Friday, July 19, 2024

Lankford introduces bill to support ICE 'Shadow Wolves' agents, strengthen border security


Lankford Introduces Bill to Support Shadow Wolves Agents & Strengthen Border Security

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (July 17th) – Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Ranking Member and Chair of the Border Management Subcommittee, along with Senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Mark Kelly (D-AZ) introduced the Shadow Wolves Improvement Act. This bill would provide Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) the authority to convert Shadow Wolves from excepted service to competitive service, which provides additional career mobility opportunities to Shadow Wolves law enforcement officers, making it easier to recruit and retain Shadow Wolves agents and improving border security.

“ICE Shadow Wolves agents—a Native American tactical patrol unit—use their unique expertise and personal knowledge to stop drug traffickers and human smugglers from coming across the southern border. Giving these critical law enforcement officers access to expanded career mobility and opportunity not only supports their work to secure the border but also strengthens recruiting and retention for agents,” said Lankford.

“Tohono O’odham Nation’s Shadow Wolves are critical partners combating drug smuggling, human trafficking, and other illicit activity on our border. Our bill ensures career mobility and fair compensation for Shadow Wolves Agents so they can continue keeping the Tohono O’odham Nation and Arizona safe and secure,” said Sinema.

“Border security is national security, and strengthening the Shadow Wolves program is one of the many ways we are working to deploy the personnel, infrastructure and technology needed to ensure we can restore and maintain operational control of the border,” said Hoeven. “Shadow Wolves agents do a tremendous job protecting against drug trafficking in Indian County. As we work to expand this program, including up to the northern border, it is critical we can recruit, train and retain qualified individuals in this initiative. That’s exactly what this legislation will help accomplish.”

“The Shadow Wolves are a critical asset to effectively fight against human and drug smugglers at our southern border,” said Kelly. “The Shadow Wolves Improvement Act builds on the support provided to the Shadow Wolves and strengthens their specialized tactical units, ensuring these Native American officers have the best training and career mobility as they work to keep Arizonans safe.”

“The Shadow Wolves are an elite, all-Native American tracking and investigative unit with decades of experience, who use both technology and traditional tracking methods to interdict human and drug smuggling on the Tohono O’odham reservation. The Tohono O’odham Nation strongly supports the Shadow Wolves Improvement Act, which will further enhance the effectiveness of the Shadow Wolves program by improving retention and recruitment and expanding the program. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has done great work incorporating feedback from the Nation into this bill. Its passage will ensure that this group of Native American agents can continue to grow and provide their uniquely important capabilities to protect the Tohono O’odham and the US homeland,” said Verlon Jose, Chairman of Tohono O’odham Nation.

“Public Safety, particularly drug and human trafficking, continue to be a priority for Indian Country. These issues are uniquely difficult for tribal communities, like the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, who are located along the US border. The Shadow Wolves Improvement Act is an additional tool within the law enforcement toolbox that will help. The Tribe appreciate Senators Sinema and Hoeven introducing this legislation and urge its swift passage in the Senate,” said Jamie Azure, Chairman of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians.

“The Shadow Wolves Improvement Act is a necessary step forward to provide appropriate guidance and options to a group of Native American law enforcement agents which will permit them to receive the same compensation, benefits, and opportunities as their non-native brothers and sisters,” said President Mat Silverman of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA). “FLEOA recognizes the value and expertise the Shadow Wolves provide and support the expansion of this program. Our country and Native American border communities will benefit from the increased opportunities, increased safety, and equality this Act will bring to the Tohono O’odham Nation and other tribes across this great nation.”

Shadow Wolves are members of the Tohono O’odham Nation who patrol the 76-mile stretch of land that the Tohono O’odham Nation shares with Mexico. They are known for their ability to track drug smugglers as they attempt to smuggle illegal commodities across Tribal land, thanks to their unique geographical and cultural knowledge. They also help improve the relationship between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Tribal communities. The Shadow Wolves unit is classified as special agents allowed to patrol, investigate, interdict, and secure the border. Shadow Wolves were previously classified as tactical officers under ICE Homeland Security Investigation (HSI), making them unable to access the same career opportunities, pay, and job mobility afforded to HSI special agents. However, Shadow Wolves still lack the same career opportunities as other HSI special agents because of how they were originally hired.

The Shadow Wolves Improvement Act solves this by providing ICE with the authority to convert Shadow Wolves from the excepted to the competitive service upon completion of three years of satisfactory service—affording them career mobility and compensation parity with other HSI special agents. This update will enhance career opportunities for Shadow Wolves agents, strengthen recruitment efforts, and improve border security. Additionally, the legislation codifies GAO’s recommendations to improve and expand the Shadow Wolves program.

Sen. Deevers comments on Trump assassination attempt, calls on Christians and conservatives to get involved

Deevers Comments on Assassination Attempt on Former President Trump, Calls on Christians and Conservatives to Get Involved

OKLAHOMA CITY (July 17th) — On Saturday, a 20-year-old shooter attempted to assassinate former President Donald Trump, wounding his ear, killing one man, and injuring two more. Sen. Dusty Deevers, R-Elgin, released the following statement condemning the attack and encouraging citizens to follow Trump’s exhortation immediately after being shot to “fight” for our principles.

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Muskogee City Council backtracks, postpones $78M bond issue, sales tax renewal

Back in May, the Muskogee City Council voted to set an August 27th election for a $78.6M general obligation bond and sales tax proposal. It had a rushed feeling to it, and there's been quite a bit of local controversy over it. Earlier this week, the council held a special meeting and voted to postpone to vote for further community input.

Good.


City Council Votes to Postpone GO Bond Election

MUSKOGEE, OKLA., July 15, 2024 - In a Special Call City Council meeting held on Monday, July 15, the Muskogee City Council voted to postpone the upcoming General Obligation Bond Election.

“Almost everyone I’ve talked to is in favor of investing in Muskogee and likes the projects put forward, but I feel like we could use a few more months to consider the issues,” said Mayor Patrick Cale. 

Small: Court errs on religious school decision


Court errs on religious school decision
By Jonathan Small

When it comes to religion, many on the left twist the principle of government neutrality into a doctrine of government suppression.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court recently ruled the Catholic Church cannot operate a state charter school. The decision is the latest in which an Oklahoma Supreme Court decision is at odds with simple logic.

Wednesday, July 17, 2024

State Sen. Weaver: Oklahomans should demand answers over Trump Secret Service fiasco


Opinion: Oklahomans Should Demand Answers

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. Darrell Weaver, R-Moore, comments on the shooting that occurred at President Donald Trump’s rally over the weekend, injuring the President and bystanders, and taking the life of an innocent American:

I spent nearly three decades in law enforcement, the last nine years as the Director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics prior to being elected to the State Senate. As the Director, I was the agency head and responsible for all personnel actions and missions.

In Butler, PA there was a tragic assassination attempt of President Trump. Also, a dedicated father and husband, Cory Comperatore, a former firefighter, lost his life by a coward’s bullet.

First, let me be very clear that the boots on the ground, Secret Service agents, who are assigned to the intercircle protection detail, performed like clockwork on the protection of President Trump. From the human shield to the evacuation to medical care, it was executed and successful.

However, we need immediate and clear explanations of relevant questions:

How can a 20-year-old with no known military or paramilitary training, equipped with a high-powered rifle, low crawling on a roof, come within 130 yards of the President without detection, or without penetrating any level of security?

How can a “would-be assassin” be allowed to be on high ground in such a strategic shooting position and that position not be eliminated and sterilized by the Secret Service forward detail? 

There were multiple buildings and structures surrounding the rally area. Why wasn’t a “rear security” perimeter set-up including elevated positions to see over the possible threats?

There are better temporary elevated security positions and posts at the local mall parking lots than what appeared at the rally in Butler.

Are adequate resources being made available through the US Secret Service to protect the former President and current presumptive Republican presidential nominee and the most visible public official in my lifetime?

Any law enforcement officer I know with a minimum of six months experience would realize how their apparent security plan was inadequate and almost inviting for an assassination attempt.

It does not add up, and pass the common sense, Oklahoma smell test. The American people should demand answers and accountability.

Even if it means layers of leadership at the U.S. Secret Service are removed immediately and replaced with competent law enforcement professionals.

Attorney General’s Office accepting applications for new sheriff office assistance grants


Attorney General’s Office accepting applications for new sheriff office assistance grants

OKLAHOMA CITY (July 16, 2024) – Oklahoma sheriffs can now pursue grant funding to bolster the services they provide to their counties, thanks to a new grant program administered by the Office of Attorney General Gentner Drummond.

House Bill 2914 created the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Office Funding Assistance Grant Program during this year’s legislative session and appropriated $18 million to the fund. Counties can apply for grants from $150,000 to $300,000, depending on their total tangible property valuation.

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

State Supt. Walters salutes 2024 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, Rachel Keith


Walters Salutes 2024 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, Rachel Keith

Oklahoma City, Okla – State Superintended Ryan Walters was on hand to recognize and honor the 2024 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year, Rachel Keith last night. Rachel is a 10th - 12th Grade AP Language & Composition, Mock Trial, and Humanities teacher at Ada High School of Ada City Schools and has taught ELA classes for 19 years.

“Rachel is an exceptional example of everything we want Oklahoma teachers to be,” said Walters. “She has an excellent record of achievement in her classroom, and a sterling reputation as an advocate for her students and parents in the district. Rachel will be an outstanding Teacher of the Year embodying the best in Oklahoma education, and I am exciting she will be representing our state.”

3 parties, 2 independents qualify for Oklahoma presidential ballot

Oklahoma will have five presidential candidates on the ballot in November; three from recognized political parties, and two independents. The pecking order, established by drawing, will be as follows: Chase Oliver (Libertarian), Donald Trump (Republican), Joe Biden (Democratic assuming they don't oust him at the DNC), Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (Independent), and Chris Garrity (Independent).

Ballot Order Drawing

(Oklahoma City) – A public drawing was held today by the Secretary of the State Election Board, Paul Ziriax, to determine the ballot order for political parties and Independent candidates for the November 5 General Election ballot. The drawing was held in accordance with state law at 9:30 a.m. at the State Capitol Building, Room G3, in Oklahoma City.

The results of the drawing and the order of political parties is as follows:

Precinct worker pay doubles to help recruitment efforts statewide


Precinct Official Pay Increases to Support Recruitment Efforts Statewide

(Oklahoma City, July 12th) – A bill passed in 2023 to increase precinct official pay went into effect July 1 – doubling the pay precinct officials receive for a workday. State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax said he is confident the increase in pay will support recruitment efforts across the state.

“Precinct officials are vital to the success of elections. We are extremely grateful to our state leaders for passing legislation that not only shows our current poll workers how much we appreciate them – but also supports recruitment and retention efforts across the state,” Ziriax said.

State law requires each precinct to have a minimum of three precinct officials – an inspector, judge, and clerk. On July 1, inspector pay increased from $110 a day to $225 a day. Pay for judges and clerks increased from $100 a day to $200 a day.

Monday, July 15, 2024

Senate GOP elects Paxton as Pro Tem designee - at least for now


The Republican majority caucus of the Oklahoma Senate met today to elect the President Pro Tempore-designee who will ostensibly lead the chamber for the next legislative term. Again. Remember, the last guy (Majority Floor Leader Greg McCortney) was shockingly defeated by a conservative challenger in the June primary. Today's designee, State Sen. Lonnie Paxton (R-Tuttle), may not end up as the Pro Tem, either, as some controversy and complications swirled around today's vote.

For example, of the 40 Republicans, at least 11 are not returning to the body after November, due to term limits, not seeking reelection, or (as in McCortney's case) election defeat. These members still got to vote in-caucus on the leader for 2025-2026. Additionally, it seems that several conservative senators are in Milwaukee for the Republican National Convention, and were not present for the meeting. Perhaps this was by design.

Saturday, July 13, 2024

Brecheen demands answers from Army after training calls pro-life Americans terrorists


Congressman Brecheen, Colleagues Demand Answers from U.S. Secretary of the Army After Training Depicts Pro-Life Americans as Terrorists

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Josh Brecheen signed a letter led by Senator Ted Budd (R-NC) and Congressman Richard Hudson (R-NC) to U.S. Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth demanding answers after reports surfaced that anti-terrorism training conducted at Ft. Liberty, North Carolina depicted pro-Life Americans as terrorists.

Specifically, the slides (see here) identify National Right to Life, Operation Rescue, and anyone who opposes the Supreme Court’s rightfully overturned decision in Roe v. Wade as members of terrorist groups.

Friday, July 12, 2024

Oklahoma leaders mourn passing of former U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe

Oklahoma political icon James Mountain Inhofe passed away at the age of 89 on Tuesday following a stroke. The longest serving U.S. Senator in Oklahoma history, Inhofe had a storied political career that began in the Oklahoma House of Representatives in 1966, and included stints in the Oklahoma Senate, as Tulsa Mayor, then the U.S. House of Representatives before winning a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1994.

I didn't realize this, but Inhofe played a key role in getting the USS Batfish submarine to Oklahoma (originally intended for Tulsa, it found a home instead in Muskogee.


Below are statements from various elected officials:

Monday, July 08, 2024

Rep. Townley plans to file bill to update tied election procedures


Townley to File Bill Updating Procedures for Tied Elections

OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Tammy Townley, R-Ardmore, today announced her intention to file a bill next session updating election procedures in the event of a tied election.

Townley represents House District 48, which includes Carter County. She said the bill was inspired by the outcome of the June 18 primary election for Carter County Sheriff. A recount on June 28 confirmed both candidates received 2,569 votes.

Current statute does not allow for runoff elections when only two candidates run for a position. Title 26, Section 8-105 states any race that remains tied after provisional ballot analysis and a recount must be decided by a lot held by the county election board.

Ultimately, the winner of that race was chosen via a random drawing of a name from a bucket.

Tuesday, July 02, 2024

Small: Conservatives gain in legislative races

Though I have some minor quibbles with Small regarding school choice (primarily as it relates to protecting homeschool freedoms from future government intrusion), but I agree with him that the recent Republican primary results were great news for conservatives. In fact, it may well have been the best election for Oklahoma conservatives in the past decade.


Conservatives gain in legislative races
By Jonathan Small

Last month’s primary elections resulted in the Oklahoma Legislature likely being more conservative next year. That’s good news for voters who care about issues such as judicial reform, taxes and education.

This year’s legislative session ended without reform to Oklahoma’s secretive and liberal process for nominating judges in Oklahoma and without personal income tax reductions.

But many candidates who prevailed or advanced to runoffs in Republican primaries advocated for conservative reforms to change the secretive process for how Oklahoma nominates judges and for cutting or eliminating the personal income tax. Also, voter support for school choice has become undeniable.

Monday, July 01, 2024

Congressman Brecheen holding telephone town hall on July 10th


Congressman Josh Brecheen To Host Telephone Town Hall on July 10th at 7 PM CT

Washington, D.C. (July 1st) – Congressman Josh Brecheen will be hosting a telephone town hall on July 10th at 7 PM CT. 

During the call, Congressman Brecheen will provide an update on some of the most pressing policy issues facing our country, including our nearly $35 trillion national debt, and answer live questions from constituents.

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Gov. Stitt celebrates announcement of $620M solar manufacturing factory in Tulsa-area


GOVERNOR STITT CELEBRATES ANNOUNCMENT OF SOLAR MANUFACTURING OPERATION IN OKLAHOMA 

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 28, 2024) - Governor Kevin Stitt released the following statement celebrating NorSun's decision to invest in Oklahoma.

“Oklahoma is the most business friendly state in the nation, and companies from around the world are taking notice,” said Gov. Stitt. “I'm thrilled that Oklahomans will benefit from hundreds of new jobs in the Tulsa area and a $620 million capital investment. Our business-friendly regulations, workforce development efforts, and 'more of everything' energy approach make us an incredible state to invest in, and I'm glad NorSun is going to be a part of it."

Saturday, June 29, 2024

State Sen. Deevers comments on Bibles in Oklahoma public schools


Deevers Comments on Bibles in Oklahoma Public Schools

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 28th) — On Friday, Sen. Dusty Deevers, R-Elgin, commended State Superintendent Ryan Walters’ decision to incorporate the Bible into Oklahoma public school curriculum.

“The Bible’s status as the most important book ever written is not in dispute. Including it in public school curriculum is not a scandal: excluding it is. It is difficult, if not impossible, to provide students a proper understanding of Western civilization, world history, and U.S. history without significant emphasis on the Bible.

“The principles of inalienable rights, universal human dignity based on the image of God in man, and natural law written by God into creation are absolutely fundamental to the founding of the United States and the progress of Western civilization. Without significant reference to the Bible as it pertains to these ideals, how are Oklahoma students supposed to learn the context for the world in which they live?

Brecheen votes to defund DHS Sec. Mayorkas, build border wall, empower ICE agents


Congressman Brecheen Votes to Defund Mayorkas, Build the Wall, and Empower ICE Agents

Washington, D.C. (June 28th) – Today, Congressman Josh Brecheen voted in favor of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Act, which funds DHS and includes many conservative policy wins such as cutting Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ salary to $0, building $600 million worth of physical barriers on the Southern Border, and providing $1.2 billion for new ICE detention beds and for deportation costs.

Senate Pro Tem Treat announces list of approved interim studies


Pro Tem Treat Announces List of Approved Interim Studies

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 28th) – Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City today announced the approved list of interim studies that will be discussed during the legislative interim.

In total, 39 interim study requests were approved and have been assigned to a committee. It is at the discretion of each individual committee chair as to whether a study will be scheduled.

All interim studies must be concluded by November 1.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Small: Drummond right about bar association


Drummond right about bar association
By Jonathan Small

Is it too much to ask that law schools obey the law? Apparently, the American Bar Association thinks it is.

Fortunately, the ABA is drawing strong pushback, including from Oklahoma’s chief legal law enforcement officer.

Through a June 3 letter drafted by the office of Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti, Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond and 20 other states’ attorneys general say the standards imposed by the American Bar Association (ABA) for accreditation of law schools violate constitutional prohibitions on discrimination and should be junked.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Deevers calls for interim study on self-managed abortion as death pill billboards pop up around state


Dobbs Anniversary: Abortion Pill Billboards Pop Up Around Oklahoma -- Deevers Calls for Interim Study

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 24th) — On the anniversary of the Dobbs decision, Sen. Dusty Deevers, R-Elgin, responded to the presence of billboards advertising the abortion pill in Oklahoma. Deevers refuted the common misconception that abortion has been ended in the state and has proposed an interim study to investigate the prevalence of abortion pill sales and self-managed abortion.

“Abortion pill companies are taunting us,” Deevers said. “They know the pro-life laws we passed in recent years have a massive loophole and they are taking full advantage of it.”

One such billboard was spotted along Interstate 35 just South of Goldsby. The billboard depicts a woman’s hand holding abortion pills with the message: “Need to be un-pregnant?” Beneath the message is a link to the website where the death-inducing pills can be ordered.

Monday, June 17, 2024

2024 Primary Election Day: Picks, Links, and Resources


Tomorrow, Tuesday, is the Oklahoma Primary Election. If you haven't voted yet either by absentee or early in-person, you have from 7:00am to 7:00pm to cast your ballots. If you don't know where to vote, or want to see your sample ballot, use this helpful link from the Oklahoma State Election Board to find out.

Below are my thoughts on various races, as well as some links to additional resources about the primary candidates that you may find helpful.

Americans for Prosperity-Oklahoma announces State Legislative endorsements


Americans for Prosperity-Oklahoma Announces State Legislative Endorsements 

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (June 10th) - Americans for Prosperity - Oklahoma (AFP-OK) today announced its endorsement of four candidates for the state Senate and House of Representatives. 

The following candidates earned the support of AFP-OK for their integrity and steadfast commitment to expanding the opportunity for all Oklahomans to achieve their version of the American Dream. 

Friday, June 14, 2024

2024 Primary Election: recommendations from BatesLine


Conservative Tulsa blogger Michael Bates of BatesLine.com has published his traditional election day voting card, with recommendations, links, and information about the elections on the June 18th primary ballot across the state. Somehow, this primary has snuck up on me, and I'm woefully behind on my own election postings.

Filled with great insights and well-documented research, Michael's excellent analysis and opinion is always a must-read.

Gov. Stitt signs FY2025 state budget

I've been out of town and busy with other things over the past two weeks, so I'm a bit behind on blogging. Here's some news from earlier this week, when Governor Kevin Stitt signed the state budget into law (some legislators had been concerned he would veto portions of it, but those fears were unfounded).


GOVERNOR STITT SIGNS FY25 BUDGET

OKLAHOMA CITY (June 12, 2024) - Today, Governor Kevin Stitt signed the budget for the state’s 2025 fiscal year into law. After giving effect to elimination of the grocery tax, the largest single tax cut to delivered to taxpayers in state history, this budget authorized state expenditures at a reduced level relative to last year while delivering on strategic investments in infrastructure and efforts to further the Governor’s pro-business, pro-family policies.

Saturday, June 01, 2024

Health Dep't offers tips on safely raising backyard poultry, avoiding avian flu


Tips on Safely Raising Backyard Poultry to Avoid Getting Sick this Spring

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 27th) - Each year many people begin or continue raising backyard poultry flocks. These flocks have been gaining in popularity over the past several years and interest in them continues to grow. 

But there can be health risks for birds and humans associated with raising these flocks.

“The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) wants to remind flock owners to learn about and practice essential prevention measures to minimize the risk of disease transmission among both birds and humans, known as biosecurity,” said Ashlyn Wayman, a lead investigative epidemiologist with the Infectious Disease Prevention and Response service. “Biosecurity practices are vital in protecting not only your own birds, but neighboring flocks as well as our nation’s commercial poultry industry, from diseases like highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).”

Friday, May 31, 2024

Legislature concludes action, adjourns session


The legislature adjourned sine die this evening, ending legislative action for the year (though given recent years, a special session is not out of the question at some point).

Here are some session summaries from Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat and House Speaker Charles McCall (both are term limited).

Brecheen slams Trump verdict as "witch hunt", "clear election interference"


Congressman Josh Brecheen Issues Statement After President Trump Verdict

Washington, D.C. (May 30th) – Congressman Josh Brecheen issued the following statement after President Trump was found guilty of 34 bogus charges.

“Most Americans understand that this trial was a political witch hunt and would have never been brought forth if Donald Trump was not running for President,” said Congressman Josh Brecheen. “Today is a dark day for our country and is an embarrassment to our judicial system. This is clear election interference by Democrats in liberal New York City. Americans will not forget this.”

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Senate leaders comment on passage of state budget


Pro Tem Treat, Appropriations Chair Sen. Hall Comment on Passage of Budget Bill
Senate Bill 1125 first in new budget transparency process 

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 28th) – Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, and his Appropriations Chairman, Sen. Chuck Hall, R-Perry, today released the following statements after the state budget bill for Fiscal Year 2025 passed off the Senate floor this morning.

Senate Bill 1125 passed off the Senate floor 31-11.

Gov. Stitt announces commissioning committee for nuclear submarine USS Oklahoma

GOVERNOR STITT ANNOUNCES U.S.S. OKLAHOMA, NEW U.S. NAVY NUCLEAR SUBMARINE

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 28, 2024) - Governor Kevin Stitt revealed the creation of the U.S.S. Oklahoma Commissioning Committee to build a 29th Virginia Class, Fast Attack Nuclear Submarine in collaboration with the U.S. Navy and Newport News Shipbuilding. Carrying Tomahawk Missiles and MK-48 torpedoes, the U.S.S. Oklahoma will home 132 sailors, 18 officers, and feature advanced stealth capabilities to make it virtually undetectable in water.

“I couldn’t be more excited to have Oklahoma so well represented in our nation’s Navy,” said Governor Stitt. “I’m grateful to Director Slavonic and the committee members for their leadership. Not only will this submarine represent the patriotic, God-fearing culture of Oklahoma, but it will symbolize our commitment to innovation, security, and the men and women who protect our country. It’s an honor to help bring her to life.”

Monday, May 27, 2024

Small: OU should end race-based discrimination


OU should end race-based discrimination
By Jonathan Small

In its 2023 opinion in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that race-based admissions processes for college violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The court bluntly stated, “Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.”

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Group touts OK poll showing huge support for citizen-only voting, calls for vote on state question bill


Survey Highlights Overwhelming Support for Citizen-Only Voting in Oklahoma

Oklahoma City (May 23rd) - A recent survey conducted by Americans for Citizen Voting reveals significant support for legislation that would limit voting rights to only U.S. citizens in Oklahoma. The survey underscores a strong preference among Oklahomans for maintaining the integrity of state elections by ensuring that only U.S. citizens are eligible to vote.

"The results of this survey are clear," said Paul Abner, Oklahoma director of American Citizens for Voting. "Oklahomans recognize the importance of safeguarding our elections and are firmly behind Senate Joint Resolution 23, to restrict voting to only U.S. citizens."

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Standridge bill to combat squatting passes Senate


Standridge Bill to Combat Squatting Passes Senate

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 24th) – On Thursday, Senate Bill 1994, authored by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, was passed by the Senate. The measure seeks to strengthen laws against squatting.

“In my district over the last year we have seen a home owner arrive home only to find a stranger in their shower, unwilling to leave until they finished using the home owner’s home, vagrants camping and defecating in front of businesses and even attacking patrons and employees with deadly force, and citizens camping on property without permission stating with full confidence that they would not leave until someone could prove the property was not theirs,” Standridge said.

Justin Hornback details candidacy for open Corporation Commission seat

I received the following press release from Justin Hornback, one of three Republicans seeking the open seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (being vacated by Bob Anthony due to term limits). The other two candidates are former Senate Pro Tem/former Secretary of State Brian Bingman, and energy journalist Russell Ray. A Libertarian and Democrat also filed for the race.


Justin Hornback Announces Candidacy for Oklahoma Corporation Commission 2024

Broken Arrow, OK -  May 16th, 2024 | Justin Hornback, a seasoned energy industry veteran with two decades of hands-on experience, formally announces his candidacy for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission in the upcoming 2024 elections. Hornback, who has spent 20 years immersed in the complexities and challenges of the energy sector, brings unique qualifications and a fresh perspective to the race. Setting himself apart from his opponents, Hornback positions himself as a worker from one of the largest industries regulated by the OCC, offering practical, first-hand knowledge rather than a traditional political background.

Tribes seek share of turnpike revenue

Outrageous:


TRIBES SEEK SHARE OF TURNPIKE REVENUE
Ray Carter | May 22nd, 2024

Because many tribal car tags are effectively unregistered with the state of Oklahoma, drivers with tribal tags have run up millions of dollars in unpaid tolls on state turnpikes in recent months that cannot be collected.

Now a tribal official says tribes are willing to end that problem—but only if the Oklahoma state government agrees to divert potentially millions of dollars in turnpike revenue to tribal governments, effectively negating any financial benefit from the collection of tolls on drivers with tribal tags.

Friday, May 24, 2024

Brecheen responds as first of 5 Americans sentenced, released from Turks and Caicos


Congressman Brecheen Responds to Turks & Caicos Sentencing of Bryan Hagerich: “A Step Towards Common Sense Prevailed”

Washington, D.C. (May 24th) – Congressman Josh Brecheen issued the following statement after the sentencing of Pennsylvania’s Bryan Hagerich—one of five Americans being detained by the Turks and Caicos government for inadvertently having ammunition in their luggage. 

McAfee & Taft, Paycom increases lawfare against Oklahoma conservatives


OKLAHOMA CITY (May 23, 2024)—More than four years after Paycom’s lawsuit against the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs was originally filed, Paycom’s attorneys at the McAfee & Taft law firm have just now realized they want to take more depositions in the case.

Attorneys with McAfee & Taft have filed a motion requesting depositions from three staff members at OCPA and one OCPA board member. One of the OCPA staff members that McAfee & Taft lawyers want to depose did not even work for OCPA four years ago when Paycom first filed its lawsuit.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Legislative leaders hammer out state budget agreement

Over the past week or so, legislative leaders - as well as Governor Stitt - have met in unprecedented public negotiations for this year's state budget (Tres Savage at NonDoc has a great write-up on the saga). Read the official press releases below:


Pro Tem Treat and Speaker McCall Comment on Budget Agreement
Agreement first in budget transparency process by both chambers

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 22nd) – Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, and House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, today released the following statements after Senate and House negotiators reached an agreement on the state’s Fiscal Year 2025 budget.

The budget agreement is the first time all meetings were hosted in public and gave Oklahomans a behind the scenes look on how the state budget is negotiated. 

Bice, colleagues urge National Weather Service to address and plan for outages


Bice Urges the National Weather Service to Address and Plan for Outages

Washington, D.C. (May 23rd) - Today, Congresswoman Bice (R-OK) led a letter with 7 of her colleagues, to Director Kenneth Graham of the National Weather Service (NWS). The letter expresses concerns on reported outages pertaining to radar data, the Automated Surface Observing System, and transmitters of NOAA Weather Radio.  

“On multiple occurrences this year, some of NWS life-saving services, including radar data, the Automated Surface Observing System, and transmitters of NOAA Weather Radio, have been reported as nonfunctional for extended periods of time,” stated the Members. “These outages have impacted NWS Weather Forecast Offices and the public at large, removing critical tools for observation and communicating severe weather.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Brecheen returns from bipartisan trip to Turks and Caicos, pushes for release of 5 detained Americans

Congressman Josh Brecheen Returns from Bipartisan CODEL to Turks and Caicos, Pushes for Release of Five Detained Americans

Washington, D.C. (May 21st) – On Monday evening, Congressman Josh Brecheen (R-OK) returned from a bipartisan, bicameral congressional delegation (CODEL) to Turks and Caicos (TCI) where the members met with TCI government officials to discuss the five Americans being detained on the islands for inadvertently having ammunition in their luggage. If convicted, the Americans could each face a twelve-year minimum prison sentence. 

Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) led the CODEL and also in attendance was Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) and Reps. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Michael Cloud (R-TX), and Bob Good (R-VA).

Coal County flips: Oklahoma GOP now leads in all 77 counties



The last installment of my long-running Voter Registration Maps series came in February, but this is a big milestone deserving of its own post. At long last, after 116½ years, Republicans lead voter registration in all of Oklahoma's 77 counties. 

Muskogee City Council sets August vote on $78M bond issue, sales tax renewal

County Assessor Ron Dean during public comment at the Muskogee City Council meeting Monday

Brace for impact, Muskogee: our city council has set an election for a bond and sales tax proposal totaling over $78,000,000 on August 27th.

I dropped in for my first city council meeting in years yesterday when I heard that a special meeting had been called to vote on sending the mega-million dollar package to the ballot. You can view the agenda here; scroll down to items 14, 15, 16, and 17.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Small: One solution to student absenteeism


One solution to student absenteeism
By Jonathan Small

School absenteeism is contributing to poor academic outcomes and other negative trends in Oklahoma.

According to a legislative study conducted last October, average daily attendance figures showed 94% of enrolled students were typically in Oklahoma classrooms in 2019, but following COVID attendance dropped to 80% at many state schools.

That has obvious negative impact on student learning and outcomes.

While there are many strategies to address that problem, one measure at the Oklahoma Capitol may improve student attendance—even though that isn’t the primary goal of the bill.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Carolyn Coburn endorses Dr. Julie McIntosh in Senate District 3

The State Senate District 3 GOP primary features a middle-of-the-road incumbent Republican (Blake 'Cowboy' Stephens) and two conservative challengers - Dr. Julie McIntosh and Wagoner City Councilor Patrick Sampson.

The McIntosh's are family friends and carpet cleaning customers, at home and medical practice. Julie's husband Brad was a longtime partner with the late great Dr. Tom Coburn. Coburn's widow, Carolyn, issued the following endorsement statement for Julie McIntosh:


A letter from Carolyn Coburn, the wife of late U.S. Senator Tom Coburn: 

Friday, May 17, 2024

Gov. Stitt signs financial literacy education bill


Gov Signs Financial Literacy Education Bill

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 16th) – Legislation adding a financial literacy course to high school graduation requirements has been signed into law.

House Bill 2158 was authored by Rep. Dick Lowe, R-Amber, who said empowering students to take control of their finances starts with education.

"Requiring students to master financial literacy before graduating isn't just about balancing budgets," Lowe said. "It's about laying a good foundation as they begin the next chapter of their lives by equipping them with the tools they need to navigate financial decisions thoughtfully."

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Gov. Stitt signs bill to build Capitol Arch to honor Oklahoma National Guard veterans

Original Concept Sketch for the Oklahoma 45th National Guard Veteran's Arch.

Capitol Arch Legislation Signed by Governor

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 16th) - Governor Kevin Stitt on Wednesday signed into law legislation that will fund the building of an arch at the Oklahoma Capitol to serve as an honorary symbol of the services performed by the Oklahoma National Guard.

House Bill 4012 is authored by Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore.

"This arch was part of the original design for the state Capitol, and I believe it will add to the beauty of our complex," McBride said. "In addition, it will pay tribute to the legacy of Oklahoma National Guard members and their service and protection of the citizens of our great state."

New law signed to restore voter rights for people granted a pardon or commutation to time served


Bill signed into law restoring voter rights for people granted a pardon or commutation to time served

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 16th) – HB 1629 was signed into law earlier this week. It restores voter rights for people convicted of a felony who have received a commutation or a pardon to time served. It also restores voter rights for those who have had their sentence discharged or reclassified as a misdemeanor to time served.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Garfield County judge indicted -- for drive-by shooting

Well, this certainly was not a press release I ever expected to see in my inbox! I was slightly disappointed, however, to find that the judge used a .40 caliber Glock, and not the .45/.410 combo Taurus Judge (that would have been too ironic). 



Garfield County Judge Lovell indicted for drive-by shooting

OKLAHOMA CITY (May 9, 2024) – The Multi-County Grand Jury today indicted Garfield County Associate District Judge Brian Lovell on charges related to a February 2023 drive-by shooting near the town of Bison.

The indictment alleges that on Feb. 12, 2023, Lovell fired a gun at the residence of his brother-in-law in Bison, Oklahoma. Two days after the shooting, Lovell reported that a firearm was stolen from his vehicle.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Small: Evidence of a two-tiered justice system


Evidence of a two-tiered justice system
By Jonathan Small

Since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its controversial 5-4 decision in McGirt v. Oklahoma in 2020, it has reduced public safety in Oklahoma.

Oklahomans get a reminder of that sad reality this month as the child rapist who prompted the case is set to be free—something that would never have happened in the Oklahoma court system.

Jimcy McGirt was tried in an Oklahoma state court and found guilty in 1997 of first-degree rape by instrumentation, lewd molestation, and forcible sodomy. His victim was four years old. The crime was so extreme he was sentenced to 500 years in prison and life in prison without parole.