Rep. Shane Jett said one exclamation point has gotten him more attention than the rest of his work during his four years as a legislator combined. "People ask me if there aren’t more important things for me to work on,” the Tecumseh Republican said Thursday. "I am. They’re just not paying any attention to them.” Jett, as chairman of the House International Relations and Tourism Committee, introduced a bill this legislative session to italicize the word "OKLAHOMA” on the state flag and put an exclamation point at the end. The bill also would create an official state abbreviation: OK! Jett said he has introduced more legislation on rural Internet access and wireless coverage than anyone else over the past few years, but nothing has drawn the response the proposed flag change has. "I was just looking for a way to improve our image ... and get some good, solid publicity,” Jett said. But he immediately ran into a buzz saw: the people of Ponca City and their contingent in the state Legislature, made up of Sen. David Myers and Rep. Ken Luttrell. Ponca City was the home of Louise Fluke, who designed the current flag, and the locals take considerable pride in that fact. "Our community is deeply initiated in the heritage of the flag,” said Luttrell, a Democrat. "We’re just unalterably opposed to any change.” Myers, a Republican, gives talks on the flag’s history and also opposes any changes, Luttrell said. Fluke’s design was adopted in 1925, replacing an earlier flag that featured a white star on a red background. According to popular belief, that design became unpopular after World War I because it was thought to resemble a communist banner. The original Fluke flag, however, did not have "OKLAHOMA” on it at all. That was added in 1941. Jett’s bill to make the flag changes has made it out of committee and awaits consideration on the House floor. "It seemed like a good idea,” Jett said. "If it gets picked up here and there, it could give us hundreds of thousands of dollars in free publicity.”
BACKGROUNDState flag’s history Oklahoma’s first flag was adopted in 1911 — four years after statehood. It consisted of a single blue-trimmed white star bearing the number 46 on a red field. The flag soon fell out of favor, supposedly because it was thought to resemble the flag of the newly formed Soviet Union. A 1924 contest to find a new design was won by Louise Fluke of Ponca City. The Legislature formally adopted the Fluke flag the following year. Fluke’s design of an olive branch and calumet crossed over an Osage war shield on a blue field remains in use today. The word "OKLAHOMA” in block capitals was added under the shield in 1941. A 1988 statute standardized the flag’s colors using the Pantone Matching System.