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Thursday, April 30, 2020

OK Attorney General launches new resource to combat unemployment fraud


Attorney General Hunter Launches New Effort to Assist Victims of Unemployment Fraud

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today announced his office has developed a new resource to help process unemployment fraud claims.

Individuals or businesses that receive bogus claims are asked to fill out a new form on the attorney general’s website, where the claim will then be directed to the proper law enforcement agency.

Attorney General Hunter said during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increased number of fraudulent filings to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC).

Lucas welcomes $160M in federal relief for OK's K-12 schools


Lucas Welcomes $160 Million in Relief for Oklahoma’s K-12 Educational Institutions

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Education announced last week that it would distribute more than $160 million to the state of Oklahoma’s K-12 educational institutions from the Education Stabilization Fund as authorized by the CARES Act:

“Oklahoma educators have faced an unprecedented challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic. Education leaders across the state have been asked to continue the essential task of instructing their students from a distance. I am immensely proud of our Oklahoma school districts who have risen to the occasion by thinking outside of the box and reimagining what school services look like during the time of Coronavirus. The Education Stabilization Fund (ESF) authorized by the CARES Act will deliver critical financial assistance to local school districts across Oklahoma. This law was written with individual school districts in mind by granting much-needed flexibility for the use of existing federal funds and allowing local educational leaders to decided how ESF money is spent. As this school year draws to a close it is crucial that we stop to recognize the work done every day by our school administrators, educators, and staff.”

Education leaders will have the flexibility to use funds from the Elementary and Secondary School Education Relief Fund (ESSER Fund) for immediate needs, such as tools and resources for distance education, ensuring student health and safety, and developing and implementing plans for the next school year.

State Reps call on State Dep't of Education to protect rural schools, revisit four-day school week limits


Conley calls on SDE to protect rural schools and revisit four-day school week rules

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Sherrie Conley, R-Newcastle, is calling on the State Department of Education to cancel and resubmit its proposed rules on waivers from new school year calendar requirements limiting four-day school weeks that are favored by many rural districts.

Last year, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 441, which requires school districts to use school years with a minimum of 165 days and at least 1,080 hours, beginning in the 2021-22 school year. The change essentially prevents four-day school weeks unless a waiver is obtained. Many rural districts are relying on the waiver to continue school weeks that work best for their communities.

The waiver rules required by SB 441 that were produced by the State Department of Education and Board of Education have not been finalized by the Legislature.

OK Cattlemen release list of producers selling beef direct to consumer


From the Oklahoma Cattlemen's Association:

Selling Beef Direct to the Consumer . . .

is not a new idea, but it has definitely gained popularity during the recent disruption in the meat supply chain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’ve compiled a list of our members who are selling beef direct in an effort to connect consumers with beef cattle ranchers. We hope this list will be a win for consumers and producers. Beef producers take pride in the delicious, nutritious protein that they produce. The opportunity to market direct connects beef cattle ranchers and consumers on a more intimate level.

This list includes members of the Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association that raise cattle and sell beef direct to consumers. We encourage consumers to reach out to the member of your choice.

Oklahoma now ranks 3rd nationwide in Pre-K access for 4 year-olds


Oklahoma rises to top 3 for Pre-K access

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 29, 2020) – Oklahoma climbs to third in the country for Pre-K access for 4-year-olds, according to a new report from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). In the same report last year, Oklahoma scored among the top eight states in the nation.

Oklahoma serves 86.5% of eligible 4-year-old children when public pre-kindergarten enrollment (76.3%) is combined with Head Start enrollment, the annual report states. Only the District of Columbia (87.3%) and Vermont (86.8%) serve more students. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

40 pastors and religious leaders endorse David Hill for Congress


40 Faith Leaders Announce Support for David Hill

OKLAHOMA CITY — A growing list of faith leaders announced their support for conservative Republican David Hill in his race for Congress. Already numbering 40, these faith leaders span the entire district.

"We are excited to have a candidate of the quality of David Hill in the race," stated Paul Abner, an Oklahoma minister for 40 years, who helped organize the group. "Far too often the faith community is either ignored or taken for granted in politics. David Hill has taken the time to visit with us and knows how important faith issues like the right-to-life and religious liberty are to those he intends to represent," Abner continued.

"David Hill has a deep understanding of the importance of both faith and the faith community," stated Dr. Ted Kersh, one of the pastors on the list. "David’s personal faith and the value he places upon issues important to us is evident from the first moment you visit with him," Kersh continued.

Steve Green, President of Hobby Lobby and Board Chairman for Museum of the Bible is among those listed. Green also serves as a co-chair for the Hill campaign.

OK Cattlemen's Association compiling list of members selling beef direct-to-consumer




Consumers are Looking to Buy Beef Direct. OCA is working to Compose a List of Producers that are Selling Beef Direct

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK. April 28, 2020 – The Oklahoma Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) is working to compile a list of OCA members who sell beef direct to the consumer.

“With the current COVID-19 pandemic and the meat supply chain being disrupted by sickness of employees at packing plants, the demand to buy beef direct is at an all-time high!” said Mike Weeks, President of the OCA. “After several inquiries, we have decided to compose a list of OCA members  who sell beef direct.”

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Gov. Stitt, task force provide COVID-19 update; Nat'l Guard assists long-term care facilities


GOVERNOR STITT AND GOVERNOR’S SOLUTION TASK FORCE PROVIDES COVID-19 UPDATE
Announces new saliva based testing and highlights focus on long-term care facilities

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 28, 2020)— Governor Kevin Stitt today joined Deputy Secretary of Science and Innovation Elizabeth Pollard, Deputy Secretary of Health and Mental Health Carter Kimble and Secretary of Health and Mental Health Jerome Loughridge to provide an update on the State’s response to COVID-19, announce new saliva based testing, and discuss efforts to protect Oklahomans in long term care facilities.

Rep. Hern calls on Congress to get back to work

(Yes, cheesy graphic by yours truly. Low-budget graphics department with limited talent, okay?)

Hern calls on Congress to get back to work

TULSA, OK – Representative Kevin Hern (OK-01) released the following statement after House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer canceled the House’s return to work on May 4, 2020.

Pinnell: The case for the great American road trip


The case for the great American road trip
By Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell

“I want to get into my car and drive until I find what I’m looking for. Maybe it’s purpose or maybe it’s a new start or maybe it’s just a sky with unclouded stars.”
—Author unknown
Thanks to the hard work of our health care professionals and the sacrifices made by our people to be responsible and stay at home, there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel.

As we emerge from the immediacy of the health crisis, many questions will be asked. What did we learn? How did we innovate? When will we be OK again?

I would argue that big, important questions like these demand the clarity and reflection that can come from a great American road trip.

After the reasonable limitations on nonessential travel are lifted, a road trip with friends or family to explore new places is exactly what Americans need.

With plenty of space to social distance, a road trip gives us time to breathe, laugh and support small businesses along our authentic Main Streets. A time to re-center and fuel the economy — that’s what I call a win-win.

We are blessed to live in Oklahoma, a state with back roads and blue skies for days. From our indigenous founders to the pioneering history in the western prairie, from our uniquely diverse ecology to more miles of the Mother Road (Route 66) than any other state, there’s history and heritage around every curve. We definitely know a good road trip, and we know it’s food for the soul.

“I take to the open road,” said Walt Whitman. “Healthy, free, the world before me.” From mental health benefits to clearing our heads and hearts, a road trip just may be the healing you’re looking for.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve been forced to simplify our lives. We are reevaluating things that seemed normal staples, realizing that the regular hustle and bustle doesn’t have to be the norm. Maybe there is more to life than the manufactured busy-ness and mundane routine many of us fall into. Perhaps doing more to see the world around us can help rebuild the sense of community and empathy for others that have long been integral to the American experience.

As we ask ourselves what is America and who are we after this unprecedented pandemic, what better exercise than to actually go see it? See its raw beauty, its diversity, its freedom, and the melting pot of people and cultures that line the pavement.

Author Michael Wallis says of the iconic Route 66 road trip that the trip invites us to experience the country before it became generic. A Route 66 journey puts us in touch with our roots and ourselves. It is a road of phantoms and dreams that has always offered promise.

While Route 66 certainly is iconic, any Oklahoma road trip will do. It could be to Black Mesa, Broken Bow, the Great Salt Plains, the Wichita Mountains or simply the Farmers Market one county over.

It will soon be time to explore the stories of Oklahoma again, time to see this country, its past, present and now uncertain future.

Whether for purpose or a new start, or just to see a sky with unclouded stars. Oklahoma, our economy will roar again, and I believe it will start with a great American road trip.

Hamilton introduces candidacy to SD7 voters with fiery video, statement


Warren Hamilton is running for State Senate District 7. A veteran of the Iraq War (AH-1W Cobra pilot) and graduate from West Point, Hamilton is running in the GOP primary against incumbent Sen. Larry Boggs (R-Red Oak). Two Democrats and a third Republican are also running.

Hamilton has this fiery video on his campaign social media, introducing himself to voters.

Stitt, administration officials thank frontline COVID-19 workers in new video


GOVERNOR KEVIN STITT JOINS ADMINISTRATION IN THANKING HEALTH CARE WORKERS, PUBLIC EMPLOYEES, BUSINESSES AND OKLAHOMANS IN NEW VIDEO

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 27, 2020)— Governor Kevin Stitt, First Lady Sarah Stitt, Secretary of Health and Mental Health Jerome Loughridge, Secretary of Science and Innovation Kayse Shrum and Major General Michael Thompson joined together to thank health care professionals, public employees, businesses and Oklahomans in a new video released on Monday.

In the video, the Stitt Administration highlights the hard work and dedication of Oklahoma’s health care workers, medical professionals and public employees who are serving on the frontlines of the global pandemic. They also thank the businesses and manufacturers who have innovated in order to help meet the needs of the State and recognize the Oklahomans who have been doing their part to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“You are why the Oklahoma standard shines so bright, thank you,” concludes Gov. Stitt.

Watch the video below:

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Governor rebuts Legislative leaders on his legal authority to enter state into new gaming compacts


GOVERNOR RESPONDS TO SPEAKER, PRO TEMP ON LEGAL AUTHORITY TO ENTER THE STATE INTO NEW GAMING COMPACTS

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 25, 2020) – Governor Kevin Stitt responded on Friday to the recent letter from Speaker of the House Charles McCall and Senate President Pro Temp Greg Treat on the new gaming compacts concluded by the State with the Comanche Nation and the Otoe-Missouria tribe. The Governor’s letter outlined the State’s position regarding its legal authority to enter into gaming compacts with federally recognized Indian tribes.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

OCPA column: Don't flatten THIS curve


Don’t flatten this curve
By Jonathan Small

Much effort has been put into “flattening the curve” of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations. Success in achieving that goal is welcome. What Oklahoma should not do is “flatten the curve” on future economic growth as we emerge from the COVID-19 shutdown, yet it is likely special interest groups will advocate for policies that indirectly achieve that result through a misguided response to state budget challenges.

Current state budget year spending was originally set at $8.13 billion and has been maintained only by drawing down $459 million from savings. That still leaves $534 million in state savings. But even if lawmakers use every dime of savings in the 2021 state budget, they will still have to reduce spending by 7.5 percent. And in the 2022 state budget year, they will have to cut spending by another 8.2 percent based on current projections.

1889 Institute on OK's COVID-19 Shutdown: "Not Worth the Cost"



The COVID-19 Shutdown: Not Worth the Cost
By Byron Schlomach

The costs of the economic shutdown due to COVID-19 across the nation are mounting. Record unemployment caused by a government-induced 25 percent reduction in the nation’s monthly GDP is symptomatic of bankrupted individuals and businesses. Drug use and suicides have surged. A little- noticed U.N. report has pointed out the obvious – that even a mild worldwide recession will cause hundreds of thousands of children’s deaths. So, news of state re-openings are welcome.

Governor Stitt has declared many businesses can open on Friday, April 24. By May 1, all enterprises in the state will be able to operate more or less normally. Eventually, Oklahoma will be fully operating again. But the question remains, “Was the shutdown and extreme social distancing even necessary?”

The answer is a clear and unequivocal “No.”

OSDH Releases New Weekly Epidemiology and Surveillance Report for COVID-19


OSDH Releases New Weekly Epidemiology and Surveillance Report for COVID-19

The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) released today the first of a new weekly epidemiology and surveillance report in an effort to provide an in-depth review of data collected around COVID-19 in Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma COVID-19 Weekly Report released Friday provides data collected, April 17-23, and includes a comparison to data collected the previous week along with an explanation of updated case definitions, demographics and more. OSDH Interim State Epidemiologist Aaron Wendelboe directed the project with a team of epidemiologists who collected and analyzed the data.

