Friday, September 30, 2005

Lawmaker Calls for Harsher Punishment

State Rep. Paul Wesselhoft said today he will author legislation to increase the punishment for threatening elected officials.After receiving an anonymous death threat on his home answering machine from an individual upset with a piece of legislation, Wesselhoft believes the Legislature needs to harden punishment for these criminals.“Lawmakers sometimes propose legislation of a controversial nature and expect robust public debate,” said Wesselhoft, R-Moore. “However, there are numerous civil ways to conduct debate and defeat legislation without resorting to death threats.”Currently, Oklahoma law fines those who attempt a violent act or threat against an elected official or public officer. The crime is currently a misdemeanor.The Moore lawmaker wants to increase the penalty to no less than 90 days imprisonment in a county jail or a fine between $500 and $1,000.“The public needs to be assured that if anyone threatens the life of a legislator or any elected official, that person will serve at least 90 days in jail,” said Wesselhoft. “My job is to represent my constituents’ needs and these individuals are impeding that process making it hard for those Oklahoma citizens who truly want to their concerns to be heard.”

Lawmaker Appointed as Coordinator

State Rep. Sally Kern has been appointed to lead an effort by the Oklahoma House of Representatives to give Oklahoma students the chance to learn about government from their own state representatives.Kern, R-Oklahoma City, is heading up the House’s America’s Legislators Back to School Program, which is being coordinated in part with the National Conference of State Legislatures.According to the NCSL Web site, the program encourages elected officials in all 50 states to meet personally with young constituents and answer questions, share ideas, listen to concerns and impart a greater understanding of the legislative process.“As a former high school teacher, I know this is a fantastic program for our students to learn about Oklahoma’s and our nation’s political process first-hand from their state legislators,” said Kern.More than 1,600 legislators participate each year in the program. The program is coordinated annually during the third week of September with legislative coordinators from each state organizing the event.The NCSL asks that each chamber in each state Legislature appoint a coordinator for the program. The coordinator encourages and facilitates member involvement in the program.Kern was appointed to the position by House Speaker Todd Hiett who considered her the right person for the job because of her background teaching government for 20 years.
Kern already is gearing up for the 2006 program by attending the NCSL’s Legislators Back to School Training Conference in Dallas on October 7-10.“I am looking forward to gaining more insight into this program so Oklahoma’s program can become better,” said Kern.The Back to School program was introduced in 1999 by NCSL as a one-day event. That one day was such a great success and so well-received by legislators and schools that it turned into a one-week event in 2001.A study conducted by showed that in the 2004 election, 47 percent of the 18 to 24-year-olds exercised their right to vote, which is up from 33 percent in the 2000 election. The Legislators Back to School Week emphasizes the importance of involvement and the value of a representative democracy.“This program is designed to reach all students at all levels from K-12th,” said Kern, R-Oklahoma City. “I want all Oklahoma students to become more active in their state government.”Kern plans to kick off the 2005 House Back to School Program during the first week of November.“I am very excited to get this program started,” said Kern. “We have many different tools including videos, handouts and others to make this a fun learning experience for all.”

Worthen Sentenced in OCAST Case

A former Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST) employee entered a blind plea today in Oklahoma County District Court to 22 counts of filing false time sheets, Attorney General Drew Edmondson said.
Geneva Faye Worthen, OCAST’s former director of administration and personnel, was ordered to pay a $2,200 fine, court costs and restitution, the amount of which will be set at an Oct. 12 hearing. She also was ordered to forfeit her state retirement.
Worthen, 57, was indicted April 14, 2004, by the state’s Multicounty Grand Jury on 22 counts of making a false, fictitious or fraudulent claim for submitting 22 fraudulent time sheets. The indictment alleged she received more than $28,000 in pay for 885.5 hours she did not work.
The grand jury also indicted Worthen on three counts of witness intimidation. According to the indictment, Worthen allegedly filed a lawsuit against three people scheduled to testify before the grand jury “with the intent to prevent the witness from appearing in court to testify or to make said witness alter ... testimony ....”
Worthen today agreed to dismiss her lawsuit with prejudice, and at her cost, in exchange for the state dismissing the witness intimidation charges.

Bush Nominates Payne to the 10th Circuit

President Bush on Thursday nominated James Hardy Payne, a federal district judge for Oklahoma, to serve on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Since 2001, Payne has been a judge on the U.S. District Court for the northern, eastern and western districts of Oklahoma. Bush nominated Payne, a native of Lubbock, Texas, to that bench.
Payne graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1963 and earned a law degree from the university in 1966.
After college, Payne served in the Air Force until 1970.
He worked the next three years as an assistant U.S. attorney in Oklahoma and then was in private practice in the state until 1988 when he became U.S. magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma.
The appointment is subject to the Senate's approval.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Paddack to Examine Laws after Murder/Suicide

State Sen. Susan Paddack, D-Ada, wants to examine whether stronger laws could have prevented a murder-suicide involving a 16-year-old Ada girl.
The bodies of Caitlin Elizabeth Wooten, 16, and Jerry Don Savage, 47, were found Saturday morning in a partially wooded area southwest of Ada. Authorities believe Savage abducted Wooten from Ada High School Friday afternoon, shot the girl and then killed himself.
Sen. Paddack, said the south-central Oklahoma community is still reeling from the shock of the tragedy and is beginning to ask questions about how it could have happened.
"The people in this community are outraged," Paddack said. "The talk of this community is about what we can do to make sure something like this doesn't happen again.
"Because if it happens in Ada, it can happen anywhere."
Savage, an employee with the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, had been released on bond from the Pontotoc County jail on Aug. 30 after prosecutors say he kidnapped Caitlin's mother, Donna Wooten, and threatened to kill her.
"(Donna Wooten) came home from taking her kids to school to get ready to go to work, and he was inside her house," said Pontotoc County Assistant District Attorney Chris Ross. "He took her at gunpoint in her vehicle ... and threatened to kill her."
Ross said Savage also had a "kidnap kit," a bag that included ammunition, duct tape, handcuffs, binoculars, a knife and other items.
Tipped by friends of Donna Wooten who became concerned about her whereabouts, law enforcement officers were able to locate Savage and arrest him.
He later was charged with burglary, kidnapping and two felony weapons charges, Ross said. A judge set Savage's bond at $200,000, but he "bonded out" the next morning, according to Pontotoc County Undersheriff Joe Glover.
"That's really on the high end of a bond amount," Ross said, adding that when bond is set that high, a defendant is "usually not going to see the light of day."
That same day, Donna Wooten obtained a protective order against Savage and left town. Wooten's children, including Caitlin, reportedly were staying with their grandparents in Ada.
Susan Krug, the chief of the victim's services unit in the Attorney General's Office, said in this case, it appears the mother took all the right steps.
"It sounds like in this case, she had a safe place to go ... she reported it and made sure her children were safe," Krug said.
"But this man obviously went off the deep end. There's no law that you can create to stop that. You put strict penalties in place, you give prosecutors tools to work with, but nothing is ever going to keep a twisted person like this from doing something so bizarre."
Paddack said she doesn't know what kind of legislation is needed, but that she plans to ask questions and find out what can be done. She said she plans to examine how bond amounts are set and whether any screening can be conducted to determine whether a defendant poses a threat to society.
"I'm not saying I have the answers, but I plan to ask questions to find out," Paddack said.
"We should not allow these violent individuals to be put back on the streets and harm innocent people in our community."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

95% Pass Rate For OU Law Students

The University of Oklahoma College of Law recently announced 95 percent of its graduates who took the July 2005 Oklahoma Bar Exam passed the test. Of the first-time takers from OU, 97 percent passed. A total of 364 people who earned law degrees from 45 different schools took the two-day exam, and the overall passage rate was 84 percent."While we all know that a sound legal education is a lot more than just the ability to pass bar exams, these exams are the only objective tests of the effectiveness of our educational efforts," said Dean Andrew M. Coats."A 97 percent passage rate for first-time takers is truly remarkable. When coupled with the results from the February 2005 Oklahoma Bar Exam, which were 100 percent for first-time takers, it is another extraordinary achievement and is most gratifying."Oklahoma Bar Association statistics indicated the following passing rates: 79 percent for graduates of law schools outside Oklahoma, 82 percent for University of Tulsa graduates and 75 percent of those from Oklahoma City University.The Oklahoma Bar Exam is given twice each year and is required for admission into the Oklahoma Bar Association. An applicant cannot practice law until all requirements are successfully met, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has issued an order for admission, the applicant has taken the Oath of Attorney and signed the Roll of Attorneys.The admission ceremony will be 2 p.m. Tuesday at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City.The OU College of Law's class of 1995 will have a 10-year reunion Oct. 22 on the second floor of the Boren Atrium. Tours of the college will begin 10:30 a.m., followed by a barbecue lunch at noon. The cost is $15 per adult, $5 per child.Source:

Land Rights Spur New Tax Petition

Associated Press Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - An organization once headed by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn is among those backing a plan to roll back state government through Colorado-style restrictions on legislative spending.Oklahomans for Action was formed in Tulsa to lead an initiative petition drive after input from the Illinois-based Americans for Limited Government, according to state Sen. Randy Brogdon.Brogdon said other national groups expressed interest in the petition drive, including the Washington, D.C.-based Americans for Prosperity, which also is devoted to reducing the size and scope of government.It was announced last week that Oklahomans for Action will circulate a petition asking voters to adopt a plan similar to Colorado's taxpayer bill of rights, or TABOR.People gathering signatures for the petition will also be getting signatures for a second initiative, which would protect private landowners from losing property to government agencies exercising their power of eminent domain.The Colorado plan, adopted in 1992, created a political firestorm in that state. In November, Colorado voters will go to the polls to decide whether to suspend TABOR.Critics say TABOR and a separate law that simultaneously guarantees increases in education spending have put Colorado in a fiscal crunch, where programs can't be properly funded and cuts are being forced in higher education, health care and other services. Bill Owens, Colorado's Republican governor, backs suspension of TABOR.A group of Oklahoma House Democrats have urged voters to be cautious about signing the TABOR petition, saying it would harm education, health care and restrict funding of highway maintenance."Under TABOR, Oklahoma could not double our spending to improve the safety of roads and bridges as Republicans leaders proposed," said David Blatt of the Tulsa-based Community Action Project, which focuses on programs that help low-income citizens. "Under TABOR, we would not be able to improve the quality of our public education."Supporters of the initiative petition said opponents are using scare tactics. They said the proposal would allow for adequate state spending increases tied to inflation and population growth.Americans for Limited Government was formed in 2001 and is headquartered in Glenview, Ill., a Chicago suburb.Coburn, the conservative Oklahoma senator elected in 2004, is listed on the group's Web site as chairman emeritus.John Hart, the senator's spokesman, said Coburn helped form the group and was its chairman after leaving Congress in 2001 before running for the Senate last year. Hart said Coburn has no current role in the organization or the petition drive.Americans for Limited Government lists as "partners" the Club for Growth State Action, US Term Limits and two organizations that promote home schooling and tax credits for parents who want to send their children to private schools - the Parents in Charge Foundation and LEAD Action.Listed on the Web site as "resources" for Americans for Limited Government in Oklahoma are the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a conservative think-tank, and Hero Oklahoma, a home schooling support group.Brogdon, R-Owasso, said Americans for Limited Government "showed interest in an initiative petition" after hearing his TABOR resolution had been sidetracked in the Senate."From what I understand, that is a local issue," Heather Wilhelm, spokeswoman, said of the Illinois group's involvement in the Oklahoma petition drive.Brogdon said the Oklahoma TABOR plan is different from Colorado's and will not cause budgetary problems that have arisen in that state.The plan, he said, would abolish the state's Rainy Day Fund and create "a true emergency fund" equal to 5 percent of the state budget. It would require a three-fourths vote of the Legislature to tap the fund, instead of the current two-thirds.The fund could only be used for emergencies such as those caused by natural disasters, Brogdon said.It also would create a budget stabilization fund equal to 10 percent of the state budget to handle revenue shortfalls.Spending would be limited to a combination of population growth and the inflation rate. Brogdon said that was just over 3 per cent last year, but state spending increased by 12 percent.In years when there are big surpluses, the senator said, one half the excess would be placed in the budget stabilization fund and the rest would go back to individual taxpayers in the form of rebates.He said the amount of the rebates would vary, depending on how much income taxes are paid in or are owed.In other words, Brogdon said, wealthier taxpayers would get the biggest rebates because they had the biggest tax liability. "It's about as fair as it can be," he said.The plan differs sharply from a tax rebate plan proposed by Democratic Gov. Brad Henry and approved by lawmakers during the 2005 session.Under that proposal, rebates estimated at $45 will go out to all individual taxpayers, with couples who file joint returns getting $90."I call that Gov. Henry's Christmas card," Brogdon said.

Oklahoma Man Wins $10 Million Judgment Against a Spammer

On Thursday the 22nd, Robert Braver, an Oklahoma ISP owner who is a long time activist against both spam and junk faxes, received a default judgment of over $10 million against high profile spammer Robert Soloway and his company Newport Internet Marketing. Soloway has frequently been cited as one of the ten largest spammers in the world.
Braver originally filed his case in state court, but Soloway moved the case to Federal court earlier this year. Soloway was initially represented by attorneys, but the attorneys withdrew from the case and since then, although Solway said he'd be representing himself, he hasn't responded in the case, although he has been actively sending comments about it to usenet and mailing lists.
The decision is based both on the Federal CAN SPAM act and Oklahoma law. Based on Braver's having received Soloway's spam on about 200 separate dates, and that the spam breaks two separate Oklahoma laws both of which provide for $25,000/day in damages, the total comes to $10,075,000. The decision further forbids Soloway from future violations of CAN SPAM.
Microsoft also won a judgment against Soloway, but Braver's is considerably broader in that it has the CAN SPAM injunction. While it is unlikely that Braver will ever collect any of his $10 million, since Microsoft already has gotten whatever there is to be gotten, if Soloway violates the injunction, he could be jailed for contempt. We have heard reports that Soloway is still sending spam that violates CAN SPAM, so more legal action in the near future appears likely.
Details of the case including a copy of the decision and other documents are available on a website that Braver set up.
This case points out how difficult it is to use current laws against spammers. Braver is a uniquely diligent plaintiff, and pursued the case at the cost of considerable time and expense to himself. A less determined and experienced plaintiff might wall have abandoned the effort, not for lack of a strong case, but because the process of suing spammers in Federal court is so slow and expensive.
The junk fax law (the TCPA, 47 USC 227) permits individual recipients to file suit in state courts, which is much cheaper and quicker.
By John Levine

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Lawler Seeks Solutions to Rising Energy Costs

State Senator Daisy Lawler said she will work with Senate leaders to conduct an energy summit where stakeholders can share ideas at a state level on how to address the skyrocketing energy costs.
“I believe it is imperative that we expand refinery capacity here in Oklahoma,” Lawler said. “The energy summit will allow experts to come together and roll up their sleeves to help bring solutions to working families in Oklahoma.”
She also supports a three-month suspension of the state tax on gasoline and diesel fuel to help provide emergency relief for Oklahomans struggling to afford to put gas in their cars.
“For those who live paycheck to paycheck and those Oklahomans on a fixed income, these extremely high gas prices are devastating,” Lawler (D-Comanche) said. “These fuel prices weaken families’ ability to afford life saving medicine or even get to their jobs.”
Last session Lawler authored a resolution calling on President Bush and Congress to investigate the skyrocketing price of gasoline. She also supported a measure that provides incentives for energy exploration companies to drill new deep wells in search of new sources of natural gas.
“As a nation, we have to look at ways to help the United States become less dependent on foreign oil sources and that is why it is so very important to implement policies such as the one that passed the Oklahoma Legislature last year that gives energy companies an incentive to explore for more oil and gas right here in Oklahoma,” Lawler said. “I am confident the legislative action taken last session will increase the supply of domestic energy sources and encourage drilling activity in Stephens and Grady counties resulting in an increase in not only more jobs but also higher paying jobs for our citizens.”
Lawler said that high energy costs will shortly begin to have an adverse affect on Oklahoma’s economy if state and local leaders don’t do their part to give working families and small business owners the relief they so desperately need.
“Last week we saw the price of gas jump more than 40 cents a gallon in a matter of 48 hours, and that is absolutely devastating to small business owners and working families trying to make ends meet,” Lawler said. “That is why it is imperative that at a state level we do everything we can to help address these skyrocketing fuel costs.”
For more information contact:Senator Lawler's Office - (405) 521-5569

Trebilcock Says Informed Consent Law Should Include Information on Fetal Pain

Thursday, State Rep. John Trebilcock said he intends to introduce legislation expanding Oklahoma’s recently passed informed consent law in light of a recent study claiming fetuses do not feel pain until the seventh month of development.
“Our current informed consent law needs to include information explaining to mothers the truth about fetal pain before they make a decision to end a pregnancy,” said Trebilcock, R-Tulsa. “Women need to be provided every bit of information available so that they can make an informed decision when considering abortion.”
During the 2005 legislative session, Trebilcock co-authored House Bill 1686, which established an informed consent law in Oklahoma. The law requires that women be given all pertinent information about fetal development, the potential consequences of abortion and the gestational age of the unborn child, at least 24 hours before receiving an abortion.
Trebilcock said the law needs to be expanded to require that information on fetal pain be given to expectant mothers before receiving an abortion.Trebilcock also criticized the report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, saying the researchers did not reveal their ties to abortion rights organizations and abortion clinics when the story was published.
In the report, several University of California-San Francisco researchers claimed their research data indicated that fetuses likely are incapable of feeling pain until around the seventh month, when they are about 28 weeks along. The research group included a medical student who has worked for an abortion rights group and the director of a clinic that provides abortions.
“This research is obviously biased toward protecting abortion rights based on the researchers’ ties to organizations that support abortion and clinics that provide them,” said Trebilcock. “Isn’t it convenient that this report comes in the middle of proposed legislation that would harm their cause? “Furthermore, the researchers only examined existing medical studies and commented on those instead of conducting their own scientific research. This report is a joke borne out of a political agenda and nothing else.”
The report was published as Congress and several state legislatures consider legislation that would require doctors to provide fetal pain information to women seeking abortions when fetuses are at least 20 weeks old, and to offer women fetal anesthesia at that stage of the pregnancy.
Several states have enacted fetal-pain laws and others are considering legislation. Arkansas, which enacted the first law this year, requires physicians to discuss pain issues with their patients.
In a document accepted as expert by a federal court, Dr. Kanwaljeet S. Anand, a pain researcher who holds several tenured chairs in pediatrics and anesthesiology at the University of Arkansas, said, “It is my opinion that the human fetus possesses the ability to experience pain from 20 weeks of gestation, if not earlier, and that pain perceived by a fetus is possibly more intense than that perceived by newborns or older children.”
Researchers who claim fetal pain can be felt earlier in development note the release of stress hormones and movement of the fetus in response to painful stimuli.
The National Right to Life, an organization that seeks to ban abortion, reports that approximately 18,000 abortions are performed after 20 weeks of gestation each year.
Contact: State Rep. John TrebilcockCapitol: (405) 557-7362Broken Arrow: (918) 594-0441

Grant Money Available Through Drug Settlement

Friday, Attorney General Drew Edmondson said more than $14.9 million in grant money is now available as part of a 2004 settlement with pharmaceutical company Warner-Lambert. Warner-Lambert, which is a division of Pfizer, the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, agreed to pay the money as part of a 50-state settlement reached in May of 2004. The states had accused Warner-Lambert of marketing their drug, Neurontin, for various “off-label” indications. “Off-label” refers to using a drug to treat ailments for which it was not originally intended or scientifically tested.Neurontin is traditionally used to treat epilepsy, but it is frequently prescribed to treat various psychiatric disorders, back pain and headache. It is illegal for pharmaceutical manufacturers to promote the off-label use of their drugs, although doctors are permitted to prescribe medication for such uses. Approximately 90 percent of Neurontin prescriptions are for off-label uses.According to Edmondson, the grant money is available to some health care organizations or groups that have expertise in health-related or consumer protection issues.“Under the terms of the settlement, this money is to be spent to educate doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals about how to get fair and balanced information about prescription drugs,” Edmondson said. “I would encourage anyone who works in that arena to put together a program and apply for funding through this settlement.”The deadline to submit grant proposals is Oct.7. At that time, a special committee made up of attorneys general from around the country will award the grant money. For more information or to request a grant application, log on to “We hope this settlement will encourage more responsible promotion within the pharmaceutical industry,” Edmondson said. “It’s imperative that doctors and the public at large be able to trust the information that comes from drug makers. Promoting prescription medication for uses that haven’t been tested jeopardizes the patient’s medical care.”The 2004 settlement resulted in the states receiving approximately $40 million from Warner-Lambert. Of that, $28 million will be used in a remediation program and $10 million was distributed to the participating states to be used for attorney's fees and other costs of investigation. Oklahoma received about $25,000 from the settlement.The states’ settlement also resolved investigations by the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston. In all, Warner-Lambert was ordered to pay a total of $430 million.

State lawmaker to seek ban on pit bull breed

A recent attack on a 3-year-old child in Moore has been the catalyst for at least one Oklahoma representative to attempt to ban pit bull dogs in the state of Oklahoma.The June attack that left 3-year-old Cody Yelton with only one arm prompted Rep. Paul Wesselhoft, R-Moore, to announce that in the next legislative session he will introduce a bill to get rid of the pit bull.In researching the topic, Wesselhoft says he has reviewed over a thousand articles and legal cases related to pit bull attacks, which often end in death or mutilation of the victims."Many people who own pit bulls say that it's other owners who train their pit bulls to be vicious - that there aren't bad pit bulls, just bad pit bull owners," Wesselhoft said. "But the fact is that these dogs are bred to fight until their prey is killed."
Long before he became a legislator, Wesselhoft says he noticed news stories from around the country detailing how pit bull terriers had attacked and mauled people of all ages, including young children.But when a pit bull attacked the 3-year-old who was supposedly trying to pet the animal, Wesselhoft believed the time had come to take action."Each time I read about one of these attacks or see the story on TV, I tell my wife Judy, 'That dog ought to be outlawed,'" Wesselhoft said. "Now that it's happened to one of my constituents, I've got to do this."I've talked to Cody's parents and his grandparents. Cody's grandmother told me that, after the attack, his arm looked like a chicken leg with all the meat eaten off. And that little three-year-old boy's arm had to be amputated all the way up to his shoulder."According to data compiled by the Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division, pit bulls and pit-type mixes accounted for approximately 15 percent of all dog bites within the corporate limits of Oklahoma City from 2001 to 2004.
Wesselhoft said his bill will amend existing state law, which outlines regulations for any "potentially dangerous dog," meaning any dog that has inflicted damage to any person, animal, or other property when unprovoked.Wesselhoft said the primary goal of his bill will be to require anyone who owns a pit bull terrier to house the animal in a structure that is "solid and impenetrable by a child."Pit bull owners would have to keep their dogs behind an 8-foot-high fence that also extends at least one foot into the ground, in order to prevent the dogs from digging out. Each owner would also need to display a sign reading "pit bull dog" on their property.But Wesselhoft said the proposed bill will also include provisions designed to bring about an eventual ban of pit bull dogs in the state.The grandfather clause contained in the bill would allow for the continuing existence of pit bulls currently in Oklahoma. However, pit bull owners would have to have the dogs spayed or neutered, and the animals would need regular rabies shots.In addition, a pit bull owner would have to be age 21 or older and would be required to have a $100,000 liability insurance policy on every pit bull.Also, each pit bull would have to be tattooed or otherwise marked when it is registered with the state. Owners would not be able to sell or transfer the dogs to other individuals in Oklahoma, excluding family members. And a person living in Oklahoma will not be able to bring in a new pit bull from out of state.After those pit bulls that are allowed to remain in Oklahoma under the grandfather clause of the proposed bill die of old age, Wesselhoft said there should be very few pit bulls remaining in the state, if any."The bottom line is that, by getting rid of pit bulls in Oklahoma, we will be making our state safer for all Oklahomans, in particular our children and the elderly," he said. "The attack on little Cody Yelton was absolutely tragic, and we don't want that to happen again."Wesselhoft added that the parents of Cody Yelton were pleased when they learned that the proposed legislation would be named in honor of their son.
"At this point we're going full force with it," Wesseloft told the E-E Friday. "The legislative session starts in January Š Right now we're trying to gain support from my colleagues and more and more are getting on board with the bill."Wesselhoft says that the recent spate of attacks which include several in the Bartlesville area are either "a cluster of pit bull attacks" or "that they have been happening all along and the media was not sensitive to it.""With the legislation in motion, we're starting to get calls and e-mails on the matter," he said.Wesselhoft said that that although the bill is "controversial" he is "optimistic that I can get this passed.""The attacks in Bartlesville are going to effect legislators in your area," he said. "Unfortunately, we don't want attacks to occur but each time it just gives the bill more steam."Regarding people who say that the attacks are the result of bad owners, Wesselhoft said that often times pit bull enthusiasts say that it is never the dog's fault, but "never want to admit that there is something wrong with this breed."The bottom line is that the pit bull is unpredictable," he said. "They are nice warm pets until something going off in their brain and then they are a lethal weapon trying to tear out skin and crush bone."Wesselhoft said he feels that even if the bill does not pass in its entirety, he thinks it could help cities like Bartlesville."If my bill passes, even if I'm not able to ban the breed statewide, then cities like Bartlesville will have the autonomy and the authority to do what they have to do," he said.