Can you believe they are going into ANOTHER special session?

by | December 12th, 2017

Wow!

Can you believe they are going into ANOTHER special session? I’ll talk more about why later in this email. It’s been a long year for all of us advocates in Oklahoma, but we still need to make our voices heard in this special session.

The good news is that you don’t necessarily have to go to the Capitol in person, though I hope many can and will. If you can’t go in person, you can write a letter!  Think of it as just one more holiday card that has tangible potential to  improve our state.

Here is is the how and why of it:

Hand written letters can be particularly effective in influencing legislators’ views. Why? Who tends to hand write things? You guessed it! Older people write AND older Oklahomans vote. Write to give the legislators one more good reason to take you seriously!

Writing to legislators also offers an opportunity to maintain contact and keep your issues on the front burner even when you cannot meet personally. Find your two state legislators here! (See also Talking to Legislators Face to Face

Writing an Effective Letter

  1. KEEP IT BRIEF
  2. IDENTIFY YOURSELF
  3. BE POLITE
  4. GET TO THE POINT
  5. RELATE IT TO HOME
  6. REMIND THEM OF YOUR SPECIFIC REQUEST
  7. ALLOW FOR FOLLOW-UP
  8. THANK THEM FOR THEIR TIME AND FOR SOMETHING MORE SPECIFIC IF YOU CAN.
  9. Address your letter correctly

There you have it! If you want more details on each of these points check, a sample letter, and/or details on how to address these letters, you can find all that on my blog post  Writing to Your Legislators .  Otherwise, get to writing those letters!  

Remember, nobody wants to go back for a second special session, but it’s still necessary.  See if you can make this extra-special special session, and the year to come, a little better for you, me, and our fellow Oklahomans. Take this little letter action right now.

Happy holidays!

-KJ

PS: (You can even print this out and send it inside your holiday cards to non-legislators asking your friends to write to their legislators too. The more the merrier! For real.)

Video from Nov 30th, Senate District Meetings, and Save The Date!

by | December 8th, 2017

Thanks again to everyone who joined us on November 30th! In addition to our group discussion, we were able to schedule some small group meetings with state senators for next week. We also set the date for our next statewide meeting!  I hope those of you who weren’t there get some good information and connection from the video.  

The November 30th

You can find the Statewide Together Oklahoma Meeting Video HERE. It took us a moment to get all the wheels rolling so feel free to jump to minuet 3 to start watching.

The video chat format is still a new to us and though our audio quality was better than June, I think we can do better still in January.

Meeting with Senators

I know of at least 3 constituent meetings happening between constituents and their senators next week!  Please join us in Slack to discuss those meetings and make sure we have one set for you and your fellow constituents.  If you haven’t already accepted my email invitation to Slack, please do. If you haven’t received an invitation or if you need help with Slack, check out my brand new post called Best Practices for Using Together Oklahoma Slack at this link.

Statewide Meeting Save the Date!

Save the Date for our next Statewide Together Oklahoma Meeting to be held on January, 25th of 2018! Go ahead and let me know now if you’d like to help with a location for that event by emailing events@togetherok.org or by joining the conversation in Slack.

As always, I’m glad to be collaborating with all of you!

KJ

Our statewide meeting is only 2 days away and you can join from anywhere!

by | November 28th, 2017

Together Oklahoma members all over the state will gather in person and via video conference on Thursday, November 30th from 5:30-7:30 PM. If you can’t make it to the events in Norman, Tulsa, Stillwater, or OKC to join us in person, you can still join us using our favorite new tool, called Zoom.

Zoom lets us connect 100 different computers via the internet. Simply fill out this form to let me know you would like to be included in the statewide video conference.

There are only 100 slots available using Zoom, and we’d really like to have as many people there as possible so if you can invite a few friends to share a screen and join the Zoom with you, that would be great!

If you are in Norman, Tulsa, Stillwater, or OKC, join us at these locations on Thursday, November 30th from 5:30-7:30 PM.

  • Norman: Norman Public Library, Room A/B, 225 N. Webster
  • OKC: The Paseo Plunge, 3010 Paseo
  • Tulsa: Martin Regional Library, 2601 S. Garnett Rd.
  • Stillwater: Stillwater Public Library, Room 202, 1107 S Duck St

This is the essential work that will build our positive influence on the legislators who can make or break our state. Please don’t sit this one out. I look forward to seeing you there!

In special session two, the pressure is on!

by | November 21st, 2017

We don’t yet know when lawmakers will be back for the second special session, but the advocacy strategy is much the same.  You need to know who is on your team and how you can best influence Oklahoma Legislators. 

On Nov 30th we will be hosting the

Statewide Together Oklahoma Meeting: intensify the pressure

Typically this statewide meeting is a chance to reflect on the past year and look forward to the next, but it looks like we will still be in middle of our advocacy battle this time. We will keep working together to hold our elected leaders accountable when it comes to fixing the state budget. We need you there!

