AG Hunter speaks at chamber luncheon 

Oklahoma Attorney General Michael Hunter gives a speech at the Spring 2017 Legislative Luncheon put on by the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce on Friday afternoon.

Oklahoma Attorney General Michael Hunter visited Stillwater as a part of the Stillwater Chamber of Commerce's 2017 Spring Legislative Lunch on Friday.

And he brought references.

During the course of Hunter's 30 minute speech to commerce members, Hunter made references to Will Rogers, Proverbs, Henry Ford, former President Barrack Obama, President Donald Trump and Dizzy Dean.

Most references were reasonable. Will Rogers was one of the more quotable men of the 20th Century. Proverbs is one of the most quoted books of the Bible. Making mention to Obama and Trump is expected of a high ranking public official such as Hunter.

But Dizzy Dean? That was out of left field.

Or the pitcher's mound, to put it more accurately.

Dizzy Dean was a Hall of Fame Major League Baseball pitcher, known mostly for his days playing for the St. Louis Cardinals.

Hunter brought up one of Dean's more notable quotes which he said if he wasn't one of the best pitchers of all time, he was close. The analogy was complete when Hunter said if Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis – who was in attendance – isn't the best president the university has had, he is close.

Hunter spoke directly and plainly to the audience about his new post as attorney general. Hunter was appointed to the position in February after Scott Pruitt left the post to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Hunter said his two main objections as attorney general are public safety and public protection.

Hunter acknowledged one of the biggest issues facing Oklahoma is opioid addiction. Oklahoma is at ground zero of the United States' overdose epidemic, Hunter said.

The plan is to address the issue in a "very aggressive way." He also added opioid manufacturers need to be held accountable for the damage caused.

"Stay tuned," Hunter said.

With Pruitt being in the news for alleged misconduct while serving as Oklahoma's attorney general, Hunter's office has received 100 open records requests in 3 1/2 months. The office had averaged 20 per year.

Hunter said he takes open record requests very seriously, but there needs to be a mediation between requesting parties and his office, such as broad requests that take longer to produce. He is not staffed well enough to properly vet the files and would have to consider hiring a law firm to assist his office with the requests, which would come at the expense of the taxpayer.

Taxpayers need to know the ramifications of open records requests, Hunter said.

Hunter also went into the two schools of thought when it comes to an elected official.

There are delegates, which are in charge of being the voice of the people in their district. Others are more like trustees and should act in the best interests of the people. Hunter cited Ford saying if he asked the people what they wanted when he began mass producing automobiles, they would have said faster horses.

Hunter called the state legislature well-led by smart people.

"It can be challenging to work through the budget, making sure to fund core functions," Hunter said.

When it comes to federal policy, Hunter mentioned several examples in which executive power was used to override state policy, such federal environmental policies.

"We can have clean air, clean water without destroying the economy," Hunter said.

The talk concluded with a brief question and answer session in which Hunter was asked about Oklahoma's sales tax issue.

The sales tax is the primary funding source for Oklahoma cities. In Stillwater, sales tax revenue makes up 67 percent of general fund revenue.

Online shopping is considered one of the main detriments to city funding.

The state is close to contracts with online vendors that make up 60 percent of online sales in Oklahoma, Hunter said.

Amazon started charging sales tax on purchases made March 1.

Twitter: @Kieran_Steckley

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