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ICYMI

It was another great week in Oklahoma politics…

8:53 AM EDT on May 12, 2017

Before we get to the gist of this post, I'd like to welcome myself back from a brief trip to Denver. I flew there this week to see family and friends, work, watch some Cubs baseball, conduct business meetings, eat at Snarf's, work, and purchase weed legally from a store. It was a fun trip!

Despite the best effort of our new license plate to trick people into thinking otherwise, Colorado and Oklahoma don't have a lot in common. The differences between the two states are so stark and obvious that even an OU football player could come up with a list items for a "Compare and Contrast" essay. For example, one state has majestic mountains and snowy peaks. One state doesn't. One state has cheap rent. One state doesn't. One state has a normal, functioning legislature. And, obviously, one state doesn't.

Check out this article via The Denver Post. It will make you jealous:

On the balcony outside the House chamber, Johnny Cash crooned on the loudspeakers as state lawmakers sipped Colorado wine from plastic cups in the final hours of the 2017 legislative session.

A 1991 cabernet sauvignon in hand, state Rep. Paul Rosenthal raised his cup and offered one word that captured the mood at the Capitol: “Cheers!”

The celebration Wednesday reflected victories for Democratic and Republican legislative leaders on most of their top priorities in the 120-day term — even as two late efforts at compromise failed.

The bipartisan agreements included measures to preserve the hospital provider fee program, avert potentially catastrophic cuts to rural hospitals, find new money for highway construction, increase per-pupil education spending, and make it harder to sue for construction defects.

For each bill, the final result is less than what lawmakers hoped to accomplish but represented significant progress after failing to reach accords for years.

Holy shit! Averting cuts to hospitals? Finding new money for construction? Increasing per-pupil education spending? Maybe it's time to send our lawmakers to Colorado for a ski trip! It's amazing to see what lawmakers can accomplish when they're not slaves to greedy, selfish oil industry overlords and conservative ideological think tanks!

Seriously, though, can our legislatures be any different? In Colorado they're drinking wine and celebrating a productive legislative session where lawmakers worked together to devise practical solutions to real world problems. Here in Oklahoma they're just coming up with ways to deport elementary school students who don't speak English.

Yeah, I guess that was the big national news story out of Oklahoma this week. Via the AP:

A Republican member in the Oklahoma House is suggesting that tens of thousands of non-English speaking students in public schools be turned over to U.S. immigration officials as cost-saving measure in the cash-strapped state.

Broken Arrow Republican Rep. Mike Ritze told News9 in an interview Wednesday that the newly created Republican Platform Caucus believes the state could save $60 million if Oklahoma would identify what the caucus believes is 82,000 non-English speaking students “and then turn them over” to Immigration and Customs Enforcement to determine whether they are citizens.

It’s unclear from the segment if he was referring to turning over the students’ names or rounding up the children. The State Department of Education said there are actually about 50,000 English learners in pre-K through 12th grade in Oklahoma public schools, but many of those students could be U.S. citizens.

In case you're a fan of irony, we should probably point out that Ritze is the same guy who paid for the infamous 10 Commandments Monument. I think his favorite commandment is "thou shalt judge and revile thoseth who are different than you, especially children who speaketh a different language."

For what it's worth, Ritze's plan isn't that bad. My question is why stop with non-English students? Let's get rid of all of them! Not only will that save the state a ton of money, but it will make trips to restaurants more enjoyable.

Ritze's budget plan didn't end with the compassionate, endearing plea to turn over non-English speaking students to the federal government. He and his buddies in the Derplahoman Caucus also want to get rid of those pesky "non-essential" university employees.

Via News 9:

A consortium of conservative Republicans say they’ve identified a billion dollars worth of savings and new revenue that could fill the state budget hole and provide teachers raises, without raising taxes.

The 22-member Republican Platform Caucus said there’s still plenty of fat to trim for the budget before dipping into taxpayers wallets.

Tops on the list, the group said, is to eliminate all non-essential, non-instructional employees in higher education. They said that would save $328 million.

So, a "consortium of conservative Republicans" want to get rid of non-English speaking students and people who work for universities? That's great. For the 2018 legislative session, maybe they can target gays, gypsies and the disabled, too.

Actually, that's a cheap shot. In all fairness, many members of the Oklahoma GOP have been distancing themselves from Ritze's ridiculous plan that probably stumbled upon while researching Nazi Germany immigration policy late one night on the dark web.

Anyway, I'm sure there were some other great, embarrassing things that happened in Oklahoma politics this week, but once again, I was out-of-town and not following things all that closely. I have a pretty good excuse:

I'm not going to lie. I love Colorado. It's a great place. Let's send our lawmakers up there and maybe they can learn something, like how to do their job and make Oklahoma a better place to live, work and go to school... even if you speak a different language.

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