getting them into substance abuse treatment and giving them access to mental health programs have seen both their prison populations and crime rates decrease. We’ve made a good start in passing criminal justice reform in recent years, but we are dedicated to building on that effort this session.

Each of these priorities will help our caucus enact public policy that will truly move Oklahoma forward. As we begin the 2019 session, I am optimistic that this will be a very productive session for our state.

Please feel free to contact my Capitol office regarding legislative issues or other questions about state government. You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

 

1-31-19

Sen. Murdock says county option bill on medical marijuana

 represents the majority views of District 27

            State Sen. Casey Murdock said legislation giving counties an opportunity to opt out of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana law approved last year was his effort to represent the will of the people in Senate District 27.

            “Every county in this district voted against State Question 788, with Beaver County delivering the strongest opposition in the state—about 72 percent voted no,” said Murdock, R-Felt.  “Densely populated counties like Oklahoma, Cleveland and Tulsa helped pass this law, but it flies in the face of the values and beliefs of the majority of the people out here.  My obligation is to them and to ensuring their will is heard at Capitol. That’s why I filed Senate Bill 325.”

            Casey’s bill would give counties the opportunity to revisit the issue of medical marijuana if that county’s board of commissioners called for a vote, or by a petition signed by registered voters representing at least 15 percent of the ballots cast in their county during the last election for governor.

            Casey said the bill would give counties the option of revisiting the transportation, sale, cultivation or manufacturing of marijuana or related products.

            “This bill wouldn’t prevent a person undergoing chemo or someone suffering from another chronic health condition from using a cannabis product.  But the majority of people in the Panhandle and nearby counties are very worried about what these marijuana businesses will do to their communities,” Murdock said.

            Murdock knows he faces an uphill fight for SB 325, but said he had a responsibility to represent his citizens and their views.

            “The voters of District 27 have entrusted me to be their voice at the Capitol. Those are the people I represent with every bill I file and each vote I cast,” Murdock said.  “We may not prevail on every single issue, but I still have an obligation to stand up for my fellow citizens, whatever the issue may be.”

            For more information, contact Sen. Casey Murdock at 405-521-5626 or email murdock@oksenate.gov.

 

1-17-19

Murdock’s Minutes

By Sen. Casey Murdock

Senate District 27

Beaver, Cimarron, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Texas, Woods, Woodward counties

 

For Immediate Release:  January 18, 2018

                                             

            This past week, Oklahoma’s 28th Governor, Kevin Stitt, was officially sworn into office.  I was honored to attend along with my fellow members of the legislature.  Also attending were five former governors of our state—Governor Mary Fallin, Governor Brad Henry, Governor Frank Keating and Governor David Walters.

            It was good to see members of both political parties come together to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in our state’s history. The last few years have been hard for Oklahoma.  But with the work done in the last few sessions to stabilize our budget and improve the appropriations process, things are looking better this year.  Governor Stitt talked about the influence of his father’s words throughout his life, telling them not to ever give up or quit, and that the future doesn’t just happen—you make it happen—so dream big.

            We are in a better place in our economy, although we are all very aware of how important it is to take into account factors that can impact our progress—oil and gas prices and even the federal government shutdown can have real-life consequences for our citizens, as we all know.  But when you look back in the not so distant past and think about recent years where we were facing a half a billion or a billion dollar shortfall, things are definitely much, much better.

            One of the things the Governor has been calling for is greater accountability.  The President Pro Tempore of the Senate announced this past week that he had filed legislation that would give the governor more appointment power of agency directors for five of the top 10 agencies.  The thinking is that regardless of the governor’s political party affiliation, they are elected to serve as the chief executive of the state, so they should be able to select the men and women the governor wants to run these top agencies to fully enact their vision and agenda.  I fully agree with that concept, and in fact I have also filed legislation that would give the governor the power to hire and fire most agency directors.
 We’ll learn more about the specifics of Governor Stitt’s legislative agenda and budget ideas when he delivers his State of the State address on February 4, the first day of the 2019 session.

