OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The chairman of the Republican National Committee is visiting Oklahoma and calling state House Speaker T.W. Shannon of Lawton a ``rising star'' within the GOP.
Chairman Reince Priebus met with Shannon and other state GOP leaders on Monday to discuss the party's plans to grow and have better success in presidential elections.
Shannon is a member of the Chickasaw Nation and is the first African-American to serve as House speaker in Oklahoma. Shannon joked that Priebus wanted to visit Oklahoma because ``he knows we do it right.''
Gov. Mary Fallin has pushed for a tax cut since she took office in 2010. Today, she signed into law a bill to cut Oklahoma's top income tax rate to 5 percent in 2015.
The bill reduces the state's top income rate that most Oklahomans pay from 5.25 percent to 5 percent beginning Jan. 1, 2015, with a second cut to 4.85 percent set for 2016 if state revenues continue to rise. The second tax cut is contingent on total revenue growth for Fiscal Year 2016 being equal to or greater than the fiscal impact of a .15 percent tax cut.
A human rights activist from Pakistan who founded an all-girls school and his 15-year-old daughter who survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban have been honored by the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum.
Memorial officials presented the 2013 Reflections of Hope Award to Ziauddin Yousafzai and Malala Yousafzai on Monday.
Supporters of passenger rail service through Wichita are joining forces with officials in Oklahoma and Missouri.
A letter of support signed by the mayors of Wichita, Oklahoma City and Kansas City, Mo., was unveiled Friday on the eve of National Train Day.
Rail supporters say they want to close the 185-mile service gap between Oklahoma City and Wichita. They contend creating daily passenger rail service between the two cities would strengthen the existing regional network throughout the I-35 corridor that stretches from San Antonio to Kansas City, Mo.
Gov. Mary Fallin has vetoed a bill that would have given state workers the option of enrolling in a defined contribution retirement plan similar to a 401(k).
The bill by Oklahoma City Republican Rep. Randy McDaniel that Fallin vetoed Friday would have allowed state employees hired after July 2014 to choose between a defined contribution option and the current defined benefit system. The bill was approved earlier this week by the House on a 72-20 vote.
Democrats in the House argued the bill would increase the risk involved in state workers' retirement years.
The Oklahoma House is expected to consider a measure that would increase the amount of money Oklahoma Highway Patrol troopers receive each month for an equipment allowance.
A bill expected to be considered next week would boost the troopers' monthly allowance from $150 to $300, effectively giving them an $1,800 annual raise. The bill would still need to pass both the House and Senate.
The money to pay for the increase was freed up from the Department of Public Safety's operating budget after a bill passed earlier this session to increase driver's license fees.
State Sen. Constance Johnson (D-Oklahoma City) said Friday she will seek the post during the party's annual convention on Saturday, May 18. Democratic campaign strategist Jed Green will seek the vice-chair position.
Current Democratic Party Chairman Wallace Collins also is seeking re-election to the post, along with current vice-chair Dana Orwig. Collins is a former Democratic state legislator from Norman.
Earlier this week Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to China. Even though the two leaders did not meet, the timing of the visits signals China could start to become a diplomatic player in the troubled region.
Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and a longtime observer of Syria, says China tried to arrange a meeting in 2007 between Netanyahu and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but it didn’t work.
“[China has] been asserting themselves more and more in the Middle East,” Landis says. “And that’s a product of the United States withdrawing, and China is becoming much more self-confident.”