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Capital City: Permitless carry bill advances

Gusty wind did not prevent continued renovation work Thursday, Jan. 25, on the Oklahoma Capitol's south side. [Photos by Thomas Maupin, For The Oklahoman]
Gusty wind did not prevent continued renovation work Thursday, Jan. 25, on the Oklahoma Capitol's south side. [Photos by Thomas Maupin, For The Oklahoman]

Good Thursday morning. 

House Republicans advanced a bill Wednesday that allows Oklahoma citizens to carry a gun without training, a proposed expansion of gun rights that now heads to the state Senate.

Democrats, who voted against House Bill 2597, argued it removed a necessary education and safety component to legally obtaining a firearm, moving Oklahoma one step closer to becoming the "Wild, Wild West."

Republicans argued it simply gave Oklahomans a right that already exists in 15 other states. 

The bill will now to head to the Senate. A similar bill was approved last year by the House and Senate, only to be vetoed by then-Gov. Mary Fallin

Gov. Kevin Stitt said he supports the bill: "Conceptually, absolutely I'm going to sign it. We are going to be a state that protects the 2nd Amendment."

Medicaid rule dropped from Thursday's agenda ... A rule that would have allowed Medicaid benefits for children to be cut off if a notification letter were returned as undeliverable has been dropped from the agenda for Thursday’s Oklahoma Health Care Authority meeting, reports the Tulsa World. The Health Care Authority, which administers the state’s Medicaid program, said the initiative in question has been “put on hold” but had no further details.

HB 2367 fuels workers comp fight ... Near the end of Tuesday’s House Judiciary meeting, Chairman Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City, announced House Bill 2367, which deals with workers’ compensation, would be held over. 

Kannady drew attention to a flier distributed this week by the State Chamber of Oklahoma and said more work would be done on the legislation. NonDoc has more on the story and the details behind the flier.  

GRDA increases police resources ... The Grand River Dam Authority’s police force will soon be equipped with body cameras as well as cameras for patrol vehicles and boats, reports The Frontier

The GRDA’s board of directors unanimously approved a $476,295 contract for the devices with body camera manufacturer WatchGuard during the board’s regular meeting on Wednesday in Tulsa. The GRDA’s police force has seen substantial growth over the last decade.

College students advocate at Capitol ... Students from campuses across the state rallied for increased funding for their colleges and universities this week during 2019 Higher Education Day at the Capitol.

A group from Northwestern Oklahoma State University was among those who spent time urging lawmakers to restore money for faculty and programs. Higher education's state funding has been cut by $274 million in the past decade.

Hayden Graham, of Broken Arrow, said he is concerned about the reduction of faculty at NWOSU due to declining appropriations. Fellow student Aleysa Franz, of Alva, said she supports more funding for the concurrent enrollment program that allowed her to earn 20 college credits while still in high school.

"It provides students a lot of opportunity," Franz said.

Tulsa leaders announce road plans ... On Wednesday, Tulsa city leaders announced plans to hold a Nov. 12 vote to renew the Improve Our Tulsa capital improvements package, reports the Tulsa World

The six-year program would total approximately $597 million. About $427 million in funding would come through the sale of general obligation bonds, with the remainder raised through sales tax collections.

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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 ›