Saturday, April 17, 2021

Senate approves bill giving protections to drivers trying to escape riots


Senate approves bill giving protections to drivers trying to escape riots

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 14th) – The full Senate has approved legislation by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, and Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, to give legal protections to drivers trying to escape from riots.  House Bill 1674 was approved by the full Senate on Wednesday and would give civil and criminal liability protection to drivers who may unintentionally cause injury or death while fleeing a riot and imposes penalties for those who unlawfully obstruct streets or highways, blocking vehicles.

“We actually saw this happen here in Oklahoma last year when a Tulsa family was surrounded by rioters. Through no fault of their own, they were caught in a dangerous situation, and fearing for their lives, they were attempting to get away,” Standridge said.  “The prosecutor declined to file charges, but that may not always be the case.  This bill will protect innocent people trapped by a rioting mob.” 

State House passes bill aimed at preventing public meeting disruptions


House Passes Bill Aimed at Curbing Public Meeting Disruptions

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 15th) – Yesterday the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 403, a bill that will extend current statutes regarding the disruption of state meetings to cover school boards, county and municipal governments.

SB 403 was authored by Rep. Robert Manger, R-Oklahoma City, in the House and Sen. Brenda Stanley, R-Midwest City, in the Senate.

“We have rules of decorum that govern how business is handled in the Capitol, and I believe that same decorum should apply to other political subdivisions,” Manger said. “There are plenty of avenues for voices to be expressed on the issues without having to disruptively protest during a meeting.”

The bill will make it unlawful to disrupt or interfere with the business of any political subdivision.

OCPA column: OU gets warning on free speech


OU gets warning on free speech
By Jonathan Small

It’s hard to say what’s worse—that the University of Oklahoma is accused of trying to force staff and students to endorse positions they do not support, or that college leaders thought they could keep those efforts a secret.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), whose mission is to “defend and sustain the individual rights of students and faculty members at America’s colleges and universities,” recently focused its attention on OU’s mandatory diversity training.

FIRE notes that such training is not, in and of itself, an infringement on free-speech rights. But schools cross the line when they compel students or staff to endorse specific viewpoints.

FIRE says OU appears to have done just that, writing that OU’s training modules “go further, requiring students and faculty to answer questions in a manner that expresses agreement with the university’s viewpoints on thorny and difficult issues. Viewpoints with which students and faculty may not actually agree.”

Friday, April 16, 2021

Drive Oklahoma mobile app navigates users to more real-time travel information


Drive Oklahoma 
mobile app navigates users to more real-time travel information

The Drive Oklahoma mobile travel app and its companion website now offer motorists an upgraded travel experience with the addition of several enhanced navigation tools and options to better check traffic on interstates, U.S. and state highways as well as Oklahoma turnpikes before venturing out.

Through a partnership of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, the Drive Oklahoma mobile app and www.oktraffic.org provide several travel services such as real-time speed data, live traffic camera views of many Tulsa and Oklahoma City metro locations, Digital Message Sign information by location, real-time weather radar information and more. The updated versions of the app and website also offer a tutorial of the new features.

“Both ODOT and OTA are committed to improving motorists’ experience on our highways and turnpikes. Upgrading the Drive Oklahoma mobile app and the website puts more modern and user-friendly tools in drivers’ toolkits to help them achieve a safer trip each and every time they head out,” said Terri Angier, Oklahoma Transportation spokeswoman. “We encourage motorists to use these additional mobile app features to plan their routes before getting behind the wheel or ask their passengers to navigate for them.”

The mobile app debuted new branding, the name Drive Oklahoma and added real-time turnpike speed data in 2020. Now, just ahead of summer travel, additional upgrades include:

Oklahoma Legislative Dems vote against bill to remove dead people from voter rolls


Dead-voter bill passes over Democratic opposition
by Ray Carter (Director, Center for Independent Journalism)

[April 14, 2021]  Legislation that requires swift removal of dead individuals from voter rolls has passed the Oklahoma Senate over the united opposition of Senate Democrats.

House Bill 1752, by Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader and Sen. Dave Rader, requires county election boards to remove the names of deceased individuals from voter rolls within 30 days of notification.

“What this bill is trying to do is close an open-ended process,” said Rader, R-Tulsa.

Under current law he said the process for removal “could be carried on forever,” although he said some county election boards promptly remove the names of deceased individuals.

Crosswhite Hader made a similar point when she presented the bill on the House floor in March, saying the legislation simply provides a deadline for action that election boards can easily meet.

“Many times these county election boards are actually doing it even faster than 30 days,” said Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont. “I’ve heard even as quickly as a week.”

Even so, the bill faced opposition in both chambers.

In the Senate, HB 1752 passed on a vote of 38-8. All Democrats present voted against the bill’s passage.

That largely continued a trend begun in the Oklahoma House of Representatives where HB 1752 previously passed on a vote of 81-15. All opponents in that chamber were also Democrats, although four House Democrats did join Republicans in support.

House passes bill to extend apprenticeship programs to 16 year old students

Apprenticeship Bill Passes House

OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill that extends high school apprenticeship programs to include sophomores that are at least 16 years old passed unanimously in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 619 by Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, and Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, passed with a vote of 94-0. The bill was amended in the House, so it now moves back to the Senate for final passage.

“This bill is near and dear to my heart, as I work in the trades and see the need for such early training of our future workforce,” West said. “This opens the door to our students to the possibilities of great career opportunities in the trades. It will help us develop a stronger and more skilled workforce to attract greater business development and more jobs into the Oklahoma economy.”

Powerful Video: Open Your Church


The Canadian church is undergoing persecution for obeying the clear command of Scripture to assemble the saints for divinely-designated corporate worship. Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church in Edmondton, Alberta, spent over a month in prison for daring to hold worship services and preach at his church. Other pastors and churches have been fined and threatened with imprisonment.

One of those other churches is Trinity Bible Chapel in Windsor, Ontario. From Protestia.com:

Pastor Jacob Reaume has been fined thousands of dollars and faces jail time. The six elders have all been fined thousands. The church has 26 charges before the court and faces 30 million dollars in fines. They had a service in January that cost them $83,000 – fines and court costs which are not able to be waived, removed, or appealed.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

More Health Department woes: Attorney General suing to get money back from bad orders

In the panic of the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the State of Oklahoma seems to have made a series of bad purchase decisions, two of which have resulted in the Attorney General being forced to sue to get the state's money back.

Back in January, AG Mike Hunter filed a petition in district court for over $1.8 million over a personal protective equipment order that a company never delivered to the Oklahoma Department of Health. The Attorney General's press release notes that said company "was formed on March 23, the same day the first purchase order was made by the Department of Health." That should have set off alarm bells, but we are talking the Oklahoma Department of Health: they don't have a good financial track record.

The latest lawsuit is in regard to an order of nearly $900,000 for 40 ventilators in April 2020, of which only two were delivered by June. The order was canceled in October, but a portion of the original order was finally delivered in December. What a mess.


Attorney General Hunter Sues Distribution Company for Not Delivering Ventilators

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 13th) – Attorney General Mike Hunter has filed a lawsuit against A&K Distributors for failing to deliver an order of ventilators to the Oklahoma State Department of Health at the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic.

In the lawsuit, the state claims the Oklahoma State Department of Health paid over $890,000 for 40 ventilators last April. The company had only delivered two ventilators by June 2020. 

Despite canceling the order in October, the company had 21 ventilators delivered in December. The Oklahoma State Department of Health returned the wrongfully delivered ventilators but has not received a refund.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

State Rep. Sheila Dills hammers NCAA for opposing bill to protect women's sports


Dills Comments on NCAA Statements

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, today commented on statements from the NCAA that they will pull championship events from locations where transgender biologically male athletes are not allowed to participate in girl’s or women’s sports. The news came after passage of Senate Bill 2, the Save Women’s Sports Act, in a House committee last week. The act requires public school or college athletic teams to be designated based on biological sex. Dills is a coauthor of the bill.

We all want to promote business and economic development opportunities in our state and our local communities, and we certainly love athletics. But we cannot sacrifice our Oklahoma values, which include fairness in sport and the protection of opportunities for women and girls in Oklahoma, for the sake of dollars or even the popularity of such events.

Title IX, federal civil rights law, specifically protects women and girls based on the intent of the definition of biological sex. A small section of the population wants to cloud that intent.  

1889 Institute: End Oklahoma's corporate welfare for Hollywood

Hollywood hates Oklahoma's culture, people, values, and politics. Take one look at Georgia and see what reward there is for doling out years of corporate welfare to the woke leftists. It doesn't end well.


1889 INSTITUTE: END THE FILM ENHANCEMENT REBATE
Oklahoma offers one of the most generous film production subsidies in the nation.

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (April 7, 2021) – The 1889 Institute has published “Corporate Welfare Directory: Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate,” which makes it clear that the state’s tax rebate program for filmmaking is a corporate welfare scheme. Dressed up as something to help Oklahoma’s image and to create jobs, the 35 percent rebate applies to projects with production budgets as low as $50,000 and as little as $25,000 in qualifying expenses.

“With qualifying production budgets as small as this, it’s obvious that the Film Enhancement Rebate Program is more about throwing a sop to an industry than it is about making Oklahomans more prosperous,” said Tyler Williamson, the study’s author and 1889 Institute Research Associate. “One wonders if Oklahoma’s tax system is being manipulated just so our elected officials have a chance to meet movie stars,” he said.

In an earlier publication, the 1889 Institute devised a series of yes/no questions for determining if a particular policy could be considered corporate welfare. “The film rebate checks off every box,” said Williamson. “A recent Incentive Evaluation Commission report that supports the film rebate, reversing that commission’s earlier judgment changes nothing. The film rebate is a net cost and effectively a subsidy to a California-based, and very wealthy, industry,” Williamson said.

About the 1889 Institute

The 1889 Institute is an Oklahoma think tank committed to independent, principled state policy fostering limited and responsible government, free enterprise and a robust civil society. The publication, “Corporate Welfare Directory: Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate” and other reports can be found on the nonprofit’s website at www.1889institute.org

AFP-OK applauds Governor, Legislature for new law to reduce red tape

Yeah, I know, I'm not a graphic designer...

Americans for Prosperity-Oklahoma Commends Governor Stitt For Signing Bill to Reduce Burdensome Red Tape

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK -- Today, Americans for Prosperity-Oklahoma commended Governor Kevin Stitt for signing into law S.B. 913, a transformative bill that will provide for a more expedited review of state regulations and give the Legislature additional oversight of agency rules. AFP-OK continues to work closely with Governor Stitt to reduce regulations and foster a culture of a “customer-focused” state government

AFP-OK State Director John Tidwell issued the following statement:

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Gov. Stitt signs major regulatory reform bill creating Joint Committee on Administrative Rules


GOVERNOR STITT SIGNS GROUNDBREAKING REGULATORY REFORM INTO LAW
SB 913 streamlines rule making process to cut red tape, reduce burdensome regulations for Oklahomans

OKLAHOMA CITY (April 12, 2021)— Governor Kevin Stitt signed groundbreaking regulatory reform into law today, building on the Break the Tape initiative and fulfilling another priority of the People’s Agenda. Senate Bill 913 will create the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules
to review agencies’ rules throughout the year and streamlines the rule repeal process to help get unnecessary and costly regulations off the books quicker.

“I am thrilled to sign this reform into law and am grateful for the shared commitment in the Legislature and across all level of government to cut red tape and reduce burdensome regulations for Oklahomans,” said Governor Stitt. “SB 913 builds on our Break the Tape initiative and is another step forward to foster Oklahoma’s pro-business environment as we strive toward becoming a Top Ten state.”

Monday, April 12, 2021

OCPA column: If state can’t reward education success, don’t punish it


If state can’t reward success, don’t punish it
By Jonathan Small

In the free market, those who provide the best products or services are usually rewarded with greater pay or profit. But in government, the opposite often occurs.

Those who want Oklahoma’s educational outcomes to improve must change that dynamic. Fortunately, the State Board of Education has taken an important step towards achieving that goal.

Charter schools are public schools that operate under a legal agreement with a sponsor. If the charter school fails to live up to the terms of its agreement, it can be shut down. Charter enrollment is also the result of student families’ proactive choice, while traditional school enrollment is a passive process in which students are assigned based on geography. In exchange, the charter is granted certain flexibility in how it operates.

The public-school charter system has worked as hoped. Poor performers have closed, but the best schools have become islands of success. Review the state’s A-F report cards for schools in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and you’ll notice a trend. Nearly all A and B schools are charter schools. Nearly all F schools are traditional public schools. One of Oklahoma’s charter schools is even ranked among the best schools in the United States.

Yet those public charter schools are serving the same basic demographic groups as their lower-performing traditional counterparts.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Anti-Science Dems slam Pro-Science GOP for bill protecting women's sports

First of all, notice how the alphabet soup of sexual deviancy continues to grow? LGBT... LGBTQ... LGBTQ+... LGBTQ2S+... eventually it will literally be an alphabet long. It must be a wearisome task updating doctrinal language of the new religion of wokeness (or, as Erick Erickson calls it, Woke-O Haram).

Second, the "Party of Science" sure hates science as it relates to human biology. The first victims in the secular drive for sexual deviancy are always women and children.

Third, as should be obvious, I don't post every press release that I receive and I don't agree with every press release that I post. The ones I publish are worthy of publication for public distribution or public ridicule (the latter in this case).

The modern Democratic Party has embraced pure lunacy.

Democrats Respond to Anti-Trans Legislation

OKLAHOMA CITY -- House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, and State Rep. Mauree Turner, D-OKC, released the following statements today in response to Senate Bill 2, which prohibits anyone of the male sex from playing on athletic teams designated for females, women, or girls. The bill is specifically aimed at Oklahoma’s transgender student population. 

Monday, April 05, 2021

OCPA column: McGirt decision is nightmare for crime victims, upheaval for state


McGirt
replaced shared destiny with mass upheaval
By Jonathan Small

In 2016, Chickasaw Nation Gov. Bill Anoatubby stressed to members of Congress that there “are no reservations in Oklahoma. People from many backgrounds are neighbors who live, work, play and worship together.” Anoatubby said this created “a sense that we all share in a common destiny in our communities.”

Today, “common destiny” has been shattered by the U.S. Supreme Court’s McGirt decision, which held the Creek Nation’s reservation was never disestablished. Instead, crime victims of all races are seeing claims of tribal sovereignty translate into justice denied.

The McGirt decision dealt directly with crimes committee on Creek land, but is expected to also apply to Choctaw, Chickasaw, Cherokee and Seminole land. As a result, numerous criminals are having convictions tossed, including murders, rapists, and child abusers.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Americans for Prosperity applauds monumental steps in educational opportunity


Americans for Prosperity Applauds Monumental Steps in Educational Opportunity

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (Mar 31, 2021) —Americans for Prosperity-Oklahoma (AFP-OK) today released a statement applauding the historic steps taken by the Legislature to ensure more students and their families can receive an education that fits their unique needs.

Another provision aims to make Oklahoma the most military family-friendly education system in the U.S. by allowing the children of active duty military the opportunity to enroll in any school district that meets their needs.

Earlier this month, the grassroots group launched a media blitz to thank House members for their leadership in passing these pivotal reforms and encouraged others their colleagues to swiftly pass these priority bills before the end of the 2021 legislative session. The campaign included targeted direct mail and digital advertisements in districts of key policymakers. Following today’s votes, AFP-OK will continue their thank you efforts and drop additional mail and digital advertisements for key members of the Senate who showed principled leadership on these issues.

VIEW DIRECT MAIL HERE (pdf)

AFP-OK State Director John Tidwell issued the following statement:

“Today’s votes are truly historic reforms.  The improvements that Oklahoma students and families will realize from SB783 and HB2078 are the most important education reforms we’ve seen in a decade.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

1889 Institute: What GameStop can teach us about Good Governance


What GameStop Can Teach Us about Good Governance
by Mike Davis (1889 Institute)

The law doesn’t govern most interactions. Everyone gets in line at the grocer; that’s what we’ve always done. We rely on unwritten rules of fair play, trusting they will be observed. What happens when we rewrite those rules? Escalating rule-changing that makes everybody worse-off. The recent kerfuffle with GameStop is illustrative, and it should serve as a warning to those willing to erode governmental traditions for short term wins.

Robinhood, a website that lets users trade stocks without a per-trade fee, froze its trading of GameStop and other highly-volatile stocks. The everyman Robinhood traders were locked out, while elites still had access through traditional hedge funds. Outrage was swift, and Robinhood reversed its decision.

But these actions didn’t happen in a vacuum: GameStop was volatile because of a targeted attack– a short squeeze. Many hedge funds were short-selling GameStop and other stocks that have been hit hard by lockdowns. Short selling, in very simple terms, is a bet that the price of a stock will go down. If it does, the short-seller makes money. If it goes up, they lose money. A group of Robinhood traders bought shares of GameStop, driving up the price. Hedge funds lost billions of dollars. Traditional brokerages seemingly have a justifiable bone to pick. But do they?

Friday, April 02, 2021

Survey shows sharp divide among OKGOP delegates over electronic convention voting


The 2021 Oklahoma Republican Party State Convention will be held on Saturday, April 10th, and a new system of voting seems to be stirring up some controversy among the delegates.

For decades, voting at the State Convention has been done in person and with paper ballots. Last year changed all of that, due to the coronavirus turmoil. I have not attended a state convention in several years, so my knowledge of the particulars is based on conversations with individuals who did attend. The 2020 state convention was held virtually via Zoom, which resulted in significantly reduced participation and some technical struggles that often plague events of this size when thrown together without adequate preparation or training.

This year, the convention will be held in person -- but voting will be done through an online program. Delegates are expected to bring their own electronic device in order to participate.

Needless to say, this is a significant development in the OKGOP, and one that is going to be contested. In conversations with a fellow church member recently, I was told that several older delegates from their county won't be attending this year as they do not own smartphones or laptops, which would be required to vote with. This "technology divide" will likely hit hardest among senior citizen and rural delegates (in other words, a significant position of the usual delegate makeup).

I was forwarded the results of an email survey that was recently conducted, sent out to all registered delegates, regarding the convention's online voting system. Nearly 20% of the around 1,800 delegates responded to the survey, giving us a good sample size to consider.

Hofmeister, House Dems decry education reform measures


Birds of a feather flock together?

Hofmeister comments on passage of bills on open transfer and funding formula 

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 31, 2021) – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister made the following remarks after the House and Senate today both passed education bills regarding open transfer and the school funding formula. 

"Today marks one step forward and two steps back for public education. While Senate Bill 783 holds real promise for many families and students, House Bill 2078 unfortunately compromises any gains that would come with open transfers. 

"Children in rural Oklahoma deserve to have a high quality education and HB 2078 potentially jeopardizes that. This bill removes financial safeguards meant to protect all students from the impact of abrupt changes in the local economy. Kids will lose when schools are forced to make sudden cuts in essential services and opportunities which provide access to a well-rounded education."



Democrats Want Substance, Not Show for Oklahoma Students

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Members of the Oklahoma House Democrat Education Policy Team released the following statement today in response to the passage of Senate Bill 783 and today’s signing by the governor of both SB783 and House Bill 2078. 

School Choice advocates thank lawmakers for passing landmark education reforms


School Choice Advocates Thank Lawmakers for Passing Landmark Education Bills

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 31st)-- School choice advocates today praised the Oklahoma Legislature for advancing two landmark education bills that together empower parents and increase accountability in public schools.  

The Oklahoma House of Representatives today passed Senate Bill 783 by a vote of 65-30. SB 783 allows for true and transparent open transfers within the public school system and provides that school districts must accept transfer students unless they are at or over capacity. The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Kevin Stitt for his consideration.

Governor Stitt signs landmark education reform bills into law


GOVERNOR STITT SIGNS MOST TRANSFORMATIVE EDUCATION REFORM IN STATE HISTORY INTO LAW
Legislation allows for students to attend schools that best fit their needs, modernizes funding formula to match recent enrollment

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 31, 2021) – Governor Kevin Stitt signed the most transformative education reform legislation in Oklahoma history into law today in a ceremony in the Blue Room at the Capitol.

House Bill 2078 and Senate Bill 783 allow for students to attend public schools that best meet their needs and modernize the funding formula to match enrollment counts more accurately.

“This is a monumental day for education reform in Oklahoma,” said Gov. Stitt. “Education is not one-size-fits-all, and these bills allow parents and students to have the freedom to attend the best public school for them regardless of their ZIP code. Additionally, modernizing the funding formula ensures funding follows the student, not the school. These reforms are vital to getting Oklahoma to be a Top Ten state in education and I am proud of this Republican legislature for its dedication to putting students first.”

“Today is a historic day for education in Oklahoma,” said Secretary of Education Ryan Walters. “We have transformed funding for every single student in the state and empowered them to choose a school that best fits their needs. These two bills will work seamlessly together to have an immediate impact on the way we educate Oklahoma’s students and I commend our state leaders for getting this across the finish line.”

HB 2078, authored by Rep. Kyle Hilbert (R-Depew) and Sen. Zack Taylor (R-Seminole), modernizes the education funding formula by basing per-pupil funding on the most recent enrollment data. The previous system gave school districts multiple enrollment figures from which to base their funding, causing some districts to receive state funds for students who are no longer enrolled.

SB 783, authored by Sen. Adam Pugh (R-Edmond), Sen. Kim David (R-Porter) and Rep. Brad Boles (R-Marlow), amends the Education Open Transfer Act to allow students the ability to transfer to another school district at any time, provided the district has space available.