Sometimes people ask why so many bills get filed at the start of a legislative session. Members sometimes are contacted by constituents about an issue or a concern that they feel could be addressed through legislation. Bill requests can come from agencies, from organizations, from communitie…

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Jaded observers of Oklahoma politics often express their cynicism with the phrase, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” In other words, while we may think we are making a difference, in reality, we are all just spinning our wheels.

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You may have been fortunate enough this winter to have seen this week’s featured creature at your bird feeders.

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Slow down and be safe.

It has been a very busy first six weeks. It is truly an honor to serve House District 25.

We’ve now completed the sixth week of the 2019 legislative session and hit our deadline for floor votes on the Senate bills that were approved earlier in the session in committee. We began the week with more than 300 bills to debate and vote on in a four-day period, which made for some extre…

Last week, House Democrats brought to the floor an enormously misguided piece of legislation that would limit free speech, weaken election security and redirect hard-earned taxpayer dollars to fund political campaigns. While the Democrats mistakenly called their hallmark H.R. 1 bill the “For…

Five weeks of the legislative session are now behind us, and we’ve had lengthy agendas on the floor as we work toward the March 14 deadline for the full Senate to vote on bills that were approved in committee.

Last week was an important milestone for this year’s Legislature, as any bill that had not been passed out of committee by Feb. 28 is now dormant for the remainder of the year. Of the approximately 2,815 bills filed in 2019, only about 1,000 are still “live rounds,” meaning they advanced pas…

 This past week we hit the Feb. 28 deadline for Senate committees to vote on legislation that was introduced in this chamber. Last week alone, I presented nearly two dozen bills in various committees that I authored this session.

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Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt recently signed the so-called “permitless carry” bill.

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy has been very active at the state Capitol since the beginning of session, and it is hard to believe the Legislature is about to hit their first deadline at the end of this week. If a bill is not considered in committee, then the bill will be carried …

I hope that when I retire and our community looks at my body of work, it speaks not only to my skills with a camera but also to my compassion and common sense.

 The third week of the 2019 session saw more bills coming to the floor of the full Senate, but a continued fast pace for committee work on legislation ahead of the February 28 deadline for committee votes on bills introduced in this chamber.

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This week’s featured bird is the vesper sparrow.

The legislative session is moving quickly this year and the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is currently tracking a whopping 530 child-related bills. Each of these bills must be heard and approved by committee within the first four weeks of session. Those that miss that deadline can be…

The second week of the session is behind us, and it was an extremely busy one. While a few bills are beginning to trickle through to the floor, the main focus continues to be on working through legislation in the various standing committees. Our days involve attending multiple committee meet…

Revised recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics on children’s use of media are designed to help families manage the challenges in a positive way.

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Photographer Richard R. Barron talks about portrait lenses.

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This week’s featured creature is the European starling — just called starling in Europe.

The legislative session is moving quickly, and lawmakers are now busy working in their assigned committees to sort through relevant bills and resolutions. I am pleased to say that our legislators have filed many bills that seek to directly impact and improve child well-being. In fact, two of…

Last week during his State of the Union address, President Donald Trump delivered an inspiring and uplifting message that seemed quite Reaganesque. I was extraordinarily proud of what he had to say and how he chose to say it.

This past Monday, the 2019 legislative session officially began.

While the State of the Union is certainly one of the greatest American ceremonies, it is much more than a production that takes place each year. Indeed, the gathering adds a record to our history, affirming our founding principles and demonstrating our striving still toward a more perfect union.

With the partial government shutdown recently ended, I wanted to provide a recap of the turn of events. The past several weeks were certainly frustrating and inconvenient for all Americans, but the shutdown was especially painful for those who went without pay for more than a month. Like oth…

We are now less than a week away from the beginning of the 2019 Oklahoma legislative session and Gov. Kevin Stitt’s first State of the State address. Lawmakers are holding pre-session budget hearings to discuss requests for funding submitted by large state agencies and sorting through bills …

The bill filing deadline has come and gone, and we now know what legislative ideas have been submitted by lawmakers. Our team at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is going through the proposals, and we will have our list of child-related bills up at oica.org soon for your review.

