Under the dome: Veterans are once again a popular subject at the state Capitol, with several bills aimed at attracting them to Oklahoma on the books for the session that begins Feb. 7.
These include exempting military retirement pay — and, in at least one case, other income — from state taxes, free admission to state parks and in-state tuition to any family stationed in Oklahoma within the decade previous to admission to a public college or university.
• The U.S. Food and Drug Administration determines which medications require prescriptions, but at least one bill filed for the upcoming legislative session ignores that and seeks to make two prescription drugs, ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, available over the counter. Both are touted by some contrarians as COVID-19 treatments, but neither is approved or recommended as such by the majority of medical professionals.
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• Unopposed candidates' names appeared on ballots during the state's early days, even though voters had no alternatives. Rep. Andy Fugate, D-Oklahoma City, wants to bring that back in a different form.
Fugate's House Bill 3059 would submit legislative incumbents without general election opponents to stand for a retention vote similar to those held for state appellate court judges. An incumbent's failure to get a majority would trigger a special election.
• Oklahoma Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Hamilton accused Republican lawmakers of "pushing a sham panic button" and "weaponizing ridiculous bills to pander to their base and further their anti-education movement out of fear."
Specifically, Hamilton was referring to GOP bills aimed at limiting, depending on point of view, either the discussion of controversial subjects or indoctrination in public schools.
Campaigns and events: U.S. Sen. James Lankford's reelection campaign said it raised almost $915,000 in the fourth quarter of 2021 and had $2.8 million in cash at the end of the reporting period on Dec. 31.
For the calendar year 2021, the campaign said it raised $3.15 million from 48 states.
The release came in advance of Monday's deadline to file quarterly reports with the Federal Election Commission.
• State Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, said he will challenge 3rd District Congressman Frank Lucas in the June 28 Republican primary.
Roberts cannot run for reelection to the Legislature because of term limits.
Lucas has not had a close election since winning a hotly contested special election for what was then Oklahoma's 6th District in 1994. He received 78.5% of the vote in the 2020 general election after drawing no primary opponent, and during the course of his career he has maintained some of the largest margins in state history.
Lucas was last primaried in 2016, when he got 78% of the vote against Desiree Brown.
Roberts' legislative career has focused largely on making guns more available and opposing abortion, undocumented immigrants and vaccination mandates. His recent legislation includes an effort to require new applications for the state's 2.1 million registered voters.
Lucas has been chairman of the House Agriculture Committee. He is now the ranking Republican on the House Science Committee and among the senior Republicans on the House Financial Services Committee.
• Tulsan Jo Glenn filed an FEC Statement of Organization for the U.S. Senate. She joins Jason Bollinger, Madison Horn and Connie Johnson in seeking the Democratic nomination.
• How much did the Republican-led Legislature change the 5th Congressional District last year? Roll Call analyst Nathan Gonzales did the precinct-by-precinct math and concluded that while President Donald Trump carried Oklahoma's 5th Congressional District in 2020 — before the Republican-led Legislature redrew it last year — by 5 percentage points, he would have carried the "new" 5th District by 19 points.
•Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jackson Lahmeyer said retired Gen. Michael Flynn and Trump adviser Roger Stone are coming back to the state to campaign for him.
Events are scheduled for March 4 in Oklahoma City and March 5 in Tulsa.
Lahmeyer is also appearing in Ohio, Oregon and California at associate Clay Clark's Reawaken America events, featuring a lineup of conspiracy theorists and loyalists of former President Donald Trump.
Meetings and events: Former state Rep. Skye McNiel, executive director of Oklahoma Association of Career and Technology Education, will be the featured speaker at the Republican Women's Club of Tulsa County meeting at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 10 at the Tulsa Country Club. RSVP to email@example.com.
• Heart of the Party, the Tulsa Chapter of the Oklahoma Federation of Democratic Women, will not hold its regular February meeting because of its Feb. 13 Hearts on Fire fundraiser.
Bottom lines: The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy hailed a ruling by the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals it says will make altering physical child custody schedules easier and help keep both parents involved in their children's lives. … Oklahoma is one of nine states receiving $144,000 grants to address food insecurity. … Fort Gibson Public Schools received a $55,700 Community Facilities Disaster Grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. … Former Lankford staffer Jeff Underwood is now deputy director of the Port of Muskogee. … The Oklahoma Policy Institute, which advocates for low-income workers, reported that Big Macs cost more in Oklahoma City than in most surrounding states with higher minimum wages, and more than even in Denmark, where McDonald's employees are paid the equivalent of $22 an hour.
— Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa World