Oklahoma Politics

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 /

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.