Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Carter: Career teachers are scant in the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame

There was an uproar - a tempest in a teapot, really - the other week over new State Superintendent Ryan Walters removing portraits in a hallway at the State Department of Education building placed in recognition of a non-governmental organization's "hall of fame". Instead of using government space to laud this one group's favorite people, he wanted to use the space to honor and recognize the parents and children that the Oklahoma State Department of Education is supposed to be working for. 

Read below for some excellent context to the kerfluffle:

by Ray Carter | February 24, 2023

When reviewing the more than 100 individuals inducted into the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame since 1985, Ruth Genevieve Hudson stands out—because Hudson, inducted in 1994, is one of the very few career classroom teachers to make the cut.

While Hudson spent 45 years primarily teaching music at Sand Springs, Tulsa, and Blackwell Public Schools, as well as in the state of Kansas, her lengthy classroom service is in stark contrast to many of the other people honored in the educators’ hall.

Instead, the Oklahoma Educators Hall of Fame is filled with the names of politicians, union leaders, lobbyists, consultants, and individuals who worked in college settings rather than in the K-12 school system.

The hall is also filled largely with men, even though the overwhelming majority of classroom teachers are women.

“To me, it wasn’t showing respect for the classroom teachers,” said Teresa Turner, who taught school for 26 years in rural Oklahoma before retiring. “It was just showing more respect for administrators and others instead of the ones that are in the daily grind doing the work with the children.”

Monday, February 27, 2023

Small: OSU embracing worrisome policies

OSU embracing worrisome policies
By Jonathan Small

There’s a reason the phrase, “It’ll never happen here,” is often filed under the category of “famous last words.”

Those who have assumed campus radicalism is concentrated in coastal universities or, in a worse-case scenario, at one particular state college, are now learning otherwise.

Friday, February 24, 2023

LtGov Pinnell announces Oklahoma Golf Trail Commission appointees


OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell announced today the appointees for the Oklahoma Golf Trail Commission, which is tasked with developing a list of golf courses to be designated as the Oklahoma Golf Trail. The Lt. Governor will serve on the commission along with Gary Bridwell, Lou Dechert, Sheila Dills, Jared Gallagher, Steve Gelnar, Charlie Hannema, David Jones, Michael Love, and Ken MacLeod. 

Rural and urban law enforcement figures: Pro-SQ820 campaign is misleading the public

I was just remarking to my wife earlier today how absolutely misleading the pro-820 mailer was that came in the mail today...

Sheriffs, DAs, Chiefs of Police & Narcotics Agents Agree: YES 820 Campaign is Misleading the Public

(Feb. 23rd)  A large group of Oklahomans in the law enforcement community came together today to criticize the recent mailings and television advertising of Yes on 820.

Thursday, February 23, 2023

State House approves major education funding and tax credit measures

House Education Plan Moves to Senate

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives has approved a two-part plan by Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, to provide a $500 million investment to public education and create the Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit Act.

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

State Senate passes bill to stop noncitizens from voting in Oklahoma elections

This common-sense bill passed the State Senate by vote of 45-1, with State Sen. George Young (D-OKC) being the lone vote in opposition (two Republicans missed the vote).

Senate approves measure to stop noncitizens from voting in Oklahoma elections

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate approved legislation Wednesday to help county election boards remove noncitizens from the state’s voter registration rolls. Sen. Brent Howard, R-Altus, authored Senate Bill 377 at the request of the Secretary of the State Election Board.

Former Mental Health Commissioner Terri White co-chairs 'Protect Our Kids NO 820' effort

There seems to have been precious little as far as campaigning for or against the upcoming recreational marijuana state question (unless it's been TV... which I rarely watch). We received our first mailers on the issue in the past week, both of which from the 'Yes' side. I certainly hope the 'No' campaign gets its act together, gets the word out, and that voters reject SQ 820.

Terri White to Co-Chair Protect Our Kids NO 820
Former Commissioner of Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services to Lead Coalition with Governor Frank Keating

Citing her expertise in the field, former Governor Frank Keating welcomed Terri White as co-chair of Protect Our Kids NO 820 today.  “Having served in both Democrat and Republican administrations, Terri White knows substance abuse shows no partisan allegiance,” Keating stated.  “I can think of nobody in Oklahoma who knows more about this issue or who has done more to help prevent, treat and defeat the scourge of addiction in our state than Terri White.  I am honored to work with her,” Keating stated.

Senate Education Committee approves bill to organize library books into age-appropriate categories

Hamilton’s bill to organize books into age-appropriate categories clears Senate Education Committee

OKLAHOMA CITY – Senate Bill 397 was approved by the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday. The bill, authored by Sen. Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain, would require school and public libraries to label books and other materials as elementary, junior high, under 16, or juniors and seniors. After receiving these designations, the materials would be placed in their respective sections, so students are only able to access books that are appropriate for their age.

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Sen. Lankford introduces bill to stop taxpayers from paying for abortion

Lankford, Cloud Want to Stop Taxpayers from Paying for Abortion

WASHINGTON, DC (Feb. 17th) – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today introduced the bicameral Women’s Public Health and Safety Act, which gives states the authority to exclude abortion providers, like Planned Parenthood, from receiving state Medicaid funds. Congressman Michael Cloud (R-TX) will introduce the same bill in the House. Under current law, states are required to allow any qualified provider to participate in a state’s Medicaid system. A non-partisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) report revealed that Planned Parenthood received nearly $1.3 billion in Medicaid reimbursements over a three-year period, accounting for 81 percent of the abortion provider’s joint federal-state funding stream.

Saturday, February 18, 2023

OCPA: AG Drummond right to stand up to federal overreach

AG Drummond right to stand up to federal overreach
By Jonathan Small

With federal overreach a constant threat, it is important that states like Oklahoma stand up and fight to control their own destiny. That’s why Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond deserves praise for threatening to sue the Biden administration if it does not withdraw a rule by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW) that designates the lesser prairie chicken as a threatened species.

Friday, February 17, 2023

Speaker McCall, House GOP releases plan with $500M increase to education funding, plus private/homeschool tax credit

Over the past few years, the House and Senate have been at odds in many regards on education reform, particularly given the Senate's emphasis on vouchers for school choice. On Thursday, House Speaker Charles McCall and members of the House GOP caucus released a broad education plan that includes $500M for public schools (including a $2,500 teacher pay raise), plus a tax credit framework for private school and homeschool students.

I haven't studied this in detail yet, but homeschoolers generally are less opposed to the idea of tax credits, whereas straight vouchers draw much more severe opposition over the greater threat of regulation/intrusion. We'll have to see what the particulars are on this proposal.

Here's the official press release on the House GOP education plan:

House Republicans Announce Education Plan

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma House Republicans on Thursday announced an education plan designed for every student, parent and teacher in the state.

Cong. Brecheen reacts to CBO report: "We must course correct as economic security is key to national security"

Congressman Josh Brecheen Reacts to CBO’s Baseline Report; “We Must Course Correct as Economic Security is Key to our National Security”

Washington, D.C. (Feb. 16th) – Congressman Josh Brecheen issued the following statement after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its Budget and Economic Outlook report for FY2023 to FY2033.

“These numbers are a siren, warning the American people to get our fiscal house in order. The CBO is projecting that our national debt will increase by an additional $22 trillion over the next 10 years with average annual deficits expected to be $2 trillion. At our current trajectory, we will be spending almost $3 trillion above what we bring in revenue at the end of this 10-year window and our annual interest payments on the debt will exceed total spending on national defense. We must course correct as economic security is key to our national security,” said Congressman Josh Brecheen.

Key Facts from the Report:

FY 2023 Deficit: This year’s deficit is projected to be $1.4 trillion, making it the fourth highest figure in American history. The FY 2023 deficit is equivalent to 5.4 percent of GDP, well above the 50-year average of 3.6 percent.

Interest Rates: The true cost increase for interest payments on the debt will be $183 billion above the prior year and will continue to grow at an alarming pace. Almost one-fifth of a trillion dollars will be lost to annual interest payment increases spurred on by inflationary consequences. The projected interest rate on 10-year Treasury notes for 2023 has increased from 1.5 percent when President Biden took office to 3.9 percent in CBO’s latest projection, compared to 3.0 percent in 2022. The 10-year average interest rate projection is 3.8 percent.

Deficit Projections: Our annual deficits will double within ten years. The annual deficit projection will be $2.9 trillion (7.3 percent of GDP) in 2033.

Debt Projections: Gross federal debt is projected to increase from $30.8 trillion (123.3 percent of GDP) in 2022 to $52.0 trillion (132.3 percent of GDP) in 2033.

Spending Projections: Annual spending is projected to be $6.2 trillion (23.7 percent of GDP) in 2023. Annual spending is projected to grow to $9.9 trillion (25.3 percent of GDP) in 2033. Over the 2024-2033 period, spending is projected to total $80.0 trillion.

Mandatory Spending: Projected to increase from $3.8 trillion (14.6 percent of GDP) in 2023 to $6.1 trillion (15.6 percent of GDP) in 2033. Over ten years, mandatory spending is projected to amount to $48.2 trillion.

Inflation: The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is projected to increase by 4.0 percent in 2023, 2.4 percent in 2024, and about 2.0 percent each year thereafter.

Thursday, February 16, 2023

State Senate passes bill banning "gender transition" procedures for minors

Good news:

Senate approves bill prohibiting gender transition procedures for minors

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 15th) – The full Senate has approved a measure prohibiting gender transition procedures for children under the age of 18.  Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, is the author of Senate Bill 613, which bans the use of any medications or surgical procedures for the purpose of gender transition.  Behavioral and mental health counseling and medications for depression and anxiety are not included.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Sen. Lankford seeks to end federal subsidies to professional sports stadiums

Lankford Wants to Stop Federal Subsidies to Professional Sports Stadiums

WASHINGTON, DC (Feb. 14) – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the No Tax Subsidies for Stadiums Act, a bill to end generous federal subsidies for professional sports stadiums. The bill would close a loophole in the tax code that allows professional sports teams to finance new stadiums with municipal bonds that are exempt from federal taxes. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) is leading the bill’s introduction in the House of Representatives.

Cong. Lucas announces SW Oklahoma town hall meetings on 21st and 22nd

Congressman Lucas Announces February Town Hall Meetings in Southwest Oklahoma

Cheyenne, OK (Feb. 13th) – Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) will hold town hall meetings in Harmon, Greer, Beckham, Custer, and Washita Counties on Tuesday, February 21st and Wednesday, February 22nd. Residents around the locations are invited to attend and share their thoughts on current events in Washington, DC and across Oklahoma.

Bill to allow parents to review public school curriculum, materials online passes House subcommittee

This sounds like a fantastic idea.

Curriculum Transparency Portal Bill Passes Subcommittee

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 14th) – A bill that would require the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to create a website allowing parents and others to review and comment on curriculum, textbooks, and library materials used at their local schools passed the House Appropriations & Budget Subcommittee for Education on Monday.

Will the Oklahoma State Senate re-legalize abortion in an effort to appease the Left?

Last week, Republicans on the Oklahoma Senate Health and Human Services Committee passed a measure that would re-legalize and expand abortion in limited (for now) circumstances, in addition to allow for "the use, prescription, administration, procuring, or selling of any type of contraception [if] administered before the time when a pregnancy could be determined through conventional medical testing." This presumably would allow the permanent reintroduction of abortion-inducing early pregnancy drugs like RU-486/Mifepristone.

This measure (SB 834), bizarrely promoted by Tony Lauinger of Oklahomans for Life, is an effort to counteract perceived future attempts by pro-abortion forces to get a state question on the ballot by initiative petition. The thought process seems to be, "Let's put some exceptions back into law so we don't appear to be too radical on banning abortion."

Tuesday, February 14, 2023

State House committee passes bill to allow optional two-year vehicle registration instead of annual

Davis Advances Bill to Allow Vehicle Registration Every Two Years

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 14th) – Rep. Dean Davis, R-Broken Arrow, on Monday won unanimous passage of a bill that would allow personal vehicle owners the option to register every two years instead of annually.

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Small: Financial restraint creates opportunity

Financial restraint creates opportunity
By Jonathan Small

In his recent State of the State address, Gov. Kevin Stitt noted Oklahoma government now has $4 billion in savings and sufficient growth revenue to allow for major tax cuts and statewide school choice while boosting spending in key areas.

He’s right. But it’s important that Oklahomans not forget why these major, transformative policy proposals are now feasible.

Missouri transgender clinic scandal adds urgency to Oklahoma child-protection effort


(Ray Carter | February 10, 2023) News that a Missouri children’s transgender clinic has been accused of unethical activity and is under investigation by law enforcement officials has added urgency to Oklahoma efforts to keep children from being subjected to sex-reassignment surgeries, puberty blockers, and cross-sex hormones, lawmakers say.

Saturday, February 11, 2023

White: in voucher push, Stitt wants OK to be like states that restrict homeschooling

Here's an excellent post on the topic of school choice vouchers and homeschooling, from Jenni White with Reclaim Oklahoma Parent Empowerment (formerly known as Restore Oklahoma Public Education):

Governor Stitt Says He Wants Oklahoma To Be More Like The Voucher States Of Iowa, Virginia, Florida and New Hampshire Where Homeschooling Is Significantly More Restricted Than Oklahoma

AG Drummond rebukes Gov. Stitt, Director Kintsel over Veterans Commission drama

Drummond says veterans panel appointments not allowed by law, optimistic Legislature will resolve issues

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 9, 2023) – Attorney General Gentner Drummond said today that while there are significant statutory deficiencies with recent appointments to the Oklahoma Veterans Commission, he is confident that state legislators will resolve the matter this legislative session by stripping the Governor of his autonomy over the panel.

Bill increasing penalties for firearm thefts passes first committee in State Senate

Sen. Weaver’s bill increasing fines/prison time for stealing firearms clears first hurdle

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 9th) – The Senate Public Safety Committee has given its approval to a measure to increase the penalties for firearm thefts in Oklahoma.  Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore, is the author of Senate Bill 859, which was approved by the panel on Thursday.

Lankford joins effort to block VA from illegally providing abortion services

Lankford, Colleagues Push Effort to Block Illegal VA Abortion Rule

WASHINGTON, DC (Feb. 8th) – Senator James Lankford (R-OK), Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), and Representative Michael Cloud (R-TX), along with more than 65 colleagues, introduced a bicameral joint resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to nullify an illegal US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) rule that provides abortion services through the taxpayer-funded VA health care system. The CRA gives Congress the authority to review major rules issued by federal agencies. If Congress disapproves of a rule via resolution, the rule will have no force or effect under the law.

Friday, February 10, 2023

Legislators think sports betting would be "economic boon" for state (and fill the tax coffers, of course)

When legislators say that even more gambling in Oklahoma would be "an economic boom for the state", they're actually drooling over the prospect of collecting more taxes -- who cares about the social detriment it brings.

Coleman signs on to author sports betting bill in Senate

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Bill Coleman announced Wednesday that he will be signing on as the Senate author of fellow Ponca City Republican Rep. Ken Luttrell’s House Bill 1027 to legalize sports betting in Oklahoma. An avid sports enthusiast, Coleman said the change would be an economic boon for the state and he hopes the Legislature seizes the opportunity before it’s too late.

“Oklahomans love their sports – we have the lottery, three horse tracks, and the most tribal casinos of any state. Sports betting through our tribal partners would simply provide another opportunity for our state’s sports fanatics to have some fun while creating thousands of new jobs and millions in revenue to further boost our economy,” Coleman said. “With the popularity of sports betting exploding around the nation, I hope our legislative colleagues realize the tremendous fiscal impact this will have on our state and approve sports betting this session.”

HB 1027 would create a new compact that tribes could decide whether to enter into, allowing both mobile and in-person sports betting in the state. A tribe that agreed to the compact would give 4% of the first $5 million in sports betting annual gross revenue to the state, 5% of the following $5 million of adjusted gross revenue, and finally 6% of all future adjusted gross revenue. Any agreement would need to be submitted to the U.S. Department of the Interior for approval.

Thirty-five of Oklahoma’s 38 federally recognized tribes have signed gaming compacts with the state, and there are 143 tribal casinos and gaming centers statewide that could possibly offer sports betting. Currently, sports betting is already legal in 36 other states, including Kansas where Coleman lives near. 

“I recently drove over an hour to Kansas to place some sports bets and there were numerous other Oklahoma tags in the parking lot,” Coleman said. “It’s estimated that approving sports betting could generate $240 million in revenue and create more than 3,000 jobs. We’re missing a huge opportunity.”

OCPA praises senators for advancing bill to protect kids from mutilation and puberty blockers

OCPA praises senators for protecting children and teens

OKLAHOMA CITY (February 9, 2023) — Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs President Jonathan Small today praised senators for advancing legislation that would prevent children from undergoing sex-reassignment surgeries, cross-sex hormones, or puberty blockers, before age 18.

Thursday, February 09, 2023

OK Senate Republicans vote to re-legalize and expand abortion in "limited" (for now) circumstances

Told you this would happen.

This morning, Senate Republicans on the Health & Human Services Committee voted for three measures related to the topic of abortion, one of which re-legalizes and expands abortion in "limited" (for now) circumstances.

This comes less than 24 hours after the pro-life Rose Day at the State Capitol, and 48 hours after abortion abolitionists visited legislators. 

Political chameleons. Shameful.

Hamilton's bill to raise pay for election day poll workers passes committee

Hamilton’s bill to increase poll worker pay passes Senate Judiciary Committee

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 8th) – The Senate Judiciary Committee met on Tuesday and unanimously passed Senate Bill 290, which would increase pay for election day poll workers.

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

Op-ed: Is School Choice a conservative idea - or a progressive long-game?

The following op-ed was submitted by Carrie Bertrand. Carrie is a conservative political activist, a founding board member of the Constitutional Home Educators Alliance, and homeschooled two children for eighteen years.

Is School Choice a conservative idea or a progressive long-game?

How could any thinking person oppose “school choice?” – or so goes the familiar argument. 

The debate continues this year, like last, in the Republican-majority state legislative session just begun, as school choice – also known as school vouchers, and Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) – stirs intense conflict. The Left opposes school vouchers because they take money from public school funding; true conservatives don’t like vouchers because they expand government and threaten the autonomy of private and home education.

Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Legislators release statement opposing weakening Oklahoma's current laws banning abortion

Legislators, Pro-Life Organizations Defend Oklahoma's Abortion Laws

OKLAHOMA CITY – Today a bicameral group of legislators, together with numerous pro-life organizations,  released the following statement in support of Oklahoma's current abortion laws.

Keeping Homeschool Freedoms in Oklahoma

Homeschool students at Capitol Day 2023

Oklahoma is the only state in the union that explicitly protects home education in the state's Constition. Homeschool freedom is unparalleled here.

Today was the 38th annual Homeschool Capitol Day, where homeschool families from across the state come to the State Capitol to lobby legislators to protect existing homeschool freedoms, learn about legislation, network with other groups and families, and hold various educational and informational workshops and activities for all ages.

Legislative leaders react to Gov. Stitt's 'State of the State' address

Following Gov. Stitt's State of the State address yesterday, here are reactions from House Speaker Charles McCall (R-Atoka), Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat (R-Edmond), and Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd (D-OKC):

Abolition Day rally at State Capitol this morning to continue effort to end abortion

Meant to get this posted earlier, but better late than never. From Free The States:

It's here! The Abolition Day Rally is this morning! 

WHAT: Oklahomans gathering to rally and lobby as we demanding the abolition of abortion in a unified, prophetic voice.
WHERE: Oklahoma State Capitol, 2300 N Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City, OK 73105

Monday, February 06, 2023

Rep. Gann wants to repeal bill that failed to land Panasonic plant, calls it 'largest corporate welfare in state history'

Gann Files Bill to Repeal LEAD Act

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 6th) – Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola, has filed House Bill 1381 to Repeal the Large-Scale Economic Activity and Development (LEAD) Act of 2022.

Last year, the Legislature passed House Bill 4455, the LEAD Act, which promised investment rebates for the cost of qualified capital expenditures for certain establishments based on creation of new direct jobs. HB 1381 will repeal the law to keep it from activating in the future.

Gann called this "a failed attempt to entice business to Oklahoma using corporate welfare."

Congressman Lucas announces town halls on February 15th an 16th

Congressman Lucas Announces February Town Hall Meetings in Central Oklahoma

Washington, DC – Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) will hold town hall meetings in Creek, Pawnee, Noble, Kay, and Osage Counties on Wednesday, February 15th and Thursday, February 16th. Residents around the locations are invited to attend and share their thoughts on current events in Washington, DC and across Oklahoma.

Congressman Brecheen announces in-person town hall meetings, Monday the 13th and 20th

I, for one, am glad to see Congressman Brecheen schedule in-person town halls, after his predecessor now-Senator Markwayne Mullin preferred to do "telephone town halls" -- which kind of defeat the entire purpose of a town hall.

Congressman Josh Brecheen Announces In-Person Town Hall Meetings in Eastern Oklahoma

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Josh Brecheen will hold in-person town hall meetings in Bartlesville, Claremore, Durant, McAlester, Muskogee, Okmulgee, Pryor, and Tahlequah on Monday, February 13th and Monday, February 20th. Constituents are invited to attend and share their thoughts and ask questions on policy issues impacting Washington, D.C. and Oklahoma.

Gov. Stitt delivers 2023 State of the State Address


OKLAHOMA CITY (February 6, 2023) – Governor Kevin Stitt delivered the first State of the State Address of his second term to the 59th Legislature today. Governor Stitt outlined his legislative agenda for 2023, focusing on driving excellence in education, making Oklahoma the most business-friendly state in the nation, and protecting Oklahomans and promoting freedoms. The full transcript can be found below: 

Muskogee's GGF Firearms to hold ribbon-cutting, handgun drawing on Friday

Glenndale Grace Firearms & Training is a great locally-owned gun range and store located just north of Muskogee on U.S. Highway 69. They are holding a ribbon cutting at noon this Friday, February 10th, to celebrate their first year of business.

During the day, there will be discounts on range membership and training classes, as well as a drawing for a new 9mm handgun. Be sure to check them out!

Sunday, February 05, 2023

As conservative policies advance, people are moving to Oklahoma


By Ray Carter (February 3, 2023) | During Gov. Kevin Stitt’s first term in office, he cut taxes, expanded school choice, restrained government growth to build up record state savings, and imposed COVID restrictions that were far more limited in scope and duration than those in many states.

Today, Stitt is calling for more tax cuts and wants to expand school choice so all families can use tax funds for any school, including private schools.

Stitt’s critics have decried those policy choices. But new data show that citizens across the country have reached their own verdict: Many now see Oklahoma as a place they want to live.

Saturday, February 04, 2023

Sen. Warren Hamilton remarks on his bills being assigned to committees

Hamilton is one of the really good guys in the Oklahoma State Senate:

Hamilton’s bills assigned to Senate committees

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain, has authored 14 bills that have been referred to their respective committees and will be up for consideration in the next few weeks.

“I’ve filed these bills to protect our constitutional rights, protect Oklahoma children, and make improvements across the state in a variety of areas,” Hamilton said.

State Sup't Walters warns federal funds come with strings attached, can strip state's control of education

I would just like to point out that homeschoolers, for decades, have argued that government funds come with strings attached (which is why we have overwhelmingly rejected efforts to give us education vouchers).

published by the Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter (February 1st) -- State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters warned lawmakers that they risk losing control of state schools if they accept all forms of federal funding without hesitation.

Sen. Standridge files legislation to protect minors from gender transition medications, surgeries

Sen. Standridge files legislation to protect minors from gender transition medications, surgeries

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, has filed four pieces of legislation to protect minors from life-changing gender transition hormones and surgery that could render them unable to have children as adults.  The bills also allow lawsuits to be filed against health care providers and adults who violate the provisions of these measures.

Friday, February 03, 2023

OCPA column: Budget theatre insults voters

Budget theatre insults voters
By Jonathan Small

When State Superintendent of Public Instruction Ryan Walters recently unveiled his proposed education budget, critics immediately claimed he was seeking to cut school funding and teacher pay.

Those complaints are a product of political performance and have no basis in reality.

Thursday, February 02, 2023

'Protect Our Kids No 820' organized to oppose recreational marijuana state question

Sign me up:

Protect Our Kids NO 820 Launches
Former Governor Frank Keating Chairs Effort to Stop Recreational Marijuana

A coalition of community, business, and law enforcement leaders filed papers with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission this week to oppose SQ 820, the effort to legalize recreational marijuana under state law. Official documents list former Governor Frank Keating as the chairman of the organization, Protect Our Kids No 820.

State Sen. Standridge files bill to better protect minors from obscene material

Sen. Standridge files bill defining community standards for material made accessible to minors

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 1st) – State Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, has filed Senate Bill 1056, which would create a special definition of  “contemporary community standards” in Oklahoma statutes to better address the issue of obscene material being made accessible to minors.

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Rep. Gann files bill to require vote of the people to redirect property taxes to TIF districts

Gann Bill Would Require Vote of the People to Redirect Property Taxes to TIF Districts

OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 31st) – Rep. Tom Gann, R-Inola, has filed House Bill 1379, which would require a vote by citizens to redirect property tax through Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) Districts.

Gann explained that in Mayes County, Mid-America Industrial Park (MAIP) officers proposed redirecting county property tax through the implementation of a TIF district to benefit new corporations coming into the industrial park.  

AG Drummond dismisses ClassWallet lawsuit, vows accountability for responsible parties

Back in 2020, Oklahoma officials hired ClassWallet to distribute $17.3M in a federal COVID-19 relief program, intending for these funds to be used for private school tuition and materials. This could be considered one of Gov. Stitt's and now-State Superintendent Ryan Walters' first "school choice" programs.

It ended in abject failure and scandal, with a lot of taxpayer money being misspent. After a lot of frankly pathetic passing-the-buck by several individuals, Walters among them, former Attorney General John O'Connor filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state against ClassWallet for mishandling the funds. I felt that was oddly misplaced at the time, as emails later showed that blanket approval was given by Walters and others in government.

Now, Attorney General Gentner Drummond has dropped that particular suit and intends to go after individuals who are more directly responsible for the lack of oversight. 

First, some additional background, then Drummond's press release. Here's some detail from TheFrontier and OklahomaWatch: