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Friday, January 31, 2020

Nigel Farage torches European Parliament in fiery speech, "Brexit" officially happens


Nigel Farage, the fiery British MEP who lead the charge to take the United Kingdom out of the European Union, absolutely torched the EU in his farewell speech to the European Parliament, concluding by waving flags with other members of the UK delegation -- which was against the rules, and for which his microphone was cut off.

But they didn't care, because they're leaving and not coming back.

Watch:



The United Kingdom officially left the European Union at 11pm London time today (Friday, January 31st, 2020). Massive crowds celebrated the Brexit moment across the United Kingdom, while "remainers" and "rejoiners", particularly in Scotland, protested.

Bipartisan group files legislation to address missing, murdered Native Americans


Bipartisan Legislation to Address Missing and Murdered Indigenous People Announced

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A bipartisan group of House lawmakers filed legislation for the second half of the 57th Legislature to address Oklahoma’s missing and murdered indigenous people.

House Bill 3892, authored by Rep. Merelyn Bell (D-Norman), would require law enforcement to collect detailed biological information about the missing child, the person reporting the child missing, and the alleged suspect(s).

“Too many Native American families in our state have suffered loss and trauma when a loved one went missing or was murdered, especially when that loved one is a child,” Bell said. “We must be intentional about preventing the next child from being ripped from their family and community.”

House Bill 3893, authored by Bell, would allow for the creation of an electronic repository of student photographs to ensure there is a current photo of the child for law enforcement to use in helping locate them when they are identified as missing.

“In missing person cases, every second counts,” Bell said. “The creation of a photo database will allow law enforcement to obtain data critical to their success in locating missing persons in a timely manner.”

House Bill 3345, or Ida’s Law, authored by Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-OKC),  outlines the creation of the Office of Liaison under the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons. The Office of Liaison will consist of a missing person specialist with significant experience working alongside tribal communities.

“HB3345 is in honor of Ida Beard,” Dollens said. “Ida has been missing since June  30, 2015. Beard is a citizen on the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes and her missing person case remains open to this day. Ida is one of many Native American women and girls across the country that has vanished without a trace and continues to vanish at alarming rates.”

House Bill 2847, authored by Rep. Daniel Pae (R-Lawton), creates a Red Alert System through the Department of Public Safety for when indigenous people are reported missing.

House Bill 2848, authored by Rep. Pae, would require law enforcement officers to take an additional hour of CLEET training that would focus solely on cultural competency and sensitivity training when interacting with missing indigenous people and their families.

“Like most issues, one of the biggest barriers to helping with the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous people is education,” Pae said. “My bills deal with educating the public when indigenous people go missing and educating law enforcement about the needs of this community. I appreciate my colleagues for shining a light on this issue, and I look forward to working with many more to get this legislation across the finish line.”

Dollens, who held an interim study on MMIP over the summer, feels confident that this session will yield results for the Native American community.

“My work on this issue began with a phone call from one of my constituents,” Dollens said. “Since then, we have added more lawmakers from both parties to this fight. I am hopeful that our momentum will continue, and we will be able to provide our native friends and families with both resources and peace of mind.”

House Dems say Stitt's new health plan "fails"


House Democrats Release Statement on Stitt Health Care Plan

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D-Norman) and House Democratic Caucus Health Care Policy Chair Rep. Forrest Bennett (D-OKC) released the following joint statement in response to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s health care announcement today:

“A serious health care plan provides access to health care to all Oklahomans, does so in a way that is equitable to all citizens and is proven to improve health care outcomes. It seems the governor’s plan fails on all three of these points. Under block grants, lawmakers will determine care, not doctors, and unnecessary red tape will limit services amongst the lowest-paid workers in Oklahoma, who also have the highest tax burden. This plan is new and yet to be tested. A straight expansion of Medicaid would invest in services that we know work in other states and in Oklahoma. Finally, a direct expansion has gone through the court process, while the governor’s plan has not. Oklahomans are tired of waiting on their government to do what is right. A straight expansion of Medicaid is the easiest way to increase access to health care in the state, and it has been proven to work in other states.”

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Muskogee GOP announces 2020 scholarship application deadline


The Muskogee County Republican Party has released their 2020 College Scholarship criteria and application. Over the last decade, over 40 scholarships have been given out by the MCRP to area students.

Those interested in applying can find the pertinant information below. Applications and questions should be directed to MuskogeeRepublicans@gmail.com.


OCPA on new Medicaid plan: "conservative window dressing of ObamaCare's expansion"


Medicaid expansion means higher taxes, higher medical expenses for Oklahomans

OKLAHOMA CITY (February 3, 2020)— Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs President Jonathan Small issued the following statement today after it was announced Oklahoma will seek to expand Medicaid to cover up to 628,000 able-bodied Oklahoma adults at a state taxpayer cost of up to $374 million annually. The proposed expansion would occur under a federal waiver program announced today that allows states to slightly modify expansion plans.

“Republican plans to expand welfare aren’t any better than Democrats’ plans to expand welfare,” Small said. “In fact, sources ranging from the Government Accountability Office to state actuaries have found that Republican plans to expand welfare in Indiana, Arkansas and other places actually cost more than Democrats’ welfare-expansion plans. The broad proposal unveiled today basically adds conservative window dressing to Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid, and the result of expansion will be the same as what we have seen in other states: exploding costs, higher taxes, and stagnant or worsening health outcomes.

“Any form of Medicaid welfare expansion mostly serves to enrich big-box urban-based hospitals and big insurance companies while failing rural areas,” Small continued. “Medicaid expansion consistently fails to generate meaningful improvement in health outcomes, and indirectly rations care for the most vulnerable already on Medicaid, while increasing health care prices for everyone else due to the cost-shifting that occurs because of Medicaid. And the icing on the cake is Medicaid expansion has led to increased taxes in many cases. There’s nothing in Oklahoma’s proposal under the federal waiver that would change that trajectory. In fact, Oklahoma would be required to offer and pay for even more services under this proposal than under traditional Medicaid expansion.”

About the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs
The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA) is a public policy research organization focused primarily on state-level issues. OCPA conducts research and analysis of public issues in Oklahoma from a perspective of limited government, individual liberty, and a free-market economy.

State House GOP leaders react positively to Stitt's new health care plan


Speaker McCall, Chairman McEntire Comment on Governor’s Health Care Plan

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, issued the following statement today on Governor Kevin Stitt’s SoonerCare 2.0 announcement:

“This is a far better plan than putting Obamacare in the Constitution with no flexibility. Our Caucus appreciates Governor Stitt’s strong leadership working with the Trump administration to bring federal dollars back to Oklahoma. We will promptly discuss the governor’s plan as a Caucus and seek input from the entire Legislature upon session convening next week.

