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Capitol briefs: Seminole rep will seek upcoming vacant Senate seat


Seminole rep will seek upcoming vacant Senate seat

State Rep. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole, plans to run for a state Senate seat that will become vacant at the end of the month.

Taylor announced the news on Facebook on Tuesday, saying he feels he can make a bigger difference for Oklahoma families in the state Senate.

"We need Oklahoma to be top 10 in every category," he wrote. "From our schools to our economic growth and prosperity, let’s keep Oklahoma great, and push to be even greater."

Taylor will run for the Senate District 28 seat held by Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud, who announced Tuesday he will resign Jan. 31 to take a private-sector job.

There will be a special election to fill to the Senate District 28 seat until 2022, when Smalley's term would have been up. The election will coincide with this year's regularly scheduled primary and general elections.

Taylor was first elected to represent House District 28 in a 2017 special election after his predecessor took a private sector job.

SD 28 includes parts of Seminole, Lincoln and Pottawatomie counties.

Stitt announces OMES leadership changes

Gov. Kevin Stitt announced Wednesday leadership changes at the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services.

John Budd, the agency's current director and chief operating officer of the state, will focus on his role as Oklahoma's chief operating officer going forward.

Stitt created the state chief operating officer position to make state agencies more efficient and more focused on customer service.

OMES Deputy Director Steven Harpe will take over leading the state agency, according to a news release. Harpe joined the agency in October after previously serving as chairman of the Oklahoma Board of Corrections.

Harpe, who has more than 30 years of experience in information technology solutions, was chief information officer at Gateway Mortgage Group, the company founded and owned by Stitt and his family. His appointment is contingent on Senate approval.

OMES is a large agency that provides services to other state entities such as human resources, budgeting, purchasing and IT.

Democrat seeks permitless carry repeal

A Democratic state representative from Oklahoma City seeks to repeal Oklahoma's permitless carry law that took effect last year.

Rep. Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City, who tried to prevent permitless carry from taking effect, filed legislation to repeal the law that allows most Oklahomans to carry a firearm without a permit.

The legislation faces unfavorable odds in Oklahoma's GOP-controlled Legislature where majorities in both the House and Senate overwhelmingly approved of permitless carry last year.

The Legislature also passed similar legislation in 2018, which was vetoed by then-Gov. Mary Fallin.

House Bill 3357 would repeal the permitless carry law dubbed by supporters as "constitutional carry."

“There is no doubt in my mind that if people got to vote on whether firearm safety training should be necessary to carry a firearm in public, where our children are, permitless carry would not be the law,” Lowe said in a statement. “This legislation is a product of the hundreds of conversations I have had personally with Oklahomans who don’t want irresponsible gun owners to carry firearms in public.”

Last year, Lowe and several groups sought a statewide vote on the permitless carry law, but fell short of the required signatures to put the question on the ballot.

Lowe also filed a bill to ban long guns from Oklahoma restaurants.

The bills will be up for consideration during the legislative session that starts Feb. 3.

Related Photos


<figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - Budd " title=" Budd "><figcaption> Budd </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - Lowe " title=" Lowe "><figcaption> Lowe </figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//" alt="Photo - Taylor " title=" Taylor "><figcaption> Taylor </figcaption></figure>