KGOU

Oklahoma Politics

Sam Howzit

Did you know that swearing in Oklahoma is punishable by a $1 fine for each offense? Or that the Sooner State has a Santa Claus Commission?

No, it isn't an April Fools' Day prank. All are true facts about the nation's 46th state that are being shared and retweeted on the popular Twitter account @OklahomaFacts. The more obscure the fact, the better.

The account has garnered more than 12,000 followers. Even country music superstar Blake Shelton is a fan.

The announcement by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn that he is resigning his seat at the end of the year has set up a spirited battle among Oklahoma Republicans to replace him.

Leading the pack are Rep. James Lankford and former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon. At age 36, Shannon is an up-and-coming star in the GOP, and if elected he would become the third African-American in the Senate — two of them Republicans.

House Speaker Jeff Hickman (R-Fairview) at Gov. Mary Fallin's State of the State address - February 3, 2014.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma's governor and Republican legislative leaders agree in principle on cutting taxes, a multi-million dollar overhaul of the Capitol and revamping the pension system for state workers, but each side has different ideas on the specifics.

Ever since the Watergate era, taxpayers have been able to check a box on their federal tax returns and designate a little bit of their tax payment to help finance the presidential campaigns and wean politicians away from big donors.

The public financing program has had its ups and downs. But now President Obama is prepared to sign legislation that, for the first time, takes taxpayer money out of the fund.

First of all, let's pause to reflect on some of the great moments of American political conventions brought to you by presidential matching funds.

State Rep. Mike Jackson (R-Enid)
Oklahoma House of Representatives

An Enid Republican who currently serves as the Number 2 leader in the Oklahoma House of Representatives says he won't run for another term in office.

Representative Mike Jackson said Thursday the current term will be his last representing House District 40.

Jackson currently serves as the Speaker Pro Tem, the Number 2 leadership position in the House. He lost the race to become speaker of the House earlier this session to Representative Jeff Hickman of Fairview. The two men were seeking to replace former Speaker T.W. Shannon, who resigned as he runs for U.S. Senate.

The aftermath of the May 2013 tornado in Moore, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Senate has approved legislation that makes looting a felony in Oklahoma.

The Senate passed the measure 36-1 Tuesday evening and sent it to the House for consideration.

The measure by Republican Sen. Anthony Sykes of Moore elevates the crime of looting from a misdemeanor offense to a felony, with a penalty for violations ranging from two to seven years in prison.

Sykes says the measure is a response to incidents of looting after a massive tornado destroyed homes and business in Moore last May.

Governors' Races Offer Promise For Democrats

Mar 10, 2014

Elections for governor could provide some good news for Democrats this fall, giving them the chance to regain ground in a few states where the party has had good fortune recently.

At this early stage, Republicans are expected to hold control of the House and pick up seats in the Senate — maybe even win a majority in the Senate.

But the GOP has fewer opportunities when it comes to statehouses. Republicans dominated state elections back in 2010, leaving them few openings this year. (Governors serve four-year terms everywhere but Vermont and New Hampshire.)

Steve Greaves / Flickr Creative Commons

A plan to require people facing trial for certain crimes to submit DNA samples to law enforcement has been rejected by the Oklahoma House, despite an emotional plea from the bill's author.

On Wednesday, the House voted 51-35 against the bill by Stillwater Republican Rep. Lee Denney, who says the measure would help solve cases and would only target people charged with particularly heinous crimes.

Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman
Oklahoma Senate

The state Senate approved a bill Thursday morning that would cut the Oklahoma income tax rate a quarter of a percent down to five. The bill passed on a 32-10 margin, with mostly Democrats opposing it.

Minority leader Sean Burrage (D-Claremore) argued nearly 40 percent of residents won't see any tax break, and would rather have the state pay for good schools, rather than receive less than $100 back on their income taxes. 

oklahoma capitol facade
KellyK / Flickr Creative Commons

The principal sponsor of a bill that would allow business owners in Oklahoma with strongly held religious beliefs to refuse service to gays says his measure is going back for rewrite.

Not only that, Seminole Republican Tom Newell says the measure likely won't be given any further consideration in the current legislative session.

Newell said Tuesday that while he still supports the idea, his bill is being redrafted to prevent "any fiascos like there have been elsewhere."

zrim / Flickr.com

A bill making its way through the state Senate could make violations of the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act more expensive for government entities.

Sen. David Holt (R-Oklahoma City) is the sponsor of Senate Bill 1497. It would allow those suing local governments over violations of the open meeting law to collect attorney fees. The new law would also allow the collection of those fees from the plaintiff if the suit is frivolous.

Terrapin Flyer / Flickr Creative Commons

Two bills to increase teacher pay have sailed through a House committee, although a projected shortage of revenue this year makes it's unlikely the measures will ever reach the governor's desk.

With educators from across the state packed into a committee room on Monday, a House budget panel unanimously approved the bills. They next will be scheduled for consideration by the full House Appropriations and Budget Committee.

Patrick Damiano / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma schoolchildren would be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each day under two bills that cleared a legislative committee on Monday.

The Senate Education Committee passed both bills on Monday with just one dissenting vote. Both measures can now be scheduled for a hearing before the full Senate.

OETA - The Oklahoma Network

The 2014 Oklahoma legislative session kicked off two weeks ago Monday, with an income tax cut, reduced agency budgets, repairing the state Capitol, and employee compensation all facing lawmakers as they return to NE 23rd Street and Lincoln Blvd. in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma State Senate

A Democratic state senator from Oklahoma City formally announced his candidacy Thursday for the 5th Congressional District seat being vacated by Republican U.S. Rep. James Lankford.

State Sen. Al McAffrey formally unveiled his plans during a 1 p.m. press conference at the Myriad Botanical Gardens in downtown Oklahoma City.

Senate Panel Passes $160M Bond Issue To Fix State Capitol

Feb 12, 2014
Meghan Blessing / KGOU

An Oklahoma Senate committee has given overwhelming bipartisan approval for a $160 million bond issue to renovate and repair the state Capitol.

The Senate Appropriations Committee voted 20-1 on Wednesday to approve the bill, which authorizes the Oklahoma Capitol Improvement Authority to issue the bonds.

Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

A group of teenagers who support a ban on texting while driving in Oklahoma are meeting at the Capitol to push for a new state law to prohibit the practice.

A group that calls itself "Generation tXt" has scheduled a news conference on Wednesday to advocate for a statewide ban on texting while driving. The group will be joined by legislators, law enforcement and insurance industry officials.

House Speaker Jeff Hickman (R-Fairview) at Gov. Mary Fallin's State of the State address - February 3, 2014.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The 72 Republicans in the Oklahoma House of Representatives have selected 40-year-old state Rep. Jeff Hickman of Fairview as the next speaker of the House, one of the most powerful positions in state government.

The Republican caucus met behind closed doors Monday morning and selected Hickman via secret ballot.

The speaker's post was vacated last week when T.W. Shannon stepped down to focus on his race for the U.S. Senate.

Hickman previously served as speaker pro tem, the No. 2 spot in the House, and lost the speaker's race against Shannon by a razor-thin margin.

Oklahoma state Capitol
LLudo / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The 72-member House Republican caucus is meeting behind closed doors to select the new Speaker of the House.

The House caucus is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Monday and will cast secret ballots to determine the winner.

Reps. Jeff Hickman of Fairview and Mike Jackson of Enid are vying for the post, one of the most powerful positions in state government. The speaker helps divvy up the state's $7 billion budget and helps shape the policy debate in the Legislature.

Gov. Mary Fallin enters the House chamber of the state capitol shortly before delivering her State of the State address February 3, 2014.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Five percent.

That’s how much the governor is asking most entities in state government to cut their budgets. The number should not be much of a surprise. The amount of money available for state lawmakers to spend for the next fiscal year was already down about $171 million over the current year’s figure.

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