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Political notebook: Area lawmakers given leadership posts on committee managing $1.9 billion in federal aid

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Big Money: Several area lawmakers snagged leadership positions on the joint legislative committee overseeing the state’s $1.9 billion in pandemic relief funds authorized by the American Relief Plan, or ARPA.

Sen. John Haste, R-Broken Arrow, and Rep. Kyle Hilbert, R-Bristow, will co-chair the health and human services committee; Rep. Jeff Boatman, R-Tulsa, is co-chairman of government transformation and collaboration; and Sen. James Leewright, R-Bristow, and Rep. Logan Phillips, R-Mounds, are co-chairs of transportation, infrastructure and rural development.

The joint committee will work with the administration in determining how the federal funds will be spent over the next two years.

McGirt: At least one prominent Republican not on board with Gov. Kevin Stitt’s efforts to get the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse itself on the McGirt decision.

Fourth District Congressman Tom Cole, a member of the Chickasaw Nation, told the Norman Transcript the state would be better off figuring out a way to work with the tribes.

Cole filed legislation concerning the matter earlier this year, but it has not progressed and seems unlikely to.

GOP meeting: Reports leaking out of the July 17 closed-door Republican State Committee meeting indicates that the vote against censuring U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe and James Lankford was not exactly a ringing endorsement for either of them, especially Lankford, who is up for re-election next year.

Several of those who spoke against the resolution said they disagreed and were even angry at Lankford for not holding up certification of last year’s presidential election, but thought the matter should be settled in the GOP primary.

Concern that Democrats would exploit the resolution, not acknowledgement that Lankford and Inhofe acted correctly, predominated the discussion.

Several of those in attendance gave impassioned speeches about election fraud and treason, including a claim that the majority of votes cast for Democrat Joe Biden “came from China.”

In fact, no allegations of substantial election wrongdoing have been proved and most have been debunked.

At one point during the meeting, it was discovered that the number of votes cast on a preliminary motion on the censure resolution did not match the number authorized.

After some discussion, it was decided the number involved would not change the outcome of the vote, and it would be best to move on.

Homework: Oklahoma Speaker of the House Charles McCall, R-Atoka, approved 113 interim studies, including six joint studies with the House.

Interim studies typically lay the groundwork for legislation in the following session.

This year’s subjects range from school recess to medical marijuana to high-speed police chases.

Meetings and events: The Oklahoma Policy Institute is hosting a five-day virtual event Aug. 30-Sept. 3 for college students and recent graduates.

Application may be made through Deadline is Aug. 15.

Bottom lines: State Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, was elected chairman of the Southern Legislative Conference, which will hold its annual meeting in Oklahoma City next summer. ... The Biden administration said nearly 30,000 Oklahomans signed up for Affordable Care Act health insurance during the Feb. 15-June 30 special enrollment period. ... Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairwoman Alicia Andrews said Gov. Kevin Stitt’s ego is getting in the way of good government. ... Stitt appointed Oklahoma City attorney Greg Blackwell to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

Correction: A brief above originally incorrectly identified 4th District Congressman Tom Cole’s tribal citizenship. The story has been corrected.

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