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Politics Monday: Stitt's top staffer and Trump trade war payments

Michael Junk. (Tulsa World)
Michael Junk. (Tulsa World)

State Rep. Rhonda Baker, a former teacher and current chair of the House common education committee, said she completely supports the state's public school system and increasing its funding, despite the feelings of the party chairman from her own county who questioned the state's involvement in education.

“I have always been and will continue to be a supporter of public education,” Baker, R-Yukon, told The Oklahoman.

The Canadian County Republican Party sent a letter to lawmakers last week urging the state to no longer manage the public school system, or to at least significantly consolidate the number of districts.

Political State: In last week's episode of Political State, which you can watch above or here, State Sens. Carri Hicks and Julia Kirt, both Democrats from northwest Oklahoma City, discussed their elections and next year’s legislative session.

Supreme Court provides hints on Creek case

U.S. Supreme Court arguments last week in a Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation case made clear where several justices stand, placed large question marks next to others and left some Indian law experts yearning for the one justice who wasn't there.

"It seemed clear that Justices Alito and (Brett) Kavanaugh took a dim view of the 10th Circuit's ruling, seemingly based on policy concerns,” said Stephen Greetham, senior counsel for the Chickasaw Nation, which was not a party in the case but supports the Creeks. “It seemed equally clear that Justices (Elana) Kagan and (Sonia) Sotomayor took a dim view of the case for reversal.”

Farmers receive Trump trade war payments

More than 2,000 Oklahoma farmers and ranchers received payments totaling nearly $2 million in September and October as part of President Donald Trump's effort to compensate them for losses resulting from international trade disputes.

“Our folks don't really want this program, they want free and open trade,” said Rodd Moesel, president of the Oklahoma Farm Bureau. “I think there's an appreciation from a lot of people that this is better than nothing and helps soften the blow while the negotiations are still going. But they don't want the world to become a world where this is normal and this is an ongoing thing.”

U.S. judge finishes historic career

U.S District Judge Vicki Miles-LaGrange, the first black federal judge in Oklahoma and the five other states in the 10th Circuit has presided over her last case.

Miles-LaGrange, who was the first black woman elected to the Oklahoma Senate and the first black woman in the nation to serve as a U.S. attorney, spoke with The Oklahoman last week about her retirement.

"I never had a job that I didn't like," the judge said last week as she finished taking the last of her things from her chambers at the courthouse. "It's just been a privilege to serve."

Junk named chief of staff

Michael Junk will serve as Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt's chief of staff. You can read more about Junk here

"I compare (Oklahoma right now) to where the city of Tulsa was just a few years ago when it felt pretty flat and there wasn't a lot of excitement," Junk said. "This is an opportunity to really rebrand the state and inject a tremendous amount of energy ... and I think we are putting together a strong team that I'm excited to play a part of, whatever that requires."

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Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›