Friday, April 24, 2020

State announces progress in managing increase in unemployment claims


OESC and Digital Transformation Show Progress in Managing Increase in Unemployment Claims  

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 24, 2020) – Governor Kevin Stitt’s Secretary of Digital Transformation, David Ostrowe, in partnership with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) and Executive Director Robin Roberson announced today the State agency has made headway in upgrading the state’s decades old system for filing unemployment claims.

“Since the first of April, the agency has processed over 160,000 claims, which is more than the agency traditionally processes in one full year,” said Secretary of Digital Transformation David Ostrowe. “The speed of processing these critical and timely benefits was made possible due to rapid and significant digital improvements made to the agency’s operations in partnership with OMES.”

Gov. Stitt amends executive order to open Oklahoma's economy


GOV. STITT AMENDS EXECUTIVE ORDER 2020-13 TO OPEN OKLAHOMA’S ECONOMY

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 24, 2020) – Governor Kevin Stitt today issued Fourth Amended Executive Order (EO) 2020-13, which adds the guidelines provided under the Open Up and Recover Safely (OURS) plan that was introduced earlier this week.

“From the beginning it has been my intent to protect the health and lives of Oklahomans, especially our vulnerable populations, and mitigate the impact to Oklahoma’s economy,” said Gov. Stitt. “As we begin to responsibly implement this measured response to open Oklahoma’s economy back up, we will continue to prioritize the safety of our people and base all decisions on the data in our state.”

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Lucas, Hern comment on passage of Paycheck Protection Program & Health Care Enhancement Act


Hern votes ‘yes’ on bill to replenish funds for small business loans

WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Kevin Hern (OK-01) released the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act. The bill passed with a vote of 388-5.

“The Paycheck Protection Program is the lifeline our workers and business owners need right now,” said. Rep. Hern. “Our small business owners are some of the hardest hit during this pandemic. As a small business owner myself, I feel the same pain of the business leaders I’ve spoken with over the last several weeks. They’ve poured their life’s work into these businesses and are watching it all fall apart. They love their employees and are distraught over decisions to lay off or furlough staff.”

Rep. Hern continued, “Speaker Pelosi delayed these funds for two weeks while workers across the country were missing paychecks. There’s no reason we had to wait this long. Speaker Pelosi made it absolutely clear to the workers and business owners of our country what her priorities are: partisan tricks and unpopular, socialist policies at any cost. Small businesses are not pawns in Speaker Pelosi’s games, they are real people with real employees. In the strongest possible terms, I condemn the actions of the Speaker and Democrat Majority.”


Lucas Supports Paycheck Protection Program & Hospital Relief Package

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 266- the Paycheck Protection Program & Health Care Enhancement Act, providing additional funding to support the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), and Oklahoma hospitals.

“More than a week after Oklahoma’s small businesses and workers saw the Paycheck Protection Program run dry, Congress has passed the Paycheck Protection Program & Health Care Enhancement Act- providing dire relief for Main Street businesses, their workers, and America’s hospitals,” said Congressman Lucas.

Lucas continued, “There’s no doubt about it, our small businesses are the lifeline of our local economies. In the nearly two weeks the Paycheck Protection Program was open more than 35,000 small businesses in Oklahoma received more than $4.6 billion. Because of these funds, many of our community’s family-owned businesses will be able to keep their workforce employed.

Thanks to the legislation passed today, more of Oklahoma’s small businesses will be able to stay afloat and keep their employees on payroll, providing families across Oklahoma the certainty they need in order to get through these uncertain times. The relief package also guarantees the eligibility of agricultural businesses for relief programs provided by the Small Business Administration.

As the coronavirus launched an unprecedented attack on America’s economy and health care system, Oklahomans across our great state have stepped up to fight on the front lines. Our state’s medical professionals, agriculture producers, truck drivers, grocers, and bankers have all worked to ensure that no one faces this virus alone. I thank all of these workers, especially our health care workers, as they all have become everyday heroes in our time of need. The health care funding provided in the Paycheck Protection Program & Health Care Enhancement Act will further support our efforts to combat the virus and ease the burden of our most distressed hospitals.

As I have told Oklahomans across the District, we will weather this storm together. We are all in this together.”

The Paycheck Protection Program & Health Care Enhancement Act increases funding authorized by the CARES Act, providing $484 billion to small business relief programs administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration and to support for hospitals to expand testing and provide aid in response efforts.

Lucas has led or joined several letters to clarify guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program and other financial assistance programs, including urging that publicly hospitals are covered and ensuring agriculture producers are eligible for such programs.

Background:
The Paycheck Protection Program & Health Care Enhancement Act provides funding to the U.S. Small Business Administration, including:

  • $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, allowing the Trump Administration to continue providing forgivable loans to cover the cost of payroll and operating expenses for small businesses.
    • $30 billion in guaranteed loans for lenders with less than $10 billion in assets
    • $30 billion in guaranteed loans for lenders with $10 million to $50 billion in assets.
  • $60 billion for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans and grants, including:
    • $50 billion for EIDLs- each loan can be up to $2 million with interest rates not to exceed 4% and long-term repayment periods of up to 30 years; and
    • $10 billion for grants of up to $10,000 that do not have to be repaid.

The Paycheck Protection Program & Health Care Enhancement Act  provides funding to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, including:

  • $75 billion for reimbursement to hospitals and healthcare providers to support the need for COVID-19 related expenses and lost revenue.
  • $25 billion for necessary expenses to research, develop, validate, manufacture, purchase, administer, and expand capacity for COVID-19 tests, specifically:
    • $11 billion for states, localities, territories, and tribes to develop, purchase, administer, process, and analyze COVID-19 tests, scale-up laboratory capacity, trace contacts, and support employer testing. Funds are also made available to employers for testing. 
    • $1 billion provided to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory capacity expansion, contact tracing, public health data surveillance, and analytics infrastructure modernization.
    • $1.8 billion provided to the National Institutes of Health to develop, validate, improve, and implement testing and associated technologies; to accelerate research, development, and implementation of point-of-care and other rapid testing; and for partnerships with governmental and non-governmental entities to research, develop, and implement the activities.
    • $1 billion for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority for advanced research, development, manufacturing, production, and purchase of diagnostic, serologic, or other COVID-19 tests or related supplies.
    • $22 million for the Food and Drug Administration to support activities associated with diagnostic, serological, antigen, and other tests, and related administrative activities.
    • $825 million for Community Health Centers and rural health clinics.
    • Up to $1 billion may be used to cover the costs of testing for the uninsured.
  • Additionally, the U.S. Department of the Treasury has released guidance on how states can use CARES Act funds. This information can be found here.
  • The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has also announced guidance on how it plans to release more of the CARES Act funds. This information can be found here.

1889 Institute: Put education practitioners (teachers) in charge


A PROPOSAL TO PUT EDUCATION PRACTITIONERS (TEACHERS) IN CHARGE
Other professionals control their destinies; teachers should, too.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (April 22, 2020) – The 1889 Institute has published “America’s War for Effective Education Reform,” a synopsis of a forthcoming book, Saving Public Education, by former Texas State Representative Kent Grusendorf. He served as chair of the House Public Education Committee for four years (2003-2007) in addition to serving all but two years of his 20-year legislative career (1987-2007) as a member of the Public Education Committee. Grusendorf also served on Texas’ State Board of Education (1982-1984).

In the synopsis of his book, Grusendorf recounts the many reform efforts since the 1980s, in addition to how much spending on public education has increased. Yet, for all these efforts and treasure, arguably little to no progress has been made.

“I finally realized the problem was top-down reform,” said Grusendorf. “Most reformers, me included, had the best of intentions, but by attempting to impose our visions of how things ought to work, we were neglecting to take account of the knowledge and skills of independent individuals actually doing the work.”

OSDH issues guidance for resuming elective surgical procedures


OSDH Issues Guidance for Resuming Elective Surgical Procedures in Oklahoma April 24

In preparation for elective surgeries resuming in Oklahoma on April 24, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) today issued the following guidelines for elective surgery centers and hospitals:

Testing guidelines:
  • Elective surgery centers and hospitals must administer COVID-19 tests in partnership with private labs to test all patients prior to surgery. 
  • Patients should receive a negative COVID-19 test result within 48 hours of the scheduled procedure.
  • Elective surgery centers and hospitals should not perform an operation on a patient with a medical history of COVID-19 until that patient has received two negative COVID-19 test results. 

House Health Chairman Roberts praises Stitt's "common sense" reopen guidelines


STATEMENT: Rep. Sean Roberts on Governor’s Plan to Reopen Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy) today released the following statement regarding Gov. Kevin Stitt’s plan, announced this afternoon, to begin the process of reopening Oklahoma:

“Oklahomans have done a great job in banding together to flatten the curve of infections and protect their vulnerable neighbors. We’ve seen this evidenced in the decrease of the projected number of cases in our state.

OK House Democratic Leader criticizes Stitt's plan to reopen state


Democratic Leader Responds to Governor's Plans to Reopen

OKLAHOMA CITY -- House Minority Leader Emily Virgin (D-Norman) released the following statement after Governor Kevin Stitt announced plans to begin reopening businesses.

“The governor’s decision to reopen Oklahoma businesses early comes from a place of fear, and it is understandable for him to be worried about the long-term economic effects of this pandemic. However, in this time of uncertainty, it is crucial not to make decisions hastily and out of fear but out of fact.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

OCPA thanks Gov. Stitt for working to reopen Oklahoma


The following statement was issued today by Jonathan Small, president of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs:

“This afternoon, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced the state’s plans to begin gradually and safely reopening Oklahoma now that the state’s COVID-19 curve has flattened. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, OCPA has said we must protect Oklahomans from the virus while ensuring that Oklahomans can continue to provide for their families. Governor Stitt’s plan embraces both priorities.

“As Oklahoma re-opens, it is important to continue safety measures to reduce viral spread. At the same time, the state should continue lifting oppressive regulations to empower Oklahomans while also mitigating risks.

“For tens of thousands of Oklahomans, their lives, health and livelihoods have already been negatively impacted by these shutdowns. By taking this first step to begin reopening Oklahoma, Governor Stitt has helped limit these negative impacts and ensured that Oklahoma has a brighter future.”

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs is a free-market think tank that works to advance principles and policies that support free enterprise, limited government, and individual initiative.

Gov. Stitt announces 3-phase "Open Up and Recover Safely" plan

GOVERNOR STITT ANNOUNCES “OPEN UP AND RECOVER SAFELY” PLAN

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 22, 2020) – Governor Kevin Stitt today held a press conference to provide an update on the State’s response to COVID-19 and introduce the State's Open Up and Recover Safely (OURS) plan.

“From the beginning it has been my intent to protect the health and lives of Oklahomans, especially our vulnerable populations, and mitigate the impact to Oklahoma’s economy and get Oklahomans safely back to work,” said Gov. Stitt. “We have put together a group of industry professionals from across our state, and they have been working with my Governor’s Solution Task Force and our health advisors to develop a way to get back open safely. As we begin to responsibly implement this measured response, we will continue to prioritize the safety of Oklahomans and base all decisions on the data in our state.”

Under current White House guidelines Oklahoma has met all necessary criteria to begin proceeding to a phased opening, including a downward trajectory of documented cases and the ability to treat all patients without crisis care.

Stitt signs new gaming compacts with Comanche Nation, Otoe-Missouria Tribe


STATE OF OKLAHOMA, COMANCHE NATION, OTOE-MISSOURIA TRIBE SIGN NEW GAMING COMPACTS

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 21, 2020) – Governor Kevin Stitt, Comanche Nation Chairman William Nelson and the Otoe-Missouria Tribe Chairman John Shotton today signed new gaming compacts between the State and each tribe represented.

Each new compact establishes clarity and certainty for each sovereign party; expands gaming opportunities for the Comanche Nation and Otoe-Missouria Tribe, keeping in mind the dynamic, evolving nature of the gaming industry; provides for meaningful consideration for the State’s fee structure for class III games and table games for new locations; and strengthens compact transparency with clear auditing guidance and with new dispute resolution provisions.

State Rep. Kiger: Rural Hospitals Need More from Governor Stitt


Kiger: Rural Hospitals Need More from Governor Stitt

POTEAU – State Rep. Lundy Kiger (R-Poteau) today called on Gov. Stitt to do more for rural hospitals after suspending many of their services in response to COVID-19.

“Over the past several years, the number of rural hospitals in Oklahoma closing continues to grow in alarming numbers,” Kiger said. “We appreciate the governor recognizing the fact that closing elective surgeries reduced hospital revenues approximately 80 percent, which no business can afford. The cost of these services just to try and keep the doors open at the Eastern Oklahoma Medical Center (EOMC) in LeFlore County resulted in a temporary reduction of hospital staff by more than 50 people between the surgical department, OB and clinic staff. In comparison to many rural hospitals that are now broke or about to close their doors, the administration at EOMC led by CEO Bob Carter has taken many important steps in preparing for a downturn because this is the way of life for most rural hospitals.”

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Stitt: elective surgeries may resume Friday, some other procedures April 30th


GOVERNOR STITT AMENDS EXECUTIVE ORDER AND EXECUTIVE MEMORANDUM
Clarifies resumption of elective surgeries and civil immunity for health care workers

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 20, 2020) – Governor Kevin Stitt today issued amendments to Executive Memorandum (EM) 2020-02 and Executive Order (EO) 2020-13, which clarifies when minor medical procedures and elective surgeries may resume and shields health care workers from civil lawsuits amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under amended EM 2020-02, medical providers and facilities that have enough PPE available can resume minor medical procedures and non-emergency dental procedures on April 30.

Amended EO 2020-13 further clarifies that elective surgeries may resume on April 24.

“We initially suspended elective surgeries to preserve hospital bed capacity and PPE to handle a potential surge in COVID-19 patients,” said Gov. Stitt. “Since our data indicates we are in a good position regarding hospital capacity, and provided individual institutions can accommodate their internal demand for PPE, it is time to bring some of these procedures back to help our hospitals and the Oklahomans who need them.”

Additionally, the EO states that civil immunity is provided for healthcare providers and facilities as a matter of Oklahoma law.

“Our health care professionals and hospitals are working around the clock to treat and care for their fellow Oklahomans during this pandemic,” said Gov. Stitt. “This flexibility provides them with the protections necessary to continue to do their job effectively.”

Monday, April 20, 2020

Revenue failure declared for FY2020, Gov. Stitt points to longterm state budget impact


Board of Equalization declares revenue failure for FY2020
Governor Stitt provides update on long term impact to state budget

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 20, 2020) – The Board of Equalization declared a $416,883,273 revenue failure for Fiscal 2020 in a virtual meeting held Monday afternoon.

Declaring a revenue failure allows the Legislature to access money from savings to fill the gap in the FY2020 budget.

During the meeting, Oklahoma Tax Commission Executive Director Jay Doyle presented an updated look at how COVID-19 and the downturn in oil and gas are affecting revenue forecasts for Fiscal 2021, which begins July 1.

While the Board of Equalization’s February report provided $8.244 billion of spending authority for the Legislature, the latest projection shows just $6.878 billion available, a difference of $1.366 billion.

Buying 5-dozen eggs at Walmart? $3.78 in Broken Arrow, $16.88 in Wagoner for same product



Wagoner resident Mel Bass recently went on a mission to compare egg prices between various Walmart locations in northeast Oklahoma. The results were astonishing.

Prices for 60-count large white Grade A eggs, Great Value brand:

  • Broken Arrow: $3.78
  • Pryor: $5.72
  • Coweta: $9.12
  • Muskogee: $14.40
  • Wagoner: $16.88
Exact same product, with prices gathered on April 19th and April 20th.

For the price of 5-dozen eggs in Wagoner, a shopper could have bought 20-dozen eggs in Broken Arrow with $1.76 to spare.

Does Walmart price-match their own stores? Android Pie; U+1F914; Thinking Emoji

Music Monday: Coronavirus Beach Chase (Chariots of Fire/Rocky)

This week's Music Monday is a humorous compilation, allegedly from Italy, of a policeman chasing a runner on the beach. The first video has music from Chariots of Fire while the second has music from The Pink Panther and Rocky. (Disclaimer: inclusion of the tweets is solely for the video -- I don't necessarily agree with or endorse the accounts)

Enjoy!

Chariots of Fire:

The Pink Panther/Rocky:

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.


April 6th, 2020: Rise and Shine (Patch the Pirate)
March 30th, 2020: My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
March 23rd, 2020: How Firm A Foundation
February 17th, 2020: Wayfaring Stranger
February 3rd, 2020: My City Was Gone (Rush Limbaugh theme song)
January 27th, 2020: My Next Thirty Years
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

1889 Institute: The problem of diffuse costs and concentrated benefits


The Problem of Diffuse Costs and Concentrated Benefits
by Benjamin Lepak

Do you ever observe a seemingly illogical government program or spending decision and ask, “How is it that no one has fixed that?” This often takes the form of a curious headline (Save Federal Funding for the Cowboy Poets!) that doesn’t seem real.

Often, this phenomenon results from the problem of diffuse costs and concentrated benefits.

Polly Irving introduces County Clerk candidacy to Muskogee County Republicans

Polly Irving, Republican nominee for Muskogee County Clerk, sent the following introduction of her candidacy to Republican voters via email. Irving will face incumbent Democrat Dianna Cope in the November general election.

From the Muskogee County Republican Party email:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Muskogee County Party is NOT Endorsing Republican Candidates during the Primary Election with Opponents. Due to Social Distancing since Candidates are unable to do any door knocking or meet and greet events we wanted to take the opportunity to get candidate information out to our email list for those who have reached out to us.



To My Republican Friends,

Lucas helps introduce bill increasing scrutiny of foreign investment in US agriculture


Lucas, Fudge Introduce Legislation Increasing Scrutiny of Foreign Investment in Agricultural Businesses

Cheyenne, OK  – Today, Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) and Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (OH-11) introduced the Agricultural Security Risk Review Act, formally placing the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary as a member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). The Agricultural Security Risk Review Act ensures that CFIUS is operating effectively and efficiently to determine if a transaction, including agricultural, threatens to impair the national security of the United States.

“I am proud to be introducing this important piece of legislation with my good friend, Congresswoman Fudge, that works to ensure that foreign investment in our nation’s agricultural sector is given the amount of scrutiny needed to protect and maintain our national security,” said Congressman Lucas.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

OSDH Partners with OU and OSU to Expand COVID-19 Testing in Tulsa


OSDH Partners with OU and OSU to Expand COVID-19 Testing in Tulsa

In response to Oklahomans asking for additional testing and at the request of Governor Kevin Stitt, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), the University of Oklahoma (OU), and Oklahoma State University (OSU) are teaming up to offer drive-thru testing sites at university locations in the Tulsa metro area.

This partnership will greatly increase testing capacity in Tulsa while providing additional data to assist the state in responding to COVID-19 and minimizing its impact in Oklahoma. 

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Oklahoma AG partners with Amazon to combat coronavirus fraud online


Attorney General Hunter Partners with Amazon to Combat Coronavirus Fraud Online

OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today announced his office’s ongoing partnership with Amazon to combat fraud and price gouging related to the Coronavirus.

The partnership will involve representatives from the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit and Amazon working together and frequently communicating about complaints on the price of goods and other fraudulent sales practices on the company’s website. It also will foster better, more immediate investigations to shut scams down as quickly as possible.

'OK Back 2 Work' calls for more rallies across Oklahoma on April 20th


OK Back 2 Work Calls for More Rallies Across Oklahoma

Oklahoma City, OK – OK Back 2 Work recognizes the great efforts of the grassroots activists, small business owners, concerned citizens, and employees that joined us at the Drive by Rally at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Wednesday, April 8th in heart, spirit and in person. Our efforts sent a strong message to Governor Stitt that Oklahomans are ready to get back to work.

COVID-19 in Oklahoma: Tracking Charts Galore


I've been tracking the COVID-19 data relayed by the Oklahoma State Department of Health since they began publicly releasing statistics on confirmed cases and deaths. Below, I'll show several of the charts I've put together. There are some encouraging trends to be optimistic about.

After several weeks of limited public data, the OSDH has begun to publish a lot more in depth information on the COVID-19 pandemic here in Oklahoma. You can read about that here, and visit the newly-updated state clearinghouse on the novel coronavirus data here.

Here are the daily tracking charts I've compiled, in order of listing:
  • Cumulative cases, deaths, and hospitalizations
  • New cases, deaths, and hospitalization changes
  • Daily hospitalizations, including 'Persons Under Investigation'
  • Cumulative cases and death rate by age
  • Cumulative cases by age
  • Cumulative deaths by age
  • Death rate by age 

Small: OK shutdown has achieved its goal -- it should end now


Shutdown has achieved its goal. It should end now
By Jonathan Small

Watching the devastation caused by the government response to COVID-19 calls to mind the Vietnam War-era line about destroying a town to “save” it. Amidst this economic carnage, it’s easy to forget the original point of the COVID shutdown.

But citizens must not forget the rationale cited as justification for government-ordered closing of businesses (and the indirect government-ordered firing of thousands) because the goal of the shutdown has now been achieved, meaning it is time to reopen and rebuild our society.