Oklahoma Voices

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla. 4)
House GOP / Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

 

The U.S. Congress if wrapping up the year with several key bills. Last week, the House passed a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind law, and the Senate sent a highway bill to President Obama’s desk.

On today’s show we’ll talk with Republican Congressman Tom Cole. The veteran lawmaker from Oklahoma spoke with KGOU’s Jacob McCleland on November 24 in his Norman office.

Some excerpts:

Syrian refguees arrive on the Mediterranean coast, Sept. 2015.
Freedom House / Flickr Public Domain Mark 1.0

 

Last week, the U.S. House passed a bill to halt a program that brings Syrian refugees to the United States. The vote came less than a week after the ISIS attack in Paris that left over one hundred people dead.

Oklahoma has a long history of taking in refugees. Notably, Vietnamese refugees settled in Oklahoma City in the mid-1970s. Now, many Burmese refugees of the ethnic Zomi minority are establishing themselves in both Oklahoma City and the Tulsa area.

W. Joseph Campbell is a professor in the School of Communication at American University
American University

 

The future began 20 years ago, according to a new book by W. Joseph Campbell. In 1995, Timothy McVeigh’s truck bomb killed 168 people in Oklahoma City and sparked a debate about security. The Dayton Peace Accords ended a brutal war in the former Yugoslavia. The O.J. Simpson trial captured the imagination of a nation. Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinski began their affair that led to the President’s impeachment. And 1995 was the year the internet went mainstream.

Dr. Larry Kincheloe speaks at the EXPLORE: Oklahoma Healthcare Summit in Norman on August 13, 2015.
Jim Johnson / KGOU

 

Oklahoma City’s location as a crossroads positions the metro  as a hotbed for human trafficking activity.

According to a Department of Justice reports from 2003, Oklahoma ranked fourth in the nation for the largest number of trafficking survivors in the United States. The top states were California, New York and Texas.

The intersection of major interstate highways like I-35, I-40 and I-44 means human traffickers move sex slaves and others involved in forced labor through Oklahoma City.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole / Flickr

 

President Barack Obama is seeking fast track approval from Congress to negotiate the Trans Pacific Partnership. If Congress grants the president fast track authority, the 12-country trade deal can be approved with a simple up or down vote, and there are no amendments or filibusters. This issue has some Republicans siding with Obama, while Democrats are largely against it.

 

U.S. Rep. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) says the United States shouldn't "accommodate" Iran in ongoing nuclear talks.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Steve Russell’s new career is a lot different than his previous one. 

The first term Congressman from Oklahoma’s fifth district is settling into his new job after spending 21 years in the Army, where he rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

He served all over the globe, including in Kosovo, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. His unit played a key role in the search for Saddam Hussein. Russell wrote a book about it, We Got Him! A Memoir of The Hunt and Capture of Saddam Hussein.

KGOU’s Jacob McCleland spoke to Russell, a Republican, following a town hall meeting at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond on April 2, 2015.

Oklahoma House of Representatives

Two lawmakers with a history of filing open records-friendly legislation gathered with supporters of government transparency to discuss recent legislative measures they said ran counter to the spirit of the state’s Open Records Act.

okpolicy.org

Unresolved issues tied to education, incarceration and mental health services will hamstring Oklahoma’s ability to remain among the nation’s top 5 fastest growing economies, a panel of government officials and economists concluded during the Oklahoma Policy Institute’s 2nd Annual State Budget Summit.

On January 29, OPI Director of Policy Gene Perry led the panel through “An Economic Check-Up” of the state’s current economic conditions and fiscal policies. 

Organized citizens of large cities can be a greater force of innovation in leadership than state or federal governments, according to the vice president of the Brookings Institution.

Bruce Katz discussed the premise of his book The Metropolitan Revolution during a January 28 event at the University of Central Oklahoma. He emphasized the country’s economic growth model needs to “get back to the fundamentals” without relying on state and federal governments to lead the way.

Shelly Deas, principal of Lee Elementary School in Oklahoma City, shows the school’s system for tracking achievement and improvement levels of each student. Students in blue are at the highest performing level; students in red are at the lowest.
Clifton Adcock / Oklahoma Watch

At Oklahoma State University’s annual Economic Outlook Conference last week, industry professionals criticized low teacher pay, but forecasted continued job growth in education and several other jobs through 2015.

The Oklahoma Department of Commerce’s Deputy for Workforce Development Diedre Myers questioned how to best prepare Oklahomans for the surge. 

“What do our Oklahoma citizens need to do to have successful careers over their lifetime?” she asked.

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