Monday, December 27, 2021

Hefner: OKC deserves better leadership

Oklahoma City Deserves Better Leadership
Letter To the Editor, Carol Hefner

I am a lifelong citizen of Oklahoma City, born and raised here. I am blessed, along with my husband Robert, to have raised our 5 children here. Today, our 10 grandchildren are the recipients of a 6-generation long history in this city. Our family has invested our time and talents in Oklahoma City, always honoring a gracious heritage and hopeful that our time volunteered to see OKC rise would be realized. 

It has been gut wrenching to watch the deterioration of our city’s morale and historic fabric of conservatism – the values which have built her. Oklahoma City has seen poor leadership through the pandemic. The suffering we have seen from lockdowns, layoffs, school shutdowns and poor outreach to our citizens has been imposed and encouraged by our career politician Mayor who seeks a higher rung on his personal ladder, setting his vision on his own goals of higher office. Our city has been pushed towards liberal socialism and a Biden agenda without regard for what government’s role truly is – the protection of life, liberty and property.  

What has made Oklahoma City the Shining City on the Prairie that it has become is not government. It is the heart and soul of her people who look after each other, and care for each other through good times and bad. It is the Oklahoma Standard that we are proud of that sets us apart from other large cities. Our rich heritage of living by the Golden Rule has buoyed us through oil booms and busts, through the horror of the Bomb, and into the era of prosperity we now enjoy. 

Now that rich heritage is threatened to its core. Our homeless rolls have swelled over the last two years as busloads of homeless arrive from LA, San Francisco, and other leftist cities with promises that our city will take care of them…increasing the burden on our city and taking advantage of our people’s goodwill without adding productive citizens. Meanwhile our city streets are crumbling. We’re mired in projects which have no value and generate no revenue. Our Mayor is obsessed with funding new social programs to address the same social ills that our private sector provision and faith community involvement have been masterfully adept at addressing for years…without the unnecessary intrusion of government. 

Our outstanding police department is under attack from the very same leftist forces that are behind the “defund the police” movement. They’ve faced massive riots and protests which vandalized downtown businesses for the first time in our city’s history, all while our Mayor marched with the same protestors that carried signs saying “Burn the city down.” The courageous men and women of the OKCPD deserve our undying support and encouragement…not a Mayor that kneels down before an anti-police mob shouting “Take a knee! Take a knee!” Instead of standing on the side of law and order, our Mayor used that opportunity to bring in a far-left organization rife with Obama appointees to advise the city on how to “fix the OKCPD” through endless bureaucracy designed to force de-escalation at every turn, while failing to address the fact that our police force is at least 300 officers shy of the number needed for a growing city our size. 

The deterioration of our beloved city is evident to anyone paying attention. We are at a crossroads. We can either continue on the direction we are headed and find ourselves turning into the same liberal cesspools that hard-working people are moving here to escape…or we can embrace a bold, new direction that recaptures the heart and soul of our proud heritage and sets a shining vision for the entire city, north to south, east to west, with no quadrant left behind.  

I am stepping up and stepping in to give our city a new vision, one without the encumbrance of special interests and one that will restore our values of Faith, Family and Freedom. It is time for rescue and rejuvenation across Oklahoma City. Time for a Mayor who will resist corruption, stand firm for our identity and be authentic in word and deed while upholding the true role of government.  

I am Carol Hefner, a wife, mother, businesswoman, Board member to many non-profits over the last 39 years and a woman with a backbone. I have a long, successful history of navigating complex negotiations, decision-making, and comprehending large scale projects that are necessary for a Mayor to have. Everything I have accomplished in my life has prepared me for this moment…for this mission. We do not have to lose our soul to be a successful, thriving city. We can enjoy the blessings of growth while maintaining the heart of what makes this such a great place to live. With your help and support, I truly believe our best days are ahead of us.

You can learn more about Hefner's campaign by visiting

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry CHRISTmas!

Have a very merry Christmas!

The account of the birth of Jesus Christ, from Luke 2:

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

I hope that you have a very happy and safe holiday! 

Here's the deal. God made you. God made everything. Just as the electronic device you are reading this on had a designer, the building you are in had an architect, the vehicle you drive had a manufacturer, this entire universe - infinitely more complex - had a Creator. He orchestrated the atoms and molecules that make up everything.

As Creator, He has the right and prerogative for placing laws and rules for His creation to follow. You, and I, and every human being, have fallen short of those laws. 

The Ten Commandments sum up God's Law. We have broken every single one. We have lied. We have stolen. We have had inappropriate sexual thoughts (Jesus called this adultery of the heart). We have been angry without just cause (Jesus called this murder of the heart). We have coveted. We have blasphemed. We are all guilty.

Punishment for offenses increase as the party against which the crime was perpetrated increase in stature. Disobedience to parents require one level of correction/punishment. Crimes against a human government require a higher degree of punishment. Crimes against an infinite God require a greater punishment, namely an infinite punishment. 

Heaven is real, but so is Hell. Hell is a real place, where the full righteous wrath of God Almighty is unendingly poured out on those who rebelled against the most loving and gracious Being in the Universe. You have sinned against God and earned for yourself Hell. I sinned against God and earned for myself Hell.

But, Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, God in flesh, came to earth and fulfilled God's Law on our behalf and paid our punishment with His sacrificial death, wiping away our sin-debt, our criminal fine, and giving us His righteousness. 

We must, by faith, believe and repent. Believe that Jesus is who He said He was, that He died for us and rose again, and repent - turn away from our sin in disgust that we would offend God in such ways, and dedicate our lives to following Him, not in order to earn salvation but in recognition that we cannot save ourselves and in response and gratefulness to the kindness shown to us by God in providing a way of forgiveness.

This salvation is a free (and permanent, ever-lasting) gift of God, and is fully of Him. We contribute nothing to it except the sin that made it necessary. We can do nothing to earn it or maintain it. No amount of good deeds or prayers or pilgrimages or sacraments is sufficient -- only Christ is.

I cannot convince you of the Gospel. Only God can. My responsibility is to share it with you. 

You must determine whether you will believe it to be true or not.

But know this: if all this is true, you will one day stand before your Maker and be held to account for the works you did and did not do during your life. And, you will be held to account for how you respond(ed) to the free offer of the Gospel that was presented to you, for better or for worse. 
Life is short, and Man is not guaranteed tomorrow. Eternity is forever. God offers salvation freely to those who will believe. Receive it while you have opportunity to do so and do not tarry.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Greg Slavonic endorses Hefner for OKC Mayor


Oklahoma City, OK-- Today, community leader and candidate for Mayor of Oklahoma City Carol Hefner announced she has been endorsed by Rear Admiral Greg Slavonic. Slavonic is the Under Secretary of the Navy, Acting, and has previously served as the 18th Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

Hefner had this to say:

OU seminar says male-female is "too limiting" and marginalizes the "gender fluid"


The fact that a person is born either male or female is nothing but a false “binary box” established by Western and American societies, and it’s responsible for marginalizing people who consider themselves to be “gender fluid.” To counter this requires university personnel to modify their language and change their interactions with students and others.

That’s the message of a recent University of Oklahoma employee training workshop, “Unlearning Trans and Homonegativity,” offered by OU’s Gender + Equality Center. It’s the latest in a long list of ongoing training seminars offered by the university for campus community members.

The presentation was given by Liv Whitley, the center’s training and development coordinator. Whitley did not share her professional credentials with the audience, but did list her “preferred pronouns” as being “she/they.”

Though the terminology related to sexual identity sometimes changes, OU currently defines the acronym LGBTQ+ as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (or questioning), while the plus sign represents other sexual identities, including “pansexual” and “non-binary.” Whitley also said that the term should be expanded to include people who identify as asexual.

Male or Female Is ‘Too Limiting’

“In its simplest form, ‘binary’ means we have only two options for our self-image, either male or female, which is what we have been socialized into,” Whitley said. “It’s a designation given to you at birth by someone else. This is problematic, because it is not accurate and is too limiting.”

The presentation materials stated that LGBTQ+ people are negatively impacted by being socialized into an environment that only offers two positively received gender options, male or female. Further, it said, to publicly declare one’s gender identity as being outside the “binary box” marginalizes a large swath of the American population. In fact, despite the presentation’s title, even the word “homosexual” is now considered a pejorative due to its prior negative stigma, and should not be used by the general public, Whitley said. The term “non-binary,” in contrast, is both its own category and an umbrella category, she said.

“Our goal is to shift into a holistic model, which we do through education and changing how we speak and interact,” Whitley said. “This is the first step in breaking out of that binary mindset.”

She added that “Gender and sex aren’t the same thing, and it’s very important that we know the difference between the two. Gender identity is how we see ourselves, our innermost self, and this can change over time. Gender identity is something you don’t know about a person until they tell you—you can’t know it by looking at them. Someone can be cisgender and transgender; the idea that you have to be one or the other is not the case,” she said. “All these identities are valid.”

Whitley also introduced the term “intersex,” defined as a way to describe people “born with variations that don’t fit doctors’ expectations of a male or female body.” What these specific variations are was not addressed in the presentation.

“The intersex rate is much higher than people realize,” she said. “It’s as common as being born with red hair.” No research information was provided to confirm this statement, however.

Whitley made a number of additional statistics-related statements during the presentation but offered no sources to back them up. Questions were asked via chat box, but no debate was allowed.

‘Cisgender Privilege’

While “white privilege” continues to be a heated topic of debate, Whitley added to the subject by introducing another new term, “cisgender privilege,” into the mix. (“Cisgender” is an individual who “aligns” with his or her biological gender.)

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Poll: Stitt, Lankford hold large leads, Dahm now second in Senate primary

According to a new survey from Amber Integrated, Governor Kevin Stitt (R) holds a 47% to 32% lead over Joy Hofmeister (D) in the 2022 gubernatorial race, while U.S. Senator James Lankford (R) holds a commanding lead over his two GOP challengers - garnering 56% to State Sen. Nathan Dahm's 9% and Jackson Lahmeyer's 8%.

I find the Senate results to be somewhat ironic. When Nathan Dahm announced he was joining the race, Jackson Lahmeyer supporters loudly complained on social media that Dahm was getting in too late (a laughable statement). 

In the previous Amber poll, Lankford had 62%, Lahmeyer had 21%, and Dahm (who had just entered) was at 3%. Now, Dahm and Lahmeyer are statistically tied after Lahmeyer's support plunged dramatically. 

Anyway, the following release has some more results and details:

New Survey Shows Partisan Split on COVID; Gov. Kevin Stitt Maintains Lead Over Supt. Joy Hofmeister in Governor’s Race

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma-based public affairs firm Amber Integrated has released a survey measuring voter attitudes about elected leaders and other political issues and current events. This survey was conducted from December 15 - December 19, 2021, and included a pool of 500 registered voters in Oklahoma. This survey has a margin of error of 4.38% at a 95% confidence interval. 

The full survey, including crosstabs, can be downloaded here.

Some key findings include:

Republicans list economic concerns as their number one priority, while Democrats say COVID is.

In December, 13% of voters identified COVID-19 as their number one public policy concern that state lawmakers should address, topped by “jobs and the economy” (28%) and education (15%). Concern over COVID sharply diverges among party lines.

  • For Democrats, fighting COVID is the number one issue, with 22% identifying it as a priority, before “jobs and the economy” (18%) and education (16%).
  • Just 6% of Republicans, however, identify COVID as their number one issue. Instead, Republicans say they are primarily concerned with “jobs and the economy” (36%), “law and order” (16%) and education (16%).Independents list their priorities as “jobs and the economy” (26%), COVID-19 (18%) and education (15%).

Gov. Kevin Stitt is beating Supt. Joy Hofmeister in a head-to-head matchup.

  • Gov. Kevin Stitt is currently leading Joy Hofmeister in a head-to-head matchup, with 47% of voters saying they would vote for Stitt or lean towards voting for Stitt and 32% saying they would vote for Hofmeister or lean towards Hofmeister. Twenty-one percent remain undecided. Those numbers remain almost unchanged from an October survey that showed 49% of voters reporting they would vote for Stitt or leaned towards Stitt and 33% saying the same of Hofmeister.

U.S. Sen. James Lankford has a large lead in his primary election; other Republican primaries are toss-ups.

  • Fifty-six percent of Republican voters say they plan on voting for Lankford or lean towards Lankford in the upcoming primary election for U.S. Senate, compared to 9% for State Sen. Nathan Dahm and 8% for Jackson Lehmeyer. Twenty-four percent remain undecided.
  • In other Republican primary races, however, a majority of voters remain undecided, making these races wide-open. Fifty-six percent of Republican voters are undecided when it comes to who they will support in the race for attorney general, 57% are undecided on who they will support in the race for state superintendent of public instruction, and 52% are undecided on who they will support in the primary election for state treasurer.

Voters support Gov. Stitt’s decision to take Julius Jones off death row. 

Monday, December 20, 2021

Report: Oklahoma ranks first in region for teacher pay


Oklahoma’s teacher shortage has long been blamed on low teacher pay, but a new report from the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) shows that excuse no longer holds water.

“After applying adjustments for both tax burdens and cost of living, Oklahoma’s average teacher salary ranks number one in the immediate region and is the only state within the surrounding region to be ranked higher than the national average,” Brad Ward, program evaluator for LOFT, told legislators serving on the LOFT oversight committee.

For its latest report, LOFT officials compared teacher pay in Oklahoma to all other states, taking into account cost-of-living differences and tax burden to determine the real buying power of Oklahoma teachers. LOFT officials also accounted for the value of teacher benefits in each state, including retirement, state-funded health benefits, and Social Security benefits.

Ward said LOFT found Oklahoma “to have the most complete offering of benefits within the region.”

“Oklahoma’s compensation levels are highly competitive both regionally and nationally,” Ward said. “After adjusting for tax burden and cost-of-living differences, the average Oklahoma teacher salary ranks highest in the immediate seven-state region, fourth-highest in the broader region as defined by the Southern Regional Education Board, and 21st-highest in the nation.”

At a district level, cost-of-living differences mean some Oklahoma teachers in rural areas have significant purchasing power.

“In 2019, the average salary in Okemah was $50,587, but after adjustments the real buying power increased by 17 percent to $59,385,” Ward said.

While Texas is often touted as outbidding Oklahoma for teachers, LOFT found only 20 percent of school districts in Texas pay higher effective salaries than the average pay in Oklahoma.

More broadly, LOFT’s analysis of 2,470 school districts’ average salaries within the surrounding seven-state region showed that only 31 percent offer higher average teacher pay than Oklahoma.

In response, Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister downplayed the importance of teacher pay.

“When we look at cost alone and compare that with other states, even with cost-of-living adjustments, it can be one-dimensional,” Hofmeister said. “Because we are not examining what the teachers are asked to do in this state compared to other states.”

She said Oklahoma has a “more severe teacher shortage than in other states” and suggested Oklahoma teachers are asked to take on tasks teachers elsewhere are not, including driving bus routes and cleaning classrooms.

Typically, schools provide additional compensation for driving a bus. That additional pay would not be counted as teacher compensation in LOFT’s analysis.

LOFT’s analysis indicated factors other than pay play a major role in Oklahoma’s teacher shortage.

Mike Jackson, executive director of LOFT, noted that teacher shortages “are not uniform across teaching areas” with the greatest shortages in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) courses.

LOFT found Oklahoma colleges of education are attracting significantly fewer students than they did a decade ago and are not only producing too few teachers to address STEM needs but also producing too many candidates for other positions.

“LOFT found that Oklahoma’s education pipeline is not producing enough graduates, and those graduating are misaligned to the teacher-labor market,” Jackson said.

LOFT found state colleges of education are failing to produce enough graduates to replace retiring teachers, leading to shortages.

“Oklahoma’s public teacher-preparation programs have not kept pace with the number of teachers retiring each year,” Jackson said. “Over the past 10 years, 29,574 Oklahoma teachers have retired, but Oklahoma’s public institutions have produced enough graduates to fill only 46 percent of those vacancies in the same time period.”

During that period, Jackson said enrollment in teacher-education programs declined by 48 percent. And increasing teacher pay has had no notable impact on reducing teacher attrition in Oklahoma. In Oklahoma, 21 percent of teachers leave after their first year in the profession and 53 percent leave public schools after five years.

“In reviewing annual teacher-attrition data, LOFT found that despite the average Oklahoma teacher salary increasing over time, the annual teacher-attrition rate continues to rise,” Jackson said.

LOFT suggested the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) could compile teacher labor-market data to inform colleges of education and prospective students on areas of need.

But Hofmeister dismissed that idea.

“OSDE is neither the employer nor are we the producer of the teacher supply, and OSDE is also not the state’s workforce development agency and is leery of mission expansion to include tasks such as analyzing workforce trends and occupational data,” Hofmeister said.

That prompted some pushback from lawmakers.

“For the edification of all of us who believe that a high-quality free public-education system is the silver bullet to economic prosperity for our state, whose responsibility is it for the teacher workforce?” asked Rep. Meloyde Blancett, D-Tulsa.

“That would fall under commerce and workforce development,” Hofmeister responded.

While Oklahoma’s average teacher pay ranks highest in the region, LOFT officials found that the state’s mandatory minimum salary schedule for teachers is flawed and may contribute to workforce attrition over time.

“Oklahoma’s compensation structure is heavily weighted on the front end with an emphasis on raising starting salaries but provides limited income adjustments at the mid- and late-career points,” said Kaitlyn Jasper, program evaluator for LOFT.

While Oklahoma’s salary schedule increases pay for teachers who obtain additional college degrees, the pay increase does not offset the cost of obtaining the degree. As a result, while a first-year teacher with a bachelor’s degree can work towards obtaining a doctorate, there is little real payoff.

“LOFT calculates that for a first-year teacher pursuing this path, it would take 14 years of scheduled salary increases to offset the average cost of these degrees,” Jasper said.

She also noted most states have transitioned away from teacher-salary schedules and Oklahoma is one of only 14 states to still set minimum salary schedules with progression steps. In contrast, Colorado and Texas have been shifting to “market-based approaches,” Jasper said.

While the average teacher pay in most Texas schools is lower than the average pay in Oklahoma, the embrace of performance pay has resulted in some individual Texas districts paying far more than Oklahoma.

“From a district-level perspective, Dallas may be Oklahoma’s greatest regional competition,” Jasper said. “Dallas Public Schools shifted from a traditional salary structure to a salary structure that pays teachers according to their performance in the classroom. Teachers may move up pay levels based on effectiveness. For example, an experienced master teacher can make up to $114,000.”

The LOFT report noted that state law requires the State Board of Education to develop a minimum of five different model incentive pay plans to be distributed to local school boards. But the report said LOFT officials “found no evidence” that OSDE had fulfilled that statute.

[Originally posted by the Center for Independent Journalism]

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Oklahoma unemployment rate hits record low, remains 3rd lowest in nation


OKLAHOMA CITY (Dec. 17, 2021) — The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports Oklahoma’s November 2021 unemployment rate has declined to a new record low of 2.5% and remains the third lowest rate in the nation.

Oklahoma’s unemployment rate improved from 2.7% in October, which had been the lowest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started using the current method of measuring unemployment in 1976.

“It is encouraging to see our unemployment rate continue to decline and show that Oklahoma’s economy remains one of the strongest in the nation,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “While we celebrate record low unemployment, we must also remain focused on expanding and training Oklahoma’s workforce to make sure businesses can hire and retain the employees they need to keep our economy thriving.”

High School students encouraged to apply for State House page program

Hill Encourages Students to Apply for House Page Program

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives is encouraging high school juniors and seniors to apply for the High School Page Program

Every year, hundreds of students from across the state have the opportunity to take part in the House High School Page Program at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. Students participating in the program have the chance to view the legislative process up close and gain experience working in state government.

Rep. Brian Hill, R-Mustang, serves as director of the High School Page Program for the 58th Legislature.

"It's an honor to guide these students through their time at the State Capitol," Hill said. "It's always fun to watch their excitement and interest in state government grow as a result of their experience in the page program. This is truly a fantastic learning opportunity for students and a wonderful way to become civically engaged."

Pages accepted to the program are assigned for one week, arriving on Sunday and working Monday through Thursday afternoon, during the legislative session, which runs from the first Monday in February through the last Friday in May.

The students meet members of the House and other elected officials, work in the House Chamber during daily session, take part in the House Page Mock Legislature on the floor of the House Chamber and experience behind-the-scenes tours of areas of the Capitol and other agencies.

Saturday, December 18, 2021

OCPA column: OU football coach’s hiring a model for other jobs

OU football coach’s hiring a model for other jobs
By Jonathan Small

New OU Football Coach Brent Venables may be the most fortunate man working in a prominent position in Oklahoma higher education.

Venables is blessed to have been hired based on merit, free from the “diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI) mania imposed on applicants for nearly every other job at OU.

In 2019, OU President Joseph Harroz Jr. told the school’s student newspaper that the “absolute most important thing to me” is to “get it right around diversity and inclusion.”

“Race and ethnicity have to be—we have to get that right,” Harroz said. “If we don't get that right, nothing else matters. I mean, period.”

OU job postings indicate Harroz wasn’t kidding. A posting for an assistant professor in math education said applicants should contribute to “mathematics for equity and social justice.” Those applying for an assistant professor of performance position at the school of musical theatre were expected to equip students to “explore and expose oppressive structures and power dynamics within our culture.” The college of architecture issued a report calling for “an anonymous, online reporting mechanism” to “allow the documentation of faculty and staff practices that contribute to white supremacy” and said white students should be taught “cultural humility.”

Job applicants at OU, for a wide range of positions, are now required to submit a “diversity, equity and inclusion” statement along with their job qualifications.

Lankford, Rubio file bill to stop funding states and cities that allow non-citizens to vote

Lankford, Rubio Want to Prohibit Non-Citizens From Voting

WASHINGTON, DC — Senator James Lankford, along with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), introduced the Protecting Our Democracy by Preventing Foreign Citizens from Voting Act to prohibit federal funding to states and localities that allow non-citizens to vote. Senators Steve Daines (R-MT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), John Kennedy (R-LA), and Rick Scott (R-FL) joined Lankford and Rubio in introducing the legislation. Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC) will introduce companion legislation in the US House of Representatives. 

“Democrats are not fooling anyone with their election schemes; the latest is to allow non-citizens to vote in New York City elections. This is ridiculous—only American citizens should vote in American elections,” Lankford said. “A government by the people for the people should be determined by its people. The Fifteenth Amendment guarantees the right of every citizen to vote. Federal law and federal funding should uphold and honor the Constitution. Our nation’s elections at every level should be fair, secure, and decided by American citizens.”

“It’s ridiculous that states are allowing foreign citizens to vote,” Rubio said. “However, if states and localities do let those who are not US citizens to vote in elections, they shouldn’t get US citizen taxpayer money.” 

Friday, December 17, 2021

Bice files bill to block Biden's oil release until energy leases on federal land are renewed

Reps. Bice, Budd Introduce Strategically Lowering Gas Prices Act

Washington, D.C. (Dec. 16,  2021)  – Today, Reps. Stephanie Bice (R-OK) and Ted Budd (R-NC) introduced the Strategically Lowering Gas Prices Act

The bill would prohibit President Biden from releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) until the executive orders blocking energy development on federal land are revoked.

Read the full text of the bill here.

Other original co-sponsors include: Reps. Scott Perry, Buddy Carter, Ashley Hinson, Louie Gohmert, Greg Steube, Tom Cole, and Bob Gibbs.

Rep. Bice said in a statement:

“President Biden’s actions continue to degrade our nation’s oil and gas industry and the high-paying jobs that it provides. Instead of turning to American companies to increase output, Biden used his executive power to release 50 million barrels of oil from our country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve to help lower gas prices. That’s why the Strategically Lowering Gas Prices Act is important. This legislation would disallow the president from ordering a sell off from the SPR while executive orders or mandates are in effect blocking oil and gas leasing on federal lands. The SPR was created specifically to draw upon in times of emergency or significant shortage, not to help a president whose strategies have failed to save face with the American people.”

Lucas, Inhofe: Biden's death tax plan hurts farmers, ranchers

Biden's Stepped-Up Basis Plan Hurts Farmers, Ranchers
by Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. Frank Lucas

(December 11, 2021) You don’t have to travel very far in Oklahoma to understand how important farming and agriculture are to our state. We are the second-largest beef-cow-producing state and fourth-largest wheat producing state in the nation. Oklahoma is also home to over 86,000 farms, covering 35 million acres. Farms and ranches have been passed down in many families from generation to generation—our agricultural roots run very deep.

Take the Brandon family from Kay County for example. Charlie Brandon and his wife, Lindsey, grow wheat, corn, sorghum, soybeans and oats on their family farm. They also own a hay business and a cow-calf and stocker operation. The Brandon farm has been passed down from generation to generation starting with Charlie’s great-grandparents. Charlie and Lindsey’s children, Piper, Baylin and Bowen, will be fifth-generation farmers—a very special opportunity. We are proud to know many families in Oklahoma who share the Brandons’ story—family farms are part of our state’s identity.

Back in 2017, Congress made history by enacting the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the first comprehensive tax reform legislation in 30 years. This critical legislation continued Congress’ commitment to ensure farmers like the Brandon family aren’t disproportionately taxed on their assets. Our friend and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, Sen. John Boozman, said it best in Fox News:

“Farmers are land rich and cash poor. Their farmland is equivalent to a farmer’s 401(k). Instead of traditional retirement accounts, farmers and ranchers invest in cropland and pastureland, and tirelessly work that land in an effort to create a more prosperous future for their loved ones.”

Democrats are trying to get rid of the stepped-up basis, consequently increasing taxes on hard-working farmers like the Brandon family to pay for their socialist agenda for coastal states like New York and California. They would like you to believe that stepped-up basis is a government subsidy for wealthy heirs and that the wealthiest family dynasties absorb the overwhelming majority of the benefit. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Epic Charter Schools agrees to repay $9.1M to State after audit, bringing total to $20M

As you might recall, Epic Charter Schools somewhat took the public education scene by storm over the past several years, rapidly becoming the largest public school system/district in the state. The education establishment felt threatened by the growth of virtual charter schools (which... isn't that basically what brick-and-mortar schools turned into due to COVID-19?), and started to go after their new competitors.

Unfortunately for Epic, it seems that they failed to follow certain state education rules and basic finance procedures, to the point that earlier this year they were charged $10.5M in penalties. The State Board of Education, last October, demanded that Epic pay $11.2M, which Epic disputed. Upon further review by the State Auditor's office, Epic has now agreed to repay $9.11M, bringing their total in penalties to around twenty million dollars.

The press releases below are from State Auditor Cindy Byrd and State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister (who is, herself, a misrepresenting fraud):


 OKLAHOMA CITY – After a thorough review of the investigative audit of Epic Charter Schools conducted by the State Auditor’s office last year, and a ruling by the State Board of Education (SDE), Epic Charter Schools has agreed to repay $9.11 million to the state.  

“I want to commend SDE for its work to determine Epic’s administrative costs,” said State Auditor & Inspector Cindy Byrd.  “Because of our audit, Epic will return approximately $20 million in total to the State. 

“Epic Charter Schools is a public school district, funded 100% by taxpayers, and my office has a duty to make sure they are spending the money properly.  We asked for records and its hired education management company (EMO) refused to fully comply.  Our audit findings verified the numbers based on the information the company did provide.  Today’s agreement confirms that Epic’s EMO abused millions of taxpayer dollars by hiding its excessive administrative costs.”

Under the operating agreement between Epic Charter Schools and its hired management company, owners Ben Harris and David Chaney were taking 10% of every dollar Epic received to provide administration and management to the school.  Their 10% fee exceeds the 5% administrative cap in state law.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Lankford: "Our nation’s out-of-control spending needs to stop"

Lankford Strongly Opposes Raising Debt Ceiling

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) issued the following statement after Senate Democrats voted to increase the debt ceiling, which Lankford has been critical of for months saying Democrats should be responsible for their reckless spending:

“As I have stated throughout this process, I am strongly opposed to raising the debt ceiling without ever having a conversation about how to stop out-of-control federal spending. This entire process of continued unchecked spending only encourages more unchecked spending. Democrats have already spent over $3 trillion this year and still want to spend another $2 plus trillion. Their vote to increase the debt ceiling by $2.5 trillion paves the way for more overspending and more debt in the next 13 months. It is time to get Congress back to actual budgeting that does not put our country into debt. Our nation’s out-of-control spending needs to stop.”

Monday, December 13, 2021

Cherokee Chief mocks Oklahoma's anti-CRT efforts

As the Cherokee chief calls for “a full understanding of history,” some experts say that should include classroom instruction about the Cherokees’ participation in chattel slavery of black people, its participation in the Civil War on the side of the Confederacy, and its broken promises on treaties.

[By Ray Carter - Director, Center for Independent Journalism] In a recent online post, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin, Jr., mocked efforts to keep Critical Race Theory (CRT) out of Oklahoma classrooms.

“The solution in search of problem nonsense that is the ban on ‘critical race theory’ continues to sap time & energy and undermine efforts at seeking a full understanding of history and culture,” Hoskin tweeted on Nov. 26. “We’d waste less time banning unicorns.”

Hoskin’s tweet came in response to news regarding the implementation of House Bill 1775, which bans K-12 schools from teaching that “one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex,” that “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously,” and other similar concepts broadly associated with Critical Race Theory.

In touting the need for a “full understanding of history and culture,” Hoskin echoed the arguments of many CRT supporters and/or opponents of HB 1775.

Ironically, one area where Oklahoma students are seldom provided “full understanding,” according to critics, is the Cherokee Nation’s participation in chattel slavery of black people and the tribe’s participation in the Civil War on the side of the Confederacy, alongside four other tribes—the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole, and Muscogee tribes.

Some experts say that chapter of history deserves much more classroom focus.

“Although there were Indigenous people who integrated states of unfreedom within their communities, as other scholars have demonstrated, these were not exactly the same structures and processes as the practice of chattel slavery. And still, some members of the Five Tribes practiced chattel slavery in their southeastern communities and later on in Indian Territory (present-day Oklahoma),” said Celia E. Naylor, professor of Africana Studies at Columbia University and author of African Cherokees in Indian Territory: From Chattel to Citizens.

“It is important for students in history classrooms, and for everyone, to understand the complexities of slavery in the U.S. and in Indigenous nations,” she said. “Without reckoning with the complexities of slavery in the past, we will continue to navigate the various iterations of the afterlives of slavery in the present day.”

A 2016 senior thesis by Olivia DeWitt at Southern Adventist University, “Red Masters & Their Black Slaves in a White Man’s War: The Five Civilized Tribes’ Relationship with the Confederacy in Light of Slavery,” highlighted how the Five Tribes’ slavery practices were strongly linked to their decision to ally with the Confederacy. DeWitt suggests history texts have too often downplayed the role of slavery within the tribes.

“History has largely ignored the enslavement of blacks by Indians before and during the Civil War, which some historians have called ‘one of the longest unwritten chapters in the history of the United States,’” DeWitt wrote.

As with the larger white population, relatively few Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Seminole, and Muscogee individuals owned black slaves, according to records, but a substantial number of slaves were nonetheless collectively owned by members of the Five Tribes.

The Oklahoma Historical Society reports, “By the time of the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, the tribes’ members owned approximately ten thousand slaves.”

In a 2014 article, the Atlanta Black Star reported that Cherokees “held more Black slaves than any other Native American community. By 1860, the Cherokee had 4,600 slaves.”

Among the Cherokee Nation, DeWitt found 330 of the tribe’s 13,821 members owned 2,511 black slaves.

“In lifestyle and sometimes even physical appearance, many of the slave-owning Indians were indistinguishable from white southerners,” DeWitt wrote.

The Five Tribes’ cultural embrace of chattel slavery caused them to behave differently from all other tribes during the Civil War era, DeWitt found, writing that the Five Tribes “did not have political motives and were not forced into an alliance; the issue of slavery seems to have been motivation enough to ally against the Union.”

“Out of all the tribes residing in Indian Territory, only the five slave-owning tribes chose to ally and fight with the Confederacy,” DeWitt wrote.

Following the Civil War, the Five Tribes signed treaties promising to give citizenship to their former slaves (referred to as Freedmen) and their descendants. But critics note the tribes substantially failed to live up to those treaty promises.

Marilyn Vann, president of the Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Tribes Association, credits the Cherokees with having begun to deal with the reality of the tribe’s history regarding slavery.

“Right now the tribe has a call out in order to get Freedmen people to provide historical materials to throw into a museum,” Vann said. “So I would say the Cherokee Nation is not trying to shy away from the past.”

The Cherokee Freedmen History Project is seeking historical materials, references, documents, and images to address gaps in representation and storytelling at all tribal sites.

Vann said some of the other Five Tribes continue to be far more resistant to recognizing Freedmen descendants. However, she also noted the Cherokees’ willingness to accept Freedmen is a relatively recent development.

“For so long, you had people like Chief (Chad) Smith that opposed Freedmen citizenship,” Vann said. “The attitude was kind of like, ‘We can do what we want to.’ It’s going to take time to get past those years that the treaty was not being followed.”

Smith was first elected principal chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1999 and went on to serve three terms before losing a bid for a fourth term in 2011.

Critics of HB 1775 argued the law would prevent teaching students about the history of racial strife in the United States, but supporters noted the bill explicitly authorizes teaching materials covered in Oklahoma’s state academic standards.

‘Teaching History in All of Its Complexities’

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Members of Oklahoma delegation write Biden over withholding Nat'l Guard paychecks

Bice, Members of Oklahoma Delegation, Send Letter Opposing Withholding National Guard Paychecks 

Washington, D.C. – Representative Stephanie Bice (R-OK-05) today led a letter to President Biden and Secretary of Defense Austin expressing concern over their intent to withhold the pay of Oklahoma National Guard soldiers and airmen who decline the COVID-19 vaccine. She was joined by Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford, as well as Representatives Kevin Hern (OK-01), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02) and Frank Lucas (OK-03). 

The members wrote: “We believe that threatening the compensation of our Guardsmen serving in uniform is unfair. What’s worse, this threat to servicemember paychecks comes right before the holidays, and in the midst of the highest levels of inflation our nation has seen in decades. It’s one thing to threaten state governments, but it’s another thing entirely to threaten the paychecks of our nation’s brave servicemembers.” 

State Election Board reminds 2022 candidates of modified qualifications due to redistricting

State Election Board Secretary Reminds 2022 Candidates
of Modified Requirements for Select Offices

(Oklahoma City) – The Secretary of the State Election Board reminds prospective 2022 candidates for State Senator, State Representative and County Commissioner that they have until December 31, 2021 to meet the following qualifications:

  • Establish residency in the district in which the candidate intends to run.
  • Register to vote in the district in which the candidate intends to run.
  • Register as a member of a political party (if seeking a party nomination) or as an Independent (if seeking office as an Independent.)

Other qualifications for these offices remain the same.

The modifications were enacted by the Oklahoma State Legislature during a recent special session and are intended as a one-time accommodation in response to new district lines. The modifications are only valid for those offices listed above for the 2022 election year. Qualifications for candidates seeking other state and county offices on the ballot in 2022 are not affected by the temporary changes.

Friday, December 10, 2021

OCPA column: McGirt harming Oklahoma nationally

McGirt harming Oklahoma nationally
By Jonathan Small

Some tribal leaders argue the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma, which found a reservation was never disestablished in Oklahoma and that state officials therefore cannot prosecute many crimes involving American Indian victims or criminals, is a boon to the state.

But any ruling that leads a national publication to publish an editorial titled, “How to Get Away With Manslaughter,” as recently occurred in The Wall Street Journal, cannot be viewed as a windfall. Just the opposite in fact, since it means many national companies now have good reason to cross Oklahoma off any expansion list.

But, as I have noted before, the problems with McGirt are much worse than mere reputational harm for Oklahoma. The problems are seen in the denial of justice for families in areas impacted by McGirt, which now comprise nearly half of Oklahoma.

The cases highlighted by the Journal include Shaynna Sims, who in 2015 mutilated the body of a woman who had an affair with Sims’ husband—attacking the corpse in the funeral home. Because the deceased woman was 1/64 Muscogee (the equivalent of having a great-great-great-great grandparent who was full blood) and Sims was not, the state cannot re-prosecute Sims. Neither can the tribe. And the statute of limitations has run out for federal prosecution.

The Journal also noted the case of Richard Ray Roth, who while driving drunk in 2013 struck a 12-year-old boy, Billy Lord, who was riding a bicycle. Roth didn’t stop to tend to the boy as he lay dying, and instead drove home first before returning to the scene.

The child victim in that case was Cherokee. Roth was non-Indian. In state court, Roth was given 20 years, but that sentence has been overturned thanks to McGirt. Again, tribal officials can’t prosecute Roth and the crime cannot be retried in federal court.

At a hearing last year, Billy Lord’s mother noted the insanity of the situation: “My son was tribal, but he was also a citizen of the United States. He was a citizen of Oklahoma.”

'Unite Norman' endorses Kish for mayor

Unite Norman Endorses Dr. Nicole Kish

Norman — Unite Norman, the leading grassroots organization in Norman, announced today it is endorsing Dr. Nicole Kish for Mayor.

Unite Norman co-founders lauded Dr. Kish’s experience as a doctor, small business owner, and military veteran as key to the endorsement, and to winning in February:

“Dr. Kish has the experience that Norman desperately needs right now,” said Sassan Moghadam, co-founder of Unite Norman and prominent businessman in Norman. “She is a doctor in the midst of a never-ending pandemic; she is a military Veteran who has served Oklahoma and her country honorably; and she has been a Small Business Owner in Norman for 22 years. She will make Norman less hostile to business than the current regime at City Hall.”

Dr. Kish, a co-founder of Unite Norman, was instrumental in helping the group garner nearly 25,000 signatures last year to recall the current Mayor, as well as recalling two city council members. She worked tirelessly behind the scenes while also running her thriving medical practice business full-time.

It was a trifecta of events that led Dr. Kish to consider running for Mayor. Her thriving business was negatively affected by the Mayor’s COVID-19 shutdowns last year. Next, the Mayor defunded the police by nearly $1 Million, which has led to a spike in crime and homelessness. Then, Dr. Kish and her medical practice were ruthlessly harassed for her support of Unite Norman and conservative causes.

It was then that Dr. Kish thought about running for Mayor.

“It is time for each and every one of us to stand up. I am honored to have the endorsement of Unite Norman,” said Dr. Nicole Kish, one of only two Republicans running for the non-partisan seat. “As a Small Business Owner, I’ve been victim to and am deeply concerned about the hostile attitude toward businesses in this town. This past year, the City lost nearly $1 Million to its general fund I believe directly related to the Mayor’s shutdowns, overbearing mask mandates, general hostility to businesses, and the defunding of police. We can and must do better to protect families and welcome businesses to town, not make them public enemy number one.”

Lucas' cattle bill passes House, aims to bring transparency to market for producers

Lucas' Cattle Contract Library Act Passes House

Washington, DC – Tonight, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5609- the Cattle Contract Library Act. Introduced by Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), and Frank Lucas (R-OK), the bipartisan bill would direct the United State Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) to establish a contract library for cattle producers, ensuring more transparency in the cattle market for producers. Congressman Frank Lucas released the following statement praising the passage of the Cattle Contract Library Act:

“Market strains have highlighted the vulnerabilities our cattlemen and women face day in-and-day out. For far too long, cattle producers have operated under volatile market conditions, forced to accept declining prices for live cattle while the cost of beef goes up at the grocery store. In order to guarantee greater competition, price discovery, and transparency, producers must be able to leverage marketing data while negotiating the price of cattle- and the Cattle Contract Library Act does just that,” said Congressman Frank Lucas. “I thank my House colleagues for passing the Cattle Contract Library Act, which will help America’s cattlemen and women better negotiate higher prices for their cattle. As Oklahoma’s farmers and ranchers know, data drives marketing decisions and the Cattle Contract Library Act will improve transparency and give more leverage to Oklahoma’s cattle producers. I thank Congressman Johnson and Congressman Cuellar for their leadership on this issue, and I look forward to working with our Senate colleagues to move this legislation forward.”

Currently, USDA maintains a pork contract library, and following significant volatility in the cattle market and the release of the July 2020 Boxed Beef & Fed Cattle Price Spread Investigation Report, the creation of a cattle contract library was recommended by experts and stakeholders.

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

State legislators file resolution to recognize day of mourning for aborted babies

Resolution filed to recognize day of mourning for aborted babies

OKLAHOMA CITY – Since the U.S. Supreme Court passed Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973, more than 62 million abortions have been performed. To mourn the loss of those precious lives, Sen. Jake Merrick, R-Yukon, and Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont, have filed Senate Concurrent Resolution 14.

“It’s a common practice in our country to have special days or fly flags at half-staff to mourn the loss of great Americans,” Merrick said. “We want to do both in recognition and honor of the millions of children whose freedoms and lives have been taken from them so brutally. They’ll never have the opportunity to be great because they’ll never get to pursue their dreams or fulfill their destinies. For that tremendous loss, we will take time on the anniversary of that awful day when abortion was made legal to mourn their sweet souls.”

SCR 14 seeks to recognize Jan. 22 as the Day of Tears in Oklahoma and encourage Oklahomans to lower their flags to half-staff in mourning of the infant lives lost.

Hern votes against "swampy" debt limit increase

Hern votes against swampy debt limit increase

WASHINGTON, DC – Representative Kevin Hern (OK-01) released the following statement after voting against the House Amendment to S. 610, a bill changing the rules of the Senate to allow the Democrats to circumvent the 60-vote threshold for cloture, which they can already do using the reconciliation process.

“Earlier this year, I led over 100 of my colleagues in the House in the commitment against voting for a debt limit increase,” said Rep. Hern. “Our Republican colleagues in the Senate signed a similar commitment, giving the Democrats several months’ notice that they would need to do this on their own. Instead of working ahead to avoid a default on our debts, Democrats waited until the last minute and are trying to rewrite the rules of the Senate instead of using the tools already at their disposal, like the reconciliation process. The American people don’t trust these swampy maneuvers; they see through the false statements from Democrats who control the White House and both chambers of Congress yet blame their gridlock on Republicans.”

Long-Term Care group praises Stitt for opposing federal vax mandate

Care Providers Oklahoma Praises Gov. Stitt, AG O’Connor for Opposing Federal Vaccine Mandate on Health Care Workers

OKLAHOMA CITY – After a Capitol press conference today where Gov. Kevin Stitt and Attorney General John O’Connor touted Oklahoma’s opposition to federal vaccine mandates, Care Providers Oklahoma President and CEO Steven Buck praised the governor and the AG for mounting a strong legal challenge against mandates that would exacerbate the current health care workforce crisis. 

“The focus of our association is to help our members provide vulnerable Oklahomans with excellent care and the best quality of life in the safest environments possible,” said Buck. “At the forefront of that mission is the ability of every skilled nursing facility to field a well-trained and dedicated staff, a task that was difficult heading into the pandemic and has only intensified as it progressed.  Federal vaccine mandates, however well-intentioned, can make finding qualified staff impossible and will negatively impact senior health by forcing providers to stop taking new admissions and, in the direst circumstances, forcing them to close their doors. As I’ve been sharing for weeks, our buildings cannot afford to lose a single team member, and this federal vaccine mandate threatens our ability to provide the most basic of care. We appreciate Governor Kevin Stitt and Attorney General John O’Connor for recognizing the real-world impact of this onerous federal mandate and mounting an aggressive legal challenge."

Buck said the association and individual facilities, while opposing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) proposed vaccine mandate on health care workers (especially since CMS did not offer an alternative pathway for employees, such as more frequent testing), are working hard to get as many residents and employees voluntarily vaccinated as possible. 

Monday, December 06, 2021

State Rep files bill to lower vehicle transfer, trade-in taxes

Bashore Bill Would Lower Vehicle Transfer, Trade-in Taxes

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Steve Bashore, R-Miami, has filed legislation for 2022 that would reconfigure how the base excise tax is determined when a vehicle is transferred and would allow a trade-in deduction allowance on the purchase price of a vehicle.  

"Letting individuals to keep the money they've earned allows them to make their own decisions about how this income is best spent," Bashore said. "It's proven that lowering taxes and allowing this flexibility stimulates the economy."

Bashore said House Bill 2986 would bring Oklahoma in line with how regional states, such as Kansas, Texas and Arkansas, calculate excise tax – based on the net cost of a vehicle rather than the gross cost. It also would lower the taxation amount that Oklahomans currently face when trading vehicles. The measure is estimated to save taxpayers about $47.3 million in associated motor vehicle excise tax from the deduction of the trade-in allowance.

Sunday, December 05, 2021

OK Dems go with "open" primary for 2022, Libertarians and GOP opt out

Political Parties Notify Election Board Secretary About “Open” Primaries

(Oklahoma City) – Every odd-numbered year, recognized political parties in Oklahoma are required to notify the Secretary of the State Election Board whether or not the party will allow registered Independents to vote in its primary elections.

State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax announced today that he has been notified by the Oklahoma Democratic Party that it will allow Independents to vote in its primaries in 2022 and 2023.

The Oklahoma Libertarian Party notified Secretary Ziriax that it will close its primaries to Independent voters. The Oklahoma Republican Party did not send a notification to the Secretary, which by law means that Independents cannot vote in Republican primaries.

“This means, there is no change for unaffiliated voters in 2022. As was the case in 2020 and 2021, Independent voters may vote in Democratic Party primaries, but not in Republican or Libertarian primaries,” Ziriax said.

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Oklahoma suing Biden admin over Nat'l Guard vax mandate

Stitt: “It is unconscionable that Biden is choosing to play politics with military paychecks.”

OKLAHOMA CITY (Dec. 2, 2021) – Governor Kevin Stitt released the following statement regarding a federal lawsuit filed today to prohibit the Biden administration from punishing members of the Oklahoma National Guard for not being vaccinated against COVID-19 while in Title 32 status:

“The U.S. Constitution, the Oklahoma Constitution, and U.S. Code Title 32 are all clear: as governor, I am the Commander-in-Chief of the Oklahoma National Guard.

“Therefore, unless mobilized by the President of the United States under U.S. Code Title10, I retain the authority for all training and governance of the Oklahoma National Guard – including determining if and how training guidelines issued by the president will be implemented.

“This week, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin declared his intention to proceed with unconstitutional punishment that individually targets Oklahoma National Guard soldiers and airmen, including withholding their pay.

“It is unconscionable that President Biden and his administration are choosing to play politics with military paychecks, especially amid the highest inflation rate in 30 years and so close to the holiday season.

“Threatening the pay of National Guard members is manifestly unlawful and unfair, as unvaccinated active-duty personnel do not have their pay withheld.

“Further, it is hypocritical that Secretary Austin addresses the importance of medical readiness in his letter but fails to mention that unlike active-duty personnel, National Guard members are not provided health care and must purchase it themselves. If medical readiness is truly that high of a priority to the Department of Defense, it should provide health care for all National Guard Soldiers and Airmen like it does for active duty service members.

“I will continue fighting to protect Oklahoma against this alarming pattern of unconstitutional federal overreach coming from the Biden administration.”

Attorney General O'Connor Sues Over COVID-19 Vaccine Mandate for Military and Federal Employees

OKLAHOMA CITY - Today, the State of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit against the Biden Administration to stop its mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirement for federal employees and the National Guard.  The Office of the Oklahoma Attorney General has asked a federal court to grant a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and/or preliminary injunction followed by a permanent injunction, preventing the Biden Administration from enforcing the vaccine mandate.

Additionally, the lawsuit asks the Court to block the Biden Administration from withholding federal funding from the Oklahoma National Guard or its Guard members.  Finally, our office asks the Court to declare the mandate unconstitutional on multiple grounds.

“Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate ensures that many Oklahoma National Guard members will simply quit instead of getting a vaccine, a situation that will irreparably harm Oklahomans’ safety and security,” said Attorney General John O’Connor.  “These patriots, along with many federal employees, who serve their country and their state are now at risk of being terminated because they do not wish to take the vaccine.”

OCPA column: A modern day Marie Antoinette

A modern day Marie Antoinette
By Jonathan Small

According to legend, Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France, responded to reports of people lacking bread by saying, “Let them eat cake.” If Antoinette were with us today, she would not only avoid the guillotine but might very well be a top member of the Biden administration. With her attitude and understanding, she would fit right in. No presidential administration in recent memory has proven so inept and out-of-touch.

For example, the grandiosely titled American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), a blowout-spending bill advanced under the supposed auspices of COVID relief, has done little besides fuel inflation that reduces families’ buying power and quality of life.

The Biden administration’s response to inflation has been less-than-impressive. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg suggested Americans should purchase electric cars so they “never have to worry about gas prices again.”

You read that right. He suggested you buy an electric vehicle (reported average Kelly Blue Book price of $55,676) rather than a new compact car ($25,240) or a new sports car ($44,981) … to “save” money.

The administration’s other idea is to spend trillions more by passing its “Build Back Better” plan. At a time runaway spending is fueling the highest inflation in decades, the Biden administration’s solution is to spend even more and expect different results.

Friday, December 03, 2021

State House GOP calls for special session on overreaching federal vaccine mandates

House Republicans support special session on overreaching federal vaccine mandates

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Republicans support convening a special session to pass legislation addressing federal vaccine mandates facing court injunctions due to major constitutional concerns.

"President Biden's unconstitutional vaccine mandates are already under court injunctions secured by House Bill 1236 legal challenges," said House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka. "The injunctions are positive developments, but they are not permanent protections for Oklahomans being forced to choose between their freedom or their jobs. Just as House Republicans led to enact House Bill 1236, we stand ready at any time to fight overreaching federal vaccine mandates via legislation in a special session. House Republicans support securing freedom for Oklahomans immediately."

Through a lawsuit filed using the authority and funding granted by House Bill 1236 – coauthored by nearly all House Republicans – Attorney General John O'Connor secured a nationwide injunction Tuesday against attempted federal vaccine mandates for healthcare workers.

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Lankford calls for vote to prohibit National Guard pay cuts or discharge over vaccination status

Lankford Stands with National Guard, Opposes Pay Cuts Over Vaccine Mandates

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today stood firmly with the Oklahoma National Guard and Guard members around the nation and called for a vote on the Senate floor to offer his amendment to the Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would prohibit the Department of Defense from discharging or withholding pay or benefits from members of the National Guard because of their COVID–19 vaccination status.

Members and leaders of the Oklahoma National Guard have reached out to Lankford’s office to express their grave concerns as earlier this week Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin released a memorandum to warn unvaccinated National Guard members that they will not be paid or allowed to participate in training, and deployments if they don’t receive a COVID-19 vaccine. While the Defense Secretary can establish readiness requirements, he lacks the constitutional or statutory authority to enforce this type of requirement on Soldiers and Airmen within a state when the National Guard are not federally “activated” or deployed in defense of the nation. That power and authority regarding the Oklahoma National Guard is reserved to Governor Stitt at this time. Lankford’s amendment ensures Congress clearly maintains that important distinction with regard to the COVID-19 vaccination status.

Lankford has been vocal about President Biden’s Executive Order. Lankford introduced the COVID-19 Vaccine Dishonorable Discharge Prevention Act with Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS) to prohibit the Department of Defense from giving service members a dishonorable discharge for choosing not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Lankford sent a letter to President Biden outlining his concerns with the vaccine mandates and has stood firmly with Oklahoma service members, health care workers, federal employees, and private-sector workers who have chosen so far not to be vaccinated. Lankford called out President Biden and Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for not responding to a letter he sent in September calling on Austin to protect service members from being forced to choose between their sincerely held religious beliefs and serving in our nation’s military or National Guard.


State Reps. Cornwell, Bashore on Closure of Vinita VA Clinic

Cornwell, Bashore on Closure of Vinita VA Clinic

OKLAHOMA CITY – Reps. Rusty Cornwell, R-Vinita, and Steve Bashore, R-Miami, today released the following statement in response to news that the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs is seeking to close the Veterans Affairs clinic in Vinita.

"I am deeply disappointed by the sudden news that the Veterans Affairs clinic in Vinita will be closing," Cornwell said. "I've seen firsthand what a burden it was to travel so far for healthcare services. My grandfather was a veteran who had to travel several hours to visit a VA clinic, and he didn't visit as often as he probably needed to because it was so far away from his family and work responsibilities. And now, sadly, even more veterans will have to go through the exact same difficulties. My heart hurts that this is happening to the men and women who have given so much to our country and at the process by which this choice was made."

Cornwell continued: "The unexpected decision was announced without consulting my office or community leaders, despite the huge role the VA clinic plays in the Vinita community and the much-needed services it provides to our many veterans. I ask that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reconsider this closure and I hope to hear details soon regarding how and why this decision was reached."

"For many of the veterans from House District 7, the Vinita Veterans Affairs clinic is the closest facility to meet their healthcare needs," Bashore. "I don't want to see them have to make a longer drive to receive services. I, too, look forward to hearing from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on how they intend to best meet the needs of our local population. I thank our veterans for their service to our nation and our fellow citizens, and I want to ensure their needs are met in the best possible manner."