OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane, today commented on the execution of Phillip Dean Hancock. Humphrey serves as chair of the House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee and was on hand at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester during the execution. "Today, Oklahoma executed a man who was clearly exercising his God-given right to defend himself," Humphrey said. "I'm very disappointed the governor did not follow the recommendation of the Pardon and Parole Board to grant clemency to this individual. "Based on a tape played during the clemency hearing, it was abundantly evident this was a self-defense case that should never have been eligible for the death penalty. "Conservatives across the state who are second-amendment, self-defense supporters contacted the governor asking for clemency as well as many in the Republican party. It is highly unusual for conservatives to take a stance against the death penalty. Like me, most completely support the death penalty, but we unfortunately have found situations where there are glaring inconsistencies and instances of the death penalty being wrongly carried out. "By allowing this to continue, our state is given a black eye, and we give fodder to death penalty opponents who will use this against us."
OKLAHOMA CITY – Rep. Mark Tedford, R-Tulsa, recently held an interim study to explore ways to improve Oklahoma's workforce participation rate. IS23-092 was held before the House Business and Commerce Committee. "In my short time as a state representative, workforce issues have dominated discussions nationwide," Tedford said. "As of 2020, Oklahoma ranked 3% behind the national average in workforce participation. Knowing the significance of this difference, I wanted to understand the reasons behind it." During the interim study, Lynn Gray, director of economic research and analysis at the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, explained that workforce participation includes individuals employed, actively seeking jobs, or working part-time. John Chiappe, director of research and economic analysis services at the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, explained the four primary reasons adults do not seek employment: retirement, disability, caregiving responsibilities and educational attainment. Julie Trivitt, a senior economist at Heartland Forward, found that while the cost and quality of childcare in Oklahoma were higher than the national average, accessibility remained a challenge. Despite lower costs, the state's wages were also below the national average, causing childcare expenses to exceed 20% of many mothers' incomes, making it financially out of reach for them. According to the study, Oklahoma's academic achievement historically lagged behind the national average, affecting employability and wages. The discussion highlighted a shift toward valuing meaningful work certificates over college degrees, recognizing the importance of vocational education. Speakers Bradley Ward, deputy state director at Americans for Prosperity, and Marissa Lightsey, executive director of college and career readiness at the State Department of Education, emphasized educational pathways to guide students toward career goals. They said more degree programs need to meet the demand for specific high-tech jobs, and pathways can address this by directing students to such careers at an early age. Angela Rachidi, senior fellow and Rowe scholar from the American Enterprise Institute, discussed disincentives to work created by some social programs, suggesting addressing benefit cliffs and implementing work requirements. Other speakers included Lowell Matthews, senior policy advisor at Excel-In Education, and Jordan Zakery, regional advocacy director at Excel-In Education. "While Oklahoma's workforce participation is improving, it remains low compared to the national average," Tedford said. "There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but efforts should focus on removing barriers to work, improving overall academic achievement and adapting to evolving labor needs."
OKLAHOMA CITY – A group of Oklahoma House Republicans this week visited the Rio Grande River in Eagle Pass, Texas, on the border between the United States and Mexico. Reps. Justin Humphrey, R-Lane; David Hardin, R-Stilwell; and Danny Williams, R-Seminole, said they were invited by the sheriff in Eagle Pass who wanted to personally show the reality of what is happening at the nation's southern border. The trio said by about 3:30 p.m. Central Standard Time on Monday, U.S. Border Patrol agents reported about 450 illegal crossings into the country just for the one partial day. "We have been told Eagle Pass is now receiving the majority of illegal entries into our country, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection is just overwhelmed," the lawmakers said in a joint statement. "We cannot keep this up. We don't know who all of these people are, if they need legitimate asylum or if they are connected to a drug cartel, or terrorist groups, or child, sex or labor traffickers, or what. This represents a terrible public safety crisis, and even economically, we cannot support all of these people in a humanitarian manner. It has been reported that Oklahoma spends a little more than $780 million every year to support those who illegally enter our country. Our current presidential administration is failing to protect our borders, leaving the states to take this matter into our own hands. We are here to discuss how we can assist Texas and protect Oklahomans."