Sunday, October 25, 2020

ODOT reminds candidates that campaign signs don’t belong along highways

 ODOT reminds candidates to obey the law and keep campaign signs away from highways

As the Nov. 3 general election approaches, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation reminds political candidates and volunteers to stay safe, save taxpayer money and keep Oklahoma’s highways and interstates free of unsightly, damaging and costly litter by keeping campaign signs out of highway rights-of-way.

Placing campaign signs to help promote candidates may be a regular occurrence, but the areas along highways or on bridges remain off-limits. State law strictly prohibits such signs from being placed in state rights-of-way because of safety concerns. Not only can illegally placed signs block drivers’ views at intersections, medians or ramps, but the sign placement endangers volunteers who try to post them along high-speed roadways or on bridges. Generally, the public right-of-way includes the area of grass between a highway and the nearby fence. In cities and towns, the right-of-way can extend past the curb to include the grass and sidewalk area along a highway.

“We ask all candidates and their supporters to respect the law and protect our motorists and workers by not placing campaign signs on state highway rights-of-way and bridges,” ODOT Maintenance Engineer Taylor Henderson said.

The best strategy for safe, legal politicking is for candidates to place signs on private property with the landowner’s permission. Inside city limits, candidates should check local ordinances for questions regarding municipal streets and rights-of-way. However, even within city limits, signs are prohibited on state-maintained highways, overpasses and bridges.

When signs are illegally placed, ODOT crews spend time away from other highway maintenance operations to remove them, which can be time-consuming, hazardous and dangerous work close to oncoming traffic. Removal of litter, including illegal signs, also delays highway mowing since the signs and metal posts could damage state equipment.

Each year, nearly $6 million in taxpayer dollars are spent by the department to pick up trash along Oklahoma highways, including illegally placed signs. This money comes out of ODOT’s maintenance budget, the same source of funds for patching potholes, repairing guardrail, mowing and clearing snow and ice. This expense is in addition to the untold amounts of time and money volunteer groups and local governments spend annually removing litter.

The department reminds candidates to obey the law and keep campaign signs off Oklahoma bridges and highway rights-of-way.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Oklahoma delegation introduces bill to rename Owasso Post Office after fallen Air Nat'l Guardsman

Oklahoma delegation introduces legislation renaming Owasso Post Office after late Sgt. Marshal Roberts

TULSA, OK (October 20th) – Representative Kevin Hern (OK-01) introduced legislation on Friday to rename the U.S. Post Office located at 1233 North Cedar Street in Owasso, Okla., after fallen Air National Guardsman, Sergeant Marshal Roberts.

Sgt. Roberts, from Owasso, gave his life in service to our country while deployed in Iraq in March 2020.

The entire Oklahoma delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives joined Rep. Hern as original co-sponsors of the bill.

“Sergeant Marshal Roberts served his country with integrity and gave his all in the line of duty this spring,” said Congressman Hern. “His legacy has inspired so many; renaming the Owasso Post Office ensures his legacy will live on for our community to see every day. Oklahomans have incredible respect for those who serve our country. We will never forget Sgt. Roberts and his sacrifice.”

OCPA column: Leaders in all fields raise alarm on McGirt decision

Leaders in all fields raise alarm on McGirt decision
By Jonathan Small

Numerous leaders in many fields are raising the alarm about the repercussions of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma, which declared the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s reservation was never disestablished.

Those critiques highlight why Oklahoma and tribal governments must agree to a uniform set of rules and regulations for all citizens, no matter where they live or their heritage. To do otherwise will not only produce chaos but also drive jobs and opportunity out of the state.

While McGirt dealt with only one tribe and one issue (criminal prosecution), it is expected to extend to five tribes with territories covering 40 percent of Oklahoma that are home to 1.8 million citizens, most of them non-Indian, and affect issues including taxes and regulation.

In a letter to the state’s congressional delegation, the Oklahoma Farm Bureau notes that, because of McGirt, non-tribal citizens potentially face new taxes if they own property in reservation territory. And businesses in affected areas, including farms and ranches, may face new tribal zoning or environmental regulations added on top of existing state and local ordinances.

Seminole chief responds to AG Hunter's proposal for state-tribal relations

Seminole Nation Chief releases statement regarding Attorney General Mike Hunter’s proposed path forward for Oklahoma and the Five Tribes 
Wewoka, Okla. (Oct. 22, 2020) - Seminole Nation Chief Greg P. Chilcoat issued the following statement today in response to Attorney General Mike Hunter’s October 21 proposal in the aftermath of McGirt.
“While the Seminole Nation appreciates the sentiment of consensus building and intergovernmental cooperation upon which we believe Attorney General Mike Hunter’s proposal was premised, we oppose the recommendation for Congressional authorization of state-tribal criminal jurisdiction compacts. By way of example, the Seminole Nation, like all the Five Tribes, already has a state-tribal agreement on criminal justice in the area of policing through cross-deputization. These intergovernmental agreements demonstrate the effectiveness of existing state-tribal government-to-government cooperation and coordination, absent Congressional action.

