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Capital City: Mullin PAC involved in mayoral race

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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 Monday morning. 

A political action committee affiliated with U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin is supporting a candidate in the race for Tahlequah mayor. The interesting part is that the candidate being supported is challenging Tahlequah mayor Jason Nichols, who ran against Mullin in last year's District 2 House race, according to the Tahlequah Daily Press

When asked if she knew the PAC may have been connected to Mullin's 2018 re-election campaign for U.S. Congress, Catron said she did not know, but would not be surprised if Mullin is a donor, the Daily Press reported. 

"I've made no commitments to anyone," she added. "The only commitment I've made is to Tahlequah and its citizens."

On Friday, Catron made a statement on her campaign's Facebook page saying she plans to donate the PAC funds after the election.

Pardon and Parole Board ... Gov. Kevin Stitt wants more funding for the Pardon and Parole Board to expedite requests from offenders. But a more crucial factor might be who he appoints to the board, which historically denies most parole requests. 

“Gov. Stitt can do more for criminal justice reform by himself by who he appoints to the pardon and parole board,” said Kevin Armstrong, board president for Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE).

The governor appoints three of the five pardon and parole board members and all three seats are available for Stitt to fill. 

Teacher pay or classroom funding? ... Days after Gov. Stitt's proposed budget included no significant increase in classroom funding, legislative leaders said they still expect the state’s final budget to include a boost for public schools.

Stitt has proposed a $95 million increase for common education, with most going towards teacher pay raises and hiring bonuses. The governor said educator pay is a priority over classroom funding in his first year in office.

But leaders in both the House and Senate said an increase in funding for textbooks, technology and other classroom resources should still be expected.

“On the doorsteps this past (election), I heard from my colleagues that classroom funding was a bigger issue when they went around, bigger than even (teacher) pay was,” said Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat.

Midyear budget requests ... Six state agencies have submitted requests for supplemental funding totaling more than $32 million to help get through the current fiscal year that ends June 30. The total would have been larger, but a request for $7.5 million to renovate Oklahoma's 90-year-old governor's mansion was withdrawn after Gov. Stitt was elected. The Oklahoman's Randy Ellis has more on the story.  

Seeking standard for 'intent' law ... A bipartisan coalition of community leaders wants lawmakers to specifically define the crime of drug possession with intent to distribute to ensure the charge is used consistently across the state. The Oklahoman's Darla Splike has the story

“We are seeking to establish a standard definition of what constitutes possession with intent to distribute so that we can accurately ensure that individuals who battle addiction aren’t being overcharged, while people who are truly causing problems in our communities by distributing drugs are being charged appropriately,” said Kris Steele, executive director of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform.

Board of Regents vacancies ... University of Oklahoma Board of Regents member William “Bill” Burgess died Friday. He was 62.

His death creates a second vacancy on the board, which will be filled by Gov. Stitt. Earlier this week, Stitt said he wanted to bring diversity to the board, especially as the university has faced criticism for its handling of racist incidents in recent weeks.

Fining stopped trains ... House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, has filed a bill that would fine railroad companies up to $10,000 if a train is stopped at an intersection for more than 10 minutes, reports KFOR

“We had a specific incident where the child could not get to the hospital because of the railroad crossing being blocked for a long period of time,” Rep. McCall told KJRH.

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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