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Capital City: Response to Trump and Dems present agenda

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Gusty wind did not prevent continued renovation work Thursday, Jan. 25, on the Oklahoma Capitol's south side. [Photos by Thomas Maupin, For The Oklahoman]
Gusty wind did not prevent continued renovation work Thursday, Jan. 25, on the Oklahoma Capitol's south side. [Photos by Thomas Maupin, For The Oklahoman]

Good Wednesday morning. 

President Donald Trump delivered the State of the Union yesterday, Oklahoma Democrats announced their legislative agenda and anti-abortion advocates will gather today at the state Capitol. 

State of the Union ...Trump on Tuesday called on Washington to reject "the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution." He warned emboldened Democrats that "ridiculous partisan investigations" into his administration and businesses could hamper a surging American economy.

Rep. Kendra Horn said she hopes "the president's calls for bipartisanship were indeed genuine. I have long said that we have more that unites us than divides us." Here is the rest of her post speech statement

Sen. James Lankford said Trump's "speech was unifying and forward-looking. He stated that we can do things together, if we focus on legislation instead of investigation." 

You can read more responses from Oklahoma lawmakers here

Today at the state Capitol ... The annual Rose Day will include a gathering of anti-abortion Oklahomans. Gov. Kevin Stitt is scheduled to speak at noon. 

Lobbyist parking ended at Capitol ... Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat recently announced that lobbyists no longer would have reserved parking in spaces allocated to the Senate at the Capitol, reports the Tulsa World

Treat, R-Oklahoma City, on Tuesday said there was a growing demand by members for reserved spots for pastors, teachers, spouses and Senate guests.

Treat said he didn’t know the prior criteria used to determine lobbyist parking because he just took over as leader of the Senate. But lobbyists could make the request through his office. If approved, the they would get a hang tag for their vehicle.

The House does not allow lobbyists to park in its reserved parking areas, according to House staff.

Ward 2 council race ... With city leaders already discussing another MAPS program — the 1-cent sales tax used for capital projects — all five Ward 2 candidates are trying to sell their MAPS vision to voters. I wrote about the city council race in today's Oklahoman and how each candidate is pledging to focus on neighborhood issues that will impact Ward 2, rather than concentrate the funds in the city’s downtown core.

“If we double the bus fleet we can go from 30-minute frequency to 15-minute frequency, and then we are also able to run the buses to 3 a.m.,” said James Cooper, who wants the next MAPS program to include a significant investment in public transportation.

Commissioners disagree over jail stunt ... On Saturday, Oklahoma County Commissioner Kevin Calvey showed up at the county jail for what he called a surprise inspection. The county sheriff was not happy. Yesterday, County Commissioner Carrie Blumertappeared to take aim at Calvey by saying she didn’t get elected to “manufacture drama.” 

Oklahoma Democrats present agenda ... House and Senate Democrats are largely an urban caucus, but they presented an agenda Tuesday that includes some issues most prevalent in rural Oklahoma.

“Expanding Medicaid will ensure that we can keep our rural hospitals and our veterans centers open,” said House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, referring to one her caucus’ central policy proposals.

“Many rural citizens are having to drive 100 miles just to have a baby, and that is unacceptable.”

Republicans have been mostly opposed to Medicaid expansion. Gov. Kevin Stitt, a Republican, said Monday he considers it as a risky proposition because the federal government could leave the state responsible for more than $1 billion in Medicaid costs.

The state relies on federal funding for many other programs, Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd said, and lawmakers could include a provision that a retreat by the feds would end the expansion program.

“We’ve taken federal money for ODOT and for (the Department of) Human Services for decades, and there has never been a concern that the money is not going to be here next year,” Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, said.

Poultry concerns pile up for Ag Board to consider ... Registrations for new poultry-raising operations have been on hold for all of Oklahoma since October, a pause initially meant to give the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and a broad-interest advisory council time to discuss emergency rules, reports the Tulsa World

Another month of debate over the new regulations wrapped up Tuesday evening with a final hour of public comment and early indications are that the sides still are as divided as they were when the board and past Secretary of Agriculture Jim Reese "punted" the subject at the board's December meeting. 

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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