Each year, we rightly pause to remember the life of a legendary figure in American history and courageous change agent for freedom and equality. Though Martin Luther King Jr. emerged in the midst of social tension and conflict, his message and approach was one that sought to erase division, …

With the shift in majority control of the House due to the outcome of the midterms, the newly sworn-in 116th Congress will represent a challenging era of divided government. Especially in divided government, there is no room for one-sided debate. In order to get things done for the American …

On Monday, Oklahoma welcomed in new leadership in our executive branch. Gov. Kevin Stitt was sworn into office and followed the oath with his inaugural speech. Highlights of the address could be divided into four key parts: government accountability, education, criminal justice reform and ec…

Last year was a busy and deeply rewarding year for the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. The primary mission of OICA is to advocate for children in the state of Oklahoma and to ensure that laws passed and policies implemented by governmental agencies are beneficial for all our children.…

The 2019 Oklahoma legislative session is now less than one month from convening and conducting official business. We at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) are anxious to see the long list of fresh ideas submitted by lawmakers. We have been monitoring much of the progress and fe…

In spite of a highly polarized and partisan political environment in 2018, Congress actually had a surprisingly productive year.

Is this week's Picture This column, Photographer Richard R. Barron explores the value and future of educating photography students.

A few days before Christmas, I did my favorite thing that I dread to do. I rang the Salvation Army bell at a local retailer for an hour. I guess the dread comes from not knowing when you sign up how the weather will be when you go to ring the bell; knowing that something else may come up, an…

While negotiations to fully fund the government, unfortunately, remain underway in the Senate, I am pleased to report that lawmakers in both chambers of Congress did recently complete work on bipartisan legislation to improve the federal justice system. Already signed into law by the preside…

As Congress continues to finish its work this year, I am encouraged that lawmakers in both chambers recently finalized and approved legislation that is vital to the success of our nation’s farmers and ranchers. Introduced under various titles over the years but known generally as the Farm Bi…

If you ever want to know what it feels like to hang out with an A-list celebrity, go to a Norman Walmart with former coach and OU legend Barry Switzer. This is what I learned last week when Coach Switzer generously volunteered his time and money to join the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advoc…

The holidays are usually a busy time at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, and this year is no exception. We are working hard to make the OK Foster Wishes holiday gift drive a success, and we were excited to assign the last “wish list” submitted by a foster child to one of the thousa…

While much has been accomplished this year, there are still several items left to complete. As the current Congress concludes, lawmakers must come together to finish the remaining work.

Over the weekend, communities across the country had the opportunity to participate in Small Business Saturday. While this annual shop local event encourages Americans to get out and show support for small businesses in their neighborhoods, it also serves as a reminder that a thriving econom…

With Thanksgiving behind us, ‘tis the season for holiday decorations, non-stop Christmas music on the radio and a lot of hard work for the public employees, OICA staff and volunteers working to get holiday presents for the roughly 8,000 Oklahoma children in foster care.

Over the weekend, I had the chance to watch the new movie “Instant Family,” a comedy/drama about a couple adopting three foster children into their lives. I recommend that our readers watch this movie over Thanksgiving weekend to help put in focus the need for more foster families in our sta…

Existing throughout the fabric of our society are the unmistakable threads of Native American heritage.

Throughout our history, hundreds of thousands of brave men and women have answered the call to serve in the United States military. For those who volunteer, this choice comes at a cost unlike any other. But it is because of their willing service and sacrifice on our behalf that we get to enj…

Veterans Day is a wonderful and necessary holiday and a great time to give thanks to those that serve our nation. However, as we move on from this day, it is important to keep the needs of our veterans and active military personnel – as well as their families and children – on our minds all year.

No matter the outcome of Tuesday’s election (this column was penned on Monday), early voting indicates there is a huge, nationwide surge of interest in American politics and government this year. As of Monday afternoon, totals showed more than 31 million Americans and counting had already vo…