Monday, July 31, 2023

A Blogging Milestone: 15 Years of MuskogeePolitico

15 years ago this evening, I started The Musings of a MuskogeePolitico (later shortened to simply MuskogeePolitico). As an eighteen year-old at the time, I had no idea that this project would still be going in fifteen years later!

Since starting this site, I've published 5,357 posts, had somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.5 million hits, and received over 1,600 reader comments (plus thousands more on Facebook and Twitter). In 2011, my blog was named one of the top three political blogs in Oklahoma. Since 2008, my posts have been referenced in major newspapers, and my readers have included sitting members of Congress and state Supreme Court justices. My work has been referenced on the campaign trail, and in political mail and ads on television.

Through my blogging, I've made friends and connections across the country that I otherwise would not have met. It's been a great experience, and for that I'm grateful.

Now for some highlights...

Friday, July 28, 2023

Thanks to veto override (and PlatePay), tribal tags may evade turnpike tolls to tune of $10.8M per year

The double-whammy of removing toll booths to implement PlatePay and the legislative override of Gov. Stitt's veto of a tribal vehicle tag compact is going to cost Oklahoma citizens a pretty penny:

Tribal plates allow drivers to evade Oklahoma tolls
By Ray Carter | July 25th, 2023

This week, members of the Oklahoma Legislature overrode Gov. Kevin Stitt’s veto of legislation authorizing a one-year compact with tribal governments that allows the issuance of tribal vehicle tags.

When lawmakers did so, they locked in place a system that is allowing drivers with tribal car tags to evade paying tolls on state turnpikes, a practice that is expected to cost the state millions of dollars and increase the fees imposed on all other, non-Indian drivers.

Gov. Stitt 'encouraged' by Supreme Court putting pause on Tulsa case over tribal citizen violations of city ordinances


OKLAHOMA CITY (July 27, 2023) - Governor Stitt released a statement praising the decision of the United States Supreme Court to temporarily stay the mandate of the 10th Circuit's decision in Hooper v. City of Tulsa

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Congressman Josh Brecheen announces August in-person town halls

Congressman Josh Brecheen Announces August In-Person Town Halls

Washington, D.C. (July 24th) – Congressman Josh Brecheen announced the following in-person town halls for the month of August. Constituents are invited to attend and share their thoughts and ask questions on policy issues impacting Washington, D.C. and Oklahoma.

Congressman Brecheen has so far held 44 in-person town halls throughout Oklahoma’s 2nd Congressional District with more to be announced soon. 

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Lankford: State Dep't has unprecedented 3-million passport backlog (3x more than during pandemic)

Keep Calm and Wait for Your Passport
By US Senator James Lankford (R-OK)

If you’re thinking of traveling in the next few months, don’t book your flight until you have your passport in your hands. To give you perspective, if you apply today for a passport, you probably won’t have it in hand until Thanksgiving, even if you pay the extra fee to “expedite” it. I think the State Department needs to get a better definition of “expedite.”  

Just a few years ago, getting a passport routinely took four to six weeks. Now, passport processing takes anywhere from 12 to 18 weeks or longer—another example of this Administration’s inability to fulfill basic government services like permits, tax decisions, or a multitude of other issues. 

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, passport applications reached a 1.6 million backlog. I found out at the end of May 2020 that not a single passport had been processed since March 19, 2020, despite continuing to collect fees. I immediately sent a letter to then-Secretary of State Pompeo to find out what was going on and address it. Secretary Pompeo immediately made passport services “mission critical,” the backlog started to get caught up, and things went mostly back to normal.

But when the Biden Administration took over in 2021, processing times started to fall behind again and now have exceeded pandemic levels. Why?

State Department staff haven’t been operating at 100 percent capacity, and passport offices never fully reopened to the public after the pandemic. The office now has an unprecedented 3 million passport backlog—three times the worst backlog during the pandemic.

My office has received almost five-times the average number of requests for help this year. Oklahomans are frustrated that they face canceled vacations they saved for years to take, honeymoons they planned, business trips, or mission trips all because the State Department cannot do its job. They’ve created a mess. 

I introduced my Passport Act, which addresses the root cause of the process breakdown, provides straightforward solutions to fix it, and prevents it from reaching historic levels again.

My bill will improve transparency and customer service by requiring the State Department to provide detailed status updates for passport applicants and add a customer service chat feature connecting applicants with the National Passport Information Center. These days, you can track a package delivery online from almost any provider—but the State Department is lagging behind.

I worked with Senator Ricketts from Nebraska to have my bill included in the State Department reauthorization bill. Then, we worked to get it included in the annual defense bill moving through Congress right now. 

I will see this through to get a solution to prevent this fiasco from happening again. Enjoy your vacation trip overseas; just get your passport before you book your flight.  

Saturday, July 22, 2023

Gov. Stitt: ongoing fleet modernization effort has saved $5M+, turned in 572 underutilized vehicles so far


OKLAHOMA CITY (July 21, 2023) - Governor Stitt and the Office of Management and Enterprise Services provided an update today on the ongoing state fleet modernization initiative previously announced in February.

To date, agencies have turned in a total of 572 underutilized vehicles, saving Oklahoma taxpayers an estimated $5.15 million. Additionally, Geotab trackers have been installed in 3,200 out of 10,500 vehicles statewide.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Lankford aims at ending US reliance on Communist China for pharmaceuticals

This is an important issue that needs to be addressed. We cannot rely on Communist China for any essential industry. It's a national security issue.

Lankford Putting a Stop to US Reliance on China for Pharmaceuticals

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (July 21st) – Senator James Lankford (R-OK), a member of the Senate Finance, Homeland Security, and Intelligence Committees, introduced the Pharmaceuticals Supply Chain Security Act to proactively reduce US dependence on China for our pharmaceutical supply chain.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Lucas: foreign ownership of farmland a detriment to national security

Foreign Ownership of Farmland A Detriment to National Security
by Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03)

Everyone in Oklahoma is keenly aware that food security is national security. A nation that cannot feed itself cannot hope to defend itself. 

Because of this, it is essential we protect our farmland, especially from foreign adversaries. For far too long we’ve seen entities - Chinese in particular - coming over and buying our agricultural land. That’s why I’ve led on several fronts to address this troubling issue. 

Gov. Stitt sets record straight on tribal tobacco compacts, touts 'One Oklahoma' effort

Gov. Kevin Stitt is out with two short videos dealing with continued fallout from the disastrous McGirt decision (in short, recognizing most of Oklahoma as Indian reservation land, contrary to a century of interpretation) as it relates to tribal tobacco compacts, and a recent 10th Circuit court case that said Tulsa cannot enforce municipal violations, such as traffic tickets, against tribal citizens.

Watch below:

Rep. Brecheen, Sen. Vance introduce 'No Obamacare for Illegal Aliens' bill

Congressman Josh Brecheen, Senator JD Vance Introduce No Obamacare for Illegal Aliens Act of 2023

Washington, D.C. (July 19th) – Today, Congressman Josh Brecheen and Senator JD Vance (R-OH) introduced the No Obamacare for Illegal Aliens Act of 2023 to protect taxpayer dollars by preventing illegal aliens from receiving taxpayer-subsidized healthcare benefits.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Gov. Stitt appoints Lt. Gov. Pinnell as Secretary of Workforce Development

This is for a position on the Governor's cabinet, and does not affect Pinnell's status as Lieutenant Governor:


OKLAHOMA CITY (July 19, 2023) - Governor Kevin Stitt announced today the appointment of Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell to serve as Secretary of Workforce Development on his cabinet. As Secretary of Workforce Development, Pinnell will work closely with the Departments of Education and Commerce to emphasize the workforce pipeline and economic development for the state.

“Lt. Governor Pinnell is a successful businessman with a talent for fostering economic growth in Oklahoma,” said Governor Stitt. “As Secretary of Tourism, his leadership saw the highest visitation levels we’ve had in state history, and I know he will bring that same level of excitement and energy into recruiting talent to Oklahoma.”

Drummond may take legal action over market manipulation during 2021 winter storm

Drummond announces potential legal action over alleged market manipulation during Winter Storm Uri

OKLAHOMA CITY (July 18, 2023) – Attorney General Gentner Drummond announced today that he may take legal action against various entities he believes to be responsible for market manipulation and other potentially unlawful conduct related to Winter Storm Uri. Drummond said a review he ordered has found that many companies used the devastating 2021 storm to rake in billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains.

Walters touts record levels of Title I, Part A grant funding for public schools

I'm convinced that Walters could be a more effective State Superintendent and less unnecessarily divisive, without compromising his principles, if he would ditch the immature Texas political consultant that is trying to manage his public appearance and persona. Matt Langston can't even broach what should be good news for and from Walters without throwing bombs; I'm not posting what he sent to the media, who have been antagonistic toward him and Walters in some part due to how he, in particular, has acted towards the media (it's a two-way street).

Ryan Walters Secures Record Levels of Title I, Part A Grant Funding

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (July 17th) – Ryan Walters has secured $224,661,041 in Title I, Part A Grant Funding.* This is the largest amount in State history and will allow schools to provide a never-before-seen level of resources to Oklahoma schools. It is another record investment in education followed closely by the funding school districts received in the 2023 legislative session.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

OSDH giving free booster seats to qualifying families at OKC metro events July 17th-August 9th

OSDH to Host Booster Seat Distribution Events Across the Oklahoma City Metro Area

OKLAHOMA CITY – More than 90% of children who use lap-and-shoulder seat belts under the age of 10 should still be in a booster seat, according to data collected by AAA and the National Safety Council.

The Oklahoma State Department of Health is working in partnership with Safe Kids Oklahoma, the Metropolitan Library System, and OKC-County Health Department to ensure Oklahoma families receive education on booster seat use. A limited number of free seats will be provided to qualifying families. 

State launches website to provide support, resources for expectant mothers, families


OKLAHOMA CITY (July 6, 2023) - Today, Governor Stitt and the Oklahoma State Department of Health are celebrating the launch of the state's new comprehensive pregnancy resources website, designed to provide essential support and information to expecting mothers, parents, and families.

"A child is a gift from God, but a pregnancy can be a confusing and trying time without support. The launch of this incredible resource is a reflection of our commitment to uplift and empower expectant mothers across Oklahoma," said Governor Stitt. "By consolidating all of this essential information and assistance into one convenient platform, we're hoping to strengthen the support system that every mom and family deserves."

"Our vision is to lead Oklahoma to prosperity through health," said Commissioner of Health Keith Reed. "That starts at the beginning of life. We want to and need to be a resource for pregnant women in our communities as they navigate bringing a newborn baby into the world. The collaboration between state agencies and community partners on centralizing support information for Oklahoma families is critical to helping meet their needs before, during and after birth."

"Providing a central access point to crucial resources upholds the commitment made to Oklahoma mothers. Acknowledging the needs of moms and families and making resources easily accessible across our great state reiterates the unified approach to this commitment," said Juli Merciez, Chair of the HELP Task Force. "Our recommendation and expectation from the HELP Task Force is to get these resources to those who need it from one platform that's easiest to access begins here."

The website conveniently gathers resources for expectant parents. It offers a wide range of resources on pregnancy, parenting, adoption, and financial assistance, ensuring individuals can easily access the support they need during a transformative time in life. The website aims to empower expectant mothers and their families by equipping them with resources ranging from prenatal care to postpartum support.

These resources can be found at

Saturday, July 15, 2023

Oklahoma's congressional delegation applauds passage of NDAA with conservative priorities

Read below for comments from each of Oklahoma's five members of the U.S. House of Representatives following passage of the National Defense Authorization Act. Reps. Hern and Brecheen, for their part, point out many conservative victories in the amendment process of this military funding measure.

Rep. Brecheen, Sen. Budd demand answers after 2 young people commit suicide during taxpayer-funded transgender study

The entire "transgender" movement is such an insane denial of reality, and it's an abomination that taxpayer dollars are funding anything promoting it. That young people, who are literally being destroyed by those who should be protecting them, have committed suicide under the government's "watchful eye" studying this lunacy is beyond the pale.

Congressman Josh Brecheen, Senator Ted Budd Send Follow-Up Letter After NIH Fails to Answer for Suicides in Trans Study

Washington, D.C. (July 12th) – Congressman Josh Brecheen and Senator Ted Budd (R-NC) sent a follow-up letter to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) after the agency failed to respond to a May 2023 letter demanding answers after two young people committed suicide during an NIH-funded transgender study.

The taxpayer-funded study evaluated the psychosocial effects of cross-sex hormones on “transgender and nonbinary youth” and included children as young as 12-years-old.

Small: 'Trigger' law needed for income tax repeal

‘Trigger’ law needed
By Jonathan Small

The fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma continues today. A recent federal court decision declaring Indians to be exempt from city police enforcement of municipal laws in local courts in Tulsa is just the latest example.

That issue is being appealed and many other issues are winding their way through the court system.

Friday, July 14, 2023

AG Drummond joins 25-state coalition opposing Biden Administration's attack on gas-powered vehicles

Drummond joins 25-state coalition opposing Biden Administration's attack on gas-powered vehicles

OKLAHOMA CITY (July 11, 2023) – Attorney General Gentner Drummond and attorneys general of 24 other states are challenging the Biden Administration’s most radical regulations yet on tailpipe emissions. The Biden plan would forcibly phase out gas-powered vehicles and restructure the automobile industry around electric vehicles (EVs) at a breakneck pace. The proposal aims to boost certain EV sales from 8.4 percent of total vehicle sales today to 67 percent by 2032.

Drummond joined the Kentucky and West Virginia-led coalition in a letter opposing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plan, arguing the move would damage our economy, undermine the reliability of our electrical grids, tax the families and businesses who depend on them, and threaten our national security.

“This draconian proposal would have particularly disastrous consequences for Oklahoma’s economy,” Drummond said. “I am proud to join my colleagues across the nation in fighting back against the continuous and flagrant federal overreach of the Biden Administration. I will always fight to do what is best for all Oklahomans.”

Thursday, July 13, 2023

2023 post-election audits confirm accuracy and consistency of Oklahoma's voting process

If only other states used Oklahoma's voting process...

2023 Post-election Audits Show Accuracy of Oklahoma's Voting System

(Oklahoma City, June 28th) – Oklahoma State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax announced that the State Election Board recently published the results of post-election audits conducted in 2023 – including an audit of election results in all 77 counties for the State Question 820 held on March 7, 2023. 

The post-election tabulation audits for the February 14, March 7, and April 4 elections were conducted by county election board secretaries from May 22 through May 25. The tabulation audits for the June 13 elections were conducted from June 21 through June 23.

Post-election audits were open to the public, and included a mix of Election Day, mail absentee, and “early voting” ballots.

Brecheen's bill to address waste, inefficiency in border security contracts passes committee

Congressman Josh Brecheen’s Bill to Empower Border Patrol Agents to Defend the Homeland Advances Out of Homeland Security Committee

Washington, D.C. (July 12th) – Congressman Josh Brecheen’s bill, H.R. 4467, The “DHS Border Services Contracts Review Act,” advanced out of the House Committee on Homeland Security today clearing the way for the bill to eventually be sent to the House Floor for consideration by the full House of Representatives.

The bill would ensure the federal government is spending taxpayer dollars in a responsible manner when executing government contracts at the Southern border.

“This is an important first step to empowering our border patrol agents to focus their time on defending the homeland, while also ensuring that taxpayer dollars are used efficiently. I am happy to see that my colleagues on the House Committee on Homeland Security agree,” said Congressman Josh Brecheen.

Congressman Brecheen spoke during the Committee markup, which you can watch here.

The DHS Border Services Contracts Review Act requires the Under Secretary of Management at DHS to create a report that assesses the role of contractors at the Southern border. 

Within this report, it will require the Under Secretary for Management to create a strategy to improve the procurement and delivery of services of contracts that assist DHS with services needed along the Southern border.

More Information on the DHS Border Services Contracts Review Act:

From medical services to food and waste services, different DHS contractors working amid the historic influx at the Southwest border can often overlap, leading to mismanagement of both taxpayer funds and personnel.
  • This legislation demands accountability by directing DHS to find its weaknesses, increase cost effectiveness, and enable DHS employees to conduct their primary mission responsibilities efficiently. 

  • It also conducts oversight by mandating that DHS provides Congress with a strategy to improve their procurement process for contractors.

Congressman Josh Brecheen Introduces Bill to Empower Border Patrol Agents to Defend the Homeland

Washington, D.C. (July 6th) – Today, Congressman Josh Brecheen introduced the DHS Border Services Contracts Review Act to ensure the federal government is spending taxpayer dollars in a responsible manner when executing government contracts at the Southern border.

Stitt launches MODERN Justice Task Force to begin in-depth analysis of state justice system


OKLAHOMA CITY (July 11, 2023) - Today, Governor Kevin Stitt announced the launch of the MODERN (Modernized Operations through Data and Evidenced-based Restoration Now) Justice Task Force to conduct a first-of-its-kind intensive review of Oklahoma’s justice system by identifying evidence-based strategies to reduce crime and recidivism, enhance public safety, and increase opportunities for all Oklahomans.

“Today, we’re taking concrete steps towards a safer, smarter, and more efficient justice system in Oklahoma,” said Governor Stitt. “With all three branches of government working together, we’re demonstrating to all four million Oklahomans the state’s commitment to strengthening public safety while ensuring our justice system works fairly and efficiently.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Lankford Takes Action to Fix Historic Passport Backlog

Lankford Takes Action to Fix Historic Passport Backlog

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (June 29th) – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today announced his plans to introduce legislation to address the eight-month delay for a passport due to a passport backlog of more than 3 million by making major improvements to passport processing at the Department of State.

“Oklahomans shouldn’t have to face months-long delays because the State Department isn’t processing passports quickly enough,” said Lankford. “My office regularly hears from families who are forced to miss out on visiting loved ones or cancel vacations they saved for years to take due to the massive backlog. This has been a problem since 2020 that I have pushed the Department of State to resolve. This bill is designed to address the root cause of the breakdown and provide straightforward solutions to fix the current backlog and prevent it from reaching historic levels again.”

State Sen. John Michael Montgomery resigns to take lead role at Lawton Chamber of Commerce

State Sen. John Michael Montgomery is resigning to head up the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce. He becomes the second legislator in the past six years to resign to lead a local Chamber (the last being State Rep. Scott Martin resigning to join the Norman Chamber).

Sen. Montgomery announces resignation, accepts new role with Lawton Chamber

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. John Michael Montgomery, R-Lawton, released the following statement Friday after announcing that he will be resigning from the Oklahoma Senate, effective Aug. 1, 2023, to accept the role of president and CEO of the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce.

Oklahoma State Election Board launches online voter registration

State Election Board Launches Online Voter Registration

(Oklahoma City) – The Oklahoma State Election Board has launched its new Online Voter Registration System, State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax (pronounced ZEER'-iks) announced.

The new online system allows individuals to complete and submit a Voter Registration Application electronically following a match of data from the applicant’s Oklahoma Driver License or State Identification Card.

“Oklahoma's new Online Voter Registration System allows citizens to securely complete and submit a Voter Registration Application electronically from a desktop or mobile device. Best of all, the system has undergone rigorous testing to ensure it is safe and secure,” Ziriax said.

Gov. Stitt appoints Deborah Shropshire to cabinet as Secretary of Human Services


OKLAHOMA CITY (July 11, 2023) - Today, Governor Kevin Stitt announced his appointment of Dr. Deborah Shropshire to serve as Secretary of Human Services.

“Dr. Shropshire is a true public servant as well as an experienced and trusted physician. She has helped make Oklahoma one of the best states in the country for families,” said Governor Stitt. “Her willingness to serve her state in this capacity is admirable. I am grateful that she has accepted this role and I look forward to having her as a member of my cabinet.”

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Senate Pro Tem Treat announces interim study requests

Pro Tem Treat Announces Interim Study Requests

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 27th) – Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, today announced the approval of interim study requests that will be discussed during the legislative interim.

A total of 61 requests were approved and will now be heard before their respective committees for further consideration. It is now at the discretion of each committee chair whether to schedule the study.

Pro Tem Treat said interim studies will occur over the summer months and must conclude by November 3.

House Speaker McCall reacts to audit finding $30M in questionable state spending

This is a week old, but I thought this statement from House Speaker Charles McCall regarding State Auditor Cindy Byrd's recent audit finding $30,000,000 in questionable pandemic-related grant spending deserved getting posted:

McCall Reacts to Audit Findings

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 27th) – Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, today released the following statement after State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd released 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. 

“After a cursory review of Auditor Byrd’s report, I find her conclusions to be extremely troubling for our state and the hardworking taxpayers of Oklahoma.

Small on Oklahoma's plunging reading, math scores: "Back to the '70s"

Back to the ‘70s
By Jonathan Small

The surge of inflation under President Joe Biden has given many people flashbacks to the 1970s. Sadly, the latest data released by the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) evokes a similar sense of déjà vu.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) administered the NAEP long-term trend reading and mathematics assessments to 13-year-old students from October to December of the 2022–23 school year.

The results provide much reason for alarm.

Monday, July 03, 2023

Oklahoma leaders celebrate after ending June with major conservative wins at the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court ended June (or as I saw one person dub it, "LGBT Ramadan") with a string of major wins for conservatives. Below are press releases from Congressmen Brecheen and Hern, Senator Lankford, Attorney General Gentner Drummond, and OCPA on several of these rulings.