Oklahoma politics

oklegislature.gov / Public Domain

An Oklahoma regulatory board announced last week that it would cut the salaries of the state’s legislators, in an effort to ease the state’s ongoing budget woes.

As KFOR reports, the state’s Legislative Compensation Board plans to cut state lawmaker salaries by almost 9 percent. The announcement comes as the Legislature continues to be gridlocked in the eighth week of a special session.

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Yet another Democrat has pulled off an upset victory in deep-red Oklahoma.

As NBC News reports, Democrat Allison Ikley-Freeman defeated Republican Brian O’Hara in Tuesday’s special election for the Oklahoma’s Senate District 37. Ikley-Freeman is the fourth Democrat this year to flip a Republican seat in Oklahoma special elections.

Public Domain

The State of Oklahoma’s health department is in the midst of a financial crisis, reports Oklahoma Watch.

The department laid off a number of employees this month and announced further job cuts in an attempt to shore up the unexpected cash crunch. The state has also requested a special audit of health department finances by State Auditor Gary Jones. The cash shortfall is so severe that the department has activated a state of emergency normally reserved for public health crises such as disease outbreaks.

Jeff Hall

Jeff Hall, a Republican from Mooreland, Okla., announced his candidacy for State Senate District 27 last week.

An Army veteran, Hall was raised in Northwest Oklahoma, where his family has roots for several generations. Hall served two tours of duty in Iraq, and retired from service in 2014. Hall currently owns a small business in Guymon.

In a press release, Hall indicated that he feared the GOP was “squandering its opportunity to lead.”

www.oksenate.gov / Wikimedia Commons

One of the candidates for Governor of Oklahoma next year has some fresh ideas on how the state might address its massive budget shortfall, reports The Duncan Banner.

Last week at a Meet the Oklahoma Governor Candidate forum, Connie Johnson declared her support for the legalization of medical marijuana in the Sooner State.“

It’s a plant that God created,” she said. 

James Johnson / Wikimedia Commons

Oklahoma lawmakers are already seeing warning signs that they’ll be facing stiff competition during the 2018 election.

As Oklahoma Watch reports, as of last month, 13 candidates had already announced their plans to challenge incumbent Oklahoma legislators.

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Todd Lamb, the current Lieutenant Governor of Oklahoma, recently announced his plan to bring positive change to his home state. Lamb, who announced his plans to run for Governor in April, told KSWO that his vision for the state includes five steps.

Those steps are, in the Lt. Gov.’s words, “to reform and restructure state government, education priority, infrastructure, economic diversity and making Oklahoma work again.”

DonkeyHotey / Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma Democrats had a couple of big wins this week, as they flipped two Republican seats blue.

As The Oklahoman reports, Democrats won two special elections for state congressional seats on Tuesday night. Both seats had been vacated after Republican lawmakers stepped down amid scandal. In Senate District 44, Democrat Michael Brooks defeated Republican Joe Griffin. And in House District 75, Democrat Karen Gaddis beat the GOP’s candidate, Tressa Nunley.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A new service in the State of Oklahoma hopes to ensure that voters never miss another election.

As KOSU reports, the new alert system from the Oklahoma State Election Board will send out notices to interested voters whenever an election is around the corner. The service will also remind voters when it’s time to renew their annual absentee ballot requests.

Annie Langthorn/Elle

Oklahoma’s Democratic Party has elected its youngest party chair ever.

In a profile in Elle magazine, 24-year-old Annie Langthorn says she became interested in politics in high school, volunteering and interning with candidates. She even skipped her own high school graduation to attend the Oklahoma State Democratic Convention.

Langthorn beat out four other candidates for her new role as state chair.

Oklahoma State Legislature

Yesterday the Oklahoma legislature brought a bill to the floor that would make abortions illegal unless approved by the mother’s male sexual partner.

Oklahoma Watch

Last year, a caucus of teachers rose up in Oklahoma. Dozens of schoolteachers ran for public office in the Sooner State, out of frustration over low education funding levels and teacher pay.

In response, money poured into Oklahoma from out of state, funding the opposition to this so-called “Teacher Caucus.” Many of those teachers subsequently lost their races.

Oklahoma Watch

Five years ago in Oklahoma, the GOP-held legislature redrew district boundaries to more heavily favor the Republican party. Since that time, the Republicans have seen a ten percent increase in the number of seats they control in Oklahoma. The GOP now controls almost 80 percent of statehouse seats.

Nick Oxford / The New York Times

Last week HPPR reported on a newspaper in northwestern Oklahoma that endorsed Hillary Clinton during the general election and received a harsh backlash.

After its recommendation—the first such endorsement by the paper in over a century—the paper lost two percent of its subscribers, and the paper’s editor was threatened with physical assault while out to dinner with his wife.

Tulsa World

As we enter the new year, Oklahoma political headlines have been dominated by the sexual harassment allegations surrounding State Rep. Dan Kirby, and the charge that Kirby used public money to settle the lawsuit from his former assistant.

Now, as The Tulsa World reports, it appears there may be little recourse to punish Kirby.

Oklahoma Watch

In Oklahoma, Republicans hold a supermajority in both chambers of the state legislature. In the Senate they hold a 39-9 advantage, while they outnumber Democrats in the House by 71-30.

Here, courtesy of Oklahoma Watch, are some legislative races to keep an eye on tonight in the Sooner State.

news9.com

More than 225 new state laws went into effect in Oklahoma this week, News 9 reports.

Domestic violence victim advocates are cheering one of the new laws. Senate Bill 1491 says that anyone showing a pattern of domestic violence will be guilty of a felony. Under the law, a “pattern of domestic violence” is defined as two more instances.

news9.com

One consequence of the deeply conservative nature of Oklahoma politics: It can leave the state’s voters feeling left on the sidelines.

As News 9 reports, both major-party presidential candidates have been focusing on the cares and concerns of the voters living in the eleven battleground states. And that can leave Oklahomans feeling forgotten.

NewsOK.com

With the news this week that Texas may be entering swing state territory, you may be wondering how much more unpredictable this election will get. But, as NewsOK reports, Oklahoma won’t be turning blue anytime soon.

The state has long held a reputation as one of the nation’s most reliably conservative, and that fact seems as true as ever.

KFOR.com

Oklahoma has denied a request by Russian officials to monitor voters at a polling place on election day, KFOR reports.

The request came from Consul General Alexander Zakharov at the Russian consulate in Houston. The Russians said they simply wanted to observe the U.S. election process.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s State Question 777, better known as the “Right to Farm” initiative, has drawn a good deal of controversy in recent months, reports StateImpact Oklahoma. SQ 777 would amend Oklahoma’s constitution to prevent the state Legislature from enacting laws that limit agricultural technology, livestock production or ranching practices, unless the state has a compelling interest to do so.

KTUL

Oklahoma’s ballot initiatives can be confusing to those who haven’t studied them. To help voters understand the measures, KTUL has published a guide. Here are some highlights:

State Question 780: Oklahoma Reclassification of Some Drug and Property Crimes as Misdemeanors Initiative

KTUL

Oklahoma’s ballot initiatives can be confusing to those who haven’t studied them. To help voters understand the measures, KTUL has published a guide. Here are some highlights:

SQ 776: Oklahoma Death Penalty

Voting yes supports protecting the death penalty in the state constitution.

Voting no opposes amending the Oklahoma constitution to protect the death penalty.

SQ 777: Oklahoma Right-to-Farm Amendment

KFOR.com

As the deadline to register to vote in Oklahoma rapidly approaches, Republican numbers appear to be surging.

Emily Wendler / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Donald Trump is set to win Oklahoma’s seven electoral votes this November, reports KGOU.

His victory is being predicted despite widespread voter ambivalence about his candidacy in the state. A recent poll shows Trump leading Hillary Clinton by 15 percentage points in Oklahoma. Trump has at times struggles to gain traction even with Conservative voters in the state. Trump lost Oklahoma’s Republican primary to his GOP rival Ted Cruz, a Senator from neighboring Texas.

NewsOK.com

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt's campaign team has been spending a lot of money. But not much of that money is actually being spent on elections, reports NewsOK.

Pruitt and his campaign team have spent well over half a million dollars since the beginning of last year. That’s despite the fact that Pruitt is ineligible to run again and hasn’t said he’s seeking another office.

Oklahoma Watch

In 2014’s general election, a little more than 40 percent of registered voters cast ballots. That amounts to about 29 percent of Oklahoma’s voting-age population, reports Oklahoma Watch. That means that, when it comes to voter turnout, Oklahoma ranks near the bottom among states.

And 2014 was bad, even by Oklahoma standards; it was one of the worst years for turnout since the state began keeping track in 1960.

fischerfotos / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has rejected a change to a criminal justice reform question on the November ballot, reports The Tulsa World. The controversy has to do with the explanation of a law change voters will see on the ballot in November.

fair.org

Now that the speeches have concluded and the balloons have dropped, what does all the hoopla of the political conventions mean for Oklahoma? Not much, says The Tulsa World. At least, not in terms of the November elections.