Ever since our brave forebearers declared America’s independence, the United States has been a beacon of liberty, hope and opportunity. Indeed, America is still regarded the world over as a land where success can be achieved regardless of where you’ve come from. And that is because our foreb…

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I very deliberately chose one of my favorite lenses, as it has been for more than 30 years: the 180mm f/2.8.

This week, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority is expected to consider a rule that will terminate eligibility for Medicaid if some mail communications are “returned to sender.” This rule, as written, requires a “prompt redetermination of eligibility” whenever a member’s (child’s) mail is retu…

I believe education is one of Oklahoma’s most important economic drivers. Having a well-educated workforce helps the entire economy by attracting companies seeking highly qualified workers for well-paying jobs. We also know the more education a person has, the greater their earning potential…

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As I have grown older and, hopefully, at least a little wiser, I am more cognizant every day of why “at least you have your health” is so significant: There are people around me who don’t have their health.

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The Eastern phoebe is among the first birds you’ll hear singing before sunrise.

Last Wednesday was Child Advocacy Day at the state Capitol, and I’d like to thank everyone who came out in support of policies that benefit children. We were joined by more than 100 Oklahomans who participated in advocacy workshops before meeting with lawmakers to discuss child-focused legislation.

During Military Appreciation Month, we rightly join in expressing gratitude for our service members, their families and the daily sacrifices they make on our behalf. It is because of their selfless service that Americans wake up every day with the privilege of peace and freedom at home.

According to Oklahoma’s Constitution, the Legislature must complete its work no later than 5 p.m. on the last Friday in May. That means we have until 5 o’clock Friday, May 31 to finish everything. Any bills that we’ve not completed voting on can be taken up again next session. But because th…

Well, it’s that time of year again. Poison ivy is popping up everywhere, ready to inflict pain and suffering on anyone who comes in contact with it.

President Trump has made headlines again by granting a full pardon to former U.S. Army soldier Michael Behenna. Some news outlets have reported the president has pardoned a "war criminal" to make the former first lieutenant sound like a crazed madman.

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Sometimes I like to get out the old gear and shoot with it, to make sure I don’t rely too heavily on technology to get my job done well

Have you ever gone birdwatching/birding on or near a coast?

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I ask instead that you join me for a short walk around our patch of green in Byng.

Thursday, April 25, marked the Senate’s deadline for floor votes on measures that began in the House of Representatives — likewise, they also had to complete floor votes on the measures we sent over.

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Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a little bird, conceived in the wild, and dedicated to the proposition that all birds are created equal.

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My newspaper and I follow and cover sports all year long, and we are about to dive headlong into spring sports playoffs: tennis, golf, softball, soccer, baseball, track and more.

When I first came to the Senate, we still were dealing with huge budget shortfalls—some of it was the result of economic shifts, but some of it was caused by a budgeting process that badly needed to be reformed. We made some very tough choices, but as a result, we are on much more solid foot…

I was drawn to the Republican Party because of my conservative principles — family-oriented, religious and socially conservative. But it has been difficult to reconcile my allegiance to the party with its devolving evermore into a mouthpiece for President Trump’s dangerous views and policies…

As I write this column on Tax Day, or April 15, we most likely will have about one month left before lawmakers adjourn the 2019 legislative session. I want to take the time to reflect on one of the major tax policy discussions being held at the Capitol: The Earned Income Tax Credit. 

Thursday, April 11, marked the deadline for Senate committees to vote on bills sent over from the House. We have two more weeks before the April 25 deadline for floor votes on those measures.

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It seemed like a long winter, and I think we are all happy spring is with us. 

In just under one year from today, the U.S. Census Bureau will be contacting Oklahomans – via phone, internet, mail and in-person surveys – to seek their participation in the 2020 U.S. Census. The results are secure and confidential, and it is vital that every Oklahoman who is contacted part…

We’re more than halfway through the 2019 legislative session at this point. We’ve got less than one week left to hear bills sent over from the House in committee, so this coming week will be another hectic one with several committee meetings scheduled next week. Thursday, April 11 will be th…

As penned in the Declaration of Independence, our forefathers founded this nation with the strong belief that individuals are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Among those is the right to life, which influences my commitment to protecting the most vulnerable, includ…

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One of my first experiences as an intern news photographer in 1982 was covering storm damage. 

In order to help make sure members of the House and Senate stay on track with their work on proposed legislation, we have a set of deadlines each session to keep the process moving. April 11 is the deadline for the various Senate committees and subcommittees to hold hearings and votes on bil…

This past Wednesday, the House and the Senate met in joint session on the House floor to honor our state veterans, active-duty military and members of the Oklahoma National Guard in a Veterans Awareness Day ceremony. Gov. Kevin Stitt addressed those gathered, and Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell presid…

Last week, President Trump sent his annual budget request to Congress for consideration. While the president’s proposal is not binding, it does importantly reveal the administration’s funding priorities for the coming fiscal year and represents a necessary step in the annual budget and appro…

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…

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.

This Week's Circulars

Obituaries

ADA [ndash] Services for Sharon Marie Sherrell, 75, of Ada are at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Criswell Funeral Home Chapel. The Rev. Reno Dye will officiate. Burial will follow at Rosedale Cemetery. Ms. Sherrell passed away Sunday, May 19, 2019, at her home.

ADA [ndash] Melvin Dale Haworth, 85, of Ada went to be with his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Sunday, May 19, 2019, following a brief illness. A celebration of life service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the First Baptist Church in Ada, with the Rev. Jerry Wells will officiate. Burial …