Friday, August 07, 2020

OSDH extends Cares Act grant deadline for nursing homes


OSDH Extends Cares Act Grant Deadline for Nursing Homes

Oklahoma City, Okla. (August 4, 2020) - The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) announced today a one-month extension for long-term care facilities and nursing homes to apply for a CARES Act grant from the State to mitigate the presence of COVID-19 in facilities.

Oklahoma’s long-term care and nursing home facilities can apply for grant funding from the State to cover the expense of infection disease support, PPE supplies, and mitigation expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The deadline for this grant program is now August 31, 2020, and applications are available online.

“Governor Stitt and OSDH prioritized these critical CARES Act funds to continue to help Oklahoma’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities operate safely while keeping residents connected with their loved ones during the pandemic,” said Interim Health Commissioner Lance Frye, MD. “The grant process is simple and straightforward, and we urge facilities to get their applications in before August 31 in order to be eligible.”

Thursday, August 06, 2020

Rick Santorum Endorses Stephanie Bice for Congress


Senator Rick Santorum Endorses Stephanie Bice for Congress

OKLAHOMA CITY (Aug. 6, 2020) - Stephanie Bice, conservative Republican candidate for Congress in Oklahoma’s 5th Congressional District, earned the endorsement of former Presidential Candidate and Pennsylvania United States Senator Rick Santorum.

“I’m honored to receive the support and endorsement of Senator Santorum,” Bice said. “He is one of our nation's strongest voices for American families. He’s led the way on policies that put American workers first, including prioritizing US manufacturing. Sen. Santorum has fought to address the challenges confronting American workers and I am grateful for his support.”

Santorum, who won Oklahoma’s 2012 presidential primary, said Bice would represent Oklahoma’s conservative values in Congress.

OKC Council candidate on crime: "how is stealing things making Americans unsafe"?

Oklahoma City's city council election isn't until February 9th, 2021, but candidates are already lining up to run. Incumbent Ward 1 councilman James Greiner announced back in January that he would not be seeking reelection. Below is a tweet by Megan Scott, a left-wing candidate who plans to run for the seat:


Scott's tweet was a reply to a screenshot of a now-deleted post from the OKC Police Department asking for information regarding theft of "thousands of dollars of Trump merchandise from a vehicle" in Oklahoma City.

Gov. Stitt announces details regarding 'Learn Anywhere OK' initiative


GOVERNOR STITT ANNOUNCES DETAILS REGARDING ‘LEARN ANYWHERE OK’
Initiative will provide statewide access to digital content and advanced coursework 

OKLAHOMA CITY (Aug. 4, 2020)—Gov. Kevin Stitt announced more details today regarding “Learn Anywhere Oklahoma,” a new initiative that will use the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund to provide statewide access to digital content for both core classes and advanced coursework to students in kindergarten through grade 12.

The governor has designated $12 million for the online content with oversight from virtual teachers of record. The Oklahoma Supplemental Online Course Program (OSOCP) will purchase the content from education publisher Edmentum and ensure it is both rigorous and aligns with state standards.

“This initiative will help address academic needs during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. Stitt. “While we must take the necessary precautions to slow the spread of the virus and keep our vulnerable populations safe, we must also prioritize our students’ learning. Learn Anywhere OK accomplishes both goals. It will allow schools to safely serve families with at-risk members, and should an outbreak occur, it can be used to continue remote learning.”

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

$15M in COVID funds designated to launch 30 Community HOPE Centers to serve vulnerable children



Governor and First Lady Stitt, Secretary Brown announce CARES Act Investment, targeting 30 Community HOPE Centers by year end
$15 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds to be dedicated to serving Oklahoma children and families

OKLAHOMA CITY (Aug. 3, 2020) – Governor Kevin Stitt and First Lady Sarah Stitt, along with Secretary of Human Services and Early Childhood Initiatives Justin Brown, today announced the launch of 30 Community HOPE Centers to be stood up by the end of 2020 that will serve approximately 4,200 children and their adult caregivers. Gov. Stitt and the CARES Forward Team have approved an initial $15 million in CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to support this statewide effort.

“The First Lady and I have put a stake in the ground to address and reverse the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences in our state,” said Gov. Stitt. “This important, transformative work will develop pathways for children and families to overcome this difficult time. Strengthening Oklahoma’s families has generational impacts and will help us continue our forward momentum toward Top Ten status.”

OSDH Office of Child Abuse Prevention Seeks Input from Public


OSDH Office of Child Abuse Prevention Seeks Input from Public

Oklahoma City, Okla. (August 4, 2020) – The Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP) is seeking input from private and public agencies, organizations, private citizens and consumers to monitor and enhance development of an effective statewide comprehensive child abuse prevention plan.

OCAP requests input from individuals who can provide feedback by completing a brief, five- to seven-minute online survey that is available in both English and Spanish.

“This is an opportunity for individuals in Oklahoma communities to share information on community resources that exist and those that are needed. We want to know what you think works best to protect children in your community and across the state,” said Sherie Trice, CBCAP grant coordinator with the OSDH. “We’ve also included a new section on challenges and strengths gleaned during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Survey responses will help inform the ongoing development of the Oklahoma State Plan for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect. Information will be gathered statewide to ascertain current services and gaps, identify geographical areas with greatest need, pinpoint supports that are most valued, while further assessing family needs and how those needs can be addressed.

OCAP asks the public to please share this information and survey link with others so they can provide input on child abuse and prevention activities and programs in their area.

For questions or more information about the Oklahoma State Plan for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, contact the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Family Support and Prevention Office by phone, (405) 271-7611 or by email, SherieT@health.ok.gov. The deadline for submitting input via the online questionnaire is Friday, September 11.

Unite Norman: Ringleader of protestors for Defund the Police vote ran Mayor’s campaign


THE PLOT THICKENS: “Concerned Norman Resident” Who Testified to Defund the Police Is Actually Mayor Clark’s Campaign Manager 
Plus: Al-Michael’s own Bio states he is a resident of Oklahoma City 

NORMAN — The man who spoke with media as a “concerned Norman resident” the night of the Norman mayor’s and city council’s action to defund the police turns out to be neither an ordinary citizen, nor a resident of Norman.

In a post unearthed today, Al-Michael lists himself on Facebook as Mayor Breea Clark’s Campaign Manager in a post on her Inauguration Day. Yet — neither he nor the mayor disclosed his role on the mayor’s political campaign when he served as the ringleader of a shouting mob inside city council chambers on the night of the vote, June 16 and 17.


In a televised interview following the vote, Mayor Clark admitted to KOCO 5 that agitated protestors had had an impact on her and the council — yet she never once mentioned that the ringleader of those protests inside chambers was her own campaign manager.

During official business surrounding the vote, she didn’t point out this conflict of interest, either.

According to public records, Al-Michael’s name shows up on the campaign committee for Breea Clark as being paid $1,250 for “political consulting services.” Yet not once during the hearings did the Mayor disclose that she had a fiduciary relationship with him.


Additionally, Al-Michael portrayed himself inside city chambers & to the Media as a concerned Norman resident — even though ALL of his online bios and even his own Facebook page states he resides in Oklahoma City. (For example, “Taz Al-Michael,” as he is also referred to in other publications, is according to his own bio, also a “community organizer based out of Oklahoma City.” Source: NewLeadersCouncil.org His own Facebook account also says he lives in Oklahoma City: https://www.facebook.com/tas608) Seems like both the Media, and the people of Norman got skunked.

“Why was it never disclosed that Mayor Clark’s own Campaign Manager and Political Consultant was testifying to defunding the police, and leading the protestors inside chambers that night?,” asks Russell Smith, co-founder of Unite Norman. “Is it possible this was all one big set-up? At a minimum, shouldn’t it have been disclosed that the Mayor’s own Political Consultant with whom she had a financial relationship was inside City Hall trying to affect the outcome of the result for the people of Norman?”

“This young man’s own bio states that he is an actor,” said Sassan Moghadam, co-founder of Unite Norman. “It sounds like this was quite a charade — with the Mayor playing the leading role and the city council members playing cast of characters that night.”

CD5 Runoff: Neese lays into Bice for tax-hike voting record


Over in the 5th Congressional District, Terry Neese (who placed first in the primary with 36.48%) is starting to hammer on Stephanie Bice (25.41% in the primary). Here's her latest press release, highlighting Bice's record on supporting the largest tax in state history (HB 1010XX in 2018):

GET TO KNOW THE REAL STEPHANIE BICE: A TAX-RAISING CONSERVATIVE FRAUD
After voting for the largest tax increase in state history, Bice is the last person Oklahomans can trust to stop the Democrats’ socialist agenda in Congress

Oklahoma City, OK -- Career politician Stephanie Bice is far from the so-called “conservative” she portrays to voters on the campaign trail - and her liberal record on taxes proves it. Since Bice will continue to lie to voters in a desperate attempt to advance her political career, it’s time for voters to get to know the real Stephanie Bice.

THE FAKE STEPHANIE BICE: Claims to be the only candidate who could stop Joe Biden’s economic proposal that calls for tax hikes and policies that would not help our recovering economy.

THE REAL STEPHANIE BICE: In the state senate, Bice voted for a $474 million revenue package - the largest tax increase in Oklahoma history.

Cong. Mullin endorses Jackson in SD5 runoff


CONGRESSMAN MULLIN ENDORSES JACKSON FOR SENATE

(August 3, 2020) Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin is endorsing Justin Jackson in his primary runoff campaign for Senate District 5.  Mullin is now calling on all Republicans in the district to get to the polls on August 25th.

    "Justin Jackson is a genuine conservative Republican, a businessman with a proven record of reinvesting his time, energy, and effort into our region from schools to protecting resources," Congressman Mullin says.  "He will defend God, gun rights, and our way of life.  I'm looking forward to Justin Jackson joining the team as we all work hard to make Southeast Oklahoma, and all of District 5, greater together!"

    Justin Jackson is a rancher, outdoorsman, successful businessman, and a lifelong Oklahoman.  He believes Mullin's support could be a big factor in this race.

    "Markwayne Mullin is a conservative champion and I'm honored to have his endorsement," says Jackson.  "He is a fighter in every sense of the word, never backing to the radical left who want to destroy this country, and that's the spirit I will bring to the State Capitol.  The people of Southeast Oklahoma are hard-working, God-fearing, and family-oriented.  I want to take the values we cherish in SD-5 and bring them to the Capitol where those values are desperately needed."

    The Senate District 5 GOP runoff is scheduled for August 25, 2020.  The general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.

    For more information on the race, get daily updates on the Jackson for State Senate Facebook page.

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Hern files bill to protect First Amendment activities from unequal enforcement


Hern introduces Equal Opportunity First Amendment Act

WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Kevin Hern (OK-01) introduced the Equal Opportunity First Amendment Act to the House last week. The bill addresses disparity between decisions made to ban certain First Amendment-protected activities under State of Emergency but not others.

“Most states have seen wildly varying interpretations of social distancing guidelines over the last several months,” said Rep. Hern. “In many instances, Americans are confused and horrified as their local government allows large gatherings of people exercising their First Amendment right to protest but bans church services. In many communities, businesses and shopping malls are open but houses of worship still have a 10-person limit. These inconsistent ordinances are disproportionately harming communities of faith. If the First Amendment protects protesters, it protects worshippers as well. My bill ensures that our First Amendment rights are evenly interpreted by local governments and provides a legal course of action for individuals whose rights are violated.”

Group asks: did Norman mayor hire actor to testify before vote to defund police?

Here's the latest in the drama out of Norman, Oklahoma...

Did the Mayor Hire an Actor to Testify as a Concerned Norman Resident for the Vote to Defund the Police?
An “Actor” on the Mayor’s Payroll Was Paid $1,250 before Testifying -- Actor’s own Bio states he is a resident of Oklahoma City 

NORMAN — In a televised interview, Mayor Clark told KOCO 5 that loud agitators had been successful in swaying her and the city council inside council chambers in a dark-of-night 4a.m. vote on June 17th to strip nearly $1 million from police budgets.

According to public records, it appears now that at least one of those people who testified was an Actor — and had previously been on Mayor Clark’s payroll. Tasneem Ahmad Al-Michael is listed as an “Actor” on promotional materials from the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).

“Taz Al-Michael,” as he is also referred to in other publications, is according to his own bio, also a “community organizer based out of Oklahoma City.” Source: NewLeadersCouncil.org


AG Hunter files brief seeking guidance on cases affected by McGirt decision


Attorney General Hunter Prepares Brief with Court of Criminal Appeals Seeking Guidance on Cases Affected by the McGirt Decision

OKLAHOMA CITY (August 3, 2020) – In response to the flood of inmates challenging their state convictions on historic tribal lands, including those lands not associated with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Attorney General Mike Hunter today plans to file a brief with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals that seeks guidance on these many cases affected by the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt ruling.

In the filing, the attorney general writes that the U.S. Supreme Court created numerous issues that could result in the release of inmates convicted of violent crimes, like Shaun Bosse, a non-Indian who is on death row for murdering a Chickasaw family—a mother and her two children—in 2010.

Bosse is challenging his conviction on the basis that his crimes took place on the undiminished boundaries of the original Chickasaw Reservation.

“My team and I plan to challenge every single appeal that attempts to overturn longstanding convictions on historic tribal land,” Attorney General Hunter said. “We are not questioning the Supreme Court’s ruling in McGirt, but instead seeking to promote public safety by saying these convicted criminals waited too long to bring their claims. Also, we are asking the court to make clear that the state still has jurisdiction to punish non-Indians who victimize tribal citizens, which would provide the maximum possible protection to tribal members. In the meantime, we are asking the Court of Criminal Appeals to provide guidance on these cases and deny any requests by inmates attempting to get released from prison.”

One question the attorney general points to in the Bosse case is whether the state has jurisdiction, concurrently with the federal government over non-Indians, like Bosse, who victimized tribal citizens.

“We take the position that the state has a right and duty to protect our Indian citizens from those who murder them like Bosse,” Attorney General Hunter said. “There can be no good that comes from tying the state’s hands when we are trying to protect Native Americans by exercising jurisdiction over non-Indians. This is no way undermines tribal sovereignty, but instead is a way for the state to work with the federal government in making sure tribal members receive police protection and justice when they are victimized.”

The attorney general is also asking the court to clarify how Indian status is to be proven, and to put the burden of proving Indian status on the defendant and that the location of the crime fell within the boundaries of a legal reservation.

Watch the attorney general’s press conference, here: https://bit.ly/31j4M1a. Read the filed document here: https://bit.ly/30rc6c6

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Hofmeister: 50k Verizon hotspots given to help bridge digital divide for students


Hofmeister announces grant award of 50,000 Verizon mobile internet connections and devices to bridge digital divide 

OKLAHOMA CITY (July 31, 2020) – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister today announced that 175 Oklahoma school districts have been awarded mobile internet access and devices through 50,000 Verizon Unlimited 4GE data plans and Jetpacks, following a competitive grant process. The Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) grants leveraged a portion of the agency’s set-aside monies from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund created by the federal Coronavirus Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help ensure all students have connectivity to access online learning if community spread of COVID-19 requires districts to use distance or hybrid learning models.

“This pandemic has underscored the inequities of the digital divide that hinder opportunities for so many of our children,” said Hofmeister. “We know one-fourth of our students lack reliable home internet access. Many districts have used a portion of the funds allocated to them under the CARES Act to purchase a sufficient number of devices for every student to have access to technology, an effort we encouraged through incentive grants earlier this summer.

“But a device without connectivity is like a book in a pitch-dark room. We are grateful that this partnership with Verizon and OneNet will make a critical difference in ensuring many thousands of children and families will now have the opportunity for robust distance learning.”

OneNet, a division of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, provides broadband and internet services to public school districts, libraries and higher education institutions around the state. As a partner in the OSDE initiative, OneNet will provide, at no cost to districts, content filtering and technical support to facilitate the telecom connection between Verizon and the state telecom network. OneNet is assuming the $250,000 value of this support as a contribution to the OSDE initiative and the students in districts awarded the hotspots.

“Now more than ever, internet access is vital for students to fully participate in distance and online learning,” said Vonley Royal, executive director of OneNet and higher education chief information officer. “OneNet is proud to provide services to our state’s students during the pandemic.”

Districts receiving the devices, which Verizon sold to OSDE at a discounted rate, will assign and deploy them under specific requirements. For example, districts awarded hotspots must pay a nominal monthly service fee for unlimited 4G LTE data service for each awarded device for at least six months and assure that devices are assigned only to low-income students.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need to bridge the digital divide and keep students connected to their schools, teachers and each other,” said AndrĂ©s Irlando, senior vice president and president of Public Sector and Verizon Connect at Verizon. “Verizon is working to provide connectivity, devices and other solutions to every student in the U.S. who needs them – whether they are back in the classroom full-time, learning from home or through a hybrid model.”

Verizon expects to ship hotspots to districts so that they will be available when school starts. The company will also provide technical support throughout the school year.

Districts have the opportunity to purchase additional hotspots for students not considered low income and for teachers and staff at the same cost and rate secured by OSDE for the grant.

For a list of districts and the number of hotspots they were awarded, click here.

1889 Institute: Sell Unneeded State Assets to Shore up State Pensions


Sell Unneeded State Assets to Shore up State Pensions
By Benjamin Lepak

Oklahoma’s government owns a lot of property. This includes land and buildings, but it also includes valuable assets like the state-owned electric power company, the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA). GRDA reports nearly $1.8 billion in assets on its most recent balance sheet, with a “net position” of more than $622 million. Or the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), which has a $1.2 billion endowment producing roughly $50 million annual investment income.

We would be better off if some of these assets were liquidated. Physical assets could be sold or leased to private entities where they would be more economically productive, pay taxes, and relieve the state of maintenance expenses.

The proceeds could be directed to long-term funding challenges like unfunded pensions and infrastructure. The needs are not small. Oklahoma faces $7.9 billion in unfunded pension obligations, totaling approximately the entire rest of the state budget.

Saturday, August 01, 2020

State Rep. Humphrey releases information on Officer-Involved deaths


Humphrey Releases Information on Officer-Involved Deaths

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, recently requested information from the Office of Criminal Justice Statistics with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation on fatal officer-involved shootings (FOIS), arrest-related deaths (ARDs), and law enforcement officers killed and assaulted (LEOKA).

“I think it’s time Oklahomans have an honest conversation about policing, but one based on facts and data,” Humphrey said. “Only when the public has accurate information about law enforcement and the deaths that occurred while a person was being taken into custody or was in custody, and also the number of law enforcement officers that are killed and assaulted can we decide if changes are needed.”

He released the following compiled by the Statistical Analysis Center:

FOIS for 2015, 2017 and 2018 – the latest year available. Information for 2016 was not included because incidents were not verified through the necessary means listed in each report under the “methodology” section, according to the Office of Criminal Justice Statistics:

'Unite Norman' calls on citizens to apply for vacant council seat


Applications Now Open to Fill City Council Seat in Ward 5 Vacated by Sereta Wilson; Unite Norman Calls upon Citizens to Apply

  • Grassroots Group Calls for Applicants to Step Up, Let Their Voices Be Heard, and Make their Positions Known
  • With Overwhelming 25% Support of Ward 5 in Recall Signatures Thus Far, Unite Norman Calls for the Grassroots Organization to Have a “Seat at the Table” on the Selection Committee

NORMAN — Unite Norman — the grassroots group behind the effort to recall the mayor and city council for defunding the police and not upholding the will of the people — is encouraging citizens to apply for the City Council seat in Ward 5, after the city announced today that applications are now available to backfill the position created by Sereta Wilson’s resignation.

The group encouraged citizens to step forward to serve and to let their positions be know on how to unite Norman.

“Our grassroots effort has made it very clear that voters here want a focus on Norman, not national politics and extreme ideologies,” said Russell Smith, co-founder of Unite Norman. “We encourage applicants to publicly make their priorities known, so the people or Norman know exactly where they stand on the issues.”

OCPA column: Governor addresses real need with education plan


Governor addresses real need with education plan
By Jonathan Small

Governor Kevin Stitt’s background as a businessman is often apparent in his understanding of financial realities that traditional politicians ignore. Hence, the governor’s willingness to save, rather than spend, much of last year’s budget surplus.

But Stitt’s “Stay in School” initiative highlights another benefit of his private-sector expertise: the governor’s understanding that Oklahoma cannot afford to squander human capital.

OK 2nd Amendment Association endorses Neese in CD5 runoff


OKLAHOMA 2ND AMENDMENT ASSOCIATION & PRO-GUN CONSERVATIVE LEADERS BACK TERRY NEESE IN 5TH DISTRICT RACE

Oklahoma City, OK -- While Stephanie Bice peddles downright lies to distract voters from learning the truth about her liberal record as a career politician, Oklahoma pro-gun organizations and conservative leaders know the truth: Terry Neese is the only candidate who can be trusted to stand up for our Second Amendment rights in Congress.

On Friday, the Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association (OK2A) - the state’s leading advocate for Second Amendment rights” - endorsed Terry Neese in the fifth district race. In a Facebook post, OK2A President Don Spencer publicized the Association's endorsement and included a graphic summarizing important factors for voters to consider ahead of the August 25th runoff.

Terry Neese said: “The Oklahoma 2nd Amendment Association knows I am the only candidate who can be trusted to help President Trump protect our right to self-defense at all costs - and I am honored to have their endorsement. The radical Left and their socialist agenda pose a direct threat to our Second Amendment rights, but Oklahomans can rest assured I will never back down and will always stand up for our pro-gun values in Congress.”

Leading conservative legislators in Oklahoma also released statements on Friday urging Republican voters to stand with Terry Neese - the only candidate who can be trusted to stand with President Trump and protect our pro-gun values in Congress.

Kevin Calvey, Oklahoma County Commissioner said: “As the author of Oklahoma’s Stand Your Ground law, I know Terry is a rock-solid supporter of our Second Amendment rights. Terry is the only candidate we can trust to stop the radical Left’s assault on our Constitutional freedoms.”

Brian Maughan, Oklahoma County Commissioner said: “Terry Neese represents the best of our conservative values and will make Oklahoma gun owners proud in Congress. She’s the leader we need in Washington to make sure we stop Nancy Pelosi’s anti-gun, unconstitutional agenda once and for all.”

Nathan Dahm, State Senator (SD-33) said: “I endorsed Terry Neese because she is 100% pro-gun, supports Constitutional Carry, and is the clear choice for conservatives who want a Second Amendment champion working alongside President Trump in Congress.”

Terry Neese is a proud gun owner, member of the NRA, and has earned an “AQ” NRA grade by the NRA - the highest possible grade for a candidate without a legislative record. For more information on Terry or her campaign, please visit NeeseForCongress.com.

Rep. Sean Roberts: reexamine tax credit if OKC Thunder disrespect flag


Rep. Sean Roberts Questions Tax Credit for OKC Thunder if Players Choose to Kneel, Disrespect Flag

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Hominy) today released the following statement regarding the choice of National Basketball Association (NBA) players to take a knee during the national anthem prior to the beginning of their game.

“By kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, the NBA and its players are showing disrespect to the American flag and all it stands for. This anti-patriotic act makes clear the NBA’s support of the Black Lives Matter group and its goal of defunding our nation’s police, its ties to Marxism and its efforts to destroy nuclear families.