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Political notebook: Democrats hit Republicans on Jan. 6 silence

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Jan. 6: Fifth District Congresswoman Stephanie Bice was the only member of Oklahoma's all-Republican congressional delegation to acknowledge Thursday's anniversary of last year's attack on the U.S. Capitol — which, of course, invited strong words from Oklahoma Democrats.

Bice, in a written statement, said the attacks are "not who we are" and essentially blamed them on states that made voting easier in the midst of a pandemic without the express consent of lawmakers, as well as a "security failure."

Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairwoman Alicia Andrews saw things differently.

"The path to unity is through accountability," she said in a written statement. "It is incumbent upon our elected officials, to tell the truth. What happened a year ago was an attempt to subvert our democracy, and those who perpetrated it should be held accountable at all levels.

"Those feeding the election fraud misinformation stream are almost as culpable as those who stormed the Capitol," she said. "The 2020 elections were the most secure that our nation has ever seen, and a lack of accountability for the January 6 attack is setting our nation up for a repeat performance."

U.S. Sen. James Lankford, who was speaking on the Senate floor when the chamber was evacuated last year, spoke briefly to the Wall Street Journal.

“There’s not a person I talk to that doesn’t have strong emotions on that day,” he said. “On every side. However you speak on it, it will be always pulling a scab for this generation.”

Jackson Lahmeyer, a primary opponent who claims Lankford is too cozy with Blacks and not cozy enough with former President Donald Trump, went on Facebook Live with former national security advisor and conspiracy monger Michael Flynn.

Democrat challenger Jason Bollinger, an Oklahoma City attorney, got in some licks from the other side.

"On and since January 6th, Senator Lankford has shown us that he is willing to undermine our democracy and the will of the American people for personal political gain," Bollinger said in a written statement. "Oklahomans deserve a Senator who will stand for and protect our Constitution."

New legislation: Around 2,200 new pieces of legislation are expected to be filed by the Jan. 20 deadline of the upcoming state legislative session.

Most filings come in a late crush, but several bills and resolution of interest have been filed, including:

• SB 1201, by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow. It is one of several filed by Republican lawmakers that would bolster the authority of county sheriffs, at least theoretically, to resist federal authorities. This one would allow sheriffs to create "citizen posses" to keep "agents, employees and officers of the federal government from violating the rights of the people of their county."

• HB 1161, by Sen. George Burns, R-Pollard. Although not the same George Burns who played God in a series of 1970s and '80s movies, this George Burns has some definite ideas about the Scriptures. His bill essentially would make the 1611 King James Version the official Bible of Oklahoma public schools. His reason: It's the translation most used by the nation's founders.

• SB 1178, by Sen. Jessica Garvin, R-Duncan. It would provide for training  prison inmates as hospice workers and certified nurse assistants.

• SB 1171, by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman. One of numerous bills aimed at COVID-19 mandates, this one takes the GOP-led Legislature in a direction it has before avoided — regulation of private schools. Standridge's bill would prohibit them from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations.

Campaigns and elections: State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said her gubernatorial campaign raised more than $540,000 in its first 90 days.

A lifelong Republican who switched to the Democratic Party in October, Hofmeister said 95% of the contributions were from in-state donors.

Liotta promoted: Former legislator and Oklahoma Workers Compensation Commission Chairman Mark Liotta was named chief deputy to Tulsa County Assessor John Wright.

Liotta joined the Assessor's Office in September as the human resources director. During a previous stint with Tulsa County, he was a highway superintendent, chief deputy county commissioner and interim county commissioner.

He also served five terms in the Legislature as a Republican from Tulsa and worked for almost 20 years in the private sector.

Campaigns and elections: State Senate Democrats held a fundraiser in downtown Tulsa last week.

• The Tulsa County Democratic Party will have a school board elections phone bank from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 7 at Baxter's Interurban, 717 S. Houston Ave.

Meetings and events: Oklahoma Attorney General John O'Connor will speak to the Republican Women's Club of Tulsa County at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at Tulsa Country Club, 701 N. Union Ave.

• The Oklahoma Federation of College Republicans convention will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 5 at the Advance Center for Free Enterprise, 415 N.E. 13th St. in Oklahoma City. See OKFCR State Convention 2022 on Eventbrite for reservations and information.

Bottom lines: First District Congressman Kevin Hern reported that his staff closed "just over" 900 constituent cases in 2021. … Oklahoma House Democrats panned a legislative report on educator compensation and called for an "honest conversation" about why teachers remain in short supply. … State Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, has been appointed to the Route 66 Centennial Commission. … State Rep. Jay Steagall, R-Yukon, took exception to U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot's scathing rejection of the state's argument for exempting Oklahoma National Guard members from COVID-19 vaccination requirements. … The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services received a three-year, $600,000 federal grant to provide housing assistance and mental health support for young victims of human sex trafficking.

— Randy Krehbiel, Tulsa World


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