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Capital City: Stitt issues first executive orders

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Gov. Kevin Stitt moved Thursday to bar state agencies from hiring outside lobbyists, and he instructed the state to sell the airplane servicing the governor's office.

Issuing his first executive orders, Stitt also took a step toward reshaping state employment. He maintained a hiring freeze on classified employees — a protected class of state workers the governor said are difficult to change — but lifted the hiring freeze on unclassified positions.

"To really move the needle and to give our agency heads the ability to transform their agencies ... we've got to make sure we don't grow those classified positions," Stitt said.

Oklahoma's senators voted Thursday for one of two failed proposals to reopen the federal government ... Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford backed legislation that would have allocated $5.7 billion for border security and extended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. They voted against a short-term funding bill that would have opened the government through Feb. 8 but not provided additional funds for border security.

“At the end of the day, I'm deeply disappointed in my Democratic colleagues for their refusal to engage in good faith negotiations," said Inhofe, R-Tulsa. "Their unwillingness to come to the table is impacting hardworking Oklahomans and is showing the American people yet again that they are unwilling to put politics aside for the good of the country."

Both bills needed 60 votes to advance, and both fell well short of that mark. The first bill failed 50-47, with all but two Republicans in favor and all but one Democrat opposed. The second failed 52-44, with six Republicans joining all Democrats and independents in favor.

Oklahoma City police chief retiring ... Longtime police chief, Bill Citty, said Thursday he is retiring May 2. Last year, his deputy chiefs accused him of retaliating against them for seeking overtime pay. After an investigation, the city auditor in December reported the allegations "were unsubstantiated."

City manager Craig Freeman will pick the next police chief.

The chief also has been at odds recently with the police union, which had been prepared to launch a $100,000 media campaign against him.

Tulsa World’s Let’s Talk Community Forum ... The event, focusing on the new session, was held in the OSU-Tulsa conference center auditorium. The forum panel included state Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, state Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa, lobbyist Margaret Erling and Tulsa World political writer Randy Krehbiel

Education is “the top priority without a doubt,” David said. “We’re all tired of being last in education in the nation.”

She added, “We also have a health care crisis in our state. That needs money also. We also have a crisis in the Department of Corrections.”

Black caucus responds to OU blackface incidents ... State Sen. George Young, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, released a statement Thursday urging action at OU. "It is beyond time for these matters to be addressed," Young said. "It is imperative that we become more proactive, that we address these injustices instead of being reactionary upon an occurrence. We stand ready to assist the University of Oklahoma in making sure that we have provided all we can to make the campus reflect a welcoming and inclusionary environment."

Thanks for reading. Got questions, suggestions or complaints? Email me at bfelder@oklahoman.com. 

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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 ›

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