Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Brecheen to vote NO on Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling deal as it currently stands

Congressman Josh Brecheen To Vote NO on Biden-McCarthy Debt Ceiling Agreement As It Currently Stands

Washington, D.C. (May 30th) – Congressman Josh Brecheen will vote NO on H.R. 3746, the Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling agreement as it currently stands.

Friday, May 26, 2023

Small on education funding increase: Will it produce results?

Will funding produce results?
By Jonathan Small

Public-school advocates have long suggested that if Oklahoma schools had more money, then student outcomes would increase as well. That theory is being put to the test.

When they announced this year’s education-funding plan, policymakers noted that state school appropriations rose by $1.35 billion from 1993 to 2018. In contrast, under this year’s agreement, state school appropriations will have increased by $1.37 billion from 2019 to 2024.

In other words, state school spending will have increased more in the last five years than in the 25 years prior to 2019. Will we see a commensurate increase in academic performance?

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Small: Family focus desperately needed

Family focus desperately needed
By Jonathan Small

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has declared war on a “loneliness epidemic.” Murthy noted “about one-in-two adults in America reported experiencing loneliness. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic cut off so many of us from friends, loved ones and support systems.” According to the CDC, 25.5 percent of adults ages 18-24 reported having seriously considered suicide in the past month.

We must reflect on how to reverse this trend and best equip people for thriving. When we consider the best environments to help people thrive and get support when they need it, the importance of the family cannot be ignored.

Lankford releases Volume 7 of his Waste Book, 'Federal Fumbles'

As Debt Talks Continue, Lankford Releases Waste Book on Ways to Cut Federal Spending

WASHINGTON, DC (May 18th) – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today released Volume 7 of his federal waste book, Federal Fumbles: Ways the Federal Government Dropped the Ball. As President Biden and Democrats continue to say there is no path for spending cuts to go along with a deal on raising the debt limit, Lankford has outlined in the report waste and inefficiencies in the federal government and offers solutions and recommendations for long-term changes that need to begin immediately.

CLICK HERE to read the report.

Federal Fumbles: Ways the Federal Government Dropped the Ball is a glimpse at just some of the wasteful spending in the federal government. No one can seriously believe that there is no place in the federal budget to reduce spending. We should prioritize our spending to address areas we can cut in order to pay for important programs for veterans, seniors, children, national security, and more. We can eliminate wasteful, ineffective, or duplicative spending while still caring for the most vulnerable. Federal Fumbles is my starting point to stop complaining and start working on bringing down the national debt.”

CLICK HERE to view the Top 10 list or visit www.lankford.senate.gov/fumbles to read Volumes 1-7.

Lankford Announces Volume 7 of his Waste Book, Federal Fumbles
Lankford: “At what point do we stop and say we've got to be able to fix this?”

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today introduced the Senate to the latest edition of his government waste book: Federal Fumbles: Ways the Federal Government Dropped the Ball. In volume 7 of the book, Lankford outlines numerous examples of waste and head-scratching spending the government has undertaken. In total, Fumbles highlights almost half-a-trillion dollars in misspent federal money, including on wine trails in Napa Valley, the effect of climate change on driving conditions in Ghana, and preserving a secret French butcher language.


Debt is front and center in the national conversation again. It's entirely reasonable. We have a debt ceiling conversation right now about America taking care of our debts and our responsibilities, which we are a responsible nation, we're going to do. But we should also have a grown-up conversation about our spending, to say: are we spending on our priorities, because when you have $31 trillion—actually let me scratch that—$31.4 trillion because $400 billion is not a rounding error, $31.4 trillion in total national debt, we should pay attention to this especially when we're currently adding $1 trillion in new debt every single year, and it continues to accelerate.

Recently someone asked me: when does it get hard? When do we pass the point? And I actually had to painfully say to them: 10 years ago, because in the last 10 years our debts continued to accelerate like a rock rolling downhill, and it's going to be harder to manage this. And at some point, we've got to be able to stop and say inflation’s going up, the challenges that are in our economy are increasing, we're spending almost as much on interest as we are on defense. At what point do we stop and say: we've got to be able to fix this?

