Monday, January 31, 2022

OCPA column: Putting parents in charge of education

By Jonathan Small

Today in Oklahoma, parents fall into two camps. One camp has the financial resources to move to another school district or independently pay for private school if a local district isn’t working out for their child. The other camp must endure problems and hope things somehow improve because those families don’t have the finances to get their children out of a geographically assigned school.

But Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat wants to level the playing field and provide all Oklahoma parents—from all walks of life and all parts of the state—the ability to send their child to any school of their choice, including private schools.

Senate Bill 1647, by Treat, would create the Oklahoma Empowerment Account (OEA) Program and provide all Oklahoma families with a state account that could be used to pay for a range of education services, including private-school tuition. The money in the account would be based on the per-pupil state-funding allotment already dedicated for a child.

That’s revolutionary. For the first time, Oklahoma would fund students, not buildings, when it comes to education.

Under Treat’s bill, every dime now allotted for K-12 education will continue to go to education. Not one penny will be cut. But instead of giving bureaucrats control, Treat would put parents in charge.

FBC Edmond hosting Abolition Now Conference, Wednesday through Saturday

(from the Baptist Messenger by FBC Edmond Pastor Blake Gideon)

First Baptist Church of Edmond is hosting the 2022 Abolition Now Conference, Feb. 5-8. This four-day conference combines teaching, training and application.

Abolition is a grassroots movement among churches to abolish abortion in Oklahoma. The tenets of abolition are built upon the following five principles. First, abolition is biblical. Rather than leaving the Bible out of engagements, abolitionists ground God’s Word as the foundation for everything that they do. The concept of abolitionism (the removal of evils) is derived from the Word of God. It follows from the call to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God (Micah 6:8).

Second, abolition is providential. Abolitionists rely on the providence of God, a not pragmatism in their efforts to abolish abortion. Abolitionists trust in the ordained means and methods God has given in His Word.

Third, abolition is Gospel-centered. Abolitionists recognize that the chief weapon they possess in the fight against abortion is the Good News of Jesus Christ. Abortion is sin, and the only answer for sin is repentance and a saving faith in the finished work of Christ. The Gospel alone brings redemption from destruction; it is the wellspring of love, hope and joy, and the answer to abortion. The Gospel truly and permanently mobilizes human action, motivates moral behavior and mandates consistent, compassionate justice.

Health Department giving free N95 masks to public through local pharmacies

OSDH to Distribute N95 Masks to Local Pharmacies Across the State from state supply

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is working to make sure Oklahomans have widely available access to N95 masks in the state.

In partnership with the Oklahoma Pharmacists Association and pharmacy partners around the state, the OSDH will be distributing N95 masks around the state to local pharmacies through a distribution system that will provide Oklahomans the opportunity to go to their local pharmacies to receive N95 masks, free of charge.

Through the OSDH and Federal Government distributions, local, independent pharmacies and pharmacies that are a part of the Federal Retail Providers program will have N95 masks available to Oklahomans throughout the state.

“With the highly transmissible omicron variant we know that the quality of the mask someone chooses to wear matters,” said Michael DeRemer, director of emergency preparedness and response service for the OSDH. “We want to make sure all Oklahomans have access to the best mask possible to protect themselves and others from this virus, no matter where they live and at no-cost.”

Friday, January 28, 2022

8 years later, Dahm recalls viral showdown with Piers Morgan

Sen. Dahm celebrates eighth anniversary of debate with fake news Piers Morgan

OKLAHOMA CITY – Thursday, Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, issued the following statement:

“Eight years ago, Piers Morgan was headlining CNN nightly and using his platform to rail against our Second Amendment rights. He apparently never saw the irony of a Brit trying to take away our guns or never learned the history of our response to King George III when he tried the same thing. 

“When I filed my ‘Piers Morgan Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms Without Infringement Act,’ he quickly took the bait and challenged me to come on his show to debate the bill. In a bittersweet moment, Piers was fired by CNN just a few weeks after our debate. It was bittersweet because I had enough material to go back on his show at least another half dozen times to demolish his arguments again.

Health Dep't moving away from contact tracing, offers update on treatments

OSDH, THD and OCCHD Transitioning Away from Universal Case Investigation and Contact Tracing for COVID-19
Joint statement on national efforts moving forward through the pandemic

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), the Tulsa County Health Department (THD) and the Oklahoma City-County Health Department (OCCHD) are moving away from universal case investigation and contact tracing to focus on a more strategic approach of outbreak investigations and targeted case investigations.

Transitioning away from these is something Oklahoma has been moving toward in many ways, as evident in the implementation of OSDHCI which is allowing our case investigators and epidemiologist to prioritize following-up on outbreaks or clusters, as well as individuals in high-risk settings after a positive COVID-19 result.

“Tools such as at-home testing kits, updated isolation and quarantine guidance, and the self-serve case investigation portal has provided Oklahomans the opportunity to be the driver of their own personal health and the health of their family and community,” said leaders from all three agencies. “Empowering Oklahomans with the most up to date recommendations and mitigation strategies has paved the way for autonomy and a more sustained public health system that is not reliant on universal case investigation and contact tracing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The community has a greater understanding of public health and the necessity of public health intervention and how to navigate those tools.”

This change isn’t unique to Oklahoma. Five national public health organizations issued guidance on Tuesday supporting the transition.

“It is appropriate for our public health agencies to transition our resources into more effective strategies to lessen the impact of COVID-19 by focusing surveillance and prevention efforts on the most severe outcomes of COVID-19: hospitalizations and deaths,” stated the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) along with several other agencies.

You can read the full, joint statement from national public health organizations here.

OSDH Releases Updates on Treatments for COVID-19
After recent updates from the FDA

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is committed to sharing the most up to date and timely information about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Monday, the FDA removed the authorization for the use of two monoclonal antibody treatments that have been on the market, REGEN-COV and Bam/Ete, due to their ineffectiveness against the omicron variant, taking into consideration the prevalence of omicron in the country. 

Right now, in Oklahoma, our sequencing surveillance shows us 98% of cases are attributable to the omicron variant.  

State Rep. Roe files bill allowing COVID patients to designate visitor

Roe Files Bill Allowing COVID Patients to Designate Visitor

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Cynthia Roe, R-Lindsay, has filed legislation to require medical entities to allow visitation to COVID-19 patients, even when the patient is in isolation from the public and other patients. 

House Bill 3313 allows a patient with COVID-19 to designate an individual with full visitation rights. The individual may be required by the hospital to comply with certain requirements, including signing an acknowledgment-of-risks document, receiving a health screening from staff or wearing personal protective equipment. 

“Many Oklahomans have had to endure the horrible heartbreak of not being with a loved one while they were hospitalized with COVID-19,” Roe said. “This adds stress and trauma onto an already fraught situation.”

Roe said she has heard from constituents who were either not allowed to visit a loved one or were not allowed to receive a guest while hospitalized for COVID-19.

“Hospitalized Oklahomans have the right to visitation regardless of their health issues,” Roe said. “Not seeing anybody besides their nurses and doctors takes a severe toll on a patient’s mental health.”

Roe added, "I firmly believe that human touch is essential to the healing process."​

Roe has been a registered nurse for 39 years and a nurse practitioner for 22 years. She currently chairs the House Public Health Committee. ​

The hospital may revoke visitation rights to individuals if they fail to follow safety protocols or visitation policies.

If an individual’s right is revoked, the patient may designate a new individual. Individuals who have been suspended from visitation shall be reviewed every 30 days for reinstatement.

Last year, the Legislature approved the No Patient Left Alone Act to allow patients to designate a visitor to have unrestricted visitation, but Roe said facilities have not been complying. The legislation, House Bill 2687, did not include any kind of enforcement mechanism.​

HB3313 also allows any person to bring a civil action against anybody who isolates a COVID-19 patient without visitation rights, knowingly aids in the isolation of a patient or intends to isolate or aid in the isolation. 

The bill has an emergency clause allowing it to take effect immediately upon becoming law. 

HB3313 is available for consideration in the upcoming legislative session, which begins Monday, Feb. 7.

Rep. Cynthia Roe, a Republican, serves House District 42 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Her district includes portions of Garvin and McClain counties. 

Phillips files bill to create Oklahoma trade office in Taiwan

Phillips to Run Legislation Creating the Southeast Asia Economic Trade Office

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Logan Phillips, R-Mounds, has filed legislation for the upcoming session that would establish the Southeast Asia Economic Trade Office. The office would be housed in Taiwan to advance Oklahoma's interests in the country and region.   

According to Phillips, this legislation is necessary to strengthen Oklahoma's already strong relationship with Taiwan and open up the state to new economic investment opportunities.

“This trade office would help open new markets for our state and provide increased economic opportunities for our citizens both here and around the world," Phillips said. “We have a 40 year history of partnership with Taiwan, having sister cities in both Kaohsiung City and Taipei. That partnership has benefited our state culturally for years, and now we have the opportunity to expand the economic impact it can have as well. By establishing the Southeast Asia Economic Trade Office, we can attract new investors and new industries and create new jobs for Oklahomans."

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Lankford cries foul over Defense Department granting nearly ZERO religious liberty accomodations for C-19 vax

Lankford Outraged That Defense Department Has Granted Nearly ZERO Religious Accommodations for COVID-19 Vaccine

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (January 25th) – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin demanding to know why, despite 19,979 known requests for religious accommodations from the COVID-19 vaccine, the Department has granted nearly zero requests for religious accommodations among the service branches. The US Marines reportedly have two religious accommodations—out of 3,367 requests.

In his letter, Lankford wrote that according to information his office obtained: the US Army has received 2,128 requests for religious accommodations, the US Navy has received 3,791 requests for religious accommodations; and the US Air Force has received 10,693 requests for religious accommodations. None have been granted.

“It is alarming that the Department is so blatantly disregarding the free exercise of religion that is guaranteed to our military service members, both through the First Amendment and through the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) (42 U.S.C. Sec 2000bb-1). Congress chose to apply RFRA to the military, and the military remains accountable to Congress for adhering to this law,” wrote Lankford in the letter.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Bill seeks to bar sexual relationships between judges and attorneys

Lowe's bill is named after the former judge pictured below, who resigned last year following what appears to have been extensive sexual misconduct with several prosecutors and attorneys. So far, at least one conviction in a case tried by the judge has been thrown out.

Disgraced former Oklahoma County District Judge Tim Henderson

Legislation Seeks to Raise Standards for Oklahoma Judges

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Jason Lowe, D-OKC, filed legislation for the upcoming legislative session that seeks to protect and restore faith in the Oklahoma justice system. 

House Bill 3746, the Judge Timothy Henderson Act, would forbid judges from having a sexual relationship with a lawyer who is representing a client in the courtroom assigned to the judge. 

Any judge who violates the proposed law could be imprisoned for up to two years and fined up to $100,000.

“The people of Oklahoma have an expectation for how their public servants should act,” Lowe said. “This legislation helps ensure that the decisions being made by a judge are driven by the facts of the case and not a relationship with an attorney.” 

Establishing a clear line for expectations helps both the people of Oklahoma and judges.

“As most of us know, the appearance of impropriety is often as damaging as the impropriety itself,” Lowe said. “This is a proactive approach to protect public trust by holding public servants accountable.”

State Rep. Sean Roberts wants state question to remove grocery sales tax

Roberts Plans to Push for Legislative Referendum to Remove Grocery Sales Tax

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, today announced that he plans to continue his push for a referendum to remove Oklahoma's sales tax on groceries.