We plan to video conference with Together Oklahoma members all over the state to have brief educational presentations, networking, snacks, and activities that help everyone immediately take action to:

  1.  Connect TOK members across the state so we can build our team to positively influence each other and our communities.
  2.  Introduce new TOK leaders, plans, tools, and the current situation.
  3.  Get members engaged in taking meaningful actions right away!
  4.  Have fun and make some memories to sustain us through the challenges ahead. 

Venues for the Statewide Together Oklahoma Meeting:

  • Norman- Norman Public Library, 225 N. Webster, AB room, Norman 5:30pm-7:30pm
  • OKC- The Paseo Plunge, 3010 Paseo, Oklahoma City from 5:30pm-7:30pm
  • Tulsa- Martin Regional Library, 2601 S Garnett road, Tulsa from 5:30pm-7:00pm
  • More cities and locations may be announced on the Facebook event soon. 

RSVP here on our Facebook event or email me at events@togetherok.org if you aren’t on Facebook, and please remember to invite other Oklahomans who care!

By the way, I am extremely thankful for every single one of you and your efforts to nurture our home state. Have a good holiday.

Sincerely,

KJ

 

Go vote and then get ready!

by | November 14th, 2017

(Many of you have items on your ballot today so don’t forget to check! Go to the election board website to look up your ballot or check out the resources on badvoter.org)

We have seen the chaos of special session devolve into a slash and dash band-aid on the gushing wound that is our state budget. I don’t know about you, but I am not impressed. As David Blatt so aptly put it in a statement from OK Policy yesterday

“Lawmakers had PLENTY of sensible options for recurring revenues that could have balanced the budget responsibly. Instead, they are doubling down on one-time money and cuts.”

We will be watching what they do this week. Keep your eye on updates from the Special Session FAQ on okpolicy.org to see what develops.  Most likely our legislators will vote and adjourn this week. 

So now what?

As many of you have noticed, I am transitioning out of my role as Together Oklahoma coordinator to become one of y’all, in the trenches, as a citizen advocate.  I pledge to you that in the coming year I will be with you using all of our Together Oklahoma tools to express my dissatisfaction and to intensify the pressure on legislators to ensure that next session finally brings a different and better approach. Are you with me? It is time to get ready!

November 30th is our next big action and training and I need you there! Once again our statewide Together Oklahoma meeting will be video linked with multiple locations around the state and I want to see your face in person or on that monitor.  

This will be my last meeting as coordinator so don’t let me down. I will be introducing leadership teams for TOK Tulsa, TOK OKC, TOK Norman, and hopefully other chapters as well.  If you want to help organize a chapter of Together Oklahoma please make sure I have your information in the membership form.

It can be hard to keep fighting when times get this tough but please do not despair. We are in this together and we are NOT giving up!

With sincere gratitute and hope for the future,

-KJ McKee 

Are we going to let them forget us?

by | November 2nd, 2017

Sometimes it seems like many state legislators are in a bubble that the realities of life in Oklahoma cannot penetrate. This has been a hard year, but one positive takeaway is that I am seeing more of those bubbles burst. Thanks to your advocacy efforts, more legislators are hearing your stories. BUT so far that hasn’t turned into the budget policy actions and political courage that we so desperately need.

Leave them NO EXCUSES!

Please don’t give them a chance to forget who elected them and what is happening all around us!  Like I always say, visits are best so keep going up there, but calls, hand-written letters, tweets, and emails should all be flowing their way too. Find your own two legislators here and when you reach out, ask them for a response so you can be sure they have heard your position on the impact of continued cuts.

I want to remind you that David Blatt and the OK Policy team are updating this Special Session FAQ with the latest information about what is going on. OK Policy also published a new article yesterday explaining what the Legislature is trying to do now that efforts to pass a bipartisan deal have fallen apart. There are also important stories and links in In The Know every morning.  You can read these, share them around, and help Oklahomans know the truth!

I know you may be tired of this. I am too. But our elders and loved ones with disabilities need the SoonerCare supports that help them stay in their homes instead of going to a nursing facility. Our state workers need a raise for the first time in 11 years. Our teachers and young families need investments in education so they don’t have to leave the state. The key to all of this is persuading our legislators to empathize, be brave, and do right.  Here is a short and useful video about how to build that empathy. We can do this! I believe in us!

WHAT is going on at the Oklahoma State Capitol?

by | October 20th, 2017

The Oklahoma mental health community delivered a press conference on Wednesday, October 18th that shook the state.  If our legislators don’t act soon, many clinics will close, people will lose access to treatment, and Oklahomans will get furloughed or lose their jobs.  We knew this could be coming, but many of our friends and neighbors didn’t.

The good news is that there seems to be a groundswell of support for showing up to stop this catastrophe, fund our schools, fund child abuse prevention, invest in senior nutrition, and save all the other services we’re about to cut.

The bad news is that our legislature still seems to be stuck without a plan, or at least without a plan that the House leadership is willing to put up for a vote.  

Here’s what you can do:

1. Come to the Capitol beginning next week on Tuesday, October 24th and continuing as long as legislators are there! On Tuesday meet us at 9 am, on the Senate side of the 5th floor balcony, to get your Together Oklahoma name tag and to talk strategy. At 10am we’ll go down to the 4th floor rotunda to join our friends from the Oklahoma Mental Health Association.

2. Call your legislators’ offices, and ask others to make calls too. We are still calling our fellow Oklahomans all over the state to give them this info, because social media and emails like this one aren’t enough to reach ALL the people who should be taking action. Help us make calls by signing up here!

If you’re unsure of what to say, here’s an example script:

“Senator/Representative ______ thank you for your time.  I know you are working on getting a new budget together and I’m visiting/calling to implore you to do everything in your power to get it right! These cuts have to stop!  We have good solutions like restoring the GPT to historic levels, voting for a new income tax on wealthy Oklahomans, increasing the cigarette and gas tax and many others.  Anything less than a comprehensive revenue deal leaves Oklahoma vulnerable with kids under-educated, mental illness untreated, and seniors who have worked their whole lives going hungry.  This is not the Oklahoma I believe in and I don’t think it is what you’d call the “Oklahoma standard” either.  What are you going to do to fix this budget?  Who else do you want me to talk to in order to make sure we get a good budget passed this week?  I am taking notes, watching votes, and I’m going to follow up with you, so please help me help you.”

Oklahomans all around you are waking up to the disasters that will happen if our legislature doesn’t act! Help your neighbors get this information and #SaveOurStateOK!

Update: On Monday, October 23rd legislators announced another inadequate budget option. Oklahoma’s structural budget problems will not be solved while lawmakers insist on asking nothing from the wealthiest households and most profitable businesses in our state. This proposal simply continues the political grandstanding that has prevented the obvious, popular, and fair solution preferred by a large majority of Oklahomans. More on that at OK Policy’s official statement here

Legislators are headed back to the Capitol next week, and so are we

by | October 4th, 2017

We’re hearing that legislators are likely to return to special session next Monday, Oct 9th, and we will be there too. Sign up for your shift visiting the Capitol or making calls to TOK members here!

We will continue calling Oklahomans all weekend and activating them to speak out, because legislators need to hear from us BEFORE they go back to the Capitol and make votes that affect all of our lives. Sign up to make a few calls here!

We had a great turnout for our Community Conversation with the SOS Coalition in Lawton. Next we’ll be in Stillwater on Tuesday, October 10th. If you live nearby any of our stops, don’t miss the #SaveOurStateOK budget tour!

NO new cuts! Fix the shortfall! Teacher pay raise! sing it with me now

by | September 26th, 2017

Do you know what a big deal it is that Republican Senators are coming up to me at the Capitol saying, “I don’t know what we are going to do, but I can tell you this, NO MORE CUTS!” 

They are finally starting to get it! Saying it out loud is the first step to taking action, but that doesn’t mean they are ready to really #GetItRightOK.  You’ve got to call them today because important votes are happening this week.

Senate Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget meets today at 11 am.

Call these folks now and tell them we want:

What You Can Do

Contact Governor Mary FallinHouse Speaker Charles McCall, and Senate President Pro Tem Mike Schulz to insist that they use Special Session to find the revenues needed to fund state services.

  • Governor Mary Fallin (405) 521-2342 E-mail contact form
  • Speaker Charles McCall (405) 557-7412  charles.mccall@okhouse.gov
  • President Pro Tem Mike Schulz  (405) 521-5612  schulz@oksenate.gov

Also contact your own Representative and Senator. Look them up here:

Locate your state Senator and Representative

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ex: 2300 N Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Please do this now!

If you have time text or call a few of your friends and have them do it too.  

We have won some important battles with the misguided philosophies that have plagued our state.  Keep it up!

KJ

Exactly how many of us does it take to level the playing field?

by | September 19th, 2017

There are more than 300 registered lobbyists in Oklahoma. Some of them do this work for the right reasons, but many others are working for well-funded special interests who absolutely DON’T want what you want.

If we are going to counterbalance money power with people power, we need effective citizen advocates to vastly outnumber the special interest lobbyists. Legislators tell us it takes 7 real connections with their own constituents about any given bill to make them give that issue a deeper look.  How many of your fellow constituents are doing what it takes?

We have so much people power just waiting to be used. And during the special session that starts next week, we have a unique chance to focus that power on the budget.

1. Have you called your two legislators about your concerns about the budget?  

Now’s a great time to do that, and you can find talking points here.

2. Have you asked 6 of your friends and neighbors to do #1 with us and helped make sure they follow through?  

That’s a great next step after you contact legislators yourself.

3. Have you signed up to come to the Capitol with us during special session or to call your fellow TOK members in other districts?  If you have done one and two, and you have more care to give, I hope you will do three. The sign-up sheet is here. We have detailed instructions, scripts, and helpers to assist you every step of the way.

We are counting on you!

-KJ

If you need more info, here are some resources that can help: