Friday, June 30, 2023

Cong. Brecheen introduces 'Patriotism Not Pride Act' to prohibit LGBTQ Pride-related flags on federal property

Congressman Josh Brecheen Introduces Patriotism Not Pride Act

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Josh Brecheen introduced the Patriotism Not Pride Act, which would prohibit federal agencies from using taxpayer resources to promote Pride Month or any similar event. The bill also prohibits the display of flags representing gender identity or sexual orientation by agencies on federal property.

Gov. Stitt sends letter to tribes, renews call for tobacco compact agreement


OKLAHOMA CITY (June 29, 2023) - Today, Governor Kevin Stitt sent a letter to all tribes whose tobacco compacts are set to expire this year, reiterating his previous call to extend the compacts previously negotiated by Oklahoma's Governor and tribal counterparts.

The letter reads, in part: "It is my sincere hope that this letter paves the way toward an agreement that will benefit all 4 million Oklahomans... I extend this offer in good faith and remain steadfast in my belief that we must find common ground to move our state forward."

Thursday, June 29, 2023

State Auditor Byrd after finding $30M in questionable spending: "State of Oklahoma dropped the ball on compliance and oversight"

Ouch. This audit is pretty bad. State Auditor Cindy Byrd has released an audit of federally-funded grants (mainly COVID relief/stimulus money), finding about $30,000,000 in "questioned costs". This audit is federally-mandated, and could end up with the State of Oklahoma having to repay the misspent funds.

It pretty much comes down to an atmosphere of lackadaisical oversight, careless implementation, and seemingly outright intentions to flout spending rules. A proto-school choice program pushed by Gov. Stitt and then-Secretary of Education (now State Superintendent) Ryan Walters draws specific attention in the scathing report.

Here are some additional news articles to read on the audit:

Byrd's press release is below:

“The State of Oklahoma dropped the ball on compliance and oversight.”

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (June 27, 2023) Oklahoma State Auditor & Inspector (SAI) Cindy Byrd released today the Federal Single Audit of expenditures made during SFY 2021 which includes pandemic funds. This annual audit is a federally-mandated examination of how the State of Oklahoma spends federal grant money and whether the State complied with federal regulations.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Small: Time to act on college tuition

Time to act on college tuition
By Jonathan Small

The story of Oklahoma college tuition usually falls into one of three patterns.

Lawmakers cut college appropriations and colleges raise tuition, blaming the lack of appropriations.

Or lawmakers provide steady appropriations, and colleges raise tuition, blaming the lack of increased appropriations.

Or lawmakers increase appropriations, and colleges still raise tuition, blaming lawmakers for not doing more.

This year, we’re seeing the third scenario play out at the University of Oklahoma.

Monday, June 26, 2023

Congressman Brecheen announces 8 town hall meetings on Wednesday and Thursday

Congressman Josh Brecheen Announces June 28 & 29 In-Person Town Halls

Washington, D.C. (June 26th) – Congressman Josh Brecheen will hold in-person town hall meetings on Wednesday, June 28 and Thursday, June 29. Constituents are invited to attend and share their thoughts and ask questions on policy issues impacting Washington, D.C. and Oklahoma.

Lankford: "When is a child a child?"

There’s a Question That Might Make You Uncomfortable
By US Senator James Lankford (R-OK)

Pregnancy, especially when it is unexpected, is a “heart issue” that involves a mom, a dad, a baby, and their families. Unfortunately, our culture often speaks about the issue of life flippantly and with political motivation, causing these already complicated conversations to get more complicated, more caustic, and more divisive.

I believe all people—all people—are created in the image of God, have value and worth, and deserve to be treated with respect. I believe I have a responsibility to speak up for the lives of the children who have no way to speak for themselves. Babies are not disposable; they are valuable. Babies are not an inconvenience; they are lives full of potential and worth.

Maybe we just need to resolve the most basic of questions: when is a child a child?  

State of Oklahoma to offer Surplus and Save event at historic office building

State of Oklahoma to offer Surplus and Save event at historic office building

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 26, 2023) – On July 7, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) will hold Surplus and Save, an estate sale-style event where the general public can purchase a wide range of items from the Jim Thorpe Office Building.

As the historic Jim Thorpe Building undergoes renovations, an extensive selection of surplus items will be available for public purchase at discounted prices. Attendees will have the chance to browse and buy various items, including office furniture, courtroom furniture, office equipment and supplies, artwork, appliances, storage solutions, TVs and more.

Friday, June 23, 2023

Tribal vehicle registration/tag revenue used for political activity

by Ray Carter | June 23, 2023

Even though state-tribal compacts on vehicle registration and car tags ultimately result in millions of dollars being diverted from Oklahoma state government to the control of a small group of tribal government leaders, defenders of the compacts often claim the agreements benefit the state because the money is used for education and transportation.

But Cherokee Nation budget documents obtained by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs indicate that the tribe at least considered, and may have used, vehicle revenue for political activity.

The Cherokee Nation acknowledges that some money generated by its motor-tag compacts with the state of Oklahoma has been used for electoral activity, but the amount of money tribal officials say was spent and the uses made of that money differ dramatically from the amounts and uses outlined in a tribal budget document provided by a whistleblower.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Small: Conservatively stewarding or else

Conservatively stewarding or else
By Jonathan Small

Broadly speaking, a conservative champions free markets, limited government, individual initiative, personal responsibility, and empowering families.

Progressives’ view, in practice, can be summed up in this quote from former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

Need examples of progressives exploiting problems and crises? Government distortions and intervention in health care have caused massive health-care cost growth, and then government by way of Obamacare created a $1 trillion-plus government welfare program that raises health care costs further. Government overreach and government spending fuels significant inflation growth. So then progressives responded with an “inflation reduction act” that didn’t lower or eliminate government-caused inflation, but instead increased tax burdens through massive green energy subsidies.

Since progressives often want to seize problems to expand government control, conservatives must think long-term and solve public-policy concerns before they metastasize and the public entertains the left’s command approach.

Congressman Brecheen introduces two bills to protect taxpayers, ag producers

I'm a bit behind on posting these, but Oklahoma's 2nd District Congressman Josh Brecheen recently filed two pieces of legislation, the Stop Government Overreach in Ranching Act and the Healthy SNAP Act.

The Stop Government Overreach in Ranching Act would reverse FDA guidance, “GFI 263,” which restricts the use of commonly used livestock antibiotics, such as penicillin. This has put added expense and hardship upon the those involved in agriculture and livestock. The Healthy SNAP Act would exclude soft drinks, candy, ice cream, and prepared desserts from being purchased with SNAP benefits (informally known as food stamps). 

Read below for more details on both:

Congressman Hern’s health care bill passes the House

Hern’s health care bill passes the House

WASHINGTON, DC (June 21st) — Representative Kevin Hern’s (OK-01) legislation, HR 3799, the CHOICE Arrangements Act, passed the House of Representatives this afternoon 220-209 and is headed to the Senate. HR 3799, which passed the Ways and Means Committee last week, would allow employees to use money from their employer to buy a healthcare plan that works best for them.

State Rep. Grego blasts news of Talihina Veterans Center closure

Grego Blasts News of Talihina Veterans Center Closure

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 22nd) – Rep. Jim Grego, R-Wilburton, today expressed his anger after receiving news that the Oklahoma Veterans Commission voted 5-0 to close the Talihina Veterans Center, effective immediately.

"This means 36 families have just 90 days to find a place to care for their loved ones," Grego said. "This is a disruption and a disgrace to these veterans who faithfully sacrificed and served our nation and to their families who want to keep their loved ones nearby."

Wednesday, June 21, 2023

State of Emergency declared in storm-affected counties (and the drama that led to it)

After severe storms blasted through the state late Saturday night and early Sunday morning, knocking power out to hundreds of thousands of customers and causing major damage in much of the northeastern part of the state, there was widespread expectation for a quick declaration of a state of emergency by the governor. This would relax some regulations and restrictions to enable swifter response by government emergency agencies and relief organizations, as well as trigger consumer protections laws against price gouging, et cetera.

What happened next was chaos.

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

OCPA condemns OU tuition hike

OCPA condemns OU tuition hike

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 19, 2023)—Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs President Jonathan Small said the recent tuition hike approved by OU is unjustified and shows the university is not serious about its mission of providing a quality, affordable education to Oklahomans.

