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Oklahoma state Reps. Leslie Osborn, center, R-Mustang, Kevin Wallace, left, R-Wellston and Glen Mulready, right, R-Tulsa, talk on the House floor in Oklahoma City, Monday, May 22, 2017.
Sue Ogracki / AP

Five Things That Happened During Oklahoma’s 2017 Legislative Session

Oklahoma’s legislative session came to a close on Friday, as lawmakers passed a nearly $7 billion budget. Republicans, who hold a large majority in both the House and Senate, needed Democratic support to pass revenue-raising measures, but negotiations crumbled over the weekend. To fill a $878 million budget gap, lawmakers needed to pass several measures that could still be challenged in court.

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Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin at her 2017 State of the State address on Feb. 6, 2017.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Lawmakers finished the 2017 legislative session on Friday the passage of a nearly $7 billion budget. Legislators accomplished some of their goals this year, including compliance with the federal REAL ID Act and a $1.50 fee per pack of cigarettes. But there were also several things that did not happen at the statehouse, including the five items listed below.

 

No pay raise for teachers

 

A raise has been a long time coming for Oklahoma’s teachers.

 

Oklahoma state Reps. Leslie Osborn, center, R-Mustang, Kevin Wallace, left, R-Wellston and Glen Mulready, right, R-Tulsa, talk on the House floor in Oklahoma City, Monday, May 22, 2017.
Sue Ogracki / AP

Oklahoma’s legislative session came to a close on Friday, as lawmakers passed a nearly $7 billion budget.

 

Republicans, who hold a large majority in both the House and Senate, needed Democratic support to pass revenue-raising measures, but negotiations crumbled over the weekend. To fill a $878 million budget gap, lawmakers needed to pass several measures that could still be challenged in court.

RC Davis is the executive director of World Literature Today at the University of Oklahoma and the author of "Mestizoes Come Home!: Making and Claiming Mexican American Identity."
University of Oklahoma

Starting in the 