When states can work with the federal administration, outcomes for citizens are always better. This opportunity to work hand in hand with the federal administration on a plan it has endorsed will make our citizens healthier. The governor’s plan gives Oklahoma the flexibility to put our citizens’ health first, while the state question puts stringent federal Obamacare requirements first, to the detriment of innovation and health outcomes.

At first glance, the governor’s plan swiftly brings our federal dollars home to help Oklahomans in a far more responsible fashion than the state question. It also has responsible funding mechanisms, which the state question does not. The state question forces the Obamacare federal model upon states, and the Trump-Stitt plan puts states in charge of their own healthcare and health outcomes. We will discuss more details in the coming days, but it is a highly promising plan.”

Rep. Marcus McEntire, R-Duncan, co-chair of the legislative Healthcare Working Group and chair of the House Appropriations & Budget Subcommittee on Health, issued the following statement:

“At first blush of seeing this plan, I’m optimistic. It does increase access to care and captures our tax dollars and brings them back home. It also gives the state unprecedented flexibility in designing and administering Medicaid without raising taxes on Oklahoma citizens or raiding dollars from other core areas of service.”

Following Trump admin's Medicaid initiative, Stitt announces 'SoonerCare 2.0'


STITT ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES SOONERCARE 2.0

Oklahoma City, Okla. (Jan. 30, 2020) – Governor Kevin Stitt today announced his administration’s healthcare plan, called SoonerCare 2.0, in Washington, D.C. where he was participating in the Trump administration’s release of the Healthy Adult Opportunity (HAO) initiative to give unprecedented flexibility to States to innovate and develop Medicaid plans for the adult population where federal funding is optional.

“I have sought Oklahomans’ input over the past several months in crafting my administration’s healthcare plan, and they have told me they want more access to care in rural Oklahoma, they want accountability and better outcomes in the current Medicaid system, and they want us to reclaim our tax dollars from Washington, D.C,” said Gov. Stitt. “With SoonerCare 2.0, we will achieve what Oklahomans are asking for, and we will fund it through efficiencies and accountability reforms, protecting Oklahomans from new taxes.

“With SoonerCare 2.0, we will pursue comprehensive reform of Medicaid delivery, made possible due to the unprecedented flexibility and innovation being granted by the Trump administration’s Healthy Adult Opportunity initiative. SoonerCare 2.0 will deliver strong personal-responsibility mechanisms for new enrollees, will target dollars on rural healthcare delivery and substance abuse programs, and transform services to be focused on outcomes and health advancements instead of excessive billing practices. In all things, we will pursue Top Ten status, and with SoonerCare 2.0 we will be taking a next step in pulling Oklahoma out of bottom ten healthcare rankings that our State has battled for generations.”

As part of SoonerCare 2.0, the Stitt administration will be pursuing the following:

Capture total federal funds available under Medicaid: In the coming few weeks, the State will submit a State Plan Amendment to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) coupled with applications for the new Healthy Adult Opportunity waivers to achieve maximum flexibility for use of more than $1.1 billion in additional federal Medicaid funds.

The State will need no new state taxpayer dollars to pay for its roughly $150 million share. The Stitt administration will seek partnership with the Legislature to support the State’s share by:

  • Recognizing cost savings in Department of Corrections and Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, where millions of dollars currently being paid 100% by the State will be replaced with federal funding once SoonerCare 2.0 is fully implemented.
  • Leveraging the full Supplemental Hospital Offset Payment Program (SHOPP) fee of 4% currently in state statue, a rate in Oklahoma that will remain below the national standard of 6%.
  • Requesting Oklahomans to reform TSET, protecting the corpus and leveraging future funds to directly deliver stronger, more accessible healthcare services to rural Oklahoma as part of SoonerCare 2.0.


Pursue maximum flexibility under the Trump administration’s Healthy Adult Opportunity to deliver personal responsibility: For Oklahomans that will become eligible for Medicaid under SoonerCare 2.0, the insurance program will be set up to create a true trampoline and prepare the individual to transition to employment and the responsibility of maintaining private insurance coverage. The Stitt administration will pursue HAO flexibility to implement modest premiums and establish work requirements that encourage individuals to be engaged in activity that advances their personal potential, such as education, certification, or employment.

Innovate the delivery of rural health care as well as specialized substance abuse programs with flexibility granted under the Trump administration’s Healthy Adult Opportunity: With HAO flexibility, SoonerCare 2.0 will innovate to improve access to care in rural Oklahoma. The Stitt administration will work with health care providers, communities and payers to act on new federal opportunities that will allow the State to enhance provider reimbursement, authorize telehealth services, manage non-emergency medical transportation, and redefine “hospitals” to expand care options in areas with limited populations. With HAO flexibility, SoonerCare 2.0 will also seek to expand targeted treatment for opioid addiction and substance abuse.

Deliver system reform across the full Medicaid program: To increase the effectiveness of Oklahoma’s Medicaid program and achieve better outcomes, the state will implement a full-risk managed care program with a strong quality component. Most states have abandoned years ago the government-run, fee-for-service program currently in place in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority will go through a series of public bids and public comment periods to procure the right cost containment plan for Oklahoma.  The new Medicaid enrollees under SoonerCare 2.0 will be the first population under the reformed delivery system.

“The Oklahoma Health Care Authority is thrilled to be a part of Governor Stitt’s health plan, SoonerCare 2.0,” said Kevin Corbett, Director of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. “Our agency, along with our partner agencies, stakeholders and in collaboration with the public, will pursue a rigorous and thorough process towards bringing this outcome based approach to managing our state’s health care needs and reaching the administration’s Top Ten goals.”

The agency will pursue the following priorities in obtaining and implementing this major reform initiative:

  • Transform primary care from a system that reacts after someone get sick to a system that keeps people as healthy as possible.
  • Pay for what works to improve and maintain health and convert volume-based fee-for-service payments into value-based payments that reward better health outcomes.
  • Prevent chronic disease whenever possible, and when it occurs, coordinate care to improve the quality of life and help minimize chronic care costs. 

Column: Redistricting petition is blatant move that should concern all

Initiative Petition 420 is part of national plan
an op-ed by Michael Clements in the Durant Democrat

The Oklahoma Supreme Court heard arguments this week on a case that is getting little attention but could have huge implications on the local, state and national levels.

The case concerns Initiative Petition 420. If the petition’s backers are successful, they will put State Question 804 on the ballot. And, if that question is approved by voters it will completely change how legislative boundaries are drawn in Oklahoma. We have covered this issue before, but it’s too important to ignore.

Andy Moore, founder of People not Politicians which is pushing the petition, claims he is just a regular guy who got interested in politics after learning about gerrymandering. Moore claims he was just minding his own business when he became so outraged over the issue that he had to do something. So, he started the organization with the populist sounding name to fight the obvious corruption of having elected officials draw district lines.

Moore was so regular that he didn’t even know who Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States under President Barak Obama, was. Which is odd since Moore is also the executive director of Freedom of Information Oklahoma, a group dedicated to fighting for government openness and transparency.

Apparently, the FOI Oklahoma Board was so impressed with the political neophyte that the fact that he couldn’t identify the top law enforcement official in the nation was irrelevant. So, why is Moore’s obtuseness relevant? Because Moore’s redistricting crusade just happens to coincide with far-to-similar-to-be-coincidence national campaign to flip red states to blue states being run by holder.

In another stunning coincidence, People Not Politics web presence is hosted by a company dedicated to advancing progressive political agendas, like those espoused by Holder. Moore claims it was simply a financial decision, but we’re pretty sure that if he was pushing a Republican agenda his Internet Service Provider wouldn’t be quite so blue.

Then there’s the census-data manipulation SQ 804 would require. Moore claims to have no idea how language calling for the incarcerated to be counted differently from all others for the purposes of redistricting, and only for that purpose, got into his proposed amendment. But, to our knowledge, he and his grassroots movement have made no moves to remove the provision.

Right now, the decision is in the hands of the Oklahoma Supreme Court. But even if the court rejects this move, it will not end. It is being pushed by a national campaign intent on bypassing the voters and the Constitution. People on one side of the aisle may be fine with that for the time being since they see it as a way to correct what they consider to be a mistake by the voters. But what happens when the other side controls the commission?

Frankly, we are being sold a bill of goods and the potential impact goes far beyond drawing some boundaries. This is a blatant move to take control an essential part of our political process away from the majority of the people and place it in the hands of a few. And that should concern people of all political persuasions.

Perryman files bill to protect pensions for officers injured in the line of duty


Perryman Bill Would Help Officers Injured in the Line of Duty

OKLAHOMA CITY -- State Rep. David Perryman (D-Chickasha) has filed legislation to protect the pension benefits of officers injured while serving their community.

House Bill 3330 would change the disability percentage for officers disabled as a result of a violent act while on duty to 100 percent.

“This is one of those laws where Oklahoma should be ashamed that it hasn’t already been done,” Perryman said. “No officer, faithfully executing their oath to serve the public, should have their financial future jeopardized  due to being injured in an act of violence.”

Currently, disabled officers who can no longer work in law enforcement are often not eligible for their full pension benefits.

“If an officer serving his or her community, is injured as a result of a violent act in the line of duty to the point that he or she cannot continue as a law enforcement officer,  it is wrong to penalize that officer by limiting pension benefits,” Perryman said. “Pensions aren’t a safety net but a plan for financial security. An officer shouldn’t lose that security due to being shot while protecting the public. It is wrong and this legislation aims to fix that.”

Bice campaign memo shows $290k raised in last quarter

According to a memo that originated from the Bice for Congress team, the state senator's campaign will show in excess of $290,000 raised during the fourth quarter fundraising period when reports are filed with the Federal Election Commission.

In the memo, the Bice campaign states that their "understanding is that none of our opponents will have raised close to the $290,000 we raised in Q4," noting that it would be the third quarter in a row for them to have outraised the other GOP candidates (self-funding excluded, it should be noted).

Some stats from the Bice campaign on 4th Quarter fundraising:

  • Average donation of $95.90
  • 96% of donations came from individuals
  • 2,846 donations in the 4th Quarter
  • 4,479 donations campaign to-date
  • 80% from individuals in Oklahoma
  • 76% of dollars came from Oklahoma


Bice is one of several Republicans running against Congresswoman Kendra Horn (D-OKC), and one of two unanimously agreed upon frontrunners by members of the Muskogee Politico Insiders Panel back in November.

Roberts files legislation requiring detention facilities comply with ICE


Rep. Sean Roberts Files Legislation Requiring Detention Facilities to Comply with Federal Immigration Officials

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy) filed legislation recently that would require sheriffs, wardens, and other operators of detention facilities to comply with federal immigration officers.

House Bill 4115 requires operators of state, city, and county detention facilities to honor federal immigration detainers of an inmate for no less than 48 hours after the inmate would otherwise be released.

"The need for this bill became apparent recently when federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) publicly criticized Oklahoma County Sheriff P.D. Taylor as a Sanctuary Sheriff for releasing a rapist illegal alien in the middle of the night, after only 90 minutes notice to ICE at their Dallas office. Oklahomans deserve better, and this bill will ensure that Oklahoma is not a sanctuary state."

A $50,000 fine would be issued for each failure to comply with a detainer. The amount of each fine shall not exceed 1% of the total annual budget for the detention facility. Proceeds from such fines would be deposited into the State Treasury for the use of restitution for victims of crimes committed by people illegally in the United States.

“This measure will put teeth behind the requirement that employees at detention facilities across the state comply with federal immigration officers as these situations arise,” Roberts said. “Our corrections facilities are full of people who are in this country illegally. This measure will make sure these people are answerable to our laws and ensure their victims see justice served.”

The second session of the 57th Legislature commences Monday, Feb. 3, 2020.

Rep. Sean Roberts, a Republican, serves District 36 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, which includes Osage and Tulsa Counties.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

OK Senate Republicans elect new caucus chair, vice chair


Senate Republicans elect new caucus chair, vice chair

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Senate Republicans have elected Senator Dave Rader caucus chair and Senator Greg McCortney caucus vice chair, the President Pro Tempore’s Office announced Wednesday.

The elections were necessary due to the resignation of Senator Jason Smalley, who previously served as caucus chair.

Rader, R-Tulsa, previously served as caucus vice chair. McCortney, R-Ada, recently was appointed chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee to fill a vacancy created by the resignation.

“Caucus chair and vice chair are important leadership roles, and I know Senator Rader and Senator McCortney will do a great job on behalf of the Senate Republican Caucus,” said Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City.

Rep. Burns comments on 4-Day school week rules


Burns Comments on Four-Day School Week Rules  

OKLAHOMA CITY (January 27th,2020)  – Rep. Ty Burns (R-Morrison) today commented on new rules released by the Oklahoma State Board of Education (OSBE) to govern schools wishing to continue four-day school weeks.

Last year, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 441, which allows school districts, beginning in the 2021-22 school year, to adopt an hours-only schedule – 1,080 instructional hours (and less than the 165-day minimum otherwise required) – for individual schools if those schools meet waiver requirements from the OSBE under rules to be proposed to the Legislature this year. Districts seeking a waiver for their schools are asked to prove that the schools are performing above average in certain student performance measures and saving money as a result of the four-day schedule.