Governor Stitt extends state of emergency declaration


OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 23, 2020)- Governor Kevin Stitt today issued Sixth Amended Executive Order 2020-20, extending the state of emergency related to COVID-19 that has been in place since March 15, 2020. 

The amended EO removes the previous extension of all occupational licenses and gives licensees 60 days to pay or renew any licenses extended by prior Orders. The EO also updates hospital and testing reporting requirements and modifies the days on which the Oklahoma State Department of Health is required to provide a summary of information to the Governor from "daily" to "each weekday." 

Friday, October 23, 2020

Stitt won't appeal court ruling regarding automatic renewal of tribal gaming compacts


OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 23, 2020) – Governor Kevin Stitt announced today he will not appeal the U.S. District Court ruling issued July 28 regarding the State-Tribal Gaming Compacts.

Gov. Stitt issued the following statement about his decision:

“The U.S. District Court has ruled the Model Tribal Gaming Compacts automatically renewed for another 15 years. While I have chosen not to appeal this decision, I believe that the people of Oklahoma will demand a fair deal that benefits all 4 million Oklahomans.

Our state is facing unprecedented uncertainty as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma. Therefore, it is essential for state and tribal leaders to join together to resolve the challenges this ruling presents for Oklahomans and their businesses.

OK Commission on Cooperative Sovereignty presents reports to Gov. Stitt


OKLAHOMA CITY (Oct. 22, 2020)— The Oklahoma Commission on Cooperative Sovereignty today presented its recommendations for the State and the U.S. Congress in response to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma.
“The questions caused by the McGirt decision have put our state at a crossroads,” said Gov. Stitt. “But where some see a major challenge for our state, I see an opportunity. We can work together and secure our future as One Oklahoma, maintaining our diversity and sharing the vision of becoming a Top Ten state.”

Formed by Governor Kevin Stitt under Executive Order 2020-24 to explore the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling, the advisory Commission recommended five principles to ensure consistency and stability for both the State of Oklahoma and Oklahoma’s Tribal Nations.

AG Hunter recommends Feds allow state-tribal compacts on criminal matters

Attorney General Hunter Recommends Federal Legislation for Optional State-Tribal Compacting on Criminal Matters

OKLAHOMA CITY (October 21st) – Attorney General Mike Hunter today sent a letter to federal, state and Native American tribal leaders suggesting a path forward to allow for compacting on criminal matters, which would require federal legislation.

If legislation is passed, the compacts would allow the tribes the option to consent to shared state jurisdiction on criminal matters.

Attorney General Hunter said allowing this type of compacting authority can only come from federal legislation.

“Federal prosecutors are doing all they can to keep up with the cases that are being handed to them, but their resources are being stretched,” Attorney General Hunter said. “All the while, the state’s courts, prosecutors and corrections system are ready and willing to help. However, Congress must act to give the state and the tribes the authority to enter into these agreements. We already have the authority to compact on other important issues, such as child welfare, water rights and gaming, all of which were authorized by federal legislation. We now need that same type of legislation for an equally important issue: ensuring the safety and security of Oklahomans.

1889 Institute: Opportunity for teachers and education improvement proposed

Free teachers to act as true education practitioners.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (October 21, 2020) – The 1889 Institute has published “Professional Teacher Charter Schools: Proposal with Model Legislation,” which explains an entirely new vision for the critical role teachers play in public education, putting those who are willing to take the wheel firmly in the driver’s seat within schools. Teachers would act as fully authoritative practitioners, essentially owning their own education practices, just as doctors, lawyers, CPAs, and other professionals always have. With clear lines of authority and administration that serves practitioners instead of the other way around, the authors argue that the education system can be improved.

“We are extremely excited about how this idea could serve to improve options for school children and their parents as well as for teachers,” said Mike Davis, 1889’s Research Fellow and coauthor of the report.

“When you really think about it, the incentives in our socialized education system are so poor that it’s obvious it works as well as it does mostly because of the goodwill and hard work of teachers,” said Byron Schlomach, 1889’s Director and coauthor of the report. “This proposal would create a system for better harnessing the goodwill and work ethic of teachers, recognizing them as being every bit as capable as doctors, lawyers, and plumbers of owning their own practices,” he said.

OKGOP Chair: Democrat candidates must release stance on Energy industry following Biden's shocking statement

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, October 23, 2020 – With an estimated 90,000 Oklahoma jobs directly tied to the oil and natural gas industry, Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman David McLain said today Oklahoma voters deserve to know if Democrat candidates seeking election or reelection to the Oklahoma State Legislature support Oklahoma’s leading economic driver.

“In light of Joe Biden’s shocking statement at the end of last evening’s presidential debate that he would ‘transition away from oil in the U.S.’, it is vitally important that Oklahoma voters know if Democrat candidates for the Oklahoma Legislature share their presidential nominee’s irresponsible stance,” McLain said.