Well, I have a perspective. The first step on actually talking about debt and deficit is taking it seriously and saying: what are we spending on that's a priority and what are we spending on that's not a priority? Again, it's not unreasonable to be able to say that’d be nice to do, but we don't have the money to do that. Let's set that aside. And for whatever reason in this town, any time you talk about reducing spending of whatever percentage or whatever amount, everyone freaks out immediately like ‘Oh you can’t. There is no way you can reduce spending in government.”

So, we started seven years ago a habit of our staff, that we produce a book called Federal Fumbles. Every we are we put out the Federal Fumbles guide, and that's just a set of ideas to say these are areas that we believe the federal government’s dropped the ball, that the federal government and our agencies, we had a responsibility to handle American taxpayer dollars prudently and wisely, but that didn't happen.

So we ask the question: is this really what we need to spend for? In a nation that's keeping up with our infrastructure, of our national defense, of education, of so many different expenses, and things that are truly governmental, we ask the simple question: with $31.4 trillion in total debt, is that what we need to spend our dollars on?

Now just to set context because again this is difficult to be able to do, when you talk about millions and billions and trillions, it gets easy to go, ‘Those all sound alike, so they're similar.’ And so people throw out millions of dollars or billions of dollars or trillions of dollars, and you just think, ‘Okay, I don't even understand what this is anymore.’ So I break it down as I have in the past. I break it down to seconds because that's something I can understand.

A million seconds is 12 days—12 days. That's a million seconds. A billion seconds is 32 years. Okay? So there's a big difference between a million and a billion. 12 days and 32 years. A trillion seconds is almost 32,000 years.

So let me knock that past us again. A million seconds is 12 days. A billion seconds: 32 years. A trillion seconds, almost 32,000 years. And to put this into the context of $31.4 trillion in total debt, that is 995,000 years, almost a million years of seconds to get to $31.4 trillion.

The numbers here are large, and they're overwhelming. So, again, why don't we talk about ways that we can actually save money. In my reasonable conversation with Federal Fumbles every year, is just to say let's talk about it. Is this really how we want to be able to spend Americans’ taxpayer dollars?

We’ve set up a top 10 list that we listed out some of the things that we just say, okay, of the 50 different examples, we don't try to go into every spending area but lay out in the guide 50 different examples and ask the question: is this the best way to spend Americans’ dollars? And again we've all got different perspectives on it. I'm just asking the question.

For instance, last year the State Department did a grant to Ecuador to host 12 drag shows in Ecuador with American tax dollars. Now you may have different opinions in this room on drag shows. I'm just asking the simple question: is the best use of American tax dollars to actually fund drag shows in Ecuador with US tax dollars? I don't believe that it is.

Last year, we actually did a different funding through the State Department that was… actually this was the National Science Foundation. Excuse me, strike that. It seems like a State Department thing. The National Science Foundation last year did a study of butterflies in Europe. So we funded with American taxpayer dollars a butterfly study in Germany where we paid a Swedish scientist to study butterflies in Germany. I'm not real sure why American tax dollars, that was the best use of that, but that was one of the grants done last year.

Last year there was an NEA grant that was done to set up a display in Brooklyn for the Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which by the way is not even an American band, and I’m not sure why we had to pay federal tax dollars to be able to do that. My simple question as always: why are tax dollars being taken out of Oklahoma to be able to do that?

Always popular, we had an almost, well, $350,000 grant to study smart toilets was one of the grants that we actually paid for with our federal tax dollars last year.

We also had a grant that was done studying colonial Mexican soundscapes. Now I'm sure colonial Mexican soundscapes are fascinating, but we paid for a researcher to travel to Mexico and then to be able to write a series about the sounds of colonial Mexico and how they could be used to be able to influence communities.

We, last year did a study on helmets and seat belts in Ghana to be able to study whether seat belts and helmets were effective for saving lives in Ghana. Can I just go ahead and answer that question for free? Seat belts and helmets are a good idea. They save lives. Free, I can go ahead and give you that advice. How do you know that? Because we've already spent millions of dollars in other studies here in the United States, but instead we spent money in Ghana studying helmets to see if they're actually a good idea there, and amazingly they discovered, yes, they are.

There was also a grant that was done last year—I’ve got to just walk this one through. This was at the Springfield Museum of Art in Missouri. There was a grant on a display, an installation, an exhibit in a museum called Yoko Ono Mends Peace. Now let me just read this to you. It's a simple white room where shattered cups and saucers are placed on a table, and participants are asked to mend the fragments together using common household items like twine, glue, scissors and tape, and the resulting works are displayed on nearby shelves as evidence of the power of collective action. Again, I’m not opposed to fixing broken saucers in a public place and displaying them. All I’m asking is why did Oklahomans work overtime last year to pay their tax bill to fund doing the Yoko Ono white room where people fixed broken saucers? I don't have a good answer for that yet by the way. I’m still trying to be able to get that.

If you like wine country, great, you helped pay for it. One of the highest-income areas in the world is Napa Valley, California—one of the highest income areas in the entire world. The good folks of Oklahoma helped pay for a wine pedestrian trail through Napa Valley, because apparently Napa Valley didn't have enough cash to be able to pay for the eight-mile walking trail through wine country, some of the most expensive real estate in the entire world. So the taxpayers in Oklahoma had to pay for that wine country tour trail.

If you like traveling to Hawaii, enjoy the trip. When you get there, if you go to a farmer's market, you’ll find out that you helped pay for that farmer's market because the farmer's market paid $3.4 million to be able to fund the farmer's market.

If you go to New York City and pay for a very high-dollar ticket to get into a private location in the Metropolitan Opera to be able to watch the opera. You will feel safer, I’m sure, when you go to the Metropolitan Opera because almost three-quarters of a million dollars was given to the Metropolitan Opera in New York to help them install a new fire suppression system with federal tax dollars.

If you like traveling to Paris and you go to a butcher shop in Paris, you may be fascinated to know since the 13th century, apparently butchers in Paris have come up with their own private language. It’s like a super, secret private language in Paris. Fascinating for the French is study, but unfortunately, the Americans taxpayers paid for a study of French  butchers’ private language for fear that it is diminishing and fading away. So the American tax dollars paid for this study in France to study the secret language of butchers in Paris. Can't tell you why.

You may know the story of the—let me see if I can pull this out—the Parable of the Sower. It’s a very famous, biblical story, the Parable of the Sower. Well, this particular version of the Parable of the Sower was actually little bit different. What your tax dollars paid for is actually an event that was done to teach climate futurism and to be able to use the Parable of the Sower from the Bible but to reteach a new religion called Earthseed using the biblical story of the Parable of the Sower in talking about humanity's destiny to be able to leave Earth for other planets. It wasn't the writing of the book. It was a conference for teachers to make sure teachers know how to teach this new version of the Parable of the Sower and about the new religion of Earthseed to their kids. That was done with your tax dollars.

Not leaving Ghana alone, there was also a study done in Ghana last year, not only did we do one on seat belt and helmet studies in Ghana, we did an interview project that was almost $200,000 in Ghana to interview taxicab drivers and truck drivers to ask them about how difficult driving has become with climate change, if it's harder to drive now in Ghana because of climate change. Your tax dollars paid for that.

And if you don't like that I’m discussing anything on climate change, and you may disagree with that, well, perfect because there was also a fund done with your tax dollars and the National Science Foundation to study on how to influence people that disagree with the issue of climate change with a study that was done for $400,000 on ‘pluralistic ignorance gaps in climate change’ and to be able to determine how to speak to people as the study says who are ‘ignorant’ on climate change and to be able to reeducate them on that. So if you disagree on this issue, we are studying on how to reeducate you on this issue.

Last year we also spent $991 million on ‘soft-sided facilities,’ those are called tents, along our border in Mexico. Now, best estimates on this. There's about two million people illegally crossed the border last year. So if you run the numbers on it, we spent somewhere around $500 a person on the tent facility they were processed through just to travel across the border.

Listen, we've got differences of opinion on lots of issues. I'm respectful of that. I understand that the people of Oklahoma don't think like people in other areas of the country. I also understand not everybody in Oklahoma thinks the same way. And I'm respectful of that. But I have yet to find anyone that wants their tax dollars wasted.

People literally work overtime to be table to feed their families. They’re working two or three jobs, and in April, when they pay their taxes, they want it to go to roads and infrastructure and national security. And what we reveal in Federal Fumbles is, yeah, some of that was done, but also some of that was also done because we lacked oversight and things were wasted and thrown out the door.

We did a multi-thousand page omnibus bill at the end of last year that literally no one had read—no one. There were no committee hearings in the Senate on appropriations at all last year, and trillions of dollars were spent and no one knows what they were spent for.

We try to bring: here's some of the ways that Americans’ taxpayer dollars are spent. And I’m not just complaining about it. We bring this up to say: what are we going to do about it? Are we going to do more oversight and to ask more questions and to spend money on what’s our priorities and to not spend money on what's not. So we put out Federal Fumbles, and you can go to the website, Lankford.senate.gov,  and be able to download it and be able to look at it. But the goal of this is to get all of us thinking about $31.4 trillion in federal debt. Can we focus on spending on priorities and target areas that are not.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Legislature sends major multi-bill education package to Governor

This is a few days old (sorry, been swamped with work), but some significant education news worth recording:

Legislature Sends Historic Education Package to Governor

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 19th) – The Legislature today gave final passage to a set of bills directing a historic investment into public education. 

AFP-OK celebrates historic education tax credit

Oklahoma Celebrates Historic Education Tax Credit

Oklahoma City, OK (May 19th) – Americans for Prosperity Oklahoma released the following statement following the final passage and procedural motions which sends HB 1934, Oklahoma Parental Choice Tax Credit Act to Governor Kevin Stitt. 

AFP State Director John Tidwell commented:

“Simply put, kids win. This truly historic education tax credit will change the lives of generations of Oklahoma kids. Families finally have real choice in the school that best meets their needs. 

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Rep. Olsen warns: pro-abortion bill makes late-session reappearance

 Pro-Abortion Bill SB 834 transforms into Pro-Abortion SB 368
By State Rep. Jim Olsen (R-Roland)

Before the reversal of Roe v Wade, virtually every Republican voted for some kind of abortion limitations, and the argument was "If it saves even one baby, it's worth it."  Now, among a few of the more liberal Republicans , the refrain has changed to "If we sacrifice a few, we can save many."

In Senate Bill 834, this session has seen a strong battle on whether we need to loosen up and compromise our abortion laws and allow the brutal murder of some portion of our babies.  Ostensibly, this would give us some protection against a state question that could legalize abortion on demand, wide open.  This line of thought advocates that if we allowed the slaughter of perhaps 200 babies per year, this would save the larger number that would be killed in wide open abortion on demand.  The extermination of the approximately 200 babies would have been allowed on the basis of the mother being a victim of rape or incest.

As we have argued in the past, these terrible crimes are not the fault of the baby.  The baby's essential humanity and right to life is not contingent upon the quality of her parents.  The baby is not guilty of any crime meriting the death penalty.

The baby has a right to life!

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Small: OETA doesn’t need state subsidies

I've enjoyed a lot of OETA/PBS content over the years; nature programs, historical documentaries, chilren's shows, classic films on the OETA Movie Club. My wife and I really enjoy the geneological show Finding Your Roots.

But here's the thing. Is it really the proper role of government to fund public broadcasting? I don't think it is. OETA, and PBS, and NPR - all of them can function apart from taxpayer funding. In the wake of Gov. Stitt's veto of OETA's reauthorization, a lot of media stations and personalities have decried the move. Perhaps they could step up to the plate and fund OETA/PBS much like C-SPAN is funded by the cable industry.

Here's a column by OCPA President Jonathan Small on the matter:

OETA doesn’t need state subsidies
By Jonathan Small

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s decision to veto reauthorization of the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA), the state’s Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) entity, has critics acting as though the sky is falling and that Big Bird is on his last legs.

Neither view is true. Big Bird will still be around even without Oklahoma government funding, as proven by the fact that 14 other states do not provide direct state funding to PBS stations. There are no reports of children aimless wandering the streets of those states without access to any educational programming.

Gov. Stitt signs executive orders aimed at shrinking government, improving efficiency


OKLAHOMA CITY (May 8, 2023) - Today, Governor Kevin Stitt signed three executive orders aimed at creating a leaner, more effective state government that delivers better services to Oklahomans.

"As a conservative, I believe in smaller government, so I am proud to sign these executive orders today to reduce the size of government and be better stewards of taxpayer dollars," said Governor Stitt.

For gun range near Muskogee, check out Glenndale Grace Firearms & Training

In case you weren't already aware, the Muskogee area is home to a top-notch gun range and training facility, owned and operated by local firearms experts Link and Susan Mock. Glenndale Grace Firearms & Training is located on the east side of US Highway 69 just north of Muskogee, between the Muskogee Turnpike and the Arkansas River (map).

Hours of operation are 10am to 6pm Tuesday through Friday, and 9am to 6pm on Saturday.

The owners of GGF Firearms, Link and Susan Mock, are both NRA certified Pistol, Shotgun, and Rifle instructors and certified Chief Range Safety Officers. They hold the "Distinguished Expert" designation from the NRA in Defensive Pistol I and II, and in Basic Pistol Shooting. They are experienced instructors of various firearm courses and are certified gunsmiths currently adding to their credentials through continuing education. ​Link has more than 20-years experience in law enforcement, and is bringing his expertise to the range; additionally, Susan has 28-years experience as a professional educator and is bringing her expertise to the range as well.

Friday, May 05, 2023

Measure aimed at cutting red tape for family home child care facilities signed into law

Measure Aimed at Cutting Red Tape for Small Business Strengthens Child Care Access For Oklahoma Families Signed into Law 

Bill Author Says the New Law  is a “Common Sense” Solution to Real Problems Families Face Navigating Overburdened Child Care System

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 4th) – A bill by freshman Tulsa State Representative Suzanne Schreiber, aimed at cutting red tape for family home childcare and thereby easing the burden Oklahoma families face accessing child care in order to stay in the workforce.  The measure was signed  by Governor Kevin Stitt on Tuesday and is set to become law in November. 

Bill aimed at getting to the root of catalytic converter theft set to become law in November

Bill Aimed at Getting to the Root of Catalytic Converter Theft
Set to Become Law in November
Bill Author Says the Measure is a “Common Sense” Solution to a Growing Crime Costing Oklahoma Families Thousands of Dollars and Creating Public Safety Risks

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 3rd) – A bill authored by Tulsa freshman State Representative Suzanne Schreiber aimed at empowering law enforcement to enact forfeiture measures associated with the theft of catalytic converters and copper will become law in November after clearing all legislative hurdles. Schreiber said she was informed about the issue by her predecessor, former state representative Carol Bush, who had worked to combat catalytic converter theft during her time in office.

Address confirmation notices mailed to 326,000 Oklahoma voters

Address Confirmation Notices Mailed to Oklahoma Voters

(Oklahoma City) – Over the next several weeks, 326,603 registered voters in Oklahoma will receive an Address Confirmation Notice from the State Election Board. The notices are required by state law.

OCPA to engage in court effort protecting child sex-change surgery ban

OCPA to engage in court effort protecting child sex-change surgery ban

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 2, 2023)—Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs President Jonathan Small announced today that OCPA will be organizing a coalition of groups and individuals for the purpose of defending a new state law that prevents children from undergoing sex-reassignment surgeries, cross-sex hormones, or puberty blockers before age 18.

Thursday, May 04, 2023

State Rep. Fetgatter to pursue better protection for sexual assault victims after Henryetta tragedy

Fetgatter to Initiate Protection Law after Henryetta Tragedy

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 3rd) – Rep. Scott Fetgatter, R-Okmulgee, in 2019 secured passage of a law to protect sexual assault victims from their predators. He's now pursuing legislation to better protect potential victims.

House Bill 1881 was named Kaylee's Law after a constituent in Fetgatter's House District 16. It directs the courts to issue orders of no contact from people convicted of sexual abuse or exploitation crimes to their victims. It was named for a young woman who received a birthday card, pictures and newspaper clippings talking about how beautiful she'd grown up to be from the man accused of sexually assaulting her while he was serving time in prison.

After this week's news of the horrific finding of seven bodies in Henryetta believed to be those of a convicted rapist, his wife and stepchildren and two unrelated teenage girls, Fetgatter said it is time he pursues a stronger law. This one must not only protect victims but potential victims as well, he said.

"I've moved from the initial grief and overwhelming sorrow I felt on learning the news of this terrible crime," Fetgatter said. "Now I'm angry. I'm furious this man was ever let out of prison with his conviction of rape and new charges of sexually soliciting a minor while he was still in state custody."

Brecheen introduces the 'DRIVE Act' to protect ranchers, farmers, and truckers from Biden overreach

Congressman Josh Brecheen Introduces The DRIVE Act To Protect Ranchers, Farmers, and Truckers from Biden Overreach

Washington, D.C. (May 3rd) – Today, Congressman Josh Brecheen introduced the Deregulating Restrictions on Interstate Vehicles and Eighteen-Wheelers (DRIVE) Act, which would prohibit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) from implementing any rule or regulation requiring vehicles over 26,000 pounds that are engaged in interstate commerce to be equipped with a speed limiting device set to a maximum speed. The rule would negatively impact both the agricultural and trucking industries and include vehicles like semi-trucks, livestock trailer/truck combos, grain trucks, and other large commercial vehicles. See more examples of vehicles impacted here.

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Small: Talking points against school choice don't hold up

Talking points don’t hold up
By Jonathan Small

In education, two talking points are constantly touted by status-quo defenders. First, if we spend more money on the state-run public-school system, our negative education outcomes will make a turnaround. Second, most families don’t need other choices because they are already “choosing” their local public school.

Neither talking point holds up—as two status-quo defenders recently acknowledged (even if unintentionally).

Legislators, OCPA praise signing of ban on "gender transition" procedures for children

Sen. Daniels, Rep. Hasenbeck issue statements after Gov. Stitt signs SB 613, prohibiting gender transition procedures for minors

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 2nd) – Sen. Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, and Rep. Toni Hasenbeck, R-Elgin, issued the following statements after Gov. Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 613 into law, banning gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies for children under the age of 18.

Monday, May 01, 2023

Happy anniversary! BatesLine.com marks 20 years

Happy 20th anniversary to the 'elder statesman' of Oklahoma's conservative blogosphere!

Go read his 20th anniversary post here.

Highly respected for his well-reasoned and well-researched approach, Michael Bates operates what is, to my knowledge, the longest-tenured conservative political blog in Oklahoma. Many have come and gone in the past two decades, but BatesLine.com has stuck with it! 

BatesLine has always been the number one Oklahoma-based blog I refer people to, especially around election season. In addition to checking his blog, if you're on social media, you should follow him:
If, like me, you've come to appreciate his many years of insightful commentary and conservative advocacy, consider dropping Michael a note of congratulations by emailing blog@batesline.com.

Gov. Stitt signs bill banning "gender transition" surgeries and hormone therapies for minors

Praise God:


OKLAHOMA CITY (May 1, 2023) - Governor Kevin Stitt signed SB 613 into law today banning all irreversible gender transition surgeries and hormone therapies for children under the age of 18.