Monday, February 26, 2024

Small: income-tax cuts provide greatest benefit

Income-tax cuts provide greatest benefit
By Jonathan Small

Does the greatest benefit come from cutting the state’s penalty on work, the personal income tax, or from exempting groceries from the state sales tax? That question is on the minds of Oklahoma policymakers.

But the answer is straightforward. While exempting groceries from the state sales tax may provide some financial benefit to individuals, it does not make people more likely to invest in Oklahoma, create new jobs or raise wages.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Legislature ends state grocery sales tax: groceries to get slightly cheaper (at least temporarily)

The Oklahoma State Senate voted today 42-2 to end the state's 4.5% sales tax applied to groceries, sending the measure to Governor Kevin Stitt for his signature (the House voted 88-7 to pass HB1955 last year, meaning the bill was still eligible for Senate action this session). The change will likely take effect in August.

Local sales tax on groceries still applies; Locally assessed sales taxes on groceries will remain unchanged by the law through June 30th, 2025, after which point it seems counties and municipalities can change their rates (... which I'm sure they will).

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Lankford applauds launch of Federal Program Inventory spending database he worked to pass


Lankford Applauds Launch of His Effort to Stop Government Duplication and Wasteful Programs

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (February 20th) – After years of work on the Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act, Senator James Lankford (R-OK) applauded the public launch of the resource that will provide a federal inventory of programs provided by the federal government to ensure it is more transparent and accessible to the American people. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) launched the Federal Program Inventory (FPI) last week. 

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Congressman Brecheen endorses Ron Hood in Ohio's 2nd District

Oklahoma 2nd District Congressman Josh Brecheen has endorsed Ron Hood, a Republican former legislator running for Congress in Ohio's 2nd District.

Brecheen, arguably one of the most conservative elected officials on Capitol Hill, is a member of the Freedom Caucus, which Hood has pledged to join if elected.

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Pro Tem Treat: "We cannot have both grocery and income tax cut this year"

When it comes to Gov. Stitt's desire to pass an income tax cut and eliminate the grocery sales tax, Senate GOP leadership is loath to pursue both. Pro Tem Treat is set on only moving on the grocery tax.

Pro Tem Treat Comments on Board of Equalization Numbers

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 15th) – Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, today issued the following statement after the Oklahoma Board of Equalization released the estimate of revenue that will be available for lawmakers to spend on government services.

“These numbers are certainly encouraging, and they show a lot of promise,” Pro Tem Treat said. “With these numbers and the current savings we have, now is the time to cut the grocery tax. Cutting the grocery tax will give Oklahomans immediate relief every time they leave the grocery store and will be more beneficial than any other form of tax cut.

Gov. Stitt on budget funds certification: "No more excuses" - let's cut taxes

Gov. Stitt wants both an income tax cut and the elimination of the grocery sales tax. It seems that State House leadership agrees with him, but State Senate leaders want only the grocery sales tax cut. Who will prevail?


GOVERNOR STITT URGES LEGISLATURE TO ADVANCE TAX CUTS AFTER BOE CERTIFIES AVAILABLE STATE FUNDS

OKLAHOMA CITY (February 15, 2024) - Today, Governor Kevin Stitt released the following statement urging the Oklahoma Legislature to advance tax cut legislation after the Oklahoma State Board of Equalization (BOE) certified the Legislature will have $11.1 billon in authorized funds for FY 25:

Small: OSU tries to intimidate students


OSU tries to intimidate students
By Jonathan Small

In 2023 a national civil-rights organization that focuses on First Amendment issues, Speech First, sued Oklahoma State University on behalf of three OSU students, arguing the university’s harassment, computer, and bias-incidents policies violate students’ First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

The lawsuit did not identify the three students by name. In court, OSU argued the lawsuit should be tossed unless the students were publicly identified.

OSU’s intent with that argument was obvious: to expose students to retaliation if they dared to challenge university policies.

Friday, February 16, 2024

State Sen. Burns files bills to increase state park oversight, remove fees for Oklahoma residents


Burns Introduces Legislation to make State Parks more accessible to Oklahomans

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 14th) – Sen. George Burns, R-Pollard, has introduced Senate Bill 1253 to make State Parks in Oklahoma more accessible and affordable for state residents. This legislation, if passed, would allow the Commission to establish an annual pass or other varied passes as appropriate to the park for visitors, while also removing fees for Oklahomans.

Lt. Gov. Pinnell hosting Oklahoma workforce tour


LT. GOVERNOR PINNELL HOSTING OKLAHOMA WORKFORCE TOUR

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 12th) — Lieutenant Governor Matt Pinnell is kickstarting a workforce development tour later this month. He will travel to communities around the state, meeting with business and community leaders to find solutions to the workforce issues they face. For the first leg of the tour, Lt. Governor Pinnell will visit Bartlesville, Lawton, Durant, Clinton, Guymon, and McAlester.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Pro Tem Treat calls for grocery sales tax cut; Gov. Stitt, Speaker McCall respond


Gov. Kevin Stitt has been asking the Oklahoma Legislature for several years to eliminate the grocery sales tax and cut income taxes, including calling special sessions to that end. Yesterday, Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat sent out a press release citing a new economic report as evidence for passage of his bill to do away with the grocery sales tax - which he says will be more impactful for Oklahoma than Stitt's income tax idea.

Gov. Stitt and House Speaker Charles McCall responded with press releases of their own. Read on:

Small: Two OK House bills are an attack on parents


An attack on parents
By Jonathan Small

Opponents of deference to parents often believe parents cannot be trusted to raise their own children.

The latest proof comes in two bills filed at the Oklahoma Legislature.

House Bill 4130, by state Rep. Amanda Swope, D-Tulsa, would require any homeschooling parents to notify the state Department of Human Services and undergo a background check. The bill would also impose registration and background-check requirements on parents who “change school districts, whether a result of a move or otherwise.”

Basically, Swope’s default assumption is that any parent who educates their child anywhere other than a local, geographically assigned school should be treated as a likely child predator.

This is complete nonsense. Research shows a child’s educational setting – whether homeschool, public school or private school – has no significant correlation with child abuse.

Gov. Stitt, Treasurer Russ celebrate Oklahoma's improved credit rating


GOVERNOR STITT, TREASURER RUSS CELEBRATE ANNOUNCEMENT OF IMPROVED CREDIT RATING

OKLAHOMA CITY (February 14, 2024) - Today, Governor Kevin Stitt and Treasurer Todd Russ celebrated Oklahoma's strong financial standing after Fitch Ratings released their revised Rating Outlook, moving Oklahoma’s rating from 'Stable' to 'Positive.' Fitch Ratings becomes the third rating agency to improve Oklahoma's outlook within the last year, following Moody's and S&P.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Attorney General Drummond takes over, dismisses Gov. Stitt's lawsuit against ClassWallet


I will be the first to admit that I'm skeptical of Attorney General Drummond on a lot of issues, but I think he's dead right on this one. 

Background from a 2023 post on this issue:

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

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

Walters, in particular, who gave "blanket approval" to the spending, bears a lot of responsibility for the failure of the program - responsibility that to this day he continues to dodge and deflect (it's always someone else's fault, don't you know...). 

Senate GOP caucus elects McCortney as Pro Tem Designee

State Sen. Greg McCortney came out on top in the internal Senate GOP vote to determine the presumptive Senate President Pro Tem for next term (NonDoc rundown of the vote here). Handpicked by outgoing Pro Tem Greg Treat, he was the most moderate of the senators vying for the job.


Pro Tem Treat Announces Sen. McCortney as Pro Tem Designee

OKLAHOMA CITY – Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, today announced the Senate Republican Caucus convened and voted for Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada, to be the Pro Tem Designee after Pro Tem Treat terms out of office in November of this year. 

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Pinnell: CareerTech is the key to OK's workforce development success


THE KEY TO OKLAHOMA'S WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT SUCCESS
by Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell

      February is National Career and Technical Education Month, and as Secretary of Workforce and Economic Development, there’s nothing I love to brag on more than Oklahoma 

CareerTech. It’s no secret that our CareerTech system is one of the best in the country. Our 29 technology centers provide 121 unique degree programs, giving Oklahomans across all 77 counties the opportunity to turn their passions into a paycheck. Oklahoma CareerTech graduates add more than $3.5 billion to the state economy each year and are an invaluable asset to our workforce. 

Oklahoma Voice: GOP political fight brewing over who will be the next OK Senate leader


The below article from Oklahoma Voice is a good synopsis of the battle to be the next leader of the Oklahoma State Senate going on this week. The three Republican candidates are moderate Sen. Greg McCortney (one of the leaders who has killed measures to abolish abortion), conservative Sen. David Bullard, and Sen. Casey Murdock (somewhat in the middle of the two).

