Survey says: Oklahoma Republicans and Democrats agree on the state of their own finances but not on how they got there, polling by Oklahoma City’s Amber Integrated says.
About half of Republicans said they were somewhat or significantly worse off than they were six months ago, while two-thirds of Democrats say they are better off.
Otherwise, Rs and Ds answered almost the same when asked to choose from among “times are hard” (mid-teens), “getting by” (mid-40s) and “living comfortably.” (mid-30s)
The poll also suggested Oklahomans are not that head-over-heels about their political leadership. Gov. Kevin Stitt led favorability ratings at 51%, followed by Sen. James Lankford at 50%. The Republican-controlled Legislature was also at 50%.
Not surprising: 59% of Democrats disapproved of the Legislature. Actually surprising (or at least interesting): 73% of independents disapproved, although the sample was pretty small.
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Under the dome: Almost two-thirds of the 3,167 bills and joint resolutions filed for this legislative session went dormant on Thursday evening.
Thursday was the deadline for bills to clear committee in their chamber of origin. Those that didn’t can’t be brought back until next year.
This week begins the work of getting House bills through the House and Senate bills through the Senate. Members will have until early April to do that, with little work getting done during school spring break week.
Members of the Tulsa Regional Chamber will be lobbying at the Capitol this week.
The state Senate approved stiffer penalties for stealing guns, increasing the maximum prison term to five years from two and the maximum fine to $2,500 from $1,000.
Bob Wills Day will return to the Capitol for the first time in 10 years on Monday, with live music in the Rotunda from 2-5 p.m.
Good news for prospective jurors — the Legislature wants to up jury duty pay to as much as $75 a day from the current $20.
State Sen. Paul Rosino, R-Oklahoma City, is holding a sunrise remembrance at the Capitol on Monday morning for the 18,000 Oklahomans who’ve died from COVID-19. One of those was Rosino’s son, Gregory.
Corp Comm: The Oklahoma Corporation Commission remained in some turmoil as Commissioner Todd Hiett laid out plans to hire an outside expert to review state utilities’ fuel cost recovery charges and Commissioner Bob Anthony continued fulminating about the securitization plans that Hiett and then-commissioner Dana Murphy agreed to over his objections.
A few days later, Anthony praised Kansas’ $50 million price manipulation lawsuit against Macquarie Energy and said Oklahoma should have done something similar.
“While the Kansas Corporation Commission is investigating and addressing natural gas market manipulation during Winter Storm Uri head-on, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission continues to insist on sticking its head in the sand.” Anthony wrote.
In a document filed Thursday, Anthony dismissed Hiett and new Commissioner Kim David’s independent consultant proposal as “… so restricted as to be absurd. I might also call it another layer of whitewash in this ongoing cover-up.
We’re No. 45: An organization lobbying for proportional representation in Congress and ranked choice voting rates Oklahoma elections 45th for “voter voice.”
FairVote ranks Oklahoma low in all five categories and notes that only 25% of the voting age population voted for the winners of the 2022 congressional elections, even though all won easily.
That figure is the result of low voter turnout and low voter participation, which FairVote says would improve with a system that better reflects the voter population. In other words, even in a state like Oklahoma that typically votes as much as 70% Republican, a proportional system would still yield one Democratic member of Congress, and that in turn would generate more interest in elections and trust in the system.
Bargain basement: It’s not exactly Nordstrom Rack, but the Office of Management and Enterprise Services is giving nonprofits, local governments and school districts first shot at surplus state equipment and supplies.
First Access, an online purchasing portal, became operational on Feb. 1. Membership is free but restricted to authorized state agencies, school districts, nonprofits and political subdivision as defined by 74 O.S. § 62.3-C.
HUD money: Oklahoma tribes were awarded $118.3 million in housing block grants by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with $36.9 million going to the Cherokee Nation.
The Muscogee Nation received the second-most, $21.2 million. The Osage Nation received $1.9 million.
The smallest grant to an Oklahoma tribe was $87,122 to the Miami-based Shawnees.
Oh cedar: For years Oklahomans have harrumphed about the damage done by feral hogs, but it turns out the state’s most destructive species might not even be an animal.
The eastern red cedar soaks up water like a sponge, spreads allergens through the air, and takes up an increasing amount of space that might otherwise be used for grazing or crops. Considered invasive, it is one of the first plants to move into cleared land and can live up to 900 years.
According to Oklahoma State University, a single red cedar can use up to 21 gallons of water a day, and its canopies are so dense rainfall cannot get through to be absorbed into the ground.
The Legislature has made some half-hearted attempts at controlling the eastern red cedar over the past two decades, but this year may be a little more serious. A bill providing $3.2 million for a pilot program on the North Canadian River is inching through the session and seems to have a chance. It’s supporters are billing it as a measure to protect Oklahoma City’s water supply.
Just visiting: The U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, of which 1st District Congressman Kevin Hern is a member, is having a field hearing at 8 a.m. Tuesday at Express Clydesdales in Yukon. See http://www.waysandmeans.house.gov/ for information on attending.
Meetings and events: Homeless advocate Sarah Grounds, founder and executive director of the nonprofit City Lights, will be featured speaker at the Heart of the Party, the Tulsa Chapter of the Oklahoma Federation of Democratic Women meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Baxter’s Interurban Grill, 717 S. Houston.
Information regarding the March 23-25 OFDW State Convention and the April 23rd HOP Champagne Reception fundraiser will also be available.
Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado will speak to the Tulsa County Republican Men’s Club at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Oklahoma Joe’s, 6175 E. 61st St.
— Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa World