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Capital City: Governor seeks "quick wins"

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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 Friday morning.

Digital driver's licenses and debit card payments at state parks are some of the “quick wins” Gov. Kevin Stitt would like to see in the coming months.

Stitt held his third cabinet meeting Thursday and discussed goals he wants to achieve in the next few months at the agencies overseen by his cabinet secretaries.

“I’m really challenging my cabinet to determine what does success look like in all of these different agencies, and also what are some quick wins we can achieve,” Stitt said following the two-hour meeting. “I think it’s starting to come together.”

Tax commissioner named ... On Thursday, Stitt also announced Charles Prater as the next commissioner to the Oklahoma Tax Commission, which oversees the administration and enforcement of state tax laws.

Prater, 67, who lost last year’s Republican runoff race to become state auditor and inspector, is a certified public accountant who currently serves as the president and CEO at Assurance Resource Company.

Each of the three members of the Oklahoma Tax Commission are appointed to a six-year term by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate. Prater would replacing outgoing Commissioner Thomas E. Kemp, Jr.

Gatz appointed ODOT director ... (Public Radio Tulsa) Tim Gatz was appointed director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation by the Oklahoma Transportation Commission. Gatz said the men who preceded him in those roles — Neal McCaleb, Gary Ridley and Mike Patterson — have set an example.

"They’ve been mentors to me, and I’ve certainly tried to emulate and model the things that they’ve been able to accomplish and do, but I will tell you again, I could not be more honored to have the opportunity to continue in service to the state of Oklahoma in the transportation world," Gatz said.

Congress OKs border deal ... Congress lopsidedly approved a border security compromise Thursday that would avert a second painful government shutdown. 

Here's how the Oklahoma delegation voted: 

Voting for the bill were: Sens. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City; and Reps. Tom Cole, R-Norman; Kendra Horn, D-Oklahoma City; and Frank Lucas, R-Cheyenne.

Voting against were Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa; and Reps. Kevin Hern, R-Tulsa; and Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville.

"Shutdowns take a significant toll on our federal employees, our economic stability and our national security,” Congresswoman Horn said. “That is one of the reasons I was a proud original co-sponsor of the Shutdown to End All Shutdowns (SEAS) Act that shifts the burden to the decision-makers in Congress and in the Administration."

Young leader making a mark in OKC ... As a 23-year-old University of Oklahoma graduate, J.D. Baker landed an internship with OKC Mayor David Holt, which quickly turned into a full time job. "He's a remarkable young man," Holt said. "He certainly knows his way around diplomacy and public service. Probably what’s most impressive about J.D. is his network; he knows everybody."

Bill targets abusive language ... A bill advanced Thursday by a Senate panel would crack down on abusive and other language on private social media accounts by people paid with taxpayer dollars, reports the Tulsa World

The measure, Senate Bill 198, by Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, passed by a vote of 8-4 from the Senate General Government Committee despite concerns it was unconstitutional and unenforceable.

Highway patrol captain indicted ... An Oklahoma Highway Patrol captain has been indicted by the multi-county grand jury on a charge of blackmail. Capt. Troy D. German was charged Thursday with extorting the commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety to gain a promotion or appointment to a state office.

INBOX -- Former senator honored by AMA ... The American Medical Association (AMA) presented former Oklahoma State Sen. Ervin Yen, M.D., with the Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service. Dr. Yen was selected for the AMA’s top government service award for his dedication to improving public health, including efforts to prevent dangerous texting and driving and encourage vaccination. Note: Yen lost his reelection bid last year in the Republican primary. 

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

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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