“We expected reasonable waiver rules, and we want academic accountability,” Burns said, “but we think the rules proposed are unfair and unobtainable.”

Burns said he’s been assured by the State Department of Education that the formula is fair between rural schools that might have as little as 16 students in a grade vs. for urban districts that could have hundreds of students in the same grade, but he still has concerns.

“We want to ensure these measurements are comparable and that we have a level playing field for our rural districts,” he said. “We think the four-day schedule is working in rural Oklahoma for many of our schools.”

Burns said he’s not opposed to a district being required to operate on a five-day schedule if they are performing low in multiple areas, but that is not the case for many schools in his district. He said several schools in in district received an overall grade of A on the Statewide A-F School Report Card but might have received a D in the academic growth measurement in math or English. These schools would not be able to continue to operate on the four-day schedule, he said.

If the rules are approved by the Legislature in its upcoming session, districts would need to apply for the waiver beginning with the 2021-22 school year.

To keep a four-day-a-week schedule under the proposed rules, elementary and middle schools would have to score at least a C in academic growth for math and English language arts on annual Oklahoma State School Report Cards. Early childhood centers would need to feed into an elementary school that also meets eligible criteria.

High schools would have to score a C or higher in academic achievement, which is based on state test scores, and in post-secondary opportunities on their annual report cards. Their four-year graduation rates would have to meet the state average or 82%.

No school that scores in the bottom 5% on state report cards would qualify for shortened school weeks.

According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education, using 2019 scores (the most recent available), 46 percent of the almost 200 schools that meet fewer than 165 days would be able to request a waiver from the State Board of Education. Criteria for the 2021-22 school year cannot be set until 2020 testing data is available.

Burns said he will recommend changes be made to the rules before a vote on them.

Ty Burns serves House District 35, which includes Creek, Noble, Osage, Pawnee and Payne counties, in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Rep. Fetgatter named Assistant Majority Floor Leader


Fetgatter Named Assistant Floor Leader

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Scott Fetgatter (R-Okmulgee) was named assistant majority floor leader [yesterday] for the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

“Representative Fetgatter has proven to be a spokesman that others in the House look to for leadership and advice,” said House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City). “I know he will be a valuable member of the majority floor leader team.”

As majority floor leader, Rep. Echols is responsible for assigning legislation to various committees and scheduling measures to come before the House for a vote of the entire membership. Behind the speaker of the House and the speaker pro tempore, the majority floor leader is the most powerful position in the House. Assistant majority floor leaders help the majority floor leader with running the day-to-day activities of the House floor.

“I’m honored to be selected to serve in this capacity,” Fetgatter said. “Not only do I represent my constituents from House District 16, but I take very seriously the laws that govern all residents of the state of Oklahoma.”

The majority floor leader team is made up of Echols and Reps. John Pfeiffer (R-Orlando) and Dustin Roberts (R-Durant). Rep. Fetgatter will be joining Reps. Mark McBride (R-Moore), Chris Kannady (R-Oklahoma City), Shelia Dills (R-Tulsa), Garry Mize (R-Guthrie) and Jay Steagall (R-Yukon) as assistant majority floor leaders.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Tulsa GOP precinct meetings being held on Thursday

Precinct Meetings for the Republican Party of Tulsa County are scheduled to be held this Thursday, January 30th.

The precinct meeting is the most basic of Republican conventions. The precinct meeting is where it all starts. Delegates are selected for the county convention (which in turn selects delegates for the state convention), and the platform formation process begins. In presidential years, delegates to the National Convention are elected at State and Congressional District conventions, which come after the precinct meetings and county conventions.

If you are a registered Republican and wish to attend the State Convention (or become a delegate to the National Convention), precinct meetings are where it all begins.

Click here to see additional dates for precinct meetings in other counties.
(click to enlarge)

Assoc. of OK Gen'l Contractors comments on Stitt's proposal to merge ODOT, Turnpike Authority

The Association of Oklahoma General Contractors released the following statement Monday on the Governor's proposed consolidation of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

STATEMENT BY THE ASSOCIATION OF OKLAHOMA GENERAL CONTRACTORS

"The Association of Oklahoma General Contractors (AOGC) is encouraged that the Governor wants to find ways to consolidate and streamline state government - especially when the focus is on improving transportation in Oklahoma. Although the bond markets may have a serious issue with a true "merger" between the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, we believe there are a tremendous amount of efficiencies that can be found by sharing services.

We would encourage the Governor to develop a working group of legislators, department leaders, engineers and contractors. The committee should look at ways to combine services, eliminate waste, incorporate technology, and possibly even consider moving towards a congressional division of districts by consolidating the current eight ODOT field divisions into five.

I commend the Governor's fresh new approach to making sure our state government is "right-sized." On behalf of all of Oklahoma's road and bridge builders, I look forward to working with him to make this a Top 10 State."  - AOGC Executive Director Bobby Stem

Rep. Hern announces 2020 nominees to Military Service Academies

Rep. Hern announces 2020 nominees to Military Service Academies

TULSA, OK – Representative Kevin Hern (OK-01) released the following statement after announcing his 2020 nominees to the United States Service Academies.

“The students in the First District are impressive,” said Rep. Hern. “I had an extraordinary group of students apply for these positions this year, giving my nominations committee some challenging decisions. Our military service academies provide some of the most rigorous educations in our country. The graduates who walk out are some of the best in the world. It takes a true servant’s heart to want to serve your country in that way, and a relentless dedication to get there. The students I nominated this week represent the very best of Oklahoma and I wish them all the best as they move forward in the application process.”


US Naval Academy Nominees from L to R: Isabella Griffey, Olivia Rauer, Wanageeska Williams, Clayton Florea, Ash Harbert, Rep. Kevin Hern, Stelios Boyaci, Gregory Pitts, II, Meaghan Cyr, Joseph Pritchett, Logan De Los Santos

R to L: Nathan Hale Principal Dr. Sheila Riley, Rep. Kevin Hern, Savannah Asher, TPS Superintendent Dr. Deborah Gist

The students nominated to the United States Air Force Academy:
Grant Govrik, Bishop Kelley High School
Ella Austin, Bishop Kelley High School
Ash Harbert, Owasso High School
Doyle Gehring, Bishop Kelley High School
Avery Walton, Bixby High School
Kevin Glynn, Jenks High School
Savannah Asher, Nathan Hale High School
Connor Othon, Bishop Kelley High School
Bailey Lunsford, Homeschool
Clayton Florea, Collinsville High School

The students nominated to the United States Military Academy at West Point:
James Benjamin Payne, Bishop Kelley High School
Isaiah Hurst, Owasso High School
Logan De Los Santos, Cascia Hall High School
Hudson Mazzei, Jenks High School
Clayton Florea, Collinsville High
Ella Austin, Bishop Kelley High School
Grant Govrik, Bishop Kelley High School
Gregory Pitts, II, Owasso High School

The students nominated to the United States Naval Academy:
Meaghan Cyr, Bishop Kelley High School
Isabella Griffey, Jenks High School
Gregory Pitts, II, Owasso High School
Jake Weller, Cascia Hall High School
Stelios Boyaci, Edison High School
Joseph Pritchett, Holland Hall High School
Wanageeska Williams, Charles Page High School
Olivia Rauer, Bixby High School
Ash Harbert, Owasso High School
Clayton Florea, Collinsville High School
Logan De Los Santos, Cascia Hall High School

The students nominated to the United States Merchant Marines Academy:
Grant Govrik, Bishop Kelley High School
Gregory Pitts, II, Owasso High School

Monday, January 27, 2020

Music Monday: My Next Thirty Years

This week's Music Monday is My Next Thirty Years by country singer Tim McGraw. Today happens to be my thirtieth birthday, and the song was passed along to me in recognition of that, so it's pretty fitting for this week's theme song (I'm a teetotaler, so the beer reference doesn't fit, haha! Maybe swap it out for pop or something...).

Enjoy!


See below for all previous Music Monday posts. Do you have a song you'd like to suggest for a future Music Monday? Email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com.