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Congressman Brecheen announces in-person town halls for June 28th-29th

Congressman Josh Brecheen Announces More June In-Person Town Halls

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Josh Brecheen will hold in-person town hall meetings on Wednesday, June 28 and Thursday, June 29. Constituents are invited to attend and share their thoughts and ask questions on policy issues impacting Washington, D.C. and Oklahoma.

Small: A free-speech victory for all Oklahomans

A free-speech victory for all Oklahomans
By Jonathan Small

Free speech and public debate are necessary ingredients of a democratic government, which is why the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution enshrines free speech as a basic right. But that hasn’t stopped some entities from trying to do an end run on that fundamental right, including here in Oklahoma.

One tactic used by free-speech opponents is a “strategic lawsuit against public participation” (SLAPP) lawsuit. In such lawsuits, a person or entity files a lawsuit, typically for defamation, against a public-policy opponent. The lawsuits are frivolous. Those filing have no real expectation of court victory. Instead, they use lawsuits to generate significant legal expenses for their public-policy opponents and bankrupt or financially hamstring their opponents.

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Lankford leads delegation in challenging HHS withdrawal of health grants because of OK's strong pro-life laws

Lankford Leads Delegation Letter to HHS Challenging Withdrawal of Health Care Grants Because of Oklahoma’s Strong Pro-Life Laws

WASHINGTON, DC (June 1st) – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) is leading the Oklahoma congressional delegation on a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra for suspending the $4.5 million Title X Family Planning grant awarded to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). HHS is suspending this funding over the OSDH’s refusal to refer for abortions.

Thursday, June 08, 2023

Trump's NASA head, former Congressman Jim Bridenstine endorses Ron DeSantis for President

The Ron DeSantis team is drip-dripping Oklahoma news ahead of the Florida governor's Tulsa event on Saturday. Today, it's an endorsement from former 1st District Congressman Jim Bridenstine, who was appointed by Pres. Trump to head up NASA. This is a good 'get', as Bridenstine was a very reliable conservative in Congress, and a member of the Freedom Caucus (some of the legislators announced the other day have less stellar conservative credentials).

Leading Oklahoma Conservative and Trump Appointee Jim Bridenstine Endorses Gov. Ron DeSantis for President

ATLANTA, Ga. (June 8, 2023) – Leading conservative, previous Trump-appointed NASA administrator, and former Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine has endorsed Gov. Ron DeSantis to be the next President of the United States. The announcement follows the endorsement of 20 Oklahoma state legislators backing Gov. Ron DeSantis’ bid for the White House.

Stitt signs bill to create Oklahoma Civil Rights Trail

Measure to create Oklahoma Civil Rights Trail signed into law

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 8th) – A bill highlighting Oklahoma’s contributions to the Civil Rights Movement has been signed into law. Sen. Kevin Matthews, D-Tulsa, and Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City, [pictured above] are the Senate principal authors of Senate Bill 509, creating the Oklahoma Civil Rights Trail, and the House principal authors are Rep. Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Ken Luttrell, R-Ponca City.

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

20 Oklahoma legislators endorse Ron DeSantis for President

20 Oklahoma Legislators Endorse Gov. Ron DeSantis for President

ATLANTA, Ga. (June 7th) – 20 state senators and representatives in the Oklahoma legislature have endorsed Gov. Ron DeSantis to be the next President of the United States ahead of the governor’s trip to Tulsa on Saturday, June 10th.

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

Ron DeSantis to make campaign stop in Tulsa on Saturday

Florida Governor and 2024 GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is coming to Tulsa this weekend for a campaign stop. The event was announced earlier today by Never Back Down, the super PAC campaigning for DeSantis.

Attendance is free but does require reserving a ticket.

Saturday, June 03, 2023

Oklahoma delegation splits on debt ceiling increase vote

On Wednesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to raise the debt limit by roughly $4T (trillion with a t) through January 2025 by a vote of 314-117 (165 Democrats and 149 Republicans in favor, 71 Republicans and 46 Democrats opposed). The U.S. Senate approved the measure on Thursday with a 63-36 vote (46 Democrats and 17 Republicans in favor, 31 Republicans and 5 Democrats opposed).

Among Oklahoma all-GOP delegation, Sen. James Lankford and Reps. Kevin Hern (1st District) and Josh Brecheen (2nd District) voted against it. Sen. Markwayne Mullin joined the moderate wing of the Senate GOP in supporting the measure, as did Reps. Frank Lucas (3rd District), Tom Cole (4th District), and Stephanie Bice (5th District) in the House. 

Below are statements from those members who have issued them since the vote (Hern appears to be the only one without a public comment).

Small: Push for auto-renewal of tribal tobacco, license-tag compacts bad for Oklahoma

Renewing compacts bad for Oklahoma
By Jonathan Small

Special interest attempts to force automatic renewal of existing tobacco and license-tag compacts will create enormous challenges for the state.

The legal reality that undergirded current compacts is under attack by special interests who are inaccurately wielding the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma, which declared the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s Oklahoma reservation was never formally disestablished for purposes of federal major-crimes law, in an effort to exploit that decision.

Friday, June 02, 2023

Oklahoma Dems laud State Supreme Court for abortion ruling

Predictably, the Democrats in the Legislature are cheering on Oklahoma's liberal Supreme Court's latest ruling overturning two 2022 laws restricting abortion (here's another article on it from NonDoc). Click here for the response from GOP leaders.

Read below for comments from House Minority Leader Cyndi Munson and Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd:

With objections, Gov. Stitt allows state budget into law without signature


OKLAHOMA CITY (June 2, 2023) - Today, Governor Kevin Stitt let the state budget for fiscal year 2024 go into law without his signature, subject to objections. The package included the general appropriations bill, HB 1004x. The governor shared his reasoning in a message filed with the bill:

State GOP leaders denounce OK Supreme Court ruling striking down anti-abortion laws

Oklahoma's liberal Supreme Court continues to do what it has done for years -- in a 6-3 decision, justices overturned two 2022 laws restricting abortion. It's past time for judicial reform -- read Column: OK Supreme Court abortion ruling points to the need for judicial reform from April.

Below are comments from Gov. Kevin Stitt, Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, and State Sens. David Bullard and Julie Daniels, and the Oklahoma Republican Party (Chairman State Sen. Nathan Dahm, Vice Chair Wayne Hill, and National Committeewoman Pam Pollard):

Thursday, June 01, 2023

Senate Pro Tem Treat Comments on Conclusion of the 2023 Regular Session

Senate Pro Tem Treat Comments on Conclusion of the 2023 Regular Session

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 26th) – Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, today commented on the conclusion of today’s regular session that began in February.

The pro tem said the Senate Republican caucus was more united than ever before and built momentum going into the summer, which he hopes to carry into next year.

Gov. Stitt to send OK Nat'l Guard troops to help Texas at southern border


OKLAHOMA CITY (June 1, 2023) - Today, Governor Kevin Stitt commits to sending Oklahoma National Guard Troops to the Southern Border in the wake of President Biden’s failure to secure and protect our nation. The commitment comes in response to Governor Greg Abbott’s call for reinforcements as Texas responds to the ongoing crisis.

Congressman Brecheen holding June 2nd in-person town hall, June 6th telephone town hall

Congressman Josh Brecheen Announces June 2nd In-Person Town Hall and June 6th Telephone Town Hall

Washington, D.C. (June 1st) – Congressman Josh Brecheen will hold an in-person town hall meeting on Friday, June 2nd and a telephone town hall on Tuesday, June 6th.

Gann, Rick West call for constitutional amendment to reform state budget process

Gann, Rick West Call for Constitutional Amendment to Budget Process

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 1st) – In reaction to this year's nearly $13 billion general appropriations' bill, State Reps. Tom Gann, R-Inola, and Rick West, R-Heavener, have proposed capping future legislative appropriations, retaining only what is necessary to be responsible in savings for a rainy day and sending back to the taxpayer any excess funds.

Lankford votes to block Biden’s student debt transfer scheme

Lankford Votes to Block Biden’s Student Debt Transfer Scheme

WASHINGTON, DC (June 1st) – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today voted to overturn President Biden’s student loan cancelation scheme. Lankford joined Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) and their colleagues to introduce the resolution to overturn Biden’s debt transfer, which would pass up to $20,000 in student loan debt per borrower onto taxpayers, costing an estimated $400 billion. The resolution passed in a vote of 51-46.