Monday, February 28, 2022

Dahm makes it official: switching to special election for U.S. Senate


Oklahoma (February 28, 2022) - Oklahoma Senator and US Senate candidate Nathan Dahm announces he will be running for United States Senate in the upcoming special election resulting from Senator Jim Inhofe's early retirement. 

Nathan Dahm released the following statement:

"I am officially running for the US Senate in the special election to be the Proven Republican Fighter to replace Senator Inhofe. We will win this seat and we will put America First again.

Homeschool dad: Public funding of private education is harmful to freedom

One of the big legislative issues this year is SB 1647, a landmark school choice bill filed by Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat and heavily promoted by several state and national free-market and school choice organizations (including OCPA, who is currently advertising here on my blog).

Seemingly unexpectedly by Treat and allies, the Oklahoma homeschool community is heavily against the measure, arguing that it will lead to future infringements on the unparalled freedom to home educate that we enjoy here in the state of Oklahoma. This opposition could easily have been foreseen, as the homeschool community in Oklahoma has more often had to fight "friendly" legislation aiming to help them than they have had to defend against unfriendly bills.

Here is another op-ed by a homeschool parent giving the homeschool perspective on SB 1647 and similar efforts:

Preserving privately funded education in Oklahoma is vital to education freedom

We Okies have a strong heritage of working hard, providing for ourselves and minding our own affairs. Freedom, which emanates from doing so, is at risk with the advancement of public funding into the remaining remnants of privately funded education in Oklahoma. Senate Bill (SB) 1647, SB 1509, House Bill 3482, SB 1583, SB 1420, and SB 1135 (current bills I am aware of which advance such) are harmful to all Oklahomans. 

Urgent action needed today in support of Abortion Abolition bill

With State Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat vehemently opposing any effort to abolish abortion in Oklahoma, the effect to save the lives of upwards of 5,000 babies per year has moved to the State House.

From FreeTheStates, an urgent call for support to abolish abortion in Oklahoma via House Bill 4111:

This week, our State Legislature will have the opportunity to pass a bill that would abolish abortion in Oklahoma. However, the Speaker of the House and the Rules Committee Chairman are not committed to ensuring the bill receives a vote. It is assigned to the House Rules Committee and their final meeting at which this bill can be heard is this Tuesday. It is imperative that we call and email them to encourage them to bring this bill before the committee for a vote.

The bill is HB4111 authored by Representative Vancuren. Please take a moment to call AND email Speaker McCall, Chairman Osburn, and the members of the committee, to ask them to make sure HB4111 receives a vote this week and to vote yes on the bill. Calls need to be made and emails sent today.

Below and in the comments we have included a sample message that you can simply copy and paste.

Finally, join us today, Monday the 28th at 12:15pm on the 4th floor of the Capitol to lobby in support of HB4111. Abortion must be abolished, to the glory of God and the joy of our preborn neighbors. 

Nathan Dahm switches over to open Senate race, Lahmeyer sticks with Lankford challenge

U.S. Sen. James Lankford drew two main challengers in the latter half of 2021 (sorry, Joan Farr, but you don't count as "main"): State Sen. Nathan Dahm and Tulsa pastor Jackson Lahmeyer. Jim Inhofe's retirement announcement, opening his seat up for contest this year, caused both to consider their options.

Dahm and Lahmeyer have taken divering paths, with Dahm opting for the open Senate race (joining U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin and Inhofe staffer Luke Holland), while Lahmeyer is sticking with challenging Lankford.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Hern: Biden's rubber-stamp SCOTUS pick undermines Constitution and American values

Hern statement on Biden’s nominee for the Supreme Court

TULSA, OK (Feb. 25th) – Representative Kevin Hern (OK-01) released the following statement after this morning’s announcement of Ketanji Brown Jackson as Biden’s nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States.

“Our nation is on the precipice of disaster,” said Rep. Hern. “It has never been more important to empower the checks and balances on the federal government. Our Supreme Court is meant to uphold our Constitution and preserve the values our founding fathers fought to instill in our nation. Ketanji Brown Jackson undermines that directive.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

T.W. Shannon seems to be considering another Senate bid following Inhofe's retirement

The latest potential candidate to be publicly considered his options in the wake of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe's retirement, here is a statement from former State House Speaker T.W. Shannon:

Jim Inhofe’s expected retirement announcement today after an almost 40 year career in DC mark’s an end of an era in Oklahoma politics. I am grateful for his support of the American military, his fight against radical environmental extremism and for those times when he did stand for the America First Agenda.

As we look to the next generation of leadership, like most Oklahomans, my family and I recognize that Washington politicians have failed America. They’ve failed on debt and spending, failed to contain China and Russia, failed to secure our border, failed on election integrity and they have failed on the other great pandemic that’s infected our culture: wokeism.

If Donald Trump taught us anything, it’s that if we are going to Make America Great Again and implement the America First Agenda, we must first acknowledge that the swamp is never going to reform the swamp.

In order to win this fight against Joe Biden and the ruling political class’ globalist BLM agenda, it’s going to require a bold, articulate, decisive leader who can speak truth to power, and not bend to the pressure of the Woke mob- even against the leadership of your own party.

This country and this state have been far too good to me to sit back and become the generation who allows our republic to retreat from its proper role in history. Despite Washington’s best effort, America still stands as Ronald Reagan so aptly described, a “shining city upon a hill.”

Putting people in office to join the good ole boys’ club who will just manage the decay is no longer good enough for a small state with big dreams. I’ve never shied away from a fight just because I’m the underdog, especially a fight that impacts the future of my children—your children—our children are worth the fight.

In such a time as this my family and I are seeking God’s guidance on how our gifts and talents can best be of service to the people of Oklahoma in the fight to defend the 3 C’s that made this country great in the first place: the Constitution, Capitalism, and Christianity for religious liberty.

Please keep us in your prayers.
Here's his Instagram post the announcement was taken from:

Former State Rep. Paul Wesselhöft exploring U.S. Senate campaign

Former State Rep. Paul Wesselhöft announced this afternoon that he is exploring running for the U.S. Senate following news of Jim Inhofe's pending retirement. 

Wesselhöft spent 12 years in the Oklahoma House of Representatives, representing House District 54 in Moore and southeast Oklahoma City. A U.S. Army veteran of nearly two decades, he has also served in the Citizen Potawatomi Nation Legislature since 2007.

Here is the exploratory announcement he sent me to publish:

Inhofe's dominoes: Cong. Markwayne Mullin announces bid for Senate seat

Here starts the domino effect of U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe's retirement: 2nd District Congressman Markwayne Mullin is launching his campaign for the United States Senate seat being vacated by Inhofe.

Mullin made his bid official in a short-and-sweet video on Twitter:

Small: Bureaucrats, not families, retain power under open-transfer law

By Jonathan Small

When lawmakers voted last year to expand open-transfer opportunity, allowing families to more easily send children to school districts other than the one in which they reside, supporters thought the change would empower parents.

But bureaucrats still hold the upper hand and many parents’ open-transfer choices are limited to Oklahoma’s worst schools.

That fact highlights the need for lawmakers to pass robust, expansive school-choice legislation that allows state funding to follow a child to any school, including private schools. The opportunities created by open transfer simply do not meet the needs of families.

An ongoing review of public data conducted by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs has covered 13 counties whose schools serve more than 60 percent of Oklahoma students. So far, OCPA has found school districts in those counties have reported more than 10,000 total spots available for open-transfer students, a vacancy rate of less than 3 percent.

Inhofe endorses his own chief-of-staff to replace him in special election

Following his announcement that he would be retiring, thus triggering a special election this year, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe endorsed his chief-of-staff Luke Holland as his hand-picked successor in office (more on that in a bit).

A Bartlesville native, Holland has served as Inhofe's top aide since 2017. His first introduction to Sen. Inhofe came, apparently, from Jim Inhofe's daughter, who was one of Holland's professors at the University of Arkansas. He first joined Inhofe's staff in 2009.

Inhofe was unable to attend Holland's press conference due to testing positive for COVID-19, but lent his endorsement over the phone at the event.

Elected officials react to Inhofe's retirement announcement

Sen. Jim Inhofe's announcement of his pending retirement will likely trigger an avalanche of candidacies in the Senatorial special election and subsequent open seats causes by the race. We'll continue to watch things as they develop.

Following are statements from Oklahoma's congressional delegation, as well as Gov. Stitt (who has said he is "fully committed" to his gubernatorial reelection campaign) and Lt. Gov. Pinnell:

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Report: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe to announce retirement on Monday


Sen. Inhofe at a recent Senate hearing.

It is being widely reported this evening that U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe is planning on announcing his retirement from the Senate on Monday (Politico, New York Times).

Inhofe (elected to the U.S. House in 1986 and then the U.S. Senate in 1994) turned 87 in November, and his wife Kay has, evidently, been in poor health in recent years.

Back in December 2019, my Muskogee Politico Insiders Panel discussed the then-uncertainty over Inhofe's 2020 reelection plans. I asked the panelists who they thought would jump into the Senate race should Inhofe retire, and here are some of the names they tossed out back in 2019:

Lankford calls for "crippling sanctions on Putin, Russia", increased US energy production after invasion of Ukraine

[Since I messed up the email newsletter link twice, here's the correct link about Senator Inhofe.

Lankford Statement on Russia’s Invasion on a Sovereign State

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) issued a statement on Russia’s invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine:

“Cindy and I pray for the people of Ukraine. Today they face the unfathomable: an unprovoked attack on their families, homes, and communities—simply for who they are and what they stand for: a free people living in a free country living next door to a murderous dictator.

“America and our allies must respond quickly and decisively with crippling sanctions on Putin, Russia, and anyone who seeks to aid their actions. We will absolutely impose trade restrictions and enforce sanctions on countries who continue to work with Russia.

Inhofe condemns Putin's invasion, says "Putin’s ambitions won’t stop with Ukraine"

Sen. Inhofe with members of the OK Nat'l Guard’s 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Ukraine in 2017.

Inhofe Statement on Putin's Escalating Invasion in Ukraine

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, made the following statement on Russia’s escalation of their invasion into Ukraine:

“My prayers are with the brave men, women, and children of Ukraine, who are suffering an unprecedented, unwarranted and unprovoked attack ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“For months, we’ve seen this coming - but Putin’s massive, shameful breach of international protocol is shocking and devastating nonetheless. 

State Senate passes bill to help job-seekers with criminal records

Senate approves occupational licensing reform

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate has given approval to Senate Bill 1691, which builds upon previously passed occupational licensing reforms and would be transformational for job-seeking Oklahomans with criminal records to seize their second chance.

The measure, authored by Sen. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole, adds to current state law on occupational licensure so a criminal record could only be grounds for license denial if the offense substantially relates to the duties and responsibilities of the occupation and poses a reasonable threat to public safety. Each licensing board would be required to consider the seriousness of the crime, amount of time that’s passed since conviction, the age of the applicant at the time the crime was committed, evidence relevant to the offense and evidence of rehabilitation.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Senate committee continues to ignore abortion abolition, passes weak pro-life bills instead

Rather than hearing legislation that would abolish abortion, the Oklahoma State Senate - at Pro Tem Greg Treat's direction - is instead serving out some weak, bland legislative "dishes" with a haphazardly slapped-on "pro-life" label.

The ugly truth about most of the pro-life legislation passed by pro-life Oklahoma legislatures in the past decade or more is that they have accomplished little or nothing. There are new abortion clinics murder mills in Oklahoma. Every year, four to five thousand babies are still murdered, with full legal consent. Abortive mothers are declining or ignoring the "pro-life" materials that legislators voted to make available (mind you, these measures were touted as saving lives, yet according to the most recent data from the Health Department not one mother who received the material changed her mind about having an abortion).

Abortion abolitionism is the most consistent application of a biblically-minded "pro-life" philosophy. Abortion is murder, plain and simply; period, end of sentence. It's murder at 36 weeks, it's murder at 20 weeks, it's murder at 12 weeks, it's murder at 6 weeks, it's murder at 2 weeks. Drawing an arbitrary line at any point after life begins (conception) at which baby murder is a-okay is injustice. Every pro-life bill that seeks to regulate abortion is, in fact, ultimately perpetuating it. 

Unfortunately, Sen. Greg Treat is at the forefront of fighting the abolition of abortion. The legislature will pass these do-nothing measures right in time to check the pro-life box on their campaign material this fall. Meanwhile, abolition bills will languish in the dark, without so much as an opportunity at a committee hearing.

Anyway, here's Treat's press release:

Pro Tem Treat’s pro-life bills advance to Senate floor

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Health and Human Services Committee on Monday advanced four pro-life bills from Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat.

Senate Bill 1552
Senate Bill 1552 allows the Oklahoma State Department of Health to contract directly with private organizations who provide services related to the Choosing Childbirth Act.

“Allowing the health department to contract directly with private organizations that support women who make the brave choice to carry a child to term rather than seek an abortion makes more life-saving resources available to even more expectant mothers and their children,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City.

The bill now advances to the Senate floor for consideration.

Senate Bill 1553
Senate Bill 1553 modifies current state statutes and moves to 30-days from conception the prohibition on abortion in Oklahoma.

“Life at every stage is precious and must be valued and protected. The prevalence of abortions is a tragedy for our society. Hopefully, the U.S. Supreme Court will soon take steps that will allow Oklahoma and other states to have laws that accurately reflect our collective desire to protect the unborn,” Treat said.

The bill next goes to the Senate floor for consideration.

Senate Bill 1555
Senate Bill 1555 amends “trigger language” from 2021’s SB 918 so should the central holdings of Roe v. Wade or Planned Parenthood v. Casey be overturned, or should the U.S. Constitution be amended to allow states to set abortion policy, Oklahoma may enforce the existing prohibition of abortion in state statute or enact similar statutes prohibiting an abortion throughout pregnancy.

“Pending at the U.S. Supreme Court is a case that could overturn all or parts of Roe v. Wade and other federal case law that tragically allows abortions to proceed. It is my hope the court overturns precedents that protect abortion in that current case and restores states’ ability to prohibit abortion once again. Senate Bill 1555 is an important measure that prepares Oklahoma to act quickly to end abortion if, and when, the U.S. Supreme Court overturns precedent on abortion law,” Treat said.

The bill next moves to the Senate floor for consideration.

Senate Joint Resolution 37
Senate Joint Resolution 37 provides for a vote of the people on a constitutional amendment to prohibit the Oklahoma Supreme Court from reading into the Oklahoma Constitution a guaranteed right to an abortion.

“The U.S. Supreme Court mistakenly read into the federal constitution a guaranteed right to an abortion. Senate Joint Resolution 37, if approved by voters, keeps the Oklahoma Supreme Court from making that same mistake. This resolution would stop the Oklahoma Supreme Court from inventing out of whole cloth a right to an abortion in the state constitution, and gives Oklahomans the ability to affirm their overwhelming support for protecting the sanctity of life,” Treat said.

The bill next moves to the Senate floor for consideration.

Senators comment after $10.5 Billion certified for state budget

Senate Appropriations Chair comments on Feb. 22 revenue certification

OKLAHOMA CITY – Senate Appropriations Chair Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, issued the following statement after the Oklahoma State Board of Equalization (BOE) met on Tuesday to certify revenues available for appropriation for the Fiscal Year 2023 budget. The amount initially certified by the board in December was $10.3 billion.  The amount certified Tuesday was $10.49 billion. 

“The revenue figures show Oklahoma’s economy is still strong, but I emphatically believe it is in the best interest of the state that we continue to take a fiscally conservative approach.  It’s important to remember that of the $10.49 billion certified, nearly $1.3 billion is made up of one-time carryover funds and special cash from previous sessions. 

“Oklahoma has continued to benefit from federal dollars related to the pandemic, which helped these numbers. Knowing that will change, and that energy prices will not always remain as high as they are now, we must be cautious in our approach to the budget.  We need to continue to boost our emergency savings and make careful decisions now while the economy is strong, so that we are prepared for what may come the next few years.”   

Democratic members of Senate Finance Committee comment on State Board of Equalization meeting

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Democratic members of the Senate Finance Committee released the following statements in response to today’s State Board of Equalization meeting:

House Republicans propose plan to get 95% of Oklahomans' broadband coverage

House Republicans propose plan to get 95% of Oklahomans' broadband coverage

OKLAHOMA CITY – House Republican legislation to bring high-speed internet to 95% of Oklahomans in five years will be heard in committee this week.

The creation of an Oklahoma Broadband Office via House Bill 3363 represents Oklahoma's most aggressive step yet in broadband expansion, which has been a House Republican priority for three years.

"With all the funds now available for broadband expansion, a dedicated office is needed to maximize their benefit for all Oklahomans," said House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka. "House Republicans support broadband expansion because it is critical infrastructure that creates jobs and is as essential as phones or roads to modern life."

HB 3363, authored by McCall, creates the Oklahoma Broadband Office to distribute all funding available for broadband expansion and deliver high-speed internet to 95% of Oklahomans in five years. The nonappropriated office would be fully funded with administrative allowances from federal funds and sunset in 2028, once all funds are distributed.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

OK Congressmembers comment on Ukraine, Biden's foreign and energy policy

Four of Oklahoma's five congressmembers issued statements today regarding the simmering Soviet Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine. Soviet Russian President Vladimir Putin lent official recognition of two Russian-assisted breakaway regions, the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic.

In public remarks, Putin seemed to pine for the "good old days" of the Soviet Union, when much of eastern Europe and central Asia was under the thumb of the Kremlin. He seems to be well on his way toward bringing some of those regions and countries back under the direct control or indirect-but-domineering influence of Russia.

Following are press release from U.S. Reps. Stephanie Bice (5th District), Frank Lucas (3rd District), Kevin Hern (1st District), and Tom Cole (4th District):

OK County Sheriff Tommie Johnson endorses Kevin Calvey for District Attorney

“Oklahoma County deserves a battle-tested conservative who will prioritize public safety.”

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (February 22, 2022) -- Oklahoma County Sheriff, Tommie Johnson III, is endorsing Kevin Calvey for the upcoming Republican primary for Oklahoma County District Attorney.  Johnson is encouraging fellow conservatives to join him in voting for Calvey on June 28th.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Op-ed: Homeschooling community does not want “Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts”

As promised, I'm publishing another op-ed on SB 1647, this time coming from a homeschool perspective.

SB 1647, the "school choice" bill authored by Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat (R-OKC), would give parents who choose to not utilize the public school system a portion of their childrens' education dollars (around $3,600 per child) toward educating them by other private means, be that private, parochial, or home schools. 

You can read more posts about the measure here, ranging from press releases from Treat and supporting organizations to other, more critical perspectives.

Since this is shaping up to be one of the more heated issues of the 2022 legislative session, I'll have much more to post on this topic from both sides as the legislative session progresses. If you have an op-ed you'd like to submit on this subject, you can contact me at

Many thanks to Jonathan Bartlett for submitting the following piece to add to the conversation:

The Homeschooling Community Does Not Want “Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts”
by Jonathan Bartlett -- Vice President, Homeschool Oklahoma

Currently under consideration in the Oklahoma legislature is SB-1647, which creates “Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts” to allow parents who do not utilize the public school system to have access to some of the money that would otherwise have been used for their education in the public school system.  While this may sound like a great deal for parents, experience has taught us in the homeschooling movement to be wary of government offers of its money.

Homeschool Oklahoma (formerly called OCHEC) is the primary state organization for homeschooling in Oklahoma.  Every year we organize a Capitol Day event, where we go to the state capitol, bring cookies for every legislator, and say, “please, please, please don’t give us anything.”

That may seem strange—why would an advocacy group not want anything?  Because we really want the freedom to educate our kids in the way that makes the most sense for our families. Every government favor eventually comes with strings.  In fact, government favors should come with strings.  Spending other people’s money means that you ought to be accountable to them for how the money is spent.  Whether or not there are strings attached now, be certain that any money that you receive from the government will have strings attached in the future.

Take, for instance, The Little Light House, a private Christian tuition-free special needs preschool.  When the state first required public schools to provide preschooling services for kids with special needs many years ago, the schools were not equipped to handle it.  So, they turned to The Little Light House for help.  The Little Light House said that they would be willing, but that they were unwilling to compromise anything about their program to do so.  The government agreed, and The Little Light House expanded their operation.  However, soon, people started to complain about The Little Light House.  It was too Christian.  It wasn’t structured the way some parents wanted.  So, while the money was originally string-free, the government soon clamped down and made demands.  To its credit, The Little Light House rejected both the strings and the money, but, because they had expanded their staff and building to meet the need, they faced budget shortfalls and nearly lost their institution over it.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Carter: Oklahoma open-transfer law benefiting few students

by Ray Carter, Center for Independent Journalism

A new open-transfer law that allows students to shift from one public school to another has been touted as a significant expansion of opportunity for Oklahoma children.

But a review of public data, conducted by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA), shows a significant share of the slots available through open transfer are in two of the state’s most troubled and academically struggling districts—Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

Otherwise, should students want better options, they are often blocked from transferring, particularly to suburban districts touted as public-school successes.

Those findings come as leadership in the Oklahoma House of Representatives has cited the open-transfer law as justification for not enacting more significant school-choice legislation this year.

“We did a lot of work last year on open transfer and collaborated with everybody on that,” House Speaker Charles McCall said recently. “I personally believe that is the best policy for the state because it works in all four corners of the state.”

McCall made those comments as he announced he would not allow a House hearing on Senate Bill 1647, by Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, which would create the Oklahoma Empowerment Account (OEA) Program.

Under the proposed program, any student eligible to enroll in a public school would be eligible for an OEA, which could be used to pay for a range of education services, including private-school tuition. Money deposited into the account comes from the per-pupil allotment of state funding already dedicated for education of a child.

The state’s new open-transfer law, approved by legislators in 2021, allows for transfer of students between public school districts throughout the year. Previously, such transfers were mostly limited to a short period of time.

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Lankford: "clear that DOD leaders are ignoring sincerely-held religious beliefs of service members" in vax mandate

Lankford Calls for Audit of Defense Department’s Failure to Provide Religious Accommodations for the COVID-19 Vaccine

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) sent a letter to the Acting Department of Defense (DOD) Inspector General Sean O’Donnell to ask him to audit DOD’s process for reviewing religious accommodation requests for the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Lankford previously 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 letter requested a response by February 1, and to date, his office has not received a response.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Lankford: Putin is "trying to... recreate the USSR" with aggression toward Ukraine

Lankford Warns Russian Aggression an Attempt to Start New USSR
Lankford: “Let’s pray for the people of Ukraine who, right now, who hear the guns practicing on the other side of their border. Let’s pray for peace.”

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today warned that Russian aggression on the border with Ukraine and military posturing in general should be taken seriously. He shared his support for helping the Ukrainian people defend themselves amid an escalating situation developing on their border that Russia is trying to pretend is nothing. Lankford has consistently called out President Biden’s failed foreign policy, especially against Russia, as Biden has refused to sanction Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Europe, which threatens energy security.

Lankford introduced the Never Yielding Europe’s Territory (NYET) Act to provide the critical support Ukraine needs to defend itself and deter Russian aggression today, while imposing real costs on the Kremlin for its ongoing and potential future aggression against Ukraine. Lankford introduced the Belarus Aggression Accountability Act to deter Belarus from allowing Russia to use its territory to invade Ukraine. Lankford’s bill would sanction Belarus or any country that aids Russia’s ongoing, unprovoked aggression toward the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Lankford supported legislation to impose US sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, a natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany running through the Baltic Sea.

House subcommittee approves additional $30M for county roads, bridges

House Subcommittee Approves Additional $30M for Roads, Bridges

OKLAHOMA CITY – A House subcommittee has given the first approval to a bill that would increase the amount of appropriations the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges Fund may receive by $30 million.

House Bill 3318 raises the maximum amount that can be apportioned to the County Improvements for Roads and Bridges Fund from motor vehicle revenue from $120 million to $150 million. The bill received a hearing before the House Appropriations & Budget Subcommittee on Transportation on Monday afternoon.

Three Charter School reform bills pass State House committee

Dills' Charter School Bills Pass Committee

OKLAHOMA CITY (February 15th) – Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, today won unanimous passage of a trio of bills in the  House Common Education Committee that focus on modifying various aspects of the Oklahoma charter school law.

House Bill 3643 would update requirements for virtual charter school governing boards that contract with educational management organizations (EMOs), creating greater transparency for state funds. In addition, the State Board of Education would be authorized to demand repayment of any monies illegally expended by an EMO and to withhold any unreturned amount from state funding allocations.

House Bill 3644 would update oversight requirements for charter school sponsors and governing boards.

House Bill 3645 would update virtual charter school attendance and truancy policies.

"Charter schools – both brick-and-mortar and virtual – have a role in our public school offerings to expand choice and to meet the individual needs of students and their parents," Dills said. "Unfortunately, however, we've had instances of outright fraud or abuse of taxpayer dollars when it comes to organizations that manage the administrative functions of these schools. These bills seek to tighten our laws, protecting public funds and increasing transparency over how they are expended. We also have a duty to ensure our students are receiving the public education promised them in our state Constitution."

Dills held several studies during the interim that helped guide the legislation. It's part of her ongoing effort to improve charter school law.

Public charter schools operate with greater flexibility than traditional schools under state law in exchange for greater accountability requirements. It's these requirements that Dills has been intent on clarifying since taking public office. She's been particularly focused on reform involving for-profit EMOS.

In 2019, she secured passage of House Bill 1395, which created greater oversight and increased transparency of the amount of taxpayer funding going to an EMO. The law change required the amounts being paid as well as a breakdown of all expenditures through the Oklahoma Cost Accounting System (OCAS). The owners of EMOs also now must make certain disclosures in public meetings.

The measures passed in committee today are now eligible to be considered by the full House.

Sheila Dills, a Republican, serves District 69 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Her district includes Jenks, South Tulsa and Bixby in Tulsa County.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

House Democrats announce 2022 legislative priorities

Democrats Announce 2022 Legislative Priorities

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The House Democratic Caucus on Wednesday presented their legislative priorities for the 2022 Legislative Session.

The Democratic Caucus highlighted policy initiatives in five primary areas: transparency and accountability, health care, criminal justice, education, and the state economy.

House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, spoke to the intent of Democratic policies and reiterated the caucus’ recent success to elevate ideas focused on Oklahomans. Virgin named the EITC, protecting education funding, and eliminating the state grocery tax as examples. 

“Our goal for the 2022 Session is to provide and support compassionate, common-sense ideas focused on the needs of Oklahomans,” Virgin said. “What you won't find in our priorities are tax credits or cuts to large corporations, legislation that restricts voting rights, or attacks on tribal sovereignty.”

The Democratic Caucus recognized the current lack of transparency in the Capitol and highlighted the caucus’ desire to require the House of Representatives to follow the Open Meetings Act. 

Senate committee approves bill to add voter ID to OK Constitution

Senate committee approves bill to add voter ID requirements to state Constitution

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate Rules Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved President Pro Tempore Greg Treat’s bill to add voter identification requirements to the state Constitution.

Treat’s Senate Joint Resolution 48 would send to a vote of the people a legislative referendum that would add the voter identification requirement currently in state statute to the Oklahoma Constitution. The measure maintains the Legislature’s ability to enact bills to specify the requirements for proof of identity for voting.

Prominent Oklahoma homeschool organizations oppose Treat's school choice bill

Homeschool Oklahoma (formerly the Oklahoma Christian Home Educators Consociation, or OCHEC) is the largest homeschool organization in the state, and one of the oldest, having been founded in 1982. Many local homeschool groups, such as Christian Home Educators Fellowship (CHEF) in Tulsa, Lawton Christian Home Educators, and Norman Area Home Educators, to name a few, are affiliated with HSOK.

Constitutional Home Educators Alliance is an organization 'comprised of veteran Oklahoma home educating families' whose 'primary mission is to educate legislators on issues concerning parental rights and constitutional home education'. 

Both HSOK and CHEA have issued statements of concern and opposition to State Sen. Greg Treat's Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts bill (SB 1647) that would give parents who choose to not utilize the public school system a portion of their childrens' education dollars (around $3,600 per child) toward educating them by other private means, be that private, parochial, or home schools.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Lankford opposes Biden's controversial, pro-abortion FDA nominee

Lankford Opposes Controversial, Pro-Abortion FDA Nominee

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today opposed the nomination of Dr. Robert Califf to serve as the Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Califf previously held the position under President Obama.

“I am deeply concerned about President Biden’s decision to once again place someone in a health care-related role who openly pushes for more abortion, including mail-order chemical abortions,” said Lankford. “Since Biden is obsessed with abortion, he continues to recycle Obama-era nominees or employees that promote abortion rather than health care. Dr. Califf wants to make dangerous, chemical abortion easier to access, not save lives of moms and babies. He’s not who we need in charge of medication and health safety.”

When Dr. Califf served previously as FDA Commissioner, Lankford led a letter to him to express concern and request information about the agency’s decision at the time to change policies regarding the abortion drug mifepristone. Dr. Califf did not respond to the letter.

Lankford has been the leading voice in Congress for the protection of life. Lankford pushed back on the Biden Administration’s rule to allow taxpayer-funded abortions. He successfully secured language in the Democrats partisan $3.5 trillion Fiscal Year 2022 budget resolution to save the long-standing Hyde and Weldon Amendments, which prohibit the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions and abortion-related discrimination against health care workers, including insurers. He is also an original cosponsor of the SAVE Moms and Babies Act, which would stop the FDA from approving more chemical abortion drugs.

Senate passes bill adding ministers to approved visitor list during health emergencies

Bergstrom additions to ‘No Patient Left Alone Act’ passes Senate

 OKLAHOMA CITY –  The full Senate gave approval to Senate Bill 1096 on Tuesday to add pastors, ministers, spiritual advisors and other religious leaders to the approved list of visitors for patients hospitalized during a declared health emergency.

The measure modifies House Bill 2687, also known as the No Patient Left Alone Act, which was signed into law last spring and allows patients to designate a guest to have unrestricted visitation regardless of an emergency declaration by the governor or Legislature. The measure was a response to the strict medical facility lockdowns during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when positive patients were unable to have a support person advocate for them during their stay.

Treat's school choice bill advances from Senate Education Committee

Pro Tem Greg Treat’s school choice bill advances from Senate Education Committee

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate Education Committee on Tuesday approved President Pro Tempore Greg Treat’s school choice bill that empowers parents with more control over their child’s education.

The committee approved Senate Bill 1647, also known as the Oklahoma Empowerment Act, which would allow parents to use their child’s state education dollars to pursue a variety of schooling options to secure the best education possible for their children.

“The Oklahoma Empowerment Act gives parents more control over their child’s schooling by empowering them with the resources to find the right fit for their child’s education. Children from working families shouldn’t be relegated to a failing school simply because of where they live. Education is key to bringing generational change, and Senate Bill 1647 will empower all parents to find the best educational option for their child to succeed,” said Treat, R-Oklahoma City.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Lankford pushes for sanctions on Belarus to stop Russia’s aggression toward Ukraine

Lankford Pushes for Sanctions on Belarus to Stop Russia’s Aggression Toward Ukraine

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) introduced the Belarus Aggression Accountability Act to deter Belarus from allowing Russia to use its territory to invade Ukraine. Lankford’s bill would sanction Belarus or any country that aids Russia’s ongoing, unprovoked aggression toward the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Russia has stationed nearly 30,000 troops near the Belarus/Ukraine border, its largest deployment to Belarus since the Cold War. Additionally, Russia has positioned 130,000 troops on the Russia/Ukraine border and deployed six additional naval vessels to the Black Sea.

“Belarus is allowing thousands of Russian troops into their country to line the border with Ukraine. The US should make it clear that strong economic and diplomatic sanctions will be applied to any country that supports Russia’s attempts to invade Ukraine,” said Lankford. “It is easier to stop a war that has never started than it is to end a war in process. This is a strong stance America can take to counter Russia and Belarus as they continue to threaten Ukraine’s independence.”

Gov. Stitt appoints Sarah Lepak to State Board of Education


OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 14, 2022) – Governor Kevin Stitt today announced he has appointed Sarah Lepak to the State Board of Education, filling the vacant seat for Congressional District 2 created by the resignation of Bill Flanagan. Lepak’s appointment requires confirmation by the Oklahoma State Senate.

“I am pleased to nominate Sarah Lepak to serve on the State Board of Education,” said Governor Stitt. “I am confident that she will put the needs of students first and strive to make Oklahoma Top Ten in education.”

Lepak currently is a Senior Environmental Project Manager at QuikTrip Corp. in Tulsa, where she leads the company’s compliance department and manages all aspects of environmental regulatory compliance and due diligence for QuikTrip stores.

“I’m honored to be nominated and look forward to serving on the Board,” said Lepak. “I am happy to give of my time and experience to help ensure Oklahoma kids are well-prepared for the future.” 

Rep. Russ files bill to protect schoolchildren from inappropriate material

Russ Files Bill to Protect Schoolchildren from Inappropriate Material

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Todd Russ, R-Cordell, has filed legislation that seeks to protect school-aged children from inappropriate material in school and public libraries.

House Bill 3702 would require any Oklahoma school district, charter or virtual charter school, state agency, public library, or university that offers digital or online library database resources to students in kindergarten through twelfth grade to do so only if the vendor, person, or entity providing the resources verifies that all the resources comply with the provisions of the new law.

"The protection of our children is of the utmost importance," Russ said. "Unfortunately, even though we have current state laws that define inappropriate material, we are still finding examples of this in our public school classrooms and libraries throughout the state on a regular basis. We must do a better job of safeguarding young minds from obscene material."  

Under the proposed new law, public schools, agencies, libraries and universities would be required to have safety policies and technology protections in place for K-12 students.

A user would be prohibited and prevented from sending, receiving, viewing, or downloading materials that are child pornography or obscene materials, as defined in current state statutes, or materials that depict child sexual exploitation as defined in current state statute. Filters or blocks to such materials are easily available and would be required.

OCPA column: Stitt stands with parents, not bureaucrats

Stitt stands with parents, not bureaucrats
By Jonathan Small

In his State of the State address, Gov. Kevin Stitt made clear he stands with parents before bureaucrats. That was a shock for status-quo defenders but welcome news to families.

Stitt endorsed robust, statewide school choice, saying funding should follow a child instead of being tied to buildings or systems. The governor vowed to “support any legislation that gives parents more school choice” and specifically pointed to Senate Bill 1647, by Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat. That legislation would allow state funding to follow a child to any school, including private schools, giving parents the financial ability to choose a wider array of education options and increasing the likelihood their children will be taught and excel academically in an environment that best serves them.

“In Oklahoma, we listen to parents, because we know God gave kids to parents – not to the government,” Stitt said.

Lankford launches first TV ad of reelection campaign, holds massive cash advantage

Incumbent U.S. Senator James Lankford is out with his first television ad for his 2022 reelection campaign:

Lankford is being challenged in the GOP primary by State Sen. Nathan Dahm of Broken Arrow, Tulsa pastor Jackson Lahmeyer, Joan Farr (who is also, bizarrely, running for Senate in Kansas), and Jessica Garrison (daughter of the late Democrat state senator from Muskogee, Earl Garrison).

Sunday, February 13, 2022

70 to 7: Oklahoma Dems now lead voter registration in just SEVEN counties

Here we go with the latest installment of my long-running Voter Registration Maps series. These statistics are from the annual January 15th report from the State Election Board(For nostalgia purposes, Democrats can look at my first map and see how much of Oklahoma was still blue and dark-blue in 2013)

Since last January, the GOP has taken the lead in eight counties: Atoka County (3.1% lead), Caddo County (4.22% lead), Choctaw County (2.54% lead), Greer County (5.32% lead), Haskell County (2.51% lead), Hughes County (2.28% lead), Johnston County (5.31% lead), and Murray County (4.83% lead)

Friday, February 11, 2022

Nat'l Association for Gun Rights endorses Dahm for US Senate


Oklahoma (February 10, 2022) - The National Association for Gun Rights has officially announced their full and total endorsement of State Senator and candidate for US Senate Nathan Dahm

Nathan Dahm released the following statement:

"Our Second Amendment rights are what protects all other rights, even from attempts by our own government to take away our rights.  I am honored to receive the National Association for Gun Rights' full and total endorsement. 

Phase-out of state grocery sales tax unanimously passes House committee

Elimination of State Grocery Tax ‘Sales’ Through Committee

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A bill to provide relief to Oklahoma families at the grocery store unanimously passed the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Finance on Wednesday.

House Bill 3621, authored by House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, phases out the 4.5% state portion of the grocery tax over three years:

  • 3 percent, starting July 1, 2022 
  • 1.5 percent, starting July 1, 2023
  • Fully exempt from state sales tax effective July 1, 2024

Democrats called for the end of the grocery tax last session in their 2021 Oklahoma Focused Budget. This session, the initiative has found bipartisan support from members of the House, members of the Senate, and the Governor. 

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Hamilton wants vote of the people to decide if post-election audits should be conducted

Hamilton wants vote of the people to decide if post-election audits should be conducted

OKLAHOMA CITY –  With tensions still high following questions regarding the 2020 election cycle, Sen. Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain, wants voters to decide if Oklahoma should conduct random audits following each general election.

Senate Joint Resolution 47 would submit a constitutional amendment to a vote of the people to require post-election audits in 10 randomly selected Oklahoma counties at the conclusion of each general election. Upon the conclusion of the audits, results would be made available to the public.

Hamilton said this move is needed to preserve election integrity in the state.

Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding approves $60M to address nursing shortage

Relief Working Group Recommends Funding to Increase Nurses

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Joint Committee on Pandemic Relief Funding – Health and Human Services Working Group today unanimously approved a number of projects to send to the full committee that would substantially increase the number of nurses in the state.

Funding for the total projects requested equals roughly $60 million.

The working group is chaired by Oklahoma House Speaker Pro Tempore Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, and Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow. Reps. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, Cyndi Munson, D-Oklahoma City, and Sens. John Michael Montgomery, R-Lawton, and Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, serve as members of the working group.

The lawmakers issued the following joint statement after today's action:

State Auditor releases Health Department audit

Cindy Byrd Releases Health Department Audit
"Oklahoma taxpayers paid for it - they should get to see it."

OKLAHOMA CITY (Wednesday, February 9, 2022) – Oklahoma State Auditor & Inspector Cindy Byrd today publicly released her audit of the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Former Attorney General Mike Hunter requested the audit on April 28, 2020. Byrd delivered the final audit report to the AG’s office on May 21, 2021. Byrd met with newly appointed Attorney General O’Connor on August 4th and notified him of the audit status.

“I believe all public records should be open and easily accessible to the taxpayers,” Auditor Cindy Byrd said.  “After receiving an Open Records Request, and consulting with outside legal counsel, I have concluded there is no Oklahoma statute that gives any state official the authority to withhold this information. This audit is an inspection of existing public records. Consequently, my final audit report is neither confidential nor exempt from the Open Records Act. I feel compelled, both legally and ethically, to release the full audit report to the public. Oklahoma taxpayers paid for it – they should get to see it.”

The full audit report is available here and posted on the Oklahoma State Auditor & Inspector’s website at


OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 9, 2022) – Governor Kevin Stitt released the following statement after reviewing the investigative audit of the Oklahoma State Department of Health:

“First, I appreciate the hard work and thorough investigation conducted by Auditor Byrd and I continue to be fully committed to transparency in state government.