Thursday, March 31, 2022

OKGOP calls for get-out-the-vote volunteers this weekend

The Oklahoma Republican Party is calling for volunteers to help with get out the vote efforts in school board and municipal elections this weekend. Below is a release from OKGOP Vice Chairman Shane Jemison:

Attention all Republicans,  

In 74 of 77 counties early voting begins TODAY for local school board and city council races all across Oklahoma. It is vital for the future of our nation and communities all across Oklahoma that we show up and support conservatives with cause.

3 communities across the state are in dire need of your help preserving liberty, supporting our law enforcement, and promoting locally controlled parental rights in education.  

Today, tomorrow, Saturday, and Monday. We are calling all conservatives to action in the following  communities. These races will solely be decided by turnout. Every door knocked and phone call made will get them closer to being successful.

Please go to one of the following locations to knock doors and pass out literature. Today, tomorrow, Saturday, and Monday:

Poll: Lankford, Stitt, Mullin lead respective races by large margins

Here's the latest poll of the Oklahoma election landscape, from Amber Integrated.

Key takeaways:
  • U.S. Sen. James Lankford leads Jackson Lahmeyer. Massively.
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt leads Mark Sherwood in the GOP primary (massively) and holds a consistent 14% lead over RINO-turned-Democrat Joy Hofmeister in the general.
  • U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin has the very early lead in the U.S. Senate special election. 
  • Voters don't care about COVID.

Amber Integrated Releases Survey on Upcoming Primary and General Elections

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma-based public affairs firm Amber Integrated has released two surveys measuring attitudes about the current political environment and the upcoming primary and general elections in Oklahoma.

The first of these surveys was conducted from March 24-27, 2022 and included a pool of 455 likely GOP primary voters in Oklahoma.  It has a margin of error of 4.59% at a 95% confidence interval. 

The second of these surveys was also conducted from March 24-27, 2022, and included a pool of 500 likely general election voters in Oklahoma. This survey has a margin of error of 4.38% at a 95% confidence interval. 

Toplines and crosstabs for both surveys are available here.

Some key observations from both surveys are below:

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Gov. Stitt signs "Save Women's Sport Act" into law


OKLAHOMA CITY (March 30, 2022) – Governor Kevin Stitt signed SB2, the Save Women’s Sports Act, into law today. Watch the full bill signing ceremony below: 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Attorney General O'Connor joins multistate action to end CDC's unlawful mask mandate

Attorney General O'Connor Joins Multistate Action to End CDC's Unlawful Mask Mandate

OKLAHOMA CITY - Attorney General John O’Connor is joining 20 other states, led by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, in a multistate action against President Biden’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continued use of the unlawful mask mandate on public transportation. Attorney General O’Connor argues that the mandate exceeds the authority of Biden’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Biden administration continues to use a failed interpretation of a quarantine statute—that has been ruled against in court several times—to authorize the CDC’s rule. The continuation of the CDC’s unlawful mask mandate harms the states. It also interferes with state law in places like Oklahoma, which has imposed laws banning forced masking in public schools. The mandate also runs against reason, as now even the states with the most stringent COVID-19 policies are beginning to lift indoor mask mandates. 

“The CDC's mask mandate is a blatant misuse of power,” said Attorney General O’Connor. “This mandate reflects the priorities of federal bureaucrats who are entirely out of touch with the American people. The Biden Administration must end this unconstitutional mask mandate for public transportation.”

Former CA Gov Pete Wilson endorses Alex Gray's Senate bid


Oklahoma City, OK (March 29th) – Today, former Trump national security official and U.S. Senate candidate Alex Gray has received the endorsement of Governor Pete Wilson. This marks the eleventh high-profile endorsement since Gray announced his candidacy earlier this month. 

Wilson served the state of California as a United States Senator from 1983 until he was elected the 36th Governor of California in 1991. He has been a national leader in the fight against illegal immigration and to secure our borders for decades. A close friend of President Ronald Reagan, Wilson has been a conservative icon for decades.

“No one understands better than Alex Gray that America's national security urgently depends upon strict control of our borders, and the careful vetting of immigrants to assure enforcement of our immigration laws.  His four years of service to President Trump in the White House included his critically important role as Chief of Staff of the National Security Council.  He knows that anything less than constant rigorous enforcement of our immigration laws threatens a clear and present danger to America’s safety.

In the Senate, Alex Gray will champion the rule of law to uphold America's sovereignty and demand the safety of our citizens.” said Governor Wilson in a statement endorsing Alex Gray.

“Governor Wilson has been on the frontlines of the battle to control our border and enforce our immigration laws for decades. He was a fighter for conservative values in the Senate and as Governor, with many of his policies anticipating the America First movement of President Trump. I could not be more proud to have his support in my own bid for the U.S. Senate,” Gray said in response to the endorsement. 

Lankford, Hern slam Biden's budget proposal

Lankford Responds to Biden Budget Proposal

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) responded to President Biden’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2023:

“A president’s budget is simply a wish list for the upcoming year. Biden’s wish list is more taxes, more spending, and no genuine proposal to solve our skyrocketing debt. The lack of focus on lowering our debt and deficit perpetuates our nation’s growing inflation rate and cost of living. Everyone in the nation sees the fiscal problem and understands this moment requires serious debate and real solutions to our economic future

“It’s time to fix the broken budget process, cut unnecessary spending on earmarks, and put the needs of the American people first.”

“More spending is not the answer”: Hern slams Biden’s bloated budget proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C. (March 28th) – Representative Kevin Hern (OK-01) released the following statement after President Joe Biden announced his budget proposal to Congress for FY 23.

“Inflation is the number one issue facing our country,” said Rep. Hern. “Instead of addressing this problem, Biden’s budget proposal only increases the economic pressures that are suffocating American families. More spending is not the answer; we will never spend our way out of an inflation crisis. An immediate return to fiscal responsibility is the only solution, but that’s not what we got today.

“The Biden Administration began their attack on American energy on Day 1. Today’s budget announcement continues that war, ensuring prices at the pump continue to rise and further increasing our dependence on foreign oil. Biden is following through on his campaign promise to end fossil fuels, a move that will destroy jobs in Oklahoma. Biden also made the campaign promise to only raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans; however, the tax increases proposed in this budget will realistically impact ALL Americans regardless of their tax bracket.”

Rep. Hern continued, “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: DC doesn’t have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem. I’m proud to be writing a federal budget for FY 23 with fiscal conservatism at its heart. My budget balances in just a few years – something Congress hasn’t been able to do since the 90s. It’s not too late to return to fiscal responsibility.”

Rhonda Hopkins joins GOP race in 2nd Congressional District

The Republican field for Congress in the 2nd District continues to grow. I received a video announcement from Rhonda Hopkins, who becomes the ninth declared candidate to my knowledge.

Hopkins is a past candidate for office, having run for CD2 in 2020 (getting 7.4% in a three-way primary), and State House District 86 twice (GOP nominee in 2016, primary candidate in 2018).

In her video announcement, posted below, she focuses in on the issue of social security, criticizing both Congressman Markwayne Mullin and U.S. Senator James Lankford (both of whom are running for Senate this year, Lankford for reelection and Mullin for the Inhofe special election).

Here's her video announcement:

Bad idea: State House votes to roll back pension reforms, return to same bad system that got into trouble

It wasn't that long ago that the Oklahoma Legislature was faced with the reality of massive financial crisis with state employee retirement systems. We had some of the worst-funded state pension systems in the nation. Following the leadership of individuals like then-State Rep. Randy McDaniel, the Legislature took steps to remedy that situation.

This past week, however, the State House approved a measure by State Rep. Avery Frix (R-Muskogee) that would take a dramatic step backward into the failed policy of the past. Frix has a history of pandering to government unions on this issue, and this vote coincides with the launch of his campaign for Congress.

When a previous bill of Frix's came up in 2020 which raided pension assets for a transparently political election-year state workers' retirement boost, State Sen. Marty Quinn (R-Claremore), who is also running for the same congressional seat as Frix, had this to say:

Sen. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore, said he was “not going to crawl under a rock and ignore the financial mistakes that continue to be made by this body and other bodies so that people can ‘like’ me.”

“Why are we taking the same financial destructive path of previous administrations?” Quinn asked. “You know what I’m talking about. A system that was one of the fifth-worst systems in the entire United States, almost $16 billion underfunded, giving away COLAs in election years. We’re doing the same thing. Just a different group of people.”

More on the bill:

by Ray Carter, Center for Independent Journalism

House lawmakers voted to roll back a 2014 pension reform that was projected to save taxpayers $3.8 billion over 30 years and instead provide state workers retirement benefits that are not available to the typical private-sector worker in Oklahoma.

House Bill 2486, by state Rep. Avery Frix, eliminates a defined-contribution retirement plan, similar to a 401(k) plan in the private sector, and instead places most state government workers in a defined-benefit plan.

In a defined-benefit plan, state government employees receive a guaranteed, specified amount in retirement payments, while in a defined-contribution plan they contribute and invest in funds over time to save for retirement.

Lawmakers voted in 2014 to shift all new state government employees (aside from teachers or those working in hazardous positions, such as police and firefighters) into a 401(k)-style retirement plan. That law was authored by current Oklahoma State Treasurer Randy McDaniel, who then served in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

When she signed the reform into law, then-Gov. Mary Fallin noted, “The system as it stands today is not financially sound or sustainable. Moving future hires to a 401(k)-style system helps to ensure we can pay our current retirees and employees the benefits they have already earned.”

In a 2014 interview, McDaniel said the cost of defined-contribution plans is predictable for state government, and also noted that defined-benefit plans involve moral hazard that causes politicians to rapidly inflate the system’s unfunded liability by increasing benefits without covering the cost.

“An issue that is overlooked in the mathematical data is the issue of political incentives to harm the system by making unsustainable financial promises,” McDaniel said. “Unfortunately, those incentives are real, and they greatly impact the situation we face today. It’s easy to make promises when someone else is going to have to pay for those promises at some point in the future.”

Monday, March 28, 2022

Gov. Stitt appoints John Nash as Sec'y of Military and Veterans Affairs


OKLAHOMA CITY (March 28, 2022) – Governor Kevin Stitt announced today he has appointed John Nash as Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of Brig. Gen. Ben T. Robinson.

“John Nash’s background as a loyal member of the armed forces combined with his leadership and business skills will ensure we are serving our veterans with honor and supporting the brave Oklahomans who have risked their lives to defend our freedom,” said Gov. Stitt.

Nash enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve at age 17 before graduating from McLoud High School. He was later commissioned as an officer through the University of Oklahoma’s Army ROTC program, where he also was a member of the men’s basketball team and the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity.

Nash graduated from a variety of military schools including Airborne School and Ranger School and served in multiple leadership and command roles at various levels in the Army. He served for over a decade in a variety of special operations, national security and diplomatic roles including multiple tours of duty in Afghanistan, Iraq and other theaters.

“I am humbled by Governor Stitt’s appointment to serve Oklahoma as the Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs,” said Nash. “As a member of our country’s armed forces, it is an honor to be able to support our veterans and members of the military in this new role.”

Trump ambassador to Israel David Friedman endorses Gray for Senate


Oklahoma City, OK (March 28th) – Today, former Trump national security official and U.S. Senate candidate Alex Gray has received the endorsement of Ambassador David Friedman. The former ambassador to Israel is the tenth significant endorsement of frontrunner Alex Gray.

Friedman served as the ambassador to Israel during President Trump’s entire tenure. He was highly influential in peace talks on the Arabian peninsula and was a key figure in negotiating the Abraham Accords.  

Friedman has the following to say in endorsing Gray, "From his service in the Trump White House, Alex Gray understands the need for a strong U.S.-Israel partnership and the importance of American leadership on the global stage. He played a key role in implementing President Trump's national security agenda, and will be a tireless advocate for an America First foreign policy in the U.S. Senate."

“Our relationship with Israel is paramount in securing America’s interests across the world. Ambassador Friedman was on the frontlines promoting those interests and is one of the greatest promoters of the U.S.-Israel partnershipin history. His support is a huge boost for our campaign, and continues the pattern of President Trump’s closest and most loyal supporters backing this effort. I look forward to continuing the progress we made in the Middle East during President Trump’s tenure when I am elected to the Senate and serving as a leading voice for the U.S.-Israel partnership,” Gray said in response to the endorsement. 

Sunday, March 27, 2022

OCPA column: Election integrity measures are justified

Election integrity measures are justified
By Jonathan Small

Voter confidence is crucial to democratic stability. That’s why it is appropriate for Oklahoma state lawmakers to advance election-security measures even though Oklahoma has not suffered the election irregularities that have plagued other states.

No one can seriously argue the often-slapdash changes made to voting systems nationwide in 2020 did not harm public confidence in election outcomes.

An ABC/Ipsos poll, conducted December 27 to December 29, 2021, found that just 20 percent of Americans said they were “very confident” in the “integrity of the U.S. electoral system overall.”

A CNN poll conducted from Jan. 10 to Feb. 6 by SSRS found that just 17 percent of respondents said they were very confident “that elections in America today reflect the will of the people?” In contrast, 33 percent said they were “not at all confident.”

Those numbers show voters from all parties have a sense of unease about the validity of their state election systems. Policymakers should do all they can to remove such doubt.

In Oklahoma, one notable measure that has advanced is House Bill 3046, by Rep. Mark Lepak, which creates the “Prohibit the Private Funding of Elections Act.” The bill makes it illegal for election officials to solicit or accept private funding for election purposes.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

State Senate approves bills affirming biological sex at birth, protecting women's sports

Senate supports science with measures affirming biological sex at birth and its importance in women’s sports

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate gave approval to a pair of measures Thursday affirming biological sex at birth and placing importance on this designation for female student athletes across the state. Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, is the author of both measures.

Senate Bill 1100 would require the biological sex designation on Oklahoma birth certificates to be listed as either male or female, outlawing the use of “X” or any other symbol to represent a nonbinary designation.

“This measure is a direct response to our state’s health department adding nonbinary as an option on birth certificates,” Bergstrom said. “Like the vast majority of Oklahomans, I found this move to be a slap in the face of science. How has our society sunk so low that it is seriously an argument if someone is a boy or a girl? Biological sex is very clear, and our vital state records must reflect this.”

The Senate also passed Senate Bill 2, also known as the Save Women’s Sports Act, which would prohibit anyone of the male sex from playing on athletic teams designated for females, women, or girls.

In his debate, Bergstrom shared that he is passionate about this issue because of his daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters who have and will compete in women’s sports.

“We must protect our female students across this state from losing out on educational opportunities and scholarships because they are competing against men identifying as women,” Bergstrom said. “How is it fair for our children – our daughters, granddaughters, nieces and cousins – to compete against someone who has a very distinct biological advantage over them? The bottom line is it isn’t, and we must address this issue now and protect our female students from men infiltrating women’s sports programs.”

The measure comes on the heels of transgender athlete Lia Thomas’ dominating performance in the NCAA women’s swimming championships earlier this month. Previously known as Will Thomas, the swimmer had the benefit of higher testosterone levels, enhanced lung capacity, and larger hands and feet, lending to increased strength and a distinct advantage against biological females in the competition.

“It’s sad we even have to pass legislation designating that there is a difference between males and females, and that men have an advantage when competing against women,” said Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, co-author of the measure. “But I’m here to support our women and the future of women’s sports.”

SB 2 passed with bipartisan support on a 37-7 vote and is also co-authored by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow; Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman; Sen. Marty Quinn, R-Claremore; Sen. Joe Newhouse, R-Tulsa; Sen. Roland Pederson, R-Burlington; Sen. Jake Merrick, R-Yukon; Sen. Blake Stephens, R-Tahlequah; Sen. Cody Rogers, R-Tulsa; Sen. Shane Jett, R-Shawnee; Sen. Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain; Sen. George Burns, R-Pollard; Sen. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole; Sen. Casey Murdock, R-Felt; Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant; and Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore.

SB 2 now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.

Dahm releases statement after passage of Save Women’s Sports Act  

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, released the following statement after the passage of Senate Bill 2, also known as the Save Women’s Sports Act, on Thursday. Dahm was a co-author of the measure.

Friday, March 25, 2022

House passes bill that protects firearm entities in gov't contracts

 Rep. Kevin West Bill Protects Firearm Entities in Government Contracts

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, on Wednesday passed a bill out of the House  that would disallow the state of Oklahoma to contract with any company that discriminates against the firearms industry.  

"This is a constitutionally protected industry, and the majority of Oklahomans are very much in favor of protecting Second Amendment rights," West said. "Yet there are those in the firearms business being discriminated against based solely on the nature of their product. Therefore, I think it's very appropriate that we add language surrounding state contracts, which use taxpayer dollars, to protect these entities and one of our fundamental rights."

West pointed to a 2013 program codenamed Operation Chokepoint under the Obama Administration that intended to deny “disfavored” industries essential services such as banking, payment processing, and insurance – something he called a terrible abuse of government power. The firearm industry was a primary target of this operation. The program was ended by the Trump Administration in 2016, but West said many of America’s largest companies have since privatized it for all intents and purposes. This threatens an industry that is necessary for citizens to be able to exercise their constitutionally protected Second Amendment rights.

House Bill 3144 is a request from the firearm industry trade association the National Shooting Sports Foundation and is supported by the Oklahoma Second Amendment Association. West said this was one of the pieces of legislation that came out of an interim study he held over the summer that examined ways to attract firearms manufacturers to locate in the state.

The measure provides that a governmental entity may not enter into a contract with a company for the purchase of goods or services unless the contract contains a written verification from the company that it does not have a practice, policy, guidance, or directive that discriminates against a firearm entity or firearm trade association based solely on firearms. The bill further  specifies that the company will not discriminate during the term of the contract. This requirement does not apply to governmental entity contracts with sole-source providers or to a governmental entity that does not receive a bid from a company that is able to provide written verification.

West said he allowed the title on the bill to be struck, which will allow him to adjust the language as needed to address concerns as the measure continues through the legislative process.

If the bill becomes law, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services would be charged with ensuring government contracts comply with this new language.

HB3144 now moves to the Senate where it is authored by Casey Murdock, R-Felt.

Kevin West serves District 54 in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. His district includes part of Moore in Cleveland and Oklahoma counties.

State Rep. Avery Frix announces congressional campaign, becomes 8th GOP candidate for 2nd District

State Rep. Avery Frix (R-Muskogee) becomes the eighth Republican to launch a campaign for the 2nd Congressional District, and the third from the city of Muskogee. The last time the seat was open - in 2012 - it drew six candidates.

He joins State Sen. Marty Quinn, State Rep. Dustin Roberts, former State Rep. and current OKGOP chairman John Bennett, police chief Johnny Teehee and pharmacist Chris Schiller (both of Muskogee), and military vets Erick Wyatt and Clint Johnson.

Below is Frix's campaign announcement:

Frix in the Fight
Vows to be a ‘force’ in Congress, takes aim at Biden

(Muskogee, Okla) Businessman, builder and state Rep. Avery Carl Frix announced today that he is officially a candidate for the 2nd Congressional district.

“In the Frix family, we build stuff,” said Frix. “Like President Trump, I’m ready to rebuild America with our values and our way of doing things. It’s time to take back Congress and our country from Biden, Harris and the rest of the leftist whackos intent on making everything in their image instead of God’s.”

Thursday, March 24, 2022

American Quarter Horse on track to become Oklahoma's State Horse

American Quarter Horse on Track to Become Oklahoma's State Horse

OKLAHOMA CITY – The American Quarter Horse could become Oklahoma's official state horse after legislation advanced through the House.

House Bill 3261, authored by Rep. Randy Randleman, R-Eufaula, names the American Quarter Horse as the state horse of Oklahoma in recognition of the value of the breed to Oklahomans.

"The American Quarter Horse has had a significant role in our state's history and has been a huge economic driver as well," Randleman said. "I'm pleased that this bill passed the House with such wide support."

For nearly 50 years, the American Quarter Horse Association has held its world championship show in Oklahoma City with competitors from around the world.

State Senate passes measure for voters to consider judicial nomination reform


Legislation that would reform the state’s judicial nominating process has won easy approval in the Oklahoma Senate.

“This is an extremely important reform that I think most Oklahomans will support,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City.

Senate Joint Resolution 43, by Treat, would give voters the opportunity to amend the Oklahoma Constitution so that many judicial nominees would be selected by the governor with Senate confirmation required for appointment, duplicating the process used to make federal judicial appointments.

The governor would nominate the chief justice and associate justices of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, the chief judge and associate judges of the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the judges of all intermediate appellate courts.

Following gubernatorial nomination and Senate approval, those judges would then be subject to periodic retention-ballot elections.

District court judges would be chosen by election in a process that identifies the partisan affiliation of a judicial candidate.

The system created by SJR 43 would replace Oklahoma’s Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC). The JNC is a 15-member group that screens applicants for some of Oklahoma’s highest courts. In the case of Oklahoma Supreme Court vacancies, the JNC recommends only three nominees. The governor is not allowed to consider appointing anyone else, regardless of other potential jurists’ records. However, under SJR 43, the governor would be allowed to consider a much wider range of potential judicial nominees.

The JNC system has long been criticized for its secrecy and the perception that the group is overly controlled by the Oklahoma Bar Association, which appoints many of its members.

Canadian County Commissioner Jack Stewart to run for SD18

Canadian County Commissioner, Republican Jack Stewart to Run for New State Senate District 18

Jack Stewart, who is currently finishing his third term as Canadian County Commissioner for District 3, announced today that he will be seeking the Republican nomination for the newly created Oklahoma State Senate District 18. Jack has dedicated more than a decade of his life serving the people of Canadian County as Commissioner – overseeing the design, construction, and maintenance of over 300 road miles in his local community. After much prayer and discussion with leaders in the community, Jack is committed to serve his neighbors in a new way – defending constitutional freedoms and expanding economic opportunities for the region at the Oklahoma State Capitol.

Jack received his Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering from Oklahoma State University before joining the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, where he worked for 31 years. Jack then took his talents to the private sector, working as a transportation unit manager for Carter and Burgess Engineering Company, subsequently Jacobs Engineering. He also served on the Yukon Traffic Commission before serving as Canadian County Commissioner.

Jack Stewart is inviting the community to his Campaign Kickoff Reception, which will be held on Monday, March 28, from 6-8pm at the Express Clydesdales Barn, 12701 W. Wilshire Blvd in Yukon. RSVP on Facebook at Jack Stewart for State Senate, text or call 405-620-4769 or via email to 

Senate passes Jech measures to modify vehicle sales tax and registrations

Senate passes Jech measures to modify vehicle sales tax and registrations

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahomans may soon have a little extra money in their pockets after buying a new car or truck. The Senate approved a pair of measures authored by Sen. Darcy Jech, R-Kingfisher, on Monday that would change how the state collects sales tax on vehicle purchases and how long citizens have to register that new purchase.

Senate Bill 1486 would modify the formula used to calculate how much sales tax is owed on the purchase of a vehicle. Under current law, sales tax is calculated on the initial cost of the vehicle, even if a trade-in allowance is used to lower the cost of the total purchase. Jech’s legislation would modify this calculation and base sales tax only on the difference of the price of the new vehicle and the value of the trade-in.

SB 1318 would extend the amount of time a buyer of a vehicle has to register the new purchase with the state by doubling the time frame from 30 to 60 days.

Treat's school choice bill fails in late night Senate vote


I'll have more on this later, but State Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat's school choice bill (SB 1647) failed in a vote on the Senate floor late last night. The measure would have given (in something roughly akin to an education savings account) something in the ball park of $3,500 to students to attend private schools instead of public schools.

Here is a link to a text version of the roll call vote pictured above.

The measure received one Democrat vote in favor (Brooks) and twenty one Republican votes. In opposition were seven Democrats and seventeen Republicans (mostly rural).

I've published several posts voicing concerns that the homeschool community had with SB 1647; Treat removed home educators from the bill in committee. However, rural schools also weighed in heavily against the measure, and it shows on the roll call vote.

The vote was held open for a lengthy amount of time (around two hours), and was 24-22 in favor at one point. GOP Senators Jake Merrick and David Bullard switched to 'nay' before the conclusion of the vote.

Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) was in Washington, D.C., at a fundraiser for his U.S. Senate campaign, and missed the vote.

Sen. Boren, Cleveland County residents voice outrage over proposed turnpike expansion

Sen. Boren and other Cleveland County residents voice outrage over proposed turnpike expansion

OKLAHOMA CITY – At a press conference Wednesday, Sen. Mary Boren, D-Norman, was joined by other Cleveland County residents in sharing their outrage over the planned expansion of Oklahoma’s turnpike system that threatens the home and property of hundreds, the only location of a rare rock and a sanctuary for injured and orphaned wildlife. 

Boren pointed out the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s (OTA) concern for local residents seems to decrease with every major project. With the Kilpatrick Turnpike, OTA chose a path that took one house per mile, but with the Kickapoo Turnpike, the route took three houses per mile. The planned Cleveland County project would require the destruction of 16 houses per mile.         

“The Turnpike ACCESS Plan threatens hundreds of homeowners, landowners, and thousands of residents in my district. It’s my duty to amplify their voices at this critical time so that all Oklahomans can join us in persuading the governor and his appointees to the Turnpike Authority to change course and stop this lunacy,” Boren said. “Yesterday, it was homeowners and landowners in the Luther area who tragically lost their homes and businesses when the Kickapoo Turnpike was built. Today, the people of Cleveland County are in the crosshairs of the OTA. Tomorrow, it will be another community, unless the governor, state Legislature or the courts stops this proposed project.”                 

OU professor Dr. Amy Cerato explained that the proposed highway also runs through the only place Rose Rocks can be found in the world.

“Barite roses are distinctly Oklahoma. Our state rock since 1967, these exquisite natural wonders are found only one place on earth – in a thin band between Lake Stanley Draper and Noble. They are cherished by Oklahomans and mineral and rock enthusiasts from around the world,” Cerato said. “The citizens of Oklahoma, together with our elected officials, must hold the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority accountable in preserving this rare geological formation.”

The turnpike expansion would not only be devastating for area residents, but would also be catastrophic for WildCare, the state’s largest wildlife rehabilitation center and one of the largest in the nation, along with many endangered and threatened species in the area, according to Director Inger Giuffrida.

Senate passes bill to help fill teacher shortage

Measure to help fill teacher void heads to House

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate gave approval Wednesday to legislation to allow schools to utilize highly-qualified professionals in their classrooms as long as needed. Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, authored Senate Bill 1119 to remove the 270-hour cap for adjunct teachers per semester as the state continues to struggle with the teacher shortage.

According to the Oklahoma State School Boards Association (OSSBA), the number of adjunct teachers in Oklahoma schools has increased annually from around 175 during the 2015-2016 school year to more than 400 last school year. The State Board of Education has also approved more than 3,800 emergency certifications so far this school year, pointing to districts’ ongoing need for classroom teachers.

“Until we no longer have a need for emergency certified or adjunct teachers, we must remove any barriers keeping districts from being able to have these highly qualified individuals in the classroom,” Garvin said. “Not only are these professionals helping fill a teaching void, but they’re also helping expose students to their professions, industries and perspective career fields, which is so important as students make decisions about their futures.”

Adjunct teachers are professionals with distinguished qualifications in their field, such as scientists or accountants. Because of their professional background, they do not have to meet the standard certification requirements but can be authorized by the local school board to teach a subject related to their field of expertise.

Rep. Cynthia Roe, R-Lindsay, is the principal House author of the measure that now moves across the rotunda for further consideration.       


OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell commends the Oklahoma Senate for passing Senate Bill 1119, authored by Senator Jessica Garvin.  The bill removes the 270-hour cap per semester for adjunct teachers in order to help combat Oklahoma’s teacher shortage.

“In a time where many Oklahoma school districts are struggling to fill teaching positions, we need to explore different avenues to get great instructors in the classroom,” said Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell. “Oklahoma has many professionals who are highly qualified to teach courses within their fields. We should not be limiting them with arbitrary caps when they are ready and willing to provide quality education to Oklahoma students.”

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Community schools pilot program approved by State House

Community Schools Pilot Program Approved by House

OKLAHOMA CITY – A bill that would institute a pilot program for the community school concept advanced from the House on Monday. House Bill 3374 is authored by Rep. Tammy West, R-Oklahoma City.

Community Schools make use of up to $100,000 per school district of federal funds to allow schools to hire a resource coordinator who becomes familiar with individual student and family needs and pulls together resources available in the local community help meet those needs.

"Students in different schools have very different needs," West said. "These can range from needing extra reading support, to after- and before-school programs, mental health services and more. The community school concept allows us to use federal funds to put these resources into the hands of our students and families to improve their lives."

West, who is a parent of three children educated in public schools and who previously served on the Putnam City School Board, said the community schools concept prioritizes local control by connecting parents and students with local community partners. It encourages efficiency by combining existing school resources with community resources rather than duplicating services. All of this is done with no added costs to school districts. Instead, schools would use federal funds made available through grants.

HB3374 would authorize the State Board of Education to help local school boards create pilot projects to align such resources to ensure students' needs are met. The measure also directs the board to award federal grants so districts could employ a resource coordinator. Statute is necessary to draw down the federal funds for the program.

The legislation specifies that schools would complete a comprehensive student needs assessment involving stakeholders to see what students, families and the schools actually need. Schools also would involve site-based collaborative leadership and include an ongoing stakeholder engagement process.

An amendment to the bill directs that the resource coordinator will complete Hope Leadership training, which is part of First Lady Sarah Stitt’s Hope Rising Initiative proposed during Gov. Stitt's State of the State address this year. West said Sarah Stitt has shown support for this initiative and has tentatively offered resources from her Hope Foundation to help it succeed.

Community schools are based on six principals:

State Rep. Rick West's "Right to Garden" bill passes House

Right to Garden Passes House

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Rick West, R-Heavener, this week won passage of a bill that will grant people the right to grow personal gardens regardless of where they live or any potential future government action that might seek to restrict such freedom.

House Bill 2979 creates the Oklahoma Right to Garden Act and prohibits local governments from regulating gardens on residential properties. The measure does not preclude local governments from regulating water use, fertilizer use or invasive species.

"The right to grow food for yourself or your family regardless of where you live is a primal right that goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden, and it should not be prohibited by esthetics, discrimination or governments," West said. "This has never been more important as people are experiencing very real food shortages with major supply chain issues, and the price of fuel and inflation are driving up prices at the grocery store."

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

State House passes bill to send end of Daylight Savings Time to vote of the people

Daylight Savings Change Clears House

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Kevin West, R-Moore, today convinced enough of his House colleagues to send to a vote of the people a proposal that could permanently end Daylight Savings Time in Oklahoma.

House Bill 3146 would ask Oklahomans to vote on a statutory amendment that if approved would lock the clock on Central Standard Time in Oklahoma and do away with the twice-yearly clock changes. The change would take effect Nov. 8 – the next time clocks are scheduled to fall back an hour.

"Regardless of how we manipulate the clock, we still have the same number of daylight hours available to us each day," West said. "This gives the people of Oklahoma the right to decide the time on the clock during which they are observed."

Daylight Savings Time, which states can currently opt in or out of, requires setting clocks forward an hour each spring and backward an hour each fall in an attempt to increase daylight during evening hours.

Other states, including nearby Arizona, have passed or are passing similar legislation.

Mullin: my term limits pledge didn't matter because "my life experience changed"

Congressman Markwayne Mullin, now running for U.S. Senate after Jim Inhofe announced his retirement, famously broke - a term limits pledge in 2018 when he ran for his fourth term in the U.S. House (he's now finishing up his fifth).

Reporter Reese Gorman of The Frontier caught up with Mullin at a recent event, and asked a good question:

Mullin has had four years to come up with an answer for why he broke his word. "My life experience changed" is apparently the best he's got. Such a lame excuse, and very confidance building for his future commitments.

Some of the reactions to this clip were spot on:

Remember this answer any time you hear Mullin give his word, or pledge, or say he'll do any thing. His life experience might change afterwards, so don't count on him keeping with it.

Muskogee GOP sets annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner for May 19th, Gov. Stitt as keynote speaker

The Muskogee County Republican Party has scheduled their annual Lincoln-Reagan Dinner for Thursday May 19 at 7pm at the Muskogee Civic Center. Governor Kevin Stitt will be this year's keynote speaker.

This event is the main fundraiser for the county party’s support of local and state Republican candidates. For something like a dozen years, the Muskogee GOP has awarded over 60 college scholarships to public, private, and home school graduates in Muskogee County. The 2022 Scholarship winners will be awarded during the Lincoln-Reagan Dinner.

Sponsorships will include the VIP Reception and a picture with Governor Kevin Stitt.

Senate approves bill to allow for better use of school carryover funds

Senate approves bill to allow for better use of school carryover funds

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 21st) – The Senate approved legislation Monday by Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan, to give schools more flexibility in how and when they spend general carryover funds. SB 1126 would remove the carryover caps for such funds, allowing schools to better plan and save for future needs.

“We must stop penalizing our local districts for being fiscally responsible and wanting to save unused general funds for essential future expenses,” Garvin said. “This change would stop the often wasteful and unnecessary district spending happening statewide to avoid losing funding. Instead, my bill will encourage and support responsible long-term strategic planning to improve educational outcomes through technological and infrastructure upgrades, hiring and retention incentives, and other critical areas. School financial decisions should be based on needs, not calendar deadlines.”

Now Public: State Auditor's response to persistent allegations by OCPAC President

The Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC) has a decades-long history of involvement in Oklahoma politics, most famously under founder and longtime president Charlie Meadows. Meadows retired from leading the group in 2015, and there seems to have been a shift in direction and focus under the latest OCPAC president, Bob Linn.

For over a year now, Linn has been fixated on State Auditor Cindy Byrd, making almost weekly references to her in OCPAC emails regarding the 2017 financial mismanagement scandal at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Linn has made numerous open records requests and claims that Byrd is dragging her feet and attempting "to thwart [his] attempt to reveal the full truth regarding the OSDH scandal."

Today, the blog Ignite Liberty posted a letter that Byrd sent in October to OCPAC board members, the first public revelation of this other than a brief mention by Linn in an OCPAC email the following week:

Ignite Liberty Exclusive: State Auditor Issues Response to OCPAC Allegations 
[excerpt; full article link]

Anyone who receives the weekly emails from OCPAC or have attended any of their meetings over the past year plus knows that OCPAC President Bob Linn has continuously criticized State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd and her office for an alleged lack of timeliness in response to numerous Open Records Requests that Mr. Linn had submitted through an entity known as Corporations Funding Education, and not through OCPAC itself.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Cong. Paul Gosar endorses Alex Gray for Senate


Oklahoma City, OK – Today, US Senate candidate from Oklahoma, Alex Gray, has announced the endorsement of staunch conservative Congressman Paul Gosar. Congressman Dr. Gosar has represented Arizona for the last decade, serving as the former chair of the Congressional Western Caucus and a leader within the House Freedom Caucus.

In response to Congressman Gosar’s endorsement, Alex Gray had this to say.

“Congressman Gosar knows the importance of having liberty-minded, America First patriots in the Senate. After serving President Trump in the White House for 4 years, I am ready to serve the American people in the US Senate and work to advance the America First agenda for all Oklahomans.”

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Gann: Is Oklahoma being sold down the river for CANOO?

Is Oklahoma Being Sold Down the River For CANOO?
by State Rep. Tom Gann (R-Inola)

It would appear so.  Leadership at the Capitol in Oklahoma City are scheming to compete for a “Mystery” company everyone says is a lithium battery manufacturer that would supply CANOO, an electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer. According to a 2/16/2022 article in CARBUZZ by Jay Traugott, CANOO is an EV startup company which had to use a shell corporation, to get listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange, prompting an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Recent financial reports by CANOO show the company lost 138 million in the last quarter of 2021 but found resources to fund political activities in Oklahoma City. In another reporting document, the State of Oklahoma through the Governor’s “closing fund” gave CANOO 15 million dollars and ordered 1000 of their electric vehicles.

Scheme #2 is a proposal cloaked in “secrecy” using non-disclosure agreements, creating a barrier to hide behind when the questions get tough, with the local add on tax incentive called a Tax Incremental Financing District (TIF). Chouteau Schools is being asked to bear the weight of this TIF which diverts local Mayes County ad-valorem tax dollars away from its traditional use for local schools and county government for up to 25 years and channeling those taxes to the Mid America Industrial Park and “mystery company”.

Recently the legislature of the State of Kansas passed SB347 a 1.3 billion dollar plus tax giveaway to have this same “mystery” company to locate in Kansas. The company would bring 4000 new jobs at $50,000 per year. That comes out to about $325,000 in tax giveaways for every $50,000 job.  This might look good politically, but economically it is insanity as Kansas could end up with a short fall in their budget. 

Saturday, March 19, 2022

House passes three bills to reform public charter school oversight and regulations

This is instructive in the debate over SB 1647 as it relates to the school choice lobby's failure to acknowledge the concerns that were raised by the homeschooling community before the measure was amended in committee to preclude homeschool participation in the proposed Oklahoma Empowerment Accounts program.

I was told by proponents of the measure that there was no reason for concern because, among other things, SB 1647 was written to prevent regulation of homeschooling. Their viewpoint made no allowance for the distinct likelihood of future alteration of the bill by future legislatures, which is one of the homeschool community's long-standing issue with legislation that seeks to "help" home educators out with vouchers or similar funding.

Epic Charter School and other virtual charter schools were all the rage a few years ago, until things came crashing down with Epic. Now, just a few years removed from the inauguration of a school choice fad, the rules have and continue to be changed. The same thing absolutely can happen with SB 1647.

Here is Dills' press release on new charter school reforms:

Dills' Charter School Reform Bills Pass House

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 14th) – Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, won unanimous House passage of a trio of bills that promise increased transparency over expenditures, attendance and oversight policies by Oklahoma public charter schools.

"Charter schools play a vital role in providing school choice options for students and parents in Oklahoma," Dills said. "Still, we must ensure that taxpayer dollars are protected and that we have an accurate and transparent accounting of how they are spent. We also need policies that ensure the academic needs of students are being met."

Former Trump advisor LtGen Keith Kellogg endorses Alex Gray for Senate


Oklahoma City, OK (March 17th) – Today, former National Security official to President Trump Alex Gray, has announced another significant endorsement for his campaign. Lt. Gen. (Ret) Keith Kellogg, one of President Trump’s earliest supporters and advisers, has endorsed Alex, making him the seventh notable endorsement of the campaign. 

General Kellogg served in the United States Army for over thirty years and is a highly decorated combat veteran. After leaving active duty General Kellogg advised President Trump’s 2016 campaign and transition on defense and foreign policy. He would go on to serve as Chief of Staff and Executive Secretary of the National Security Council and later as the Acting National Security Advisor to President Trump. General Kellogg would also serve as National Security Advisor to the Vice President. 

General Kellogg provided the following endorsement statement of Alex Gray. 

Small: Could Biden have a worse energy policy?

Could Biden have a worse energy policy?
By Jonathan Small

If one deliberately tried to devise a U.S. energy policy that would harm national interests and working families alike, it would look a lot like the Biden administration’s current policy.

The administration’s approach combines a willful ignorance of reality with a dismissive attitude towards working families. This could be seen when Biden Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg blithely declared the people who would benefit most from driving electric cars “are often rural residents who have the most distances to drive, who burn the most gas.”

That rapid charging stations for electric cars are nonexistent in rural areas apparently never occurred to Buttigieg, nor did the reality that the price of electric cars makes them luxury items, not a practical purchase for the working class.

But that’s far from the worst aspects of Biden’s energy policy.

T.W. Shannon announces military advisory council for Senate campaign

T.W. Shannon Announces Military Advisory Council

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — With support of military leaders from across the state, T.W. Shannon announces his military advisory council.

“America’s military might is mission critical during these uncertain times. Having the advisement of these military leaders is invaluable during this campaign and for the next Senator from Oklahoma. I am humbled by their support and confidence in me,” said Shannon.

"He should resign": Bennett faces criticism among CD2 GOP officials

Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman John Bennett has broken with traditional practices of the party office, endorsing multiple candidates for office (most prominently Jackson Lahmeyer against U.S. Sen. James Lankford), and is now running for Congress. Indications from his OKGOP staff, some of whom appear to be doing double duty on his congressional campaign, are that he has no intention to step down as chairman until at least after candidate filing.

For comparison, in 2006 and 2010, then-OKGOP chairman Gary Jones resigned within days of announcing his candidacy for State Auditor to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest (in 2010, he filed on Wednesday and resigned on Monday).

State Party rules are silent on the issue of party officials endorsing in primaries or running for public office while holding party positions. Bennett's decision to do both has broken no rules. However, there are many party activists who find both actions to be inappropriate for a state chairman to do. I've heard from some of those individuals, and decided to reach out to party officials within the 2nd Congressional District to see how widespread that sentiment was.

Based off some of the input I had already received, I asked the following questions of the county central committee (chair, vice chair, two state committee members) of each county Republican Party in the 2nd District:

  1. Do you think John Bennett should stay on as state chair while running for Congress, or should he resign? 
  2. Should state party rules be amended to require a state chair or vice chair to resign if running for state or federal elected office?
I received responses from up and down the now-28 county district. I am keeping respondents anonymous in order for them to feel free to speak their mind on this issue. The results were interesting and a learning opportunity. 

Friday, March 18, 2022

Senate Appropriations chair breaks down state budget picture

Budget Break Down
By Sen. Roger Thompson, Senate Appropriations Chair

We are currently looking at the best budget numbers in the entire history of our state.  Last month, the Board of Equalization certified that the Legislature would have more than $10.4 billion available to appropriate for Fiscal Year 2023, which begins this July 1.  A lot of people are very excited about that figure, including me.   But when we start drilling down into those numbers, what we’ve learned from past budget years and how we prepare for those to come, it’s clear we need to take a thoughtful, conservative approach.

The first thing to keep in mind is that we must base our budget on recurring revenue.  Of that $10.4 billion, we have about $1.3 billion made up of one-time carryover funds and special cash from previous sessions.  Those are dollars we could use for one-time investments and to bolster savings, but we must not build that money into the budget for ongoing expenses.  When that happens, you just create a hole down the line when those funds are not available. That’s why it’s so important to take a look back before planning for the future.  My first year in the Legislature, the state was facing a $600 million hole. The next year it was $800 million, then my third year, it was more than $1 billion. I don’t ever want us to be in that situation again.

State Rep. Jim Olsen endorses Bennett for Congress

State Rep. Jim Olsen (R-Sallisaw) has endorsed his State House predecessor John Bennett for the Congressional District 2 seat being vacated by Congressman Markwayne Mullin, who in turn is seeking the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Jim Inhofe.

Bennett held the State House District 2 seat from 2010 to 2018, and helped Olsen get in office as his replacement. Olsen was unopposed in 2020. Bennett is the current chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, and one of six announced Republican candidates so far.

Here is Olsen's endorsement:

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Muskogee Police Chief Johnny Teehee joins 2nd District congressional race

Muskogee Police Chief Johnny Teehee has joined the race for the 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by Markwayne Mullin, who is running for U.S. Senate. More here from the Muskogee Phoenix.

He joins fellow Republican candidates State Sen. Marty Quinn, State Rep. Dustin Roberts, pharmacist Chris Schiller (also of Muskogee), OKGOP Chairman John Bennett, and Army veteran Erick Wyatt.

Here is Teehee's announcement press release:

Republican Johnny Teehee Announces for Congress
Candidate’s Mission: “Protect Americans and the American Dream
With a mission of “Protecting Americans and the American Dream” from the liberal assault led by Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi, conservative Republican Johnny Teehee announced his candidacy for congress today.