January 20th, 2020: Music for the Royal Fireworks
January 13th, 2020: Overture from The Cowboys
January 6th, 2020: I Am Resolved
December 23rd, 2019: Angels We Have Heard On High
December 16th, 2019: I Wonder As I Wander
December 9th, 2019: O Come, All Ye Faithful
December 2nd, 2019: I Saw Three Ships
November 25th, 2019: Count Your Blessings
November 18th, 2019: Poor Wayfaring Stranger
November 11th, 2019: Over There
November 4th, 2019: Great Speckled Bird
October 28th, 2019: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 14th, 2019: Batman Theme
September 30th, 2019: These Are My People (Johnny Cash)
September 23rd, 2019: Pictures at an Exhibition (Great Gate of Kiev)
September 16th, 2019: The Streets of Laredo (Piano Puzzler)
September 9th, 2019: I'm Ready To Go
August 26th, 2019: It Is Not Death To Die
August 5th, 2019: 10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)
July 29th, 2019: Let It Be Said Of Us
July 15th, 2019: Bach's "Little" Fugue in G Minor
July 8th, 2019: The Majesty and Glory of Your Name
July 1st, 2019: Medley of Sousa Marches
June 24th, 2019: Seventy-Six Trombones
June 17th, 2019: I Want To Be That Man
June 3rd, 2019: "Les Toreadors" from 'Carmen'
May 20th, 2019: Lonesome Road
May 13th, 2019: Mr. Mom
April 29th, 2019: Have Faith in God (Muskogee's hymn)
April 15th, 2019: The Government Can
March 25th, 2019: Transcendental Étude No. 4, "Mazeppa"
March 18th, 2019: St. Patrick's Day in the Morning
March 11th, 2019: What Wondrous Love is This
March 4th, 2019: Scandinavian Waltz
February 18th, 2019: Adagio for Strings
February 11th, 2019: 'Romance' from 'The Gadfly'
February 4th, 2019: Columbia, Gem of the Ocean
January 7th, 2019: Loch Lomond
December 31st, 2018: Auld Lang Syne
December 24th, 2018: Remember O, thou Man
December 17th, 2018: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
December 10th, 2018: Carol of the Bells (medley)
December 3rd, 2018: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
November 26th, 2018: Happy Birthday
November 19th, 2018: My Heart is Filled with Thankfulness
November 12th, 2018: Hymn to the Fallen
October 29th, 2018: A Mighty Fortress is Our God
October 22nd, 2018: Hymn to Red October
October 15th, 2018:  Indian Reservation ("Cherokee People")
October 8th, 2018: Wagner's 'Columbus Overture'
October 1st, 2018: Danny Boy
September 24th, 2018: Dvorak's 'From The New World' Symphony, 4th Movement
September 17th, 2018: Deep River
September 10th, 2018: Muleskinner Blues
September 3rd, 2018: Boomer Sooner
August 20th, 2018: Psalm 23
August 13th, 2018: Ashokan Farewell
August 6, 2018: How the West Was Won
July 23rd, 2018: I Just Can't Wait to Be King
July 16th, 2018: 'Jupiter' from 'The Planets'
July 9th, 2018: Hail to the Spirit of Liberty
July 2nd, 2018: Turn The Tide
June 25th, 2018: Good Guys Win
June 18th, 2018: Watching You
June 11th, 2018: Adoration
June 4th, 2018: March from 'A Moorside Suite'
May 28th, 2018: Taps
May 21st, 2018: Listz's La Campanella
May 14th, 2018: Handful of Weeds
May 7th, 2018: Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
April 30th, 2018: Polonaise in A-flat major, Op. 53 ("Heroic")
April 23rd, 2018: Blow Ye The Trumpet
April 16th, 2018: Asturias (Leyenda)
April 9th, 2018: Old Mountain Dew
April 2nd, 2018: His Life For Mine
March 19th, 2018: See, the Conqu'ring Hero Comes!
March 12th, 2018: Choctaw Nation
March 5th, 2018: Hark, I Hear The Harps Eternal
February 19th, 2018: The Olympic Spirit
February 12th, 2018: Olympic Fanfare and Theme
January 29th, 2018: Hail to the Chief
January 23rd, 2018: Waltz in A-Flat Major, Op. 39 No. 15
January 15th, 2018: Bleed The Same
January 8th, 2018: Saint-Saëns' Symphony No.3 'Organ' (Maestoso)
December 25th, 2017: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
December 18th, 2017: I Saw Three Ships (The Piano Guys)
December 11th, 2017:Who Is He In Yonder Stall
December 4th, 2017: Carol of the Bells (Mannheim Steamroller)
November 27th, 2017: Joy to the World!
November 20th, 2017: We Gather Together
November 13th, 2017: Mansions of the Lord
November 6th, 2017: Träumerei
October 30th: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 23rd, 2017: In Christ Alone
October 16th, 2017: When I'm Knee Deep In Bluegrass
October 9th, 2017: I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb
October 2nd, 2017: Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major (Brahms)
September 25th, 2017: Beethoven's Sonata No. 8 in C minor ('Pathétique')
September 11th, 2017: Have You Forgotten?
September 4th, 2017: Bach's Double Violin Concerto
August 28th, 2017: Noah Found Grace In The Eyes Of The Lord
August 21st, 2017: The Heavens Are Telling The Glory of God
August 14th, 2017: Beethoven's 5th Symphony
August 7th, 2017: 'Lift High The Name Of Jesus' medley
July 31st, 2017: Fanfare for the Common Man
July 24th, 2017: Variations on 'Happy Birthday'
July 10th, 2017: Summer (Presto) from Vivaldi's Four Seasons
July 3rd, 2017: Freelance Fireworks Hall of Fame
June 26th, 2017: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
June 19th, 2017: A Christian Home
June 12th, 2017: Ol' Man River
June 5th, 2017: Choctaw Cowboy
May 29th, 2017: Armed Forces Salute
May 22nd, 2017: Double Bass Concerto No.2 in B minor
May 15th, 2017: Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D major
May 8th, 2017: The Army Goes Rolling Along
April 17th, 2017: He Is Alive
April 10th, 2017: Surely He Hath Borne/And With His Stripes/All We Like Sheep
April 3rd, 2017: Here Comes Carolina
March 27th, 2017: 'Spring' from Vivaldi's 'Four Seasons'
March 20th, 2017: Symphony No. 5 ("Reformation") Finale
March 13th, 2017: The Pigeon on the Gate
March 6th, 2017: Finlandia
February 27th, 2017: When I Can Read My Title Clear
February 20th, 2017: William Tell Overture - Finale
February 13th, 2017: 'Romance' from 'The Gadfly'
February 6th, 2017: White Winter Hymnal
January 30th, 2017: Hail, Columbia
January 23rd, 2017: Hail to the Chief
January 16th, 2017: Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy
January 2nd, 2017: Auld Lang Syne
December 26th, 2016: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
December 19th, 2016: I Wonder as I Wander
December 12th, 2016: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
December 5th, 2016: A Christmas Festival
November 28th, 2016: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
November 21st: Beethoven's 'Hymn of Thanksgiving'
November 14th: Hymn to the Fallen
November 7th: This World Is Not My Home
October 31st, 2016: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
October 24th, 2016: 'Mars', from 'The Planets'
October 17th, 2016: My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
October 10th, 2016: Spain
October 3rd, 2016: International Harvester
September 26th, 2016: 'The Imperial March' from Star Wars
September 19th, 2016: Awake the Trumpet's Lofty Sound
September 12th, 2016: Before the Throne of God Above
September 5th, 2016: The Hunt
August 29th, 2016: Liberty
August 22nd, 2016: Summon the Heroes
August 15th, 2016: Bugler's Dream
August 8th, 2016: Olympic Fanfare and Theme
August 1st, 2016: 'Prelude' and 'Parade of the Charioteers' from Ben-Hur
July 25th, 2016: How The West Was Won
July 18th, 2016: Six Studies in English Folk Song
July 11th, 2016: From Everlasting To Everlasting
July 4th, 2016: The Stars and Stripes Forever
June 27th, 2016: Rule, Britannia!
June 20st, 2016: Bugler's Holiday
June 13th, 2016: Ride of the Valkyries
June 6th, 2016: Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54, Allegro Vivace
May 30th, 2016: Armed Forces Salute
May 23rd, 2016: Paid in Full (Through Jesus, Amen)
May 16th, 2016: Overture from 'Carmen'
May 9th, 2016: L'Arlesienne Suite No. 1 - Prelude
May 2nd, 2016: My God Is a Rock
April 25th, 2016: Toccata and Fugue in D Minor
April 18th, 2016: Paganini's Caprice No. 24 in A Minor
April 11th, 2016: Fantasia on a 17th Century Tune
April 4th, 2016: Hark The Sound/I'm a Tarheel Born
March 28th, 2016: Rustle of Spring
March 21st, 2016: 'Ode to Joy' sung by a 10,000-voice choir
March 14th, 2016: Hard Times Come Again No More
March 7th, 2016: 'The Suite' from Downton Abbey
February 29th, 2016: Moonlight Sonata
February 22nd, 2016: Liebestraum No. 3
February 15th, 2016: Help Is On The Way
February 8th, 2016: God of Grace and God of Glory
February 1st, 2016: 'My Story'
January 25th, 2016: Israeli Concertino
January 18th, 2016: What Grace is Mine
January 11th, 2016: "Meditation" from Thaïs
January 4th, 2016: Praeludium and Allegro
December 28th, 2015: Appalachian Carol
December 21st, 2015: God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen
December 14th, 2015: O Holy Night
December 7th, 2015: Christmas Fantasy
November 23rd, 2015: Simple Gifts
November 16th, 2015: Preacher Tell Me Like It Is
November 9th, 2015: Armed Forces Salute
November 2nd, 2015: Amazing Grace
October 26th, 2015: The Harmonious Blacksmith
October 19th, 2015: Liberty Fanfare
October 12th, 2015: The Majesty and Glory of Your Name
October 5th, 2015: Elgar's 'Enigma' Finale
September 28th, 2015: Stayed on Jesus
September 21st, 2015: Great Gate of Kiev
September 14th, 2015: Nearer, My God, To Thee

Sunday, January 26, 2020

1889 Institute: Appointing a State Superintendent would improve Education


Appointing a State Superintendent Would Improve Education

Whatever your gripe about public education, Governor Kevin Stitt can do very little about it. That’s not because he doesn’t care or doesn’t have good ideas to improve education. It’s because he lacks the authority needed to shape state education policy: the power to oversee and direct the State Department of Education.

Oklahoma has a dysfunctional government. I don’t mean that we have gridlock, or that we have derelicts in important public offices. I mean that our state government—particularly our executive branch—is not designed to function efficiently or accountably.


Fortunately, reform appears to be at hand. Last year the Legislature granted the Governor the power to hire and fire the leaders of the state’s largest executive agencies, and recently the Governor called for the elected Superintendent of Public Instruction to become an appointed position under the Governor.

This is long overdue.

Consider the recent discovery that many Oklahoma public schools cling to a scientifically discredited method of teaching reading despite ample evidence that it harms students. In a well-functioning government, the Governor would learn of this inexcusable failure and order his employee running the State Department of Education to make an immediate change. The agency head would get to work correcting the situation, or she would get to work updating her resume.

In Oklahoma, the Governor can call the State Superintendent and politely ask her to stop schools under her administration from allowing another generation of students to fall behind. But the Superintendent can tell him to kick rocks.

Likewise, in a functioning government, if agencies refused to carry out policy priorities set by the Legislature, there would be one person to hold accountable—the Governor. And the Legislature would have multiple levers to pull to get him to comply.

An independently elected Superintendent is often more beholden to the education system’s special interests that elect her rather than to the general public, teachers, or children. The only threat the Legislature can make is to cut the education budget, and we’ve seen in recent years how ineffective that is.

Ultimately, what I am describing is accountability to the people as a whole in policymaking. A Governor, as the head of the executive branch of government, would create a vision, set priorities, and direct, and agencies would act accordingly. The Legislature would set policy and have some confidence that the executive branch would execute those policies.

And the people would hold all of these officials accountable on election day.

The Governor wants a constitutional amendment so he can more effectively implement state education policy set by the Legislature. Will Legislators recognize they enhance their own power by strengthening the Governor’s?

Struggling readers in our public schools await their answer.

Benjamin Lepak is 1889 Institute Legal Fellow and can be contacted at blepak@1889institute.org.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Congressman Lucas praises new WOTUS rule


Lucas Praises New WOTUS Rule

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) released the following statement commending the Trump Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army’s finalization of the new Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule, cutting burdensome regulation for America’s farmers, ranchers, and landowners:

“From the creeks and streams of Western Oklahoma to the dams of the Arkansas River in Tulsa County, today’s announcement by the Trump Administration is welcomed news for all Oklahomans. While continuing to protect millions of miles of our nation’s waterways from pollution and deterioration, the new rule will provide clarity to the EPA’s regulatory framework and will dramatically reduce overburdensome regulation currently felt by farmers, ranchers, small business owners, and landowners.

WOTUS, under the Obama Administration, expanded the role of the federal government under the Clean Water Act from navigable and interstate waters to incorporate ditches, ponds, and streams- regardless of how unnavigable or temporary the water may be. At a time when the federal government should have been cutting burdensome red tape, the Obama Administration instead tied the hands of our nation’s farmers and landowners and subjected them to unprecedented federal overreach and divisive litigation. 

Farmers, ranchers, and landowners of Oklahoma have long been good stewards of their land and the environment. The Trump Administration’s efforts reeling in the scope of the EPA’s regulatory activity back to the original intention of the Clean Water Act not only provides certainty for those who rely on the land to support their families but it also applies a common sense understanding of what constitutes waters of the United States. I commend President Trump and his Administration for keeping their promise to eliminate the previous administration’s rule and for providing a more realistic and certain framework ensuring we have a healthy environment and robust economy.”

Small: State should not fund lies to minority children


State should not fund lies to minority children
By Jonathan Small

Like most parents, my wife and I teach our daughters that they are responsible for their actions and that hard work pays off. So you can understand why I am upset to learn a state taxpayer-funded entity may be spreading a message telling minority children like my daughters to think otherwise.

According to recent news accounts, the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE), a function of the University of Oklahoma’s Southwest Center for Human Relations Studies, will host an event in New York City in May that includes a session led by Heather Hackman of the Hackman Consulting Group.

There’s good reason to be disturbed by that news. Hackman may be best known for declaring in 2016 that focusing on students’ grades and attendance was forcing minority children to conform to the “racial narrative of White.” As an African-American, I can assure you the challenges minorities face are not the result of being encouraged to work hard in school or show up on time for a job. And anyone who teaches minority children otherwise today is not doing them a favor, but setting them up for failure.

Across this country, for generations, minorities have succeeded through hard work, perseverance and ingenuity, even when facing organized opposition to their progress. But in some parts of academia, it’s now fashionable to dismiss those successes and instead place traits like honesty, diligence, and integrity into a “whites only” category.

I reject that viewpoint, and an appalled my tax dollars are being used, at least indirectly, to fund such nonsense.

Doing your homework until you’ve mastered a subject doesn’t make you someone who subscribes to the “racial narrative of White.” It makes you someone who has a better chance to obtain a high-paying job when you finish school, no matter what your skin color. And showing up on time not only means you are likely to stay employed, it’s a way of showing others you respect their time and deserve an equal amount of respect in return.

During the most brutal years of the Jim Crow era, groups like the Ku Klux Klan used lynching, beatings and threats to hold minorities back. It didn’t work, and it’s a source of resilience today among African-Americans like me that minorities have achieved so much despite such extreme opposition.

I’m glad my children live at a time when the Klan is significantly weakened, but that doesn’t mean there are not people working to hold them back. Unfortunately, now one of the biggest threats to my children may be the “help” of liberals who would destroy my children’s work ethic and internal fortitude in the name of a mirror-funhouse version of “racial justice.”

Jonathan Small serves as president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs.

Treat announces new Senate HHS committee chair, other leadership changes



Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat announces new HHS committee chair, other leadership changes


OKLAHOMA CITY – Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat on Friday announced leadership changes made necessary due to the recent resignation of a member of the Senate.

“With a new legislative session drawing upon us, I am making these changes so the Senate can seamlessly move forward with our role in the legislative process. I am very confident in the members stepping into these new leadership roles and know they will do a great job for the Senate and the people of Oklahoma,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City.

Treat said he has named Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, to serve as the new chair of the Senate Health and Human Services (HHS) Committee to replace Sen. Jason Smalley, who had served as chairman but has resigned from the Senate effective January 31. Treat has named Sen. Paul Rosino, R-Oklahoma City, to replace McCortney as vice chair of the HHS committee. McCortney previously served as chair of the Rules Committee but will relinquish that role to serve as the new HHS committee chair.

Treat has named Sen. Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher, the new chair of the Senate Rules Committee. Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro, will remain vice chairman of the Rules Committee.

Sen. Brenda Stanley, R-Midwest City, will fill the vacancy on the Senate Education Committee, Treat said.

Additionally, Treat announced the appointment of Sen. Lonnie Paxton, R-Tuttle, as an assistant floor leader to replace Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, who has stepped down from that leadership position. Bice will remain chair of the Senate Finance Committee.

The resignation also created a vacancy in the position of Republican Caucus chair. Treat said Republicans will hold an election in the coming days to select a new caucus chair.

Friday, January 24, 2020

House Dems knock Stitt over California travel ban


Democratic Leadership Calls on Stitt to Focus on OK Families

OKLAHOMA CITY -- House Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D-Norman) and House Democratic Caucus Chair Cyndi Munson (D-OKC) released the following joint statement today after Gov. Kevin Stitt announced he would ban all state-sponsored travel to California:

“Hundreds of thousands of uninsured Oklahomans are waiting to hear the governor’s healthcare plan that he promised and failed to deliver last fall. We are near the bottom in the country when it comes to resources for education and as a result education outcomes. We are one of the worst states in the country when it comes to infant mortality. In spite of the strides made by the people of this state through ballot measures, Oklahoma is still number two in the country in mass incarceration.

The governor’s latest decision to ban travel to California is nothing more than an attempt to distract from another recent bad decision the governor made, which was to alienate and attack our tribal nations and ask a federal court to shut down our state’s thriving tribal gaming industry.

To those that believe that this isn’t simply an attempt at distraction, why would the governor exempt travel for sporting events and business recruitment? And with those exemptions in place, who does this ban actually affect?

It’s time for the governor to end this irresponsible disagreement with the tribes, release a healthcare plan and focus on Oklahoma families.”

Rep. Sims files bill to support peer-to-peer car rental industry


Sims Files Legislation to Support Peer-to-Peer Car Rental Industry

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Lonnie Sims (R-Jenks) has filed legislation that will support fair and equitable regulation of the budding peer-to-peer rental car industry. Oklahoma, like many states, has seen the dramatic growth of car rental companies that allow customers to rent automobiles directly from owners and pay through a smartphone app.

House Bill 3655 would support the growth of these peer-to-peer platforms by establishing clarity regarding regulations and taxation. The bill would:

  • Require all automobiles rented on peer-to-peer platforms to have valid insurance;
  • Clarify that cars rented on peer-to-peer platforms are subject to the Oklahoma Vehicle Rental Tax and Oklahoma sales taxes; and
  • Clarify that vehicles rented through peer-to-peer platforms may operate lawfully at Oklahoma airports so long as the relevant peer-to-peer company and airport have reached a vendor agreement.

“This is an exciting new industry that is going to be around for a long time,” Sims said. “Our goal is to make sure there is clarity about how these businesses are regulated so they can continue their growth while taking responsibility for insuring their vehicles, paying taxes and playing by the same rules as other rental car companies.”

“As peer-to-peer businesses grow, our role is to make sure we have fair rules and regulations in place to ensure consumer safety, compliance with Oklahoma laws and a fair marketplace,” Sims said.

Download the full text of HB 3655 here.

Lonnie Sims serves District 68 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Stitt announces ban on non-essential state-funded travel to California


STITT ISSUES EXECUTIVE ORDER BANNING STATE-FUNDED TRAVEL TO CALIFORNIA

Oklahoma City, Okla. (Jan. 23, 2020)  – As millions of people across the United States come together for the National March for Life, Governor Kevin Stitt announced today a ban on state-funded travel to the State of California.

“California and its elected officials over the past few years have banned travel to the State of Oklahoma in an effort to politically threaten and intimidate Oklahomans for their personal values. Enough is enough. If California’s elected officials don’t want public employees traveling to Oklahoma, I am eager to return the gesture on behalf of Oklahoma’s pro-life stance. I am proud to be Governor of a state that fights for the most vulnerable among us, the unborn,” said Gov. Stitt 

The most recent government action from California came from the City of San Francisco in October 2019, which banned city-paid travel to the Sooner State, citing Oklahoma’s laws that protect and ensure the right of an unborn child’s life.

EO 2020-02 bans all non-essential travel to the State of California for all state employees and officers of agencies that is paid for by the State of Oklahoma. The executive order provides an exemption to the Oklahoma Department of Commerce in order for the agency to continue its recruitment efforts to bring more job creators to the business-friendly state of Oklahoma.   

A copy of EO 2020-02 is available by clicking here.

Map: Majority/Plurality Party by County


In this update to my Voter Registration Maps series, we're looking at majority/plurality party by county.

Republican majority: 35 counties (31 in 2019)
Republican plurality: 10 counties (12 in 2019)
Democratic plurality: 18 counties (12 in 2019)
Democratic majority: 14 counties (22 in 2019)

There are multiple majority-Democratic counties that are in the low-50% range, and many of them will likely slip down into plurality status next year. The following eight counties are most likely to go from blue to red within the next twelve months: Marshall (0.13% Dem lead), Kiowa (1.46% Dem lead), Pontotoc (1.55% Dem lead), Ottawa (1.8% Dem lead), Tillman (2.58% Dem lead), Bryan (2.75% Dem lead), Seminole (5.21% Dem lead), and Jefferson (5.34% Dem lead).

For comparison, here's the map from last year. Comanche and Cotton counties flipped from Democratic pluralities last year to Republican pluralities this year. The following counties slipped from outright Democratic majorities to simple pluralities: Adair, Craig, LeFlore, Love, Muskogee, Okfuskee, Pittsburg, and Sequoyah.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Gov. Stitt taps new director of OMES


GOVERNOR STITT APPOINTS NEW DIRECTOR OF OMES, FULFILLS VISION FOR FULL-TIME COO

Oklahoma City, Okla. (Jan. 22, 2020)  – Governor Kevin Stitt announced today two changes to his leadership team. John Budd, who has been serving in the dual roles of state chief operating officer (COO) and director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES), will now be solely focused on his role as state COO. Steven Harpe, who currently serves as deputy director of OMES, will be promoted to director of the agency, an appointed position that requires Senate confirmation.

“John Budd was hired to be the State’s first COO, an agency-oversight role that other states have successfully implemented,” said Gov. Stitt. “When changes took place in OMES, he was generous to step into the agency and led it during a critical time while also juggling the role as Chief Operating Officer. Right out of the gate, John was able to fully eliminate a $23 million emergency supplemental request and bring more stability to the agency’s operations. As COO, John will dedicate his time to working across the cabinet and state agencies, as we originally planned.”

Steven Harpe currently serves as the deputy director of OMES. Prior to this, Harpe served as Chief Information Officer of Gateway Mortgage Group, one of the nation’s largest, independent mortgage companies. Harpe has more than 30 years of experience managing technology solutions globally for companies such as American Airlines, Sabre, HireRight, Capital One, and CGI. He has also worked on initiatives for the United States Navy and Marines requiring high level security clearances by the United States Federal Government.

“Steve Harpe is the right talent and leader to take over as director of OMES,” said COO John Budd. “Steve has world-class information technology expertise, and he’s a tremendous leader of ideas and people. I have heard nothing but positive reviews since he joined state government. I am confident he will make the right decisions to make sure OMES continues to improve the services it provides to other state agencies.”

Harpe serves on the 501 Technet Advisory Board, an organization that provides eligible nonprofit organizations in Oklahoma with high quality, donor subsidized or partner discounted technology expertise, products and services. Additionally, he serves in several technology leadership groups, such as the Oklahoma CIO's and the Tulsa CIO Forum organizations. These groups bring senior level technologists in Oklahoma together to collaborate on technology transformation and cyber security initiatives.

Harpe has been married to his wife, Jody, for 24 years and has three children. They have lived in the Broken Arrow area for 40 years.