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Capitol Report for February 25: Give Pruitt a chance, and will state Republicans spike criminal justice reform (again)?


In this week’s segment of Capitol Report, analyst Patrick B. McGuigan reported concerns that a push from a freshman Republican legislator, aiming to undermine State Question 780, has drawn sympathetic words from Speaker of the House Charles McCall.

McCall told the CapitolBeatOK editor he believed two state representatives had made a “compelling” case for restoring felony status to drug possession. McGuigan reported that former House Speaker Kris Steele — known as a conservative, a champion of criminal justice reform, and the organizer of the pro-780 campaign – affirmed that drug dealing near schools remains chargeable as a felony.

McGuigan noted that voters debated the issue for years, in part because Republicans stalled into oblivion a previous package of reform measures enacted in 2012 at the Legislature. Those who wanted to keep simple drug possession as a felony engaged in argument with supporters of S.Q. 780, “and they lost the argument,” McGuigan said.

In other news, the veteran state Capitol reporter told News9’s Alex Cameron that Scott Pruitt, now in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency, gave a good first speech to EPA employees, and deserves a chance to advance the agenda of the man for whom he works. McGuigan applauded Governor Mary Fallin’s selection of former Secretary of State Mike Hunter to replace Pruitt as state attorney general.

Watch the February 25 Capitol Report here.

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