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Capital City: Bill to eliminate pregnancy program won't be heard

Good Monday morning. 

Have you ever heard of the "Echols Shrug"? Well, probably not because I made it up. It's how I refer to when Democrats on the House floor, who in frustration with a Republican member, turn to House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, to which Echols sometimes responds with a shrug in a way to say "I hear ya." 

I revealed my Echols Shrug to Rep. Echols himself on Friday as he was the latest guest on the Political State podcast, which you can listen to/watch here. We also discussed his permitless carry bill and his role in pushing through the agenda of House leadership. 

Soon-to-be-Sooners bill won't be heard ... A controversial bill that would have eliminated a state pregnancy program that covers undocumented women will not get a hearing, said Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud, reports the Tulsa World

Smalley is chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee where Senate Bill 40 is assigned.

Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan, generated headlines when he filed the bill that would have eliminated the Soon-to-be-Sooners Program in an effort to prenatal health care from undocumented mothers, even though the unborn child will become a U.S. citizen.

Decreasing agency budget requests? ... Gov. Kevin Stitt wants to hire and fire agency directors. With that power he says he will reduce agency budget requests in the coming years. “Agencies will ask for fewer dollars (next year), I’m very serious about this," Stitt told The Oklahoman.

Governor sticks with public safety nominee ... Gov. Stitt is moving forward with his reappointment of Rusty Rhoades as the Commissioner of Public Safety following the conclusion of an investigation by the state attorney general.

The investigation centered on a captain with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol accused of trying to blackmail Rhoades to get a promotion. 

Stitt travels to Washington ... Stitt was in DC over the weekend to attend the National Governors Association’s winter meeting. On Sunday, Kevin and Sarah Stitt attended the Governors’ Ball at the White House with President and Mrs. Trump.

“I’ve loved it. It’s been fantastic just getting to know the other governors,” Stitt said Sunday between meetings. “And we also just met with the different secretaries, EPA and labor, and just making sure we understand some of the issues.”

Horn backs background check bill ...U.S. Rep. Kendra Hornsaid Saturday she supports a bill expected to come up for a vote next week to expand background checks to nearly all gun sales.

“It’s about balancing public safety without removing our (2nd Amendment) rights,” Horn, said at a wide-ranging town hall meeting at Oklahoma City Community College.

“As it stands, I absolutely support it.”

The legislation, HR8, is a top priority for Democrats, who took over the House in January. It would extend the requirement for background checks to gun shows and online sales.

Bethany's newest councilwoman ... From her seat at the far end of the Bethany City Council bench, Amanda Sandoval could see that nearly half of the audience in the city hall chamber included her family, friends and members of the local Hispanic community.

The importance of her Feb. 12 election to the council had finally set in.

“This is what we were working for, this is all we wanted,” said Sandoval, who was administered her oath at her first council meeting last week.

“We wanted a lot of diversity and to be able to motivate people in the community to come out.”

Here'smy story on Sandoval's election

OKC mayor removes shirts from airport ...  Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt's announcement last week on Twitter that he had banished "Nothing Tips Like A Cow" T-shirts from shops at Will Rogers World Airport was generally met with approval. Holt tweeted that the "awful" shirts bear no relation to actual life in Oklahoma City and that, "Upon becoming mayor, I made their removal a personal mission."

He said stock had been sold out and would not be replaced. Online reaction included some sarcasm but others suggested stocking local designers' shirts instead.

Guthrie mourns loss from Saturday fire ... A fire Saturday destroyed two businesses in historic downtown Guthrie. Furrow Flowers & Gifts and Double Stop Fiddle Shop & Music Hall were severely damaged in the fire and are considered total losses.

“Guthrie is a special place and we will stand with them when they rebuild,” Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnellsaid on social media

Error found to be cause of school's shortage ... It appears a simple data entry error caused Chickasha Public Schools to be shorted more than $2.1 million in property tax revenues over a three-month span, state auditors have determined.

An employee of the Grady County treasurer clicked the wrong line on a drop down menu on a computer screen, said State Auditor and Inspector Cindy Byrd.

The mistake caused revenues generated by a 35.78-mill property tax levy to be misdirected into the Grady County general fund instead of the Chickasha Public Schools general fund, she said.

INBOX - Inhofe leads delegation to Djibouti ... U.S. Senators Jim Inhofe, Mike Enzi, John Boozman, Mike Rounds and Congressmen Trent Kelly and Greg Gianforte visited Camp Lemmonier in Djibouti last week where they discussed the importance of the U.S.-Djibouti partnership with President Guelleh and growing influence of China in the Horn of Africa. In addition to their aerial observations of the China’s military base and encroachment on the Port of Djibouti, the delegation toured the base and discussed ongoing military construction needs.

“We can’t afford to deny China’s encroachment in a vital port any longer,” Inhofe said. “It is clear that China is using cash and debt to trap countries in Africa and elsewhere around the world, forcing them to put not just their infrastructure, but potentially their very sovereignty on sale." 

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

Related Photos
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]

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-c002948784e64e32915a111c0261164e.jpg" alt="Photo - 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]" title="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]"><figcaption>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]</figcaption></figure>
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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