Capital City: Ongoing shutdown sends students scrambling
Good Wednesday morning.
Lawmakers were back at the Capitol yesterday for an organizational day ahead of the start to the official legislative session, which begins next month.
Here's a rundown of what took place ...
-House Speaker Charles McCall was officially elected by his Republican caucus to retain control of the state House of Representatives.
-Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, was voted by his caucus to lead the state Senate as president pro tempore, his first time to hold the position.
-Despite the objection of Democrats, the House approved a series of rule changes, which include allowing the speaker to bypass the 48-hour notice to call a committee meeting and require all members be present in the chamber to cast a vote, instead of casting a vote from the fifth-floor gallery, where all Democrat offices are located. The new rules also ban video recording from the House floor, such as social media live streams that lawmakers have used to connect with constituents.
You can read more here about the organization day at the Capitol.
Governor reform measures
- Related to this story
- Video: Organizational Day at the Capitol
Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt wants to have the ability to hire and fire agency directors when he becomes governor next week. On Tuesday, McCall reiterated his support for that proposal.
"I hope this body and the Senate will agree to grant him the tools needed to truly reform the executive branch of state government," McCall said.
Speaking of the new governor ... Stitt’s staff, which includes several individuals with close business ties, will not be subject to personal financial disclosures, following new state ethics rules that went into effect in 2016.
In 2015, state ethics rules were changed to only require personal financial disclosures from elected officials. You can read more about the lack of disclosure requirements in a story I published today.
GOV SHUTDOWN CONTINUES ... The partial federal government shutdown continues into its 19th day and both the president and Democratic leaders in congress addressed the nation last night.
Student housing: In Oklahoma City, the FAA Academy is closed during the shutdown, with students scrambling for a place to live. About 75 FAA Academy students are living rent-free at the Isola Bella apartments.
“They just came in here looking helpless, like, ‘What am I supposed to do? We're not going to get paid, I quit my job to try to be an air traffic controller' and it's horrible seeing them like that,” said Kristy Koon, general manager of Isola Bella Apartments in northwest Oklahoma City, which caters to FAA Academy students.
Food assistance: Thousands of Oklahoma families that use federal assistance to stretch their food budgets will get their February benefits despite the partial government shutdown, but there is still uncertainty about March.
Tulsa councilwoman reports threat
Newly elected Tulsa city councilor Kara Joy McKee has filed an incident report with the Tulsa Police Department alleging she was threatened on Facebook by Paul Tay, a political gadfly and perennial candidate for local elected offices, reports the Tulsa World.
Lamb's new gig
Outgoing Lt. Gov Todd Lamb and former gubernatorial candidate has accepted a job as chief development officer of TriCorps, a cybersecurity firm based in Oklahoma City.
Medical Marijuana bill filed
Senate Bill 162 would eliminate any extra requirements for physicians to recommend medical marijuana. The bill comes as hundreds of patients who submitted their medical marijuana paperwork will have to find other physicians to fill out their recommendation forms because their doctors hadn't completed extra training that is currently required.
The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority announced last week that about 450 patients would need to resubmit their physician recommendation forms. All recommendations must come from a board-certified physician, and about 2 percent of the more 28,000 patients whose licenses were approved didn't meet that requirement, according to the authority. The Oklahoman's Meg Wingerter has more.
More political news ...
-After a bitter dispute, OETA is cutting ties with its longtime charitable partner and will use a new nonprofit to raise funds for public television.
-Epic Charter Schools is seeing its share of state aid soar by $38.7 million in annual, midyear adjustments just made by the Oklahoma State Department of Education. (Tulsa World)
-An order approved Tuesday by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission requires Oklahoma Natural Gas to pass through $22.7 million in credits to customers to compensate them for taxes collected as part of their bills the company didn't have to pay.
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