"Currently only six states allow full taxes on groceries, Oklahoma being one," Roberts said. "We currently have a surplus in funds and revenues are up, so now is the time to bring this much needed relief to Oklahoma families."

A legislative referendum is the mechanism by which the Oklahoma Legislature can submit a constitutional amendment or statutory change to a vote of the people. It is one of two ways to place a State Question on the ballot in Oklahoma, the other being by initiative petition. Roberts previously filed House Bill 2844 last session and will be advocating for its passage again this session.

Dahm files bill to make Ivermectin, Hydroxychloroquine available over the counter

Sen. Dahm files bill to make Ivermectin, Hydroxychloroquine available over the counter

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, has filed Senate Bill 1525 to make Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin available over the counter.

State Sen. Pederson files bill to improve ag tax exemption renewal process

Sen. Pederson files bill to improve ag tax exemption renewal process

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Roland Pederson has filed legislation aimed at cutting through red tape for farmers and ranchers renewing their agricultural sales tax exemption.  Pederson, R- Burlington, said Senate Bill 1655 would simplify the renewal process for those who have already met the initial requirements to qualify for the exemption.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

State Rep files bill to make unopposed incumbents subject to retention vote

Well, this is certainly an interesting proposal...

It's an intriguing idea, though I doubt it will receive a hearing. 

Bill Allows Voters Opportunity to Vote Out Unopposed Incumbents

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Andy Fugate, D-Del City, has filed legislation aimed at giving Oklahomans a voice regardless of whether an incumbent legislator has an opponent.

House Bill 3059 creates a vehicle that allows voters to decide whether to retain an incumbent who is not facing a challenger during their reelection bid.

Dahm: there should be absolutely no American involvement in Ukraine


Oklahoma (January 24, 2022) - State Senator and candidate for US Senate Nathan Dahm released a statement on the potential of a Russia and Ukraine war: 

Monday, January 24, 2022

Legislature completes bill filing for 2022 session with over 2,300 new bills and resolutions

House Completes Bill Filing for 2022 Session

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives completed bill filing Thurs., Jan. 20, for the second session of the 58th Legislature. A total of 1,482 House Bills, 18 House Joint Resolutions and 2 House Concurrent Resolutions were filed.

The full text of the bills, along with additional information including authors and co-authors, can be found online at

Last year, the Clerk of the House reported 1,942 House Bills, 44 House Joint Resolutions and 2 House Resolutions were filed. 1,656 House Bills and 45 House Joint Resolutions, which may be filed at any point during session, remain eligible for consideration in the upcoming session.

The House is comprised of 82 Republicans and 19 Democrats. The second session of the 58th Legislature will begin Mon., Feb. 7 at noon with the State of the State address from Gov. Kevin Stitt in the House Chamber.

Senate completes bill filing for 2022 session

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate has completed filing bills for the Second Session of the 58th Legislature.  The deadline was Thursday, Jan. 20.  A total of 774 Senate Bills and 23 Senate Joint Resolutions were filed.  Additionally, 771 Senate Bills and 25 Senate Joint Resolutions were carried over from the 2021 session and are available for consideration during the 2022 session.

The Thursday deadline did not apply to appropriations bills, which can be filed throughout the session.  Senate rules also allow for bills by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate to be filed throughout the session. Senate Resolutions and Senate Concurrent Resolutions can be filed throughout the session as well.

OCPA: Workers, employers win with vax-mandate ruling

Workers, employers win with vax-mandate ruling
By Jonathan Small

Oklahoma’s workers and their employers alike won an important victory when the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down the Biden administration’s COVID-vaccine mandate for private businesses. That mandate clearly exceeded the government’s authority, opened the door for further abuses of power, and would have had a significant negative impact on the labor supply.

The case also shows what happens when one man has courage. Brandon Trosclair, a Louisiana business owner, joined with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy (a think tank similar to the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs) to lead the charge against the Biden mandate in court.

Trosclair employs nearly 500 people across 15 grocery stores in Louisiana and Mississippi that conduct business under the names Ralph’s Market, Butcher Boy, and Save A Lot. Under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations imposed by the Biden administration, all employees of businesses with 100 or more staff members–an estimated 80 million private-sector workers–would have been required to be vaccinated or tested weekly and wear a mask as a condition of employment. Businesses that failed to comply faced fines up to $136,532. Yet Trosclair chose to stand up for his workers and oppose the mandate in court.

There were sound practical reasons to oppose the mandate. Businesses already face a labor shortage that would have been exacerbated by the mandate since many workers were expected to quit jobs to avoid the vaccine.

But there were also crucial philosophical reasons to oppose the mandate. Trosclair told OCPA that the decision to vaccinate (or not) is an individual employee’s decision, not their employer’s decision “and it’s not the federal government’s decision.”

Sunday, January 23, 2022

State Senate Pro Tem files landmark education measure, school choice groups praise

State Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat has filed a major education reform measure, Senate Bill 1647 (the Oklahoma Empowerment Act). Below his press release I'm including comments from supporting groups and organizations.

As a homeschool graduate and homeschool parent, I am quite hesitant when it comes to even "friendly" efforts to provide some sort of funds for homeschool students. Oklahoma is the most free state in the union when it comes to home education freedoms, and as such those of us in the homeschool community have jealously guarded against the government nose coming under the tent. 

I'll be curious to see just how this measure would apply to homeschoolers. From first appearances, I would be greatly concerned about government education regulators finally getting their grubby paws on the liberties that home education has enjoyed here in Oklahoma.

Pro Tem Treat bill empowers all parents to pursue best educational opportunity for their student

OKLAHOMA CITY – All parents of Oklahoma students would be empowered to pursue the best educational setting that fits the individual needs of their child under legislation filed by Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat.

“Every child deserves the chance for a quality education that fits their unique needs, regardless of their zip code. We’ve already empowered the parents of children with disabilities with this opportunity through the very successful Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship program. It’s time we give all parents and all student in Oklahoma that same opportunity for success,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City.

Treat said Senate Bill 1647, also known as the Oklahoma Empowerment Act, creates Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts which allow parents to use their child’s state education dollars to pursue a variety of educational opportunities, all to secure the best education possible for their children.

“A quality education is essential to each child’s success, and the overall success and growth of our state. No child should be trapped in a failing school or a school that cannot meet their unique educational needs simply because of where his or her home is located. Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts will bring generational change to families across Oklahoma by giving all parents the freedom to do what’s best for their child,” Treat said.

OCPA applauds Oklahoma Empowerment Account legislation

OKLAHOMA CITY (January 21, 2022)— Larry Parman, chairman of the board of trustees for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, issued the following statement today in response to Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat filing Senate Bill 1647, which creates Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts (OEAs). Under Treat’s OEA bill, parents can use taxpayer funds to choose any education option, including private schools, that best serve their child’s needs.

“For Oklahoma to become a state of true opportunity for all, we must provide a quality education to every child. But that can only happen when parents are able to choose from a range of options based on their child’s unique needs. In contrast, the one-size-fits-all approach of the current education system in Oklahoma leaves too many children behind. Those of us on the OCPA board are civic leaders, business owners, and most of all parents and grandparents. We know there is no issue more important to families and Oklahoma’s future progress than improving our state’s education outcomes. By fighting to maximize educational opportunity for all Oklahoma families, Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat has taken a bold stand for families that deserves applause from all Oklahomans.”

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

ChoiceMatters, Parent Voice Oklahoma, Praise Legislation Creating “Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts”
Proposal Gives Parents Control Over Their Education Tax Dollars

OKLAHOMA CITY – ChoiceMatters, an Oklahoma non-profit dedicated to increasing education options for parents, today praised Oklahoma State Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat for filing SB 1647, the Oklahoma Empowerment Act. The bill proposes giving parents control over a portion of their children’s education tax dollars, in the form of Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts. The accounts would be eligible to fund private school tuition or to supplement home schooling with approved technology expenses, enrichment materials or other educational services.  

“The biggest barrier to education freedom is income,” said ChoiceMatters Executive Director Robert Ruiz. “High income parents can choose the school that is right for their children, either by moving to the zip codes with the best public schools, by sending their children to private school, or by supplementing their children’s education with tutoring and other resources. We believe that parents of every income level in every zip code should be able to make these same choices and offer their children these same opportunities.

“Pro Tem Treat has put forward a bold vision to give every Oklahoma parent the freedom and the ability to find the best education possible for their children,” continued Ruiz. “We encourage his colleagues in both the Senate and the House to stand with parents and support this proposal.”

Jennifer Johnson, a Skiatook mother who helped start Parent Voice Oklahoma, an advocacy organization supporting efforts that include parent empowerment, school choice and educational freedom, also praised the proposed legislation.

“Parents have realized that the balance of power in public education has tilted towards unelected bureaucrats and top-down control,” said Johnson. “Putting parents in charge of their own education tax dollars puts them back in the driver’s seat where they belong. This is the ultimate form of local control and parent empowerment. Thank you, Senator Treat, for giving parents a voice in our kids' education.

AFC-Oklahoma Issues Statement in Support of Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts

OKLAHOMA CITY – American Federation for Children-Oklahoma Senior Advisor Jennifer Carter today released the following statement in support of the Oklahoma Empowerment Act (SB 1647), filed today by Senate Pro Tempore Greg Treat. The bill gives every parent a portion of their education tax dollars, in the form of “Empowerment Accounts,” to support K-12 education needs. 

“The COVID-era has made it obvious that our system of public education is not responsive to parental needs or input, even on matters as important as school closures, virtual learning, and curricula. All across the country, parents are fighting back and demanding more control over how their kids are being taught, who is teaching them, and what they are learning. 

“The creation of Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts will ensure that all parents have real options for their children when it comes to education. That, in turn, will force schools to listen to parents and to ensure they are meeting the needs of the families they are supposed to serve, rather than simply ignoring them at the behest of unions and special interests. Our thanks go out to Pro Tem Treat for his support of parental rights and education freedom. We are excited to help make his bold vision a new reality for Oklahoma parents and families.” – Jennifer Carter, senior advisor, AFC-Oklahoma

Lankford, Rubio call for 2022 Winter Olympics to be moved out of China over human rights abuses

Lankford, Rubio Call on Olympic Committee to Relocate 2022 Winter Games

WASHINGTON, DC – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a resolution calling on the International Olympic Committee to relocate the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games in response to China’s refusal to acknowledge and stop their egregious human rights abuses. These abuses include genocide, forced labor, and crimes against humanity as a direct attempt to forcibly “assimilate,” or eventually eliminate, vulnerable ethnic and religious groups such as the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region of northwest China.

“When our athletes are being instructed to leave their cellphones in the United States before heading to China, and we still do not know the wellbeing of tennis star Peng Shaui, we have a responsibility to question why the Olympic Committee is allowing China to host the 2022 Winter Olympic games,” said Lankford. “What’s more embarrassing is that we’re allowing the Chinese Communist Party to profit off of the games when it is responsible for genocide and crimes against humanity. Our athletes have trained, worked, and dedicated their lives to representing our nation. American Olympic athletes should not be punished or put in harm’s way while competing in this historic event. I’m calling on the Olympic Committee to relocate the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games to another host country.”

State Rep. Townley files bill to name the Holy Bible as Oklahoma's State Book

Bill Would Designate the Holy Bible as Oklahoma's State Book

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Tammy Townley, R-Ardmore, has filed House Bill 3890 to name the Holy Bible as Oklahoma's official state book.

"We are people of great faith," Townley said. "The Holy Bible is an integral part of numerous faiths and is deeply important to many Oklahomans. Even when we don't always agree with each other, we always know that we have a foundation higher than politics that we can rely on to remain unshakeable when times are tough."

Townley is a former owner of a Christian Bible bookstore.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Gov. Stitt applauds SCOTUS decision to address McGirt fallout


OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 21, 2022) — Governor Kevin Stitt released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the state’s case to address the fallout of McGirt and allow Oklahoma to retain criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians in eastern Oklahoma:

“I am encouraged that the Supreme Court has decided to address whether a state has authority to prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes against Indians in Indian Country. The fallout of the McGirt decision has been destructive. Criminals have used this decision to commit crimes without punishment. Victims of crime, especially Native victims, have suffered by being forced to relive their worst nightmare in a second trial or having justice elude them completely. 

“The reality is that the McGirt decision has hamstrung law enforcement in half of the state. Oklahoma is a law and order state, and I was elected to protect all four million Oklahomans, regardless of their race or heritage. I will not stop fighting to ensure we have one set of rules to guarantee justice and equal protection under the law for all citizens.”


On September 17, the State of Oklahoma filed a petition for certiorari in the case of child abuser Victor Manuel Castro-Huerta, asking the Court to reconsider the McGirt decision or to permit the State to prosecute criminals like Castro-Huerta, who is a non-Indian that victimized an Indian.

The criminal at issue in this case, Castro-Huerta, was convicted in state court and sentenced to 35 years imprisonment, but the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals threw out that conviction because of its interpretation of the McGirt decision.

In 2015, Castro-Huerta so severely neglected his five-year-old stepdaughter, who has cerebral palsy and is legally blind, that she was rushed to the emergency room. She was admitted in critical condition, dehydrated, emaciated, and covered in lice and excrement, and she weighed only nineteen pounds. Investigators who visited Castro-Huerta’s home later discovered that her crib was filled with bedbugs and cockroaches and contained a single, dry sippy cup, the top of which was chewed through.

Castro-Huerta later admitted to officers that, while he knew his step-daughter required five bottles of baby formula a day, he had provided her between only twelve and eighteen bottles the previous month. Castro-Huerta is not a Native American, but his step-daughter victim is a member of a tribe headquartered in North Carolina.

Friday, January 21, 2022

State Rep. Eric Roberts files trio of voter security measures

Rep. Eric Roberts Files Trio of Voting Bills

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Eric Roberts, R-Oklahoma City, has filed three bills designed to make absentee ballot requests more secure and to facilitate earlier identification of voters who have moved or are now deceased. 

"Oklahomans want an election process that is secure, reliable and efficient," Roberts said. "I am proud to spearhead this legislation in the House."

House Bill 3364 requires online absentee ballot requests include identification in addition to a voter's name and birth date. Identification may include their driver's license number, state identification number or the last four of their Social Security number. Under the bill, voters who registered prior to the requirement for additional identification information may submit a paper absentee ballot request or reregister to vote with the additional identification.

Roberts also filed House Bill 3365 and House Bill 3366 to facilitate earlier identification of voters who have moved or are now deceased.

State Reps file bill to exempt vets from taxes on retirement benefits

McDugle, Townley, Manger File Bill to Exempt Veterans from Taxes on Retirement Benefits

OKLAHOMA CITY – Reps. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow, Tammy Townley, R-Ardmore, and Robert Manger, R-Oklahoma City, have filed legislation to grant Oklahoma veterans a full tax exemption on retirement benefits they receive as a result of their service.

House Bill 3693 would maintain the current exemption through Dec. 31, 2022. Under the legislation, veterans would receive a 100% tax exemption on their retirement benefits, beginning Jan. 1, 2023.

Currently, veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces receive tax exemptions for up to 75% or $10,000 of the retirement benefits they receive from any component of the U.S. Armed Forces.

"As someone who proudly served in our nation's armed forces, I understand just how much this bill could help my brothers and sisters-in-arms," McDugle said. "We need to take every opportunity we can to give back to those who have given so much for our country."

Thursday, January 20, 2022

State Rep files bill for statewide vote on abolishing the death penalty

Turner Files Bill to Give Power to People on Death Penalty

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Mauree Turner, D-OKC, has filed legislation for the 2022 Legislative Session that would create a state question on whether the death penalty should exist in Oklahoma.

While Oklahomans have previously supported the death penalty in ballot initiatives, the inhumane conditions of death row, botched executions, and exposure of the racism and error rate in guilty verdicts have given many reasons to grapple with what it means for a small number of state actors to have the power to decide who lives and who dies an often torturous death, especially in the face of exclusionary evidence. 

“What I am hearing from my district, and people around the state, is an urgent need to end state-enacted murder in the name of a criminal legal system that seeks to kill people with impunity,” Turner said. “We have seen a growing movement, in the last year especially, of people calling for Oklahoma to abolish the death penalty. And I want to give people a chance to express that on the ballot.”

A national poll of police chiefs by the Death Penalty Information Center showed that the nation’s police chiefs rank the death penalty last for effective crime reduction. 

“The officers do not believe the death penalty acts as a deterrent to murder, and they rate it as one of most inefficient uses of taxpayer dollars in fighting crime,” the Death Penalty Information Center report read. “Criminologists concur that the death penalty does not effectively reduce the number of murders.”

FBI statistics, which show states with the death penalty have a higher murder rate than those without capital punishment, support these expert opinions. Oklahoma’s murder rate is the 11th highest in the nation, according to the most recent CDC data. 

Turner opposes capital punishment and knows that Oklahomans have a broad range of views and experiences, which is why [she]* want[s] to give the people another opportunity to use their voice. 

State Rep. Russ files bill to give Counties more say in Marijuana Applications

Russ Files Bill to Give Counties More Say in Marijuana Applications

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, has filed legislation for the upcoming session that will give county voters the say over who is licensed to grow marijuana within their counties.

House Bill 2989 would require applications to grow marijuana to be filed by June 30 each year in the county where the grow facility is to be located. County Commissioners would then set a date for a vote to be held every other year for applications to be approved or denied. If denied, an applicant would not be able to reapply for five years within that county. If growers operate in multiple counties, they would have to apply and be approved by voters in each county where they do business.

"Many of our rural voters did not approve the state question that resulted in the legalization of medical marijuana in our state," Russ said. "Yet they are saddled with the ill consequences. And they are facing the possibility that petitioners will place a question on a future state ballot to legalize recreational marijuana."

Since Oklahomans approved medical marijuana in 2018 with very loose regulations the number of licensed cannabis growers in the state has ballooned to more than 7,000. This far exceeds the number of licenses issued in other states such as Colorado, California or Oregon. It has taxed rural water supplies and electricity usage as well as local law enforcement, county tax assessors and others, Russ said.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Annual report from State Election Board shows increase in voter registration

Annual Report Released by State Election Board Shows Increase in Voter Registration

(Oklahoma City) – The Oklahoma State Election Board released its annual voter registration report today showing 2,218,374 Oklahomans are registered to vote. Oklahoma’s official voter registration statistics are counted every year on January 15.

According to Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax, the largest number of Oklahoma's voters are Republicans, who make up 50.6% of registered voters. Dem

Hefner announces endorsements from multiple conservative groups in OKC mayoral race


Oklahoma City, OK-- Today, community leader and candidate for Mayor of Oklahoma City Carol Hefner announced she has been endorsed by multiple Conservative groups and organizations, including Oklahomans For Health & Parental Rights, the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association, the Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC), Veterans of Foreign Wars Oklahoma County, Ignite Liberty, and the Oklahoma County GOP.

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Cody Maynard announces candidacy for House District 21, opening campaign HQ in Durant

Republican Cody Maynard Announces Candidacy for State Representative, District 21

DURANT, OK – With the final lines of districts drawn, Conservative Republican Cody Maynard, a CPA, announces that his campaign is underway to serve Oklahomans in the State House of Representatives, District 21, which will cover parts of Bryan and Marshall counties. After a strong fundraising quarter, his team is slated to open his campaign headquarters on January 22nd on First Street in Durant. 

“I am running to represent District 21 because my wife, Crystal, and I want to ensure that Oklahoma remains a beacon of freedom and a place to see dreams realized for generations to come. Serving as a legislator is an opportunity to ensure that Oklahoma is a state embodying pro-family policies, including but not limited to: protecting the pre-born, honoring the sanctity of life, advocating for parental and guardian rights, and promoting policies that reduce poverty and champion excellence in education.”

Meet the candidate running for U.S. Senate in Oklahoma and Kansas -- at the same time

The 2022 campaign for U.S. Senate here in Oklahoma figures to be a lively one, featuring a well-known incumbent, two upstart challengers (one fringe newbie, the other a multiterm conservative legislator), and... someone who's giving it a shot in two states "hoping to get into office in at least one of them!"

No joke.

Meet Joan Farr, candidate for United States Senate in the states of Oklahoma and Kansas.

She's certainly got a colorful campaign pitch, detailed on her website. Here are some highlights from her website:

Monday, January 17, 2022

Small: Time for Joy Hofmeister's job review

Time for a politician’s job review
By Jonathan Small

Just like workers in the private sector undergo routine job reviews, it’s important citizens take time to review the records of officeholders.

Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister is now beginning her eighth and final year in that office, so it’s worth considering what results she has generated. It’s a record few citizens would give a passing grade.

Since student learning is the most basic metric for a state head of schools, we should begin there. And what state tests show is steep decline. Statewide in all districts and grades, fewer students are performing at grade level or better. Many are doing much, much worse. Those scoring “below basic,” the category for children more than a year behind in a subject, comprised 40 percent of all students statewide in 2021. Just 30 percent were in that category in spring 2019.

That decline can’t be blamed on funding. During Hofmeister’s tenure, state school spending has increased 25 percent, rising from about $2.4 billion in her first year in office to roughly $3 billion this year. Schools districts actually carried over $1 billion this year, an increase of more than 50 percent in savings compared to five years prior.

Lankford, Scott, colleagues want to stop Congress from overspending when inflation soars

Okay, first of all, I think the last three words ("when inflation soars") should be left out of their chosen headline and effort.

Republicans absolutely looooove to talk about government overspending -- when they're out of power. I've lost count of the times they failed to remember that when they controlled the purse strings.

Anyway, maybe one day they'll get that right.

Lankford, Scott, Colleagues Want to Stop Congress from Overspending When Inflation Soars

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) joined Senators Tim Scott (R-SC) and John Thune (R-SD), and eight of their colleagues to introduce the Inflation Prevention Act (IPA) to help combat inflationary spending. Due to record government spending over the last two years, many Americans face rapidly rising costs of consumer goods. This bill would bar legislation estimated to increase inflation until the year-over-year inflation rate drops below 4.5 percent. Lankford, Scott, and Thune are joined on the bill by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Rick Scott (R-FL), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Todd Young (R-IN), Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Hoeven (R-ND), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), and Steve Daines (R-MT).

“It’s clear that Democrats’ reckless spending approach to the pandemic has created the inflation crisis Oklahomans now face, especially after inflation hit a devastating seven percent in December,” said Lankford. “I have warned about the impact of out-of-control spending on our economy for years. Our proposal protects against federal over spending that makes inflation worse, helps make sure future emergency spending only moves forward when absolutely needed, and reins it in when the federal pork barrel buffet starts to roll toward inflation.”

“American families cannot continue to endure the burden of skyrocketing costs of everyday goods brought on by reckless spending in Washington,” said Tim Scott. “A sound financial future requires wise financial action now.”

“Our country is facing the highest level of inflation in nearly 40 years, and South Dakotans are paying more for food, utilities, and gas,” said Thune. “I’m proud to join Sen. Scott in the fight to stop the Democrats’ reckless tax-and-spending spree, which would significantly worsen the already damaging inflation crisis.”

Oklahoma joins multistate coalition fight to end Facebook's monopoly

Oklahoma Joins Multistate Coalition in Continuing Fight to End Facebook's Illegal Monopoly

OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor today joined a bipartisan coalition of 48 attorneys general from around the nation in continuing to fight to end Facebook’s illegal efforts to stifle competition and protect its monopoly power. Today, the coalition — led by New York Attorney General Letitia James — filed an appeal brief arguing that the district court’s ruling dismissing the states’ case was in error. The coalition argues that the court was wrong to dismiss their case as time-barred, and made additional legal and factual errors. Over the last decade, Facebook, now known as Meta, illegally acquired competitors in a predatory manner and cut or conditioned services to smaller threats — depriving users of the benefits of competition and reducing privacy protections and services along the way — all in an effort to boost its bottom line through increased advertising revenue.

“We are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit to allow this lawsuit to proceed to hold Facebook accountable for its anticompetitive conduct and to ensure that Oklahomans have a choice in the marketplace,” said Attorney General John O’Connor.

In December 2020, the coalition filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to stop Facebook’s anticompetitive conduct. The company filed a motion to dismiss, which was granted by the court last summer. Today’s appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit asks the court to allow the coalition of attorneys general to move forward with their suit.

Friday, January 14, 2022

State leaders react to SCOTUS blocking vaccine mandate for private businesses

Following the U.S. Supreme Court's blocking of the Biden vaccine mandate for businesses of 100 or more employees, many Oklahoma elected officials have weighed in with their reactions. 

Below are press release from Attorney General John O'Connor, Governor Kevin Stitt, U.S. Senator James Lankford, U.S. Representatives Kevin Hern and Frank Lucas, State Senate President Greg Treat, and State Rep. Sean Roberts:

Gov. Stitt endorses Kish for Mayor of Norman


Norman — Governor Kevin Stitt has endorsed Dr. Nicole Kish for Mayor of Norman.

In a statement, Governor Stitt said:

“Dr. Nicole Kish is the right candidate for this unique time in history to lead Norman as its next mayor. Dr. Kish is a political outsider that will bring her successful business record to prioritize resources towards keeping our communities safe and thriving. I am proud my parents raised me in the Norman community and in Norman public schools. This city needs bold, common-sense leadership to help capitalize on the momentum the rest of Oklahoma is experiencing with booming economic growth, and Dr. Kish has the grit and will to make it happen. She is passionate about protecting freedom, supporting our public safety professionals, and making Norman the most competitive city for new jobs. Help me elect Dr. Kish on February 8.”

Dr. Kish is a co-founder of Unite Norman, the grassroots organization who recalled city council members last year for their defunding of police. She is a Small Business Owner and Doctor who has practiced in Norman for 22 years, serving 100,000 patients. She is also a Veteran of the Oklahoma Air National Guard during 9/11.

Dahm files bill to revitalize State Guard

Sen. Dahm files bill revitalizing state militia

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, filed Senate Bill 1251 on Wednesday to revitalize the Oklahoma militia and provide greater protection for the citizens of Oklahoma.

“The Second Amendment states that a well-regulated militia is necessary to the security of a free state,” Dahm said. “As the feds continue to fail in almost every regard, it is becoming more and more apparent that we as a state must provide for our own security.”

The bill states local guard units can be voluntarily funded and supplied, and that individuals may be required to use privately owned semi-automatic weapons if mustered into service.

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Burns files 'Every Mother Matters Act' aimed at promoting alternatives to abortion

Sen. Burns files Every Mother Matters Act; measure aimed at giving moms alternatives to abortion

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. George Burns has filed Senate Bill 1167, the “Every Mother Matters Act,” also known as EMMA. The legislation is aimed at ensuring that any woman seeking an abortion is given access to resources and programs she may not realize are available.  Burns, R-Pollard, said the goal is to give women the support they need to choose life, instead of abortion.

According to the Abortion Surveillance in Oklahoma Report published by the Oklahoma State Department of Health in August 2020, between 2002 and 2020, there were 99,543 abortions performed in Oklahoma, an average of 5,239 a year. During that period, the abortion rate was higher among women between the ages of 20 and 29.  Black women, women with less education, and those who were unmarried had higher rates of abortions compared to other women of child-bearing age.

“Many women facing unexpected pregnancies turn to abortion because they feel like they have no choice.  We want to make sure they have an opportunity to connect with medical, financial and other resources that they may not know about,” Burns said.  “This legislation will do that as well as provide screening to identify those who’ve been victims of crime so that, with the woman’s consent, a report can be made to the appropriate law enforcement agency.”

Roberts to file state question to strengthen gun rights in state constitution

 Roberts to File House Joint Resolution Requesting Constitutional Amendment

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, has announced today that he plans to file a House Joint Resolution that would direct the Secretary of State to refer to the people for their approval or rejection a proposed amendment to Section 26, Article II of the Oklahoma Constitution. This section of the State Constitution deals with the right to bear arms.

"This section of the State Constitution has never been updated, and it is long past time we took a look at some of the language," Roberts said. "It is imperative that we reinforce the right to bear arms outlined in our constitution in order to protect that right from state court rulings that have tried to weaken it."

Specifically, the resolution would add to the constitution specific arms that are protected and that the fundamental right to bear arms "shall not be infringed." It will also prohibit registration or special taxation upon the keeping of firearms including the acquisition, ownership, possession or transfer of arms, ammunition or the components of arms or ammunition.

Bob Jack announces campaign for Tulsa County Commissioner

Successful Tulsa Business Leader Announces for Tulsa County Commissioner

Prepared and successful Tulsa businessman, Bob Jack, announced today he will run for Tulsa County Commission – Area 3 as a Republican.

“We always say we need to run government like a business, but we rarely send a businessperson to do the job,” said Jack. “I’ve run prosperous businesses and managed organizations for more than 50 years with steadfast integrity. It’s what I do best.”

Jack, retired from his role as a fulltime construction executive, remains active as a construction agent for developers in Tulsa County. During his 50 years in the construction industry, he worked for Manhattan Construction as the senior vice president overseeing its Tulsa division for 4 years prior to retirement and had been with the company for over 10 years. Other experience includes managing Oil Capital Electric in various roles for 23 years, later serving as the company President until 2003.

“I’ve served as a leader for hundreds of people in my career and headed $300 million organizations. I know how to negotiate deals, compromise within reason, manage a budget and lead in the real world,” said Jack.

“I know how to establish relationships and work in cooperation with those who may not share my points of view, but I will always stand firm on my principles. I will never compromise my conservative values and stand against government mandate.”

“My background in the private sector will serve me well as a County Commissioner.”

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

State Rep. Sean Roberts to file legislation modifying Medical Marijuana laws

Roberts to File Legislation Modifying Medical Marijuana Laws

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, has announced today that he plans to file legislation modifying the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act and the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Waste Management Act.

"When medical marijuana was legalized in Oklahoma, it basically created a 'Wild West' situation as we did not have enough legal structure in place to address all future issues that could arise," Roberts said. "As the years have passed, we have a better understanding of what we are doing right and what we need to fix. These changes that I am proposing will stop the many illegal operations in our state run by foreign actors, such as criminal Chinese enterprises or cartels, who participate in human trafficking and are smuggling their illegal narcotics out of Oklahoma to other states. We have a duty to Oklahomans, and our surrounding states, to rein in this situation before it gets even more out of hand."

OCPA: three New Year's resolutions for policymakers

New Year’s resolutions for policymakers
By Jonathan Small

With a new year comes new year’s resolutions. While the average citizen may focus on diet and exercise, state policymakers should emphasize growth—growing our economy and increasing opportunity.

To that end, OCPA has embraced the following goals this year, and we are encouraged by lawmakers openness to the following goals.

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Dahm files bills to send funds and Nat'l Guard to help secure the border

Sen. Dahm files bills for Oklahoma to send funds and National Guard to help secure the border

OKLAHOMA CITY – As lawbreaking foreigners continue to pour across the open southern border, Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, filed two bills to help secure the border. 

“As the feds continue to leave the border wide open, either due to utter incompetence or done intentionally to cause disruption in our nation, it has become obvious we as the states will have to pick up where the feds have failed,” Dahm said. “With these bills, Oklahoma will be able to help secure the border and stop the massive influx of human trafficking, illicit activities, and illegal immigrants.”

Senate Bill 1228 would send CARES funds received by the state of Oklahoma to border states to help them build the wall along the southern border. 

“The federal government is spending billions of dollars to secure the borders of other countries while intentionally leaving our border wide open,” Dahm said. “The border states are willing to do the job being neglected by this rogue regime but they need additional resources from other states.”

Senate Bill 1231 would empower the governor to send Oklahoma National Guard members to border states in order to help them secure their portion of the southern border. 

“Several states have already sent their law enforcement personnel to help secure the border,” Dahm said. “This will clarify existing law to ensure the governor has additional authority to send members of the National Guard to those border states that need the support.”

State Auditor releases audit for Town of Bennington, finds serious violations


State Auditor Cindy Byrd Releases Audit for Town of Bennington

(Monday, January 10, 2022) State Auditor & Inspector Cindy Byrd has released her investigative audit of the Town of Bennington in Bryan County. After a thorough review of the town’s financial records, Byrd discovered multiple violations of standard accounting procedures and significant misappropriation of taxpayer dollars.

Among the most serious incidents of misappropriation are more than $100,000 in unpaid payroll taxes, unauthorized payments to several town employees, and a police chief who signed over the title of a town vehicle but the money was never deposited in the town’s bank account. Police Chief Kristopher Robinson also received $877 in free utility payments and was provided a tax-free residency that was not reported to the I.R.S.

“I use the word ‘misappropriation’ because it’s up to a judge and a jury to decide if this was embezzlement,” said Cindy Byrd. “This was a small-scale audit but what we uncovered is both important and revealing.  This audit shows taxpayers a prime example of what happens when an oversight board abandons its responsibilities. Their negligence set the stage that allowed employees to take advantage of other people’s trust and shortchange the taxpayers.”

State Rep files bill to add in-person Sports Betting to gaming compacts

Because if there's just one thing Oklahoma needs more of, it's gambling. 🙄

Luttrell Files Sports Betting Bill

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Ken Luttrell, R-Ponca City, announced today that he has filed House Bill 3008, a bill that would add in-person sports betting to the Oklahoma state-tribal gaming compact.

"I have had conversations with our gaming tribes during the interim to gauge their interest on this topic," Luttrell said. "I feel the time is right for Oklahoma to partner with the tribes and ensure a level, competitive gaming playing field with the surrounding states."

According to Luttrell, there are currently 30 states with legal sports betting and another 15 considering it in 2022. He said that Arkansas has legalized it in their casinos and Kansas is currently working on an agreement of their own.

"Illegal sports betting occurs throughout Oklahoma, and figures I obtained from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) show 11 offenses recently with tens of thousands of dollars seized," Luttrell added. "This reflects only a fraction of what actually occurs in our state. The Oxford Economics Group estimates that legal sports betting would generate $240 million in revenue for Oklahoma and create over 3000 direct and indirect jobs. This legislation just makes sense."