As a sign of how very concerned big corporate money and dark political money interests are about McCortney losing this race, they sent out mass text messages Saturday urging people to "thank" McCortney for being "conservative to the core" (he's clearly not). A Bullard win would be a huge deal for Oklahoma conservatives.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Gov. Stitt opposes Abolition of Abortion Act; so what does "pro-life" even mean?

Pro-lifers like to say things like "Abortion is murder", "Life begins at conception", "We need to end abortion", and "Protect the unborn".

So why is it that a bill that matches that rhetoric and would actually abolish abortion - which continues in this state even after the overturning of Roe v. Wade through "self-managed" abortion pills - is a bridge too far for "pro-life" Governor Kevin Stitt?

Being "pro-life" is just about the cameras, awards, ratings, and elections. The actions of pro-life elected officials are not logically consistent with the rhetoric of the movement. What does "pro-life" even mean at that point?

State Senate Committee approves Hamilton’s child care licensing exemption


Senate Committee approves Hamilton’s child care licensing exemption

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 9th) – The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved Senate Bill 1239 Thursday. The measure, authored by Sen. Warren Hamilton, R-McCurtain, seeks to reduce regulations on home childcare providers in an effort to alleviate child care deserts across the state.

“Nearly half of Oklahoma’s counties are classified as child care deserts, meaning there are not enough providers or facilities available, especially in rural areas of the state. This often results in parents having to drive long distances to find care for their children,” Hamilton said. “Many families have trusted relatives or friends whose care they’d be comfortable leaving their children in, but excessive regulations keep many qualified Oklahomans from providing child care.”

Friday, February 09, 2024

Muskogee Votes: Mayor and City Council races on Tuesday

Tuesday, February 13th, is the municipal election in Muskogee, featuring races for mayor and five of eight city council seats. While it's been a little difficult to access, I've compiled a little bit of information on the candidates, which you will find in this post, along with a city ward map.

Thursday, February 08, 2024

State Sen. Dewayne Pemberton announces he will not seek reelection


State Sen. Dewayne Pemberton (R-Muskogee) has announced that he will not be seeking a third and final term in the State Senate. He will serve out the rest of his term, which ends in November.

OCPA: Bill mandating arbitrary DHS investigation of parents should be killed


Bill mandating arbitrary DHS investigation of parents should be killed

OKLAHOMA CITY (February 6, 2024)—Legislation that would subject Oklahoma parents to a Department of Human Services background check if they homeschool their children, or even move to another school district, should be killed, Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs President Jonathan Small said today.

Burns files two voter registration bills to enhance election integrity


Burns Introduces Voter Registration Bills to Enhance Election Integrity

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 8th) – Sen. George Burns, R-Pollard, has introduced two voter registration bills, Senate Bill 1414 and Senate Bill 1515, aimed at enhancing election integrity and streamlining the voter registration process in the state.

Gov. Stitt taps Dr. Corey Finch as Secretary of Health & Mental Health

GOVERNOR STITT TAPS DR. COREY FINCH AS SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND MENTAL HEALTH

OKLAHOMA CITY (February 8, 2024) - Today, Governor Kevin Stitt announced Dr. Corey Finch as the newest addition to his cabinet, filling the role of Secretary of Health and Mental Health.

“To be a Top Ten state, we need to have a Top Ten health care system,” said Gov. Stitt. “Dr. Finch will bring his experience as a physician and member of the Health Care Authority Board to my cabinet to improve health care outcomes for all four million Oklahomans.”

Tuesday, February 06, 2024

Oklahoman Robert Keyes elected Treasurer of National Groundwater Association


OKLAHOMAN ELECTED TREASURER OF NATIONAL GROUND WATER ASSOCIATION

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK (February 5, 2024) -- Groundwater Professional and resident of Norman since 1983, Robert Keyes, has been elected as Treasurer of the National Groundwater Association (NGWA). The NGWA is the largest groundwater association in the world, with more than 10 thousand members across the United States and in 40 countries. 

Lankford defends border proposal in op-ed

There's been a lot of consternation among conservatives regarding Sen. Lankford's role in the new border "security" proposal. Here he is, in his own words, defending the measure.


Biden's border chaos can be controlled and the time is now

Enough is enough. In less than three years of President Biden’s term, we had more people illegally cross the border than in the previous 12 years combined. Millions of people have come into the US under this president with thousands from nations like China, Iran, Mauritania, Senegal, and many more.

For three years, we have all said the border is a crisis, and it needs to stop. This week, the Senate has an opportunity to stop the chaos and put powerful new tools in the border security toolbox for the next administration. 

Lucas holding town hall meetings Thursday and Friday


Lucas to Hold February Town Hall Meetings

Yukon, OK – Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) will hold town hall meetings in Caddo, Kiowa, Jackson, and Roger Mills Counties this week. Residents around the locations are invited to attend and share their thoughts on current events in Washington, D.C. and across Oklahoma.

The following town hall meetings were originally scheduled for last fall, but were postponed due to Congressman Lucas's injury on his ranch in Roger Mills County.

Cong. Brecheen sets 18 town halls across 2nd District for Feb. 19th-21st


Congressman Josh Brecheen Announces February In-Person Town Halls

Washington, D.C. (Feb. 5th) – Congressman Josh Brecheen announced the following in-person town halls for the month of February. Constituents are invited to attend and share their thoughts and ask questions on policy issues impacting Washington, D.C. and Oklahoma.

Congressman Brecheen will also host a telephone town hall tomorrow, Tuesday, February 6th at 7 PM CT. Constituents should dial 888-480-3675 if they would like to participate in the call. To watch a live stream of the call, constituents can visit our Facebook page here.

If you are a member of the media and would like to attend any of the in-person town halls, please RSVP to Ben Decatur at ben.decatur@mail.house.gov.

Schedule (all times Central):

Monday, February 19

8:00am - 9:00am
McAlester Town Hall
Downtown 312
312 E. Choctaw Ave.
McAlester, OK 74501 

10:00am - 11:00am
Checotah Town Hall
Checotah Perk
319 W. Gentry Ave.
Checotah, OK 74426 

12:00pm - 1:00pm
Wagoner Town Hall
Wagoner Community Building
102 N. Jefferson St.
Wagoner, OK 74467 

2:00pm - 3:00pm
Pryor Town Hall
Graham Community Center
6 N. Adair Street
Pryor, OK 74361 

4:00pm - 5:00pm
Oologah Town Hall
Oologah Town Hall
225 W. Alta Ave.
Oologah, OK 74053 

6:00pm - 7:00pm
Bartlesville Town Hall
Bartlesville Community Center
Community Hall
300 SE Adams Blvd.
Bartlesville, OK 74003 

Tuesday, February 20 

8:00am - 9:00am
Grove Town Hall
Grove City Hall
Room 6
104 West 3rd Street
Grove, OK 74344 

10:00am - 11:00am
Miami Town Hall
Miami City Hall
Banquet Room
129 5th Ave. NW
Miami, OK 74354 

12:00pm - 1:00pm
Vinita Town Hall
Craig County Fairgrounds & Community Center
Ketchum Room
915 E. Apperson Rd.
Vinita, OK 74301 

2:00pm - 3:00pm
Chouteau Town Hall
Chouteau Town Hall
111 S. Lewis St.
Chouteau, OK 74337 

4:00pm - 5:00pm
Fort Gibson Town Hall
Fort Gibson Town Hall
200 W. Poplar St.
Fort Gibson, OK 74434 

6:00pm - 7:00pm
Claremore Town Hall
Claremore Conference Center
Will Rogers South Ballroom
1400 W. Country Club Rd.
Claremore, OK 74017 

Wednesday, February 21 

8:00am - 9:00am
Okmulgee Town Hall
Mabrey Bank
Meeting Room
111 East 6th St.
Okmulgee, OK 74447 

10:00am - 11:00am
Eufaula Town Hall
VFW Post 8798
121182 State Hwy 9
Eufaula, OK 74432 

12:00pm - 1:00pm
Muskogee Town Hall
Martin Luther King Center
Conference Room
300 W. Martin Luther King St.
Muskogee, OK 74401 

2:00pm - 3:00pm
Tahlequah Town Hall
Go Ye Village
Great Hall
1201 W. 4th St.
Tahlequah, OK 74464

4:30pm - 5:30pm
Sallisaw Town Hall

Sequoyah County Fairgrounds
464101 E. 1070 Rd.
Sallisaw, OK 74955 

6:30pm - 7:30pm
Poteau Town Hall
Patrick Lynch Public Library
206 S. McKenna St.
Poteau, OK 74953

Monday, February 05, 2024

Families to rally for homeschool freedoms Tuesday at State Capitol

Some of the homeschool students at Capitol Day 2023

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

Tomorrow is the 39th annual Homeschool Capitol Day, where homeschool families from across the state come to the State Capitol to lobby legislators to protect existing homeschool freedoms, learn about legislation, network with other groups and families, and hold various educational and informational workshops and activities for all ages.

Crosswhite Hader files bill making distribution of abortion-inducing drugs a felony


Crosswhite Hader Bill Would Penalize Purveyance of Abortion-Inducing Drugs

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 2nd) - Rep. Denise Crosswhite Hader, R-Piedmont, has filed legislation that would penalize with a felony anyone who distributes or possesses with the intent to distribute abortion-inducing drugs when the intent is to cause an abortion.  

Governor Stitt delivers 2024 State of the State address

Governor Stitt Delivers 2024 State of the State Address

(Monday, February 05, 2024) Today, Governor Kevin Stitt delivered his State of the State address to Oklahoma’s 59th Legislature. Governor Stitt outlined his priorities for the 2024 regular legislative session, focusing on making Oklahoma the most business friendly state in the nation, limiting the growth of government by cutting taxes, expanding education freedom, and reinforcing public safety. 

Saturday, February 03, 2024

After recent survey, Senate Pro Tem Treat calls for elimination of state grocery sales tax

Hasn't Governor Stitt been asking the Senate to do this for a while now? It took some survey for Treat to get on board? Why am I not surprised...


Pro Tem Treat Comments on Oklahoma Grocery Price Data
Survey amplifies need for grocery tax cut

OKLAHOMA CITY (Feb. 3rd) - Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, today said the time to cut the state portion of the grocery tax is now. 

Pro Tem Treat’s Senate Bill 1283, filed in December, would eliminate the state’s portion of the grocery tax. According to recent data average Oklahomans spend nearly $300 per trip to the grocery store, putting the state in the top 10 in the nation for highest grocery bill per week. 

State Senate Republicans announce Education priorities for '24 session


Senate Republicans Announce Education Priorities

OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 31st) – Members of the Oklahoma Senate Education Committee today laid out their education initiatives for the upcoming regular session that begins Monday. [listen to a recording here]

Chairman of the Senate Education committee, Sen. Adam Pugh, R-Edmond, was joined by fellow members Sen. Dewayne Pemberton, R-Muskogee, Sen. Kristen Thompson, R-Edmond and Sen. Ally Seifried, R-Claremore to lay out a robust plan that includes additional teacher pay raises, advanced reading criteria, initiatives to get more teachers into the classroom and reforms to higher education.

Brecheen votes against $155B tax bill that expands welfare for illegals and weakens work requirement


Congressman Josh Brecheen Votes Against the $155 Billion Tax Bill That Expands Welfare for Low Income and Illegal Aliens

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Josh Brecheen and 46 other Republicans voted against H.R. 7024, the so-called “Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024.”

“I support the business deduction and depreciation changes in this bill, unfortunately, the low-income individual welfare benefit expansions (eligible to illegal aliens) that were added to obtain President Biden’s and Senate Democrats’ support made this a bad deal,” said Congressman Josh Brecheen.

AG Drummond files injunction against Biden Administration over Title X abortion overreach


Drummond files injunction against Biden Administration over Title X abortion overreach

OKLAHOMA CITY (Jan. 29, 2024) - Attorney General Gentner Drummond filed a motion Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma asking for a preliminary injunction against the Biden Administration for denying millions of dollars in funding to the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) to punish the state for being pro-life.

State Rep. Conley files bill requiring student communications to include parents


Conley Bill Would Require Student Communications to Include Parent

OKLAHOMA CITY - Rep. Sherrie Conley, R-Newcastle, has filed a bill that would require school personnel engaging in electronic or digital communication with a student to include the student's parent or guardians.

Exceptions to House Bill 3958 may be made in case of an emergency, subject to subsequent notification to the parent or guardian. The measure stipulates that school personnel shall make reasonable efforts to use school-approved platforms, systems, or applications that allow automatic inclusion of parents or guardians in communications with students.

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Voter Registration Maps: first GOP decline in 26 years


Here we go with the latest installment of my long-running Voter Registration Maps series. These statistics are from the annual January 15th report from the State Election Board. You can view my previous post from last week 'Oklahoma voter registration changes, 2023 to 2024' at this link.

In this post, I have graphics showing growth by county for all parties and for Independents, and a comparison of Democrats versus Independents by county. Take a look, and share with your friends: