Staff Report, Special to The City Sentinel
This week, hundreds of women and men will file for elective state office in Oklahoma, including many here in the MidCity area.
Key races will come for most of the statewide elective positions, including governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction – the latter expected to be among the most competitive contests of the year.
Other important jousts include both U.S. Senate seats and the Fifth District congressional seat, where 2012 Democratic nominee Tom Guild will battle state Sen. Al McAffrey for the right to take on whichever Republican is nominated.
Republican incumbent Labor Commissioner Mark Costello is seeking reelection to the his position.
In the heart of Oklahoma City, state Rep. Kay Floyd, a Democrat, is vacating her House District 88 seat to seek the Senate District 46 position now held by McAffrey.
Her decision to leave the District 88 post is expected to spark a wide-open primary, while she is favored to win the Senate post.
Floyd’s top priorities in his first two years serving at the Capitol have included pushing for education improvements and in support of programs for women and children. Floyd has authored bills to provide suicide prevention assistance in Oklahoma’s schools, curb domestic violence and its correlation with poverty, and has worked to provide measures to analyze the frivolous costs of unconstitutional legislation.
Floyd has worked effectively across party lines. She shepherded to passage House Bill 1623, which gained 66-20 approval in the lower chamber. It directed the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to develop and provide training on suicide prevention and drug abuse to every school district’s board of education in the state.
Later, Rep. Floyd’s request for an interim study on domestic violence and poverty was approved by then-Speaker T.W. Shannon. Results of her study were later presented to the House Human Service Committee, serving as the basis for bipartisan bills.
House Bill 2527 passed the House 77-16, creating a Domestic Violence Legal Aid Revolving Fund to finance grants for legal aid to domestic violence victims, paid for through the creation of an income tax check off that will be available on state income tax returns beginning in 2015.
Floyd’s H.B. 2530, passed 72 to 21, requires all public defenders and district attorneys to attend trainings regarding the impact of domestic violence related trauma. And, her H.B. 2526 passed unanimously in the Judiciary Committee, then cleared the floor 77-6. The measure requires law enforcement agencies to conduct lethality assessments in all domestic violence cases and provide them with the tools and funding to carry out that mission.
Another Floyd bill, H.B. 2528 passed the House Appropriations and Budget Committee 17-1, but awaits a vote before the full House. It would appropriate $360,000 from the general fund to pay for trauma-specific adult services at community health centers across the state.
Rep. Floyd has battled the House majority certain issues. She debated against several measures: H.B. 2630 (to shift public employee pensions to a defined contribution plan), H.B. 2850 (defunding the Oklahoma Arts Council), H.B. 2418 (health care restrictions found unconstitutional in other states), and H.B. 2329 (allowing students to store guns in their vehicles on school parking lots). She also argued against H.B. 2873, modeled on the Arizona legislature’s attempt to allow business owners to refuse service to LGBT customers.
If state Sen. Connie Johnson seeks the U.S. Senate job, it appears likely that state Rep. Anastasia Pittman (District 99) will seek Johnson’s current seat.
On the Republican side, state Rep. David Dank is seeking reelection in District 85. Dank has combined conservative views with an affable manner to advance several objectives close to his heart.
He was the primary author of historic legislation which led to a statewide vote of the people capping annual property tax increases at 3 percent. Dank was the first chairman of a legislative committee specializing in senior issues.
Rep. Dank chaired a blue-ribbon panel that examined abusive tax credits costing hundreds of millions of dollars.
In a statement to The City Sentinel, Dank said tax credit reform will remain a primary mission if he is reelected. He plans to advocate for modernization and efficiency reforms. Dank’s district sprawls from the MidCity area into northwest Oklahoma City, the Village and Nichols Hills.
More complete reports on all the Midtown area positions — including the aspirations of incumbents such as Sen. David Holt (District 30), and Reps. Jason Nelson (87) and Richard Morrisette (92) — will be forthcoming in The City Sentinel.
One open seat is Senate District 40, where Deputy County Commissioner Michael Taylor and Rev. Steve Kern are seeking the GOP nod in what may be a crowded race.
NOTE: Associate Publisher Patrick B. McGuigan contributed to this staff report.