            In the meantime, we’ve passed the deadline for filing Senate bills to be heard in the upcoming session.  In all, 1040 Senate bills and 21 Senate joint resolutions were filed by the Thursday, January 17 deadline.

            If you’d like to learn more about the bills that have been filed, all of them can be viewed or downloaded from the Senate website at www.oksenate.gov.  You can also view or download committee and floor agendas, daily Senate Journals which are a record of all official actions that take place in the Senate, look up floor votes and more.  In addition, the Senate also has streaming audio and video with closed captioning from the chamber and all committee rooms. 

I hope you will take advantage of these online services to keep up to date on issues of importance to you, your family and your community throughout the session.

            Please feel free to contact my Capitol office regarding legislative issues or other questions about state government.  You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

 

 

01-07-2019

Murdock’s Minutes

By Sen. Casey Murdock

Senate District 27

Beaver, Cimarron, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Texas, Woods, Woodward counties

 

For Immediate Release:  January 7, 2018                        

            With the legislative session quickly approaching, preparations continue in both the executive and legislative branches of government. 

Following each election cycle, there’s a single organizational day set out in the Oklahoma Constitution which always falls on the Tuesday following the first Monday of January—sounds confusing, but that’s to make sure it doesn’t fall on New Year’s Day. 

This year the date was January 8.  The President Pro Tempore of the Senate is elected on the organizational date, election results for Senate races are certified, and the rules that determine how we conduct the day to day business of the Senate will be voted on. After, there’s a brief joint session where the combined members of the House and Senate will certify the congressional election results from the previous November.

The next day the Legislature will actually meet again will be February 4, when the session formally begins.  Of course on that first day, our next Governor, Kevin Stitt, will deliver his first State of the State Address, explaining his vision for Oklahoma for the coming year and the agenda and budget priorities to meet those goals.

Governor-elect Stitt will take his oath of office on January 14.  For the past several weeks, he’s been working with his transition team to prepare for the tasks ahead, including selecting and announcing his choices for various positions in his administration.

The most recent announcement to make the news is the selection of John Budd, an executive from Sonic Corp.  Budd has been named as chief operating officer, a position Stitt has created for overseeing his agency reform agenda.  Stitt’s Secretary of Commerce and Work Force Development is Sean Kouplen, a Tulsa bank chair and CEO.  The Commerce Department’s Executive Director will be Brent Kisling.  His background includes an eight year stint as state director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development in Oklahoma.

There’s also a first with another of Governor-elect Stitt’s appointments—Blayne Arthur has been named as the first female agriculture secretary.  She’s a cattle rancher from Stillwater and the executive director of the Oklahoma 4-H Foundation.

Another new position being created is that of Secretary of Budget, and former State Senator and Finance Chairman Mike Mazzei has been named to that post.  Senator Mazzei worked hard during his time in this body to reform under-performing tax breaks as one of several steps to shore up Oklahoma’s budget in recent years.

Maj. Gen. Michael Thompson, the current Adjutant General, and Public Safety Commissioner Rusty Rhoades are being re-appointed to those posts.  The nominee for Secretary of State is former state representative Michael Rogers.

I wish the best of luck to our new governor and his team and I look forward to working with them in the coming legislative session.

            Please feel free to contact my Capitol office regarding legislative issues or other questions about state government.  You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

 

 

12-20-18

Murdock’s Minutes

By Sen. Casey Murdock

Senate District 27

Beaver, Cimarron, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Texas, Woods, Woodward counties

 

For Immediate Release:  December 21, 2018

                                             

            Earlier this year, I took part in a series of town hall meetings in communities throughout District 27.  It was an opportunity to get feedback on the work done in the 2018 session, and to talk face to face with citizens about the issues they wanted to see addressed in the Legislature.

Once again, I want to thank everyone who took the time to attend one of these town hall meetings.  I also want to thank those individuals and organizations who have emailed, called and visited with me over the past year to talk about their concerns and priorities. I took all of those conversations and information into account as I started thinking about the bills I would like to write and introduce for action in the 2019 legislative session.

            One of the problems brought to my attention during the interim deals with the fact that the federal motor carrier rule on fuel trailers contains a maximum of 119 gallons for all our farmers.  It’s an extremely frustrating restriction for farmers because fuel trailers hold 500 to 900 gallons.  I’m pursuing legislation to give our farmers an exemption from this cap.

            I’m also proposing an open season on antelope.  Everyone in District 27 knows antelope are a problem and a nuisance. Five antelope will eat as much as a 500 pound steer.  A herd of antelope can devastate a wheat field.  While the primary beneficiary of this bill would be farmers, it would also benefit hunters.

            I’ve authored legislation to repeal the $4 fail fee charged when an individual fails the test for their commercial driver license.  This fee punishes citizens for failing their test, and I believe it is unfair and unnecessary.  My bill will help reduce the burdensome fees on the books in Oklahoma.  I also want to reduce the licensing fee for booths at farmers markets and county fairs.

            For years I’ve been working on legislation to better protect the privacy and property rights of landowners when it comes to the use of drones.  I am carrying legislation that would require permission from the property owner in order to fly a drone over their property.

            Another bill I have authored would give the governor the authority to hire and fire agency heads.  No one ever votes for an agency head, so there is no accountability to the citizens when they fail to act in the best interest of the people they are supposed to serve. If I don’t represent the concerns of my constituents, they can send me packing come Election Day.  I am held accountable for what I do.  My bill would ensure greater accountability for our state agencies.

            I also want to mention a bill I’ve filed to designate ribeye steak as the official steak of Oklahoma.  It’s gotten a lot of attention in the media, but I want to state that this is a serious proposal.  All states, including Oklahoma, designate specific foods, flowers, even music, that best represent a region or entire state.  It helps bring attention and promote not only the item being designated, but the region and the state as well. 

Our district is the number one district in the state when it comes to agriculture production, and we’re fourth in the entire nation.  The ribeye is well known to be the most flavorful steak there is, and it represents the high quality of agriculture products that we produce in western Oklahoma and the Panhandle.  This bill is aimed at bringing attention and recognition to the excellence in agriculture represented in District 27.

            Please feel free to contact my Capitol office regarding legislative issues or other questions about state government.  You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

 

 

11-1-18

Murdock’s Minutes

By Sen. Casey Murdock

Senate District 27

Beaver, Cimarron, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Texas, Woods, Woodward counties

 

For Immediate Release:  October 29, 2018

                                 

           

            This past week an interim study I requested on energy taxes was held at the state Capitol.  Particularly during last spring’s legislative session, there was a lot of talk about the gross production tax, but that was only one area of taxation that impacts Oklahoma’s energy industries.  I wanted to invite representatives from several areas of the energy industry to present a broader view.

            We not only look at oil and gas, but also electricity, coal and wind.  I am sure many citizens listening to the hearing were surprised to know that the company that pays more ad valorem taxes than any other in Oklahoma is OGE--Oklahoma Gas & Electric. The company pays up to $80 million every year, and PSO, the Public Service Company of Oklahoma pays about $40 million in ad valorem taxes annually.

            One area of concern in the oil industry right now is the financial viability of stripper wells, also called marginal wells.  While individually they produce only five to ten barrels a day, combined it is an important part of our economy, keeping hard-working Oklahomans employed.  The problem is, the profit is lower with these marginal wells – so the higher the taxes are, the less profitable they become.  It is extremely important to our jobs and our economy that we don’t fail to take into account all the aspects of the financial equation.  The tax rate on these wells in particular can make or break them, and their loss would be a loss to our communities and our state.

            I want to thank everyone who took the time to participate in this interim study including representatives of the energy industry, my fellow members, and citizens who attended or watched on line.

            For those of you who are battle weary from all the political advertisements, signs and phone calls, I just want to point to the calendar.  It’s almost over.  The General Election is coming up on this coming Tuesday, November 6.  Oklahomans will be deciding a number of state questions, choosing our next governor, as well as voting in congressional races, state wide offices and local positions. 

            I would simply remind you that in countries controlled by the Taliban and ISIS, voters are warned to stay home or risk being attacked.  Yet I saw interviews with men and women there saying as frightened as they were, having a say in the direction of their country was too important to be intimidated.  They were planning on voting anyway.

            If you aren’t familiar with the issues or candidates, you can start with the Oklahoma State Election Board official website at https://www.ok.gov/elections/ to download sample ballots, early voting times and other information.  You can visit any number of news and candidate websites to learn more. The point is, all of us share in the responsibility of being active participants in our representative democracy.  It is a small investment of your time, but a huge investment in the future of our state.

            Please feel free to contact my Capitol office regarding legislative issues or other questions about state government.  You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

 

 

10-18-18

Murdock’s Minutes

By Sen. Casey Murdock

Senate District 27

Beaver, Cimarron, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Texas, Woods, Woodward counties

For Immediate Release:  October 15, 2018

            2018 has been a year of surprising changes in our state.  I don’t know many people who would have ever guessed that within the same year, the voters would approve medical marijuana (though the majority of voters in this district opposed it) and that a new law would usher in the sale of beer and wine in grocery and convenience stores and cold beer in retail liquor stores. 

            Along those lines, in June, when the medical marijuana question was approved, the remaining 14 dry counties in Oklahoma became wet counties.  Many of those were in this Senate district.  While those counties may have had restaurants or taverns that sold low-pint beer, with the new laws on the books, such products are no longer available in our state.  Those taverns and restaurants wanting to continue to offer beer would have to sell strong beer, which meant applying to the ABLE (Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement) Commission to get a new license to do so.

            I know it’s been a difficult process out here in the panhandle to get those applications processed.  I have been sharing those frustrations and concerns with ABLE, and can tell you they conducted about half a dozen inspections this past week for people seeking to get the new license for their business.

            Part of the problem has been the sheer number of requests ABLE has been trying to work through from all 77 counties.  There were grocery and convenience stores applying for licenses to sell strong beer and wine, as well as restaurants and clubs needing to go through the more complex licensing process to be able to sell strong beer, wine and/or other alcoholic beverages. It’s been a tremendous volume of requests, and the agency only has 15 agents to do the required inspections.  But they are working through them and patience is greatly appreciated.  At the same time I know if this is your business, it’s a very frustrating situation, to say the least.  If any of you are having problems or have questions, please feel free to contact me.

            Unlike the new alcohol laws on the books which started with a state question sent by the Legislature to voters, new medical marijuana law was enacted by the voters as the result of a petition drive by citizens. 

            During the studies that have been going on at the Capitol by the joint working group of House and Senate members, I think a lot of information has come out that even those who participating it writing and passing the state question may not have fully considered.  One is the issue of testing.  Marijuana that has been contaminated with pesticides or that has developed a mold on it can actually make users extremely sick. This past week, the working group unanimously approved set of testing priorities.  The recommendations will be sent to the Oklahoma State Department of Health for consideration by the Board of Health, which may issue rules based on the working group’s recommendations.

            Medical Marijuana was enacted by a majority of Oklahoma voters, but it is critical for all our citizens that it is properly regulated and that the safety of the public is protected. 

Please feel free to contact my Capitol office regarding legislative issues or other questions about state government.  You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

10-4-18

Work continues at the Capitol this fall in preparation for the 2019 legislative session. Multiple interim studies are being held each week dealing with issues ranging from bullying and education innovations to how Oklahoma can better attract and retain medical specialists such as neurologists, gerontologists and neuro-psychologists—all of particular importance as our population ages and more citizens succumb to diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

One of my own requests for an interim study will be held on Tuesday, October 23 at the Capitol, which is a study on energy taxation. Later that same day there will be a study looking at online sales taxes. To find out more about upcoming meetings, including accessing meeting notices or streaming video from them, you can go to the Senate’s official website at www.oksenate.gov. Meeting notices are found under the "Committees" tab. Links to streaming video can be found by scrolling down the home page.

In addition to the interim studies, I have continued to prepare for the session by holding a series of town hall meetings. So far, we’ve already had meetings in the communities of Waynoka, Laverne, Boise City, Guymon, Fairview, Woodward, Mooreland and Ringwood. Upcoming meetings include Fargo, Shattuck, Arnett, Beaver, Hooker and Texhoma. I want to thank all who have made it out for these meetings to date, and encourage those of you who live in the communities where upcoming meetings will be held to attend if at all possible. I sincerely want your input on issues and concerns to help me do the best job possible representing District 27 in the State Senate.

October 1st marks the first major shift in Oklahoma’s retail liquor laws since the mid-1980s. Beginning in October, retail liquor stores can begin selling chilled wine and strong beer, and for the first time, grocery and convenience stores can begin selling those same items. Other types of alcohol will still be sold in liquor stores only. In order to level the playing field, liquor stores will also be able to stay open longer hours, moving from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. to 8 a.m. to midnight. Additionally, counties will have the option to call for a vote of their citizens to determine whether to allow Sunday sales at liquor stores.

One major shift will be the end of low-point beer sales. Many beer distributors had an outlet for this product as it was the only one that could be sold in grocery and convenience stores in Oklahoma. But with the change of the law allowing the sale of strong beer, these distributors will be moving in that direction, ending the sale of low-point beer, commonly referred to 3.2 beer.

These changes were made possible by a vote of the people in 2016. While some statutory changes were approved by the legislature, those would not have occurred without the initial vote by Oklahoma citizens.

And a final note—I was very gratified this past week when I received notification from NFIB, the nation’s leading small business advocacy organization, that I had a 100 percent voting record for issues important to small businesses. In my view, the passage of such legislation is critical for the sustainment and success of small businesses. They truly are the backbone of Oklahoma’s economy.

Please feel free to contact my Capitol office regarding legislative issues or other questions about state government. You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

 

8-30-18

Murdock’s Minutes

By Sen. Casey Murdock

Senate District 27

Beaver, Cimarron, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Texas, Woods, Woodward counties

 

For Immediate Release:  August 27, 2018

                                             

            The most essential building block for success in school and throughout life is learning to read.  But if a child has parents who cannot read, there is a much higher chance that child will also be unable to read. 

            The statistics are jarring.  Two-thirds of students who can’t read well by the end of the fourth grade will wind up behind bars or on welfare.  Eighty-five percent of all juveniles who wind up in the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, and more than 60 percent of all prison inmates are functionally illiterate. 

            People who can’t read are more likely to live in poverty.   Teenage girls between 16 and 19 who are at the poverty level or lower with below average reading skills are six more times likely to become unmarried mothers, which begins yet another cycle of poverty.  Three out of four food stamp recipients do not have adequate reading skills.

            But for years, the Northwest Oklahoma Literacy Council has been working to give adults the reading skills they need to succeed.  Based in Woodward, they have programs that serve 100 or more adults each year in communities throughout northwestern Oklahoma.

            The Oklahoma Department of Libraries recently awarded a Literacy Grant to the Northwest Oklahoma Literacy Council for $7,120 to assist with their efforts. They offer basic instruction for low-level and non-readers as well as English acquisition throughout the area.

            The cost of illiteracy to our society is shocking.  National organizations estimate illiteracy costs our country more than $300 billion a year in terms of lost earning potential and reliance on public assistance through welfare, medical care or prisons.  For those who cannot read, it means they face much higher chances of poverty and a poorer quality of life.

            I’m grateful for the work of the Northwest Literacy Council, their volunteers, and our local libraries, librarians and additional volunteers who work to promote reading for all age levels.

            If you are a parent or grandparent, remember one of the most important things you can do for your children or grandchildren is to read to them.  Children who are read to from an early age are more likely to develop a lifelong love of reading that will help them succeed in school, in the workforce and in so many other ways.  And no matter what kind of resources a family has, our public libraries offer the free use of books, computer access and other programs to help that effort.

            For more information, you can contact the Northwest Oklahoma Literacy Council at 580-254-8582.

            Please feel free to contact my Capitol office regarding legislative issues or other questions about state government.  You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

 

7-19-18

 

Murdock’s Minutes

By Sen. Casey Murdock

Senate District 27

Beaver, Cimarron, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Texas, Woods, Woodward counties

 

For Immediate Release:  July 13, 2018

                                             

            Thirty states and the District of Columbia have approved medical marijuana—our state just joined those ranks with the passage of State Question 788 during our June primary election.  The question was placed on the ballot as a result of an initiative petition by supporters of the concept.  While the question passed by a sizable margin, it was largely the state’s metropolitan areas that carried the vote.   If you look at a map of the state and how people voted on this state question, not a single county in the panhandle or in western Oklahoma voted in favor of medical marijuana.

            Governor Mary Fallin had broached the idea of a special session to address how best to implement and regulate the sale and use of medical marijuana, but later raised concerns that there simply would not be enough time to implement rules before the new law took effect.  However the State Board of Health had already begun drafting rules that would address specific areas.  Two of the emergency rules approved by the board this past week banned the sale of smokable marijuana as well as requiring a licensed pharmacist would be on staff at each medical marijuana distillery.

            That vote came on Tuesday.  On Thursday, the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tempore-designate announced the formation of a bi-partisan group of House and Senate members to begin working with all medical marijuana stakeholders on determining the best way to move forward in implementing the state question.  The leaders stated it was necessary to find a way of implementing the sale of medical marijuana that respects the will of the voters while protecting public safety and addressing concerns from business and medical communities.

            While the statement acknowledged the hard work of the Health Department and its commissioner in formulating the draft rules, concerns were raised that the adoption of last minute amendments without public comments undermined the public’s confidence in the system.    In fact a group of Senators began working on this very issue before the session adjourned.  The bipartisan working group of House and Senate members can now build upon that work.  The leaders will announce which members will be a parting of the working group next week.

            While the passage of the state question reflects the will of the people, it is important that it be implemented in an orderly way that also protects the health and safety of all our citizens.

            I will keep you posted on this effort.

            Please feel free to contact my Capitol office regarding legislative issues or other questions about state government.  You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

 

Murdock’s Minutes

By Sen. Casey Murdock

Senate District 27

Beaver, Cimarron, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Texas, Woods, Woodward counties

 

For Immediate Release:  June 18, 2018

                                             

            This is a patriotic time of year—we recently celebrated Flag Day, and we’re now coming up on Independence Day, marking the signing of our Declaration of Independence from England, which happened on July 4, 1776.

Sandwiched in between these holidays, Oklahoma just held its 2018 primary elections. 

Of course there will be many runoffs following the election, but the outcome that has been most heavily covered is the approval of State Question 788, allowing the use of medical marijuana.  While it passed by a wide margin, no counties in the Panhandle or western part of the state voted in favor of it.  One concern that has been raised by many Oklahomans is that the new law is written so loosely, it really is closer to a recreational marijuana bill than one strictly limited to medical use. 
       The governor has discussed the possibility of having a special session to tighten the new law by adding medical and regulatory language.  Public statements from leaders in both chambers indicate there are some reservations about making too many changes to a state question that was just approved by the majority of citizens.  I will let you know how that proceeds.
       Of course that state question was the result of an initiative petition circulated by supporters.  Another initiative petition that’s gotten a lot of attention in recent weeks was one to repeal the funding package for the teacher pay raise. The initiative petition was rejected by the State Supreme Court as unconstitutional, saying that the “gist” or explanation of what the state question would do was misleading, and that other required information was omitted.  The group that wrote and circulated the petition has until July 18 to gather 41,000 valid signatures on a new initiative petition that corrects the problems pointed out in the high court ruling.
           Another court ruling that Oklahoma has been waiting on came down a few days ago.  For years, local businesses in communities throughout our state and across the state have said they were placed at an unfair disadvantage, because while they collected and paid in sales taxes, most Internet businesses did not.  A previous U.S. Supreme Court ruling said only those Internet businesses that had brick and mortar stores in a state were required to do so—but that ruling was made when only a fraction of the public even had internet access.  There’s been a huge shift since then, and more and more people are shopping on the web. 
          The ruling that came down from the U.S. Supreme Court closes that loophole.  It’s estimated that in addition to hurting businesses in our towns and cities, the loophole has been costing our state, counties and local communities about $300 million a year in lost revenue that could have been used for our schools, for roads and bridges, public safety and other core services. This decision provides a much more level playing field in the current economy.
           Please feel free to contact my Capitol office regarding legislative issues or other questions about state government.  You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

 

 

6-21-18

Murdock’s Minutes

By Sen. Casey Murdock

Senate District 27

Beaver, Cimarron, Dewey, Ellis, Harper, Major, Texas, Woods,

For Immediate Release:  June 15, 2018

            This past Thursday, June 14, was Flag Day, marking the 1777 vote by the Second Constitutional Congress to adopt the Stars and Stripes as our nation’s flag.  It makes me proud that so many of our friends, neighbors and fellow citizens here in the Panhandle fly Old Glory, not just for Flag Day, but every day.  When I see it, I’m reminded of the freedoms our flag represents, and the many Americans who fought for those freedoms.
    One of the fundamental rights this nation was founded upon was that our government’s power was to come from the people—that happens every single time there’s an election.  There are people all over the world who are still denied the right to have a say in their governments or the laws that impact their lives.  Yet in this country, far too many people do not bother to participate in elections. 
          I bring this up because Oklahoma has an election just around the corner—Tuesday, June 26 is the state’s Primary Election date.  The deadline to request an absentee ballot is 5 p.m., June 20, and early voting will be held Thursday, June 21, from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., Friday, June 22 from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., and Saturday, June 23, from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. You can request or download an absentee ballot by going to the State Election Board website at https://www.ok.gov/elections/index.html or you can request one from your county election board.  You can participate in early voting at your county election board as well. 
           I urge every registered voter to take the time to study the candidates and issues and then follow through by casting your vote—it isn’t just a right, it is a responsibility all of us as citizens share.         Even though the session ended weeks ago, I am already working on issues ahead of the 2019 session.  One of those is working to get more exemptions for farmers carrying fuel.  Current limits do not even accommodate the amount that large tractors and combines can hold.  I would like to see an exemption of up to 999 gallons for fuel. Oklahoma farmers already have to fight the market and Mother Nature—they should not have to fight burdensome government regulations as well.
          Speaking of Mother Nature, as you know the hot, dry weather has caused yet another round of wildfires.  I would humbly ask everyone to say a prayer a good soaking rain.  In the meantime, I want to point out what an excellent job the Oklahoma Forestry Service has done coordinating with local departments and helping with helicopters and other needs.
           Finally, I recently received the Transformer award from the Oklahoma Wind Coalition.  I am appreciative of the honor, and for all they do for our state.
            Please feel free to contact my Capitol office regarding legislative issues or other questions about state government.  You can reach me by calling 405.521.5626 or emailing murdock@oksenate.gov.

 

 

 

 

 

 

           

      

               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Hunting information go to


http://www.wildlifedepartment.com
 

Weather Service web sites at:
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ama/    http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ddc/    Mesonet

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pictured above is the tornado that hit the Woodbury home. Vance and Barbara Woodbury both died from injuries when the struck their home about 1/2 mile from this location near the Northern Natural Gas plant east of Elmwood. The tornado hit their home Wednesday evening, March 29, 2007 . Photo courtesy Beaver County Sheriff's office.

 

 

 Above is a photo of the USS Mullinnix DD-944 which was used as a sink test back in the 1990's. The United States was testing new weapons. The ship was used during the Vietnam war but later decommissioned in the 1980's. The editor and publisher was stationed on the ship from 1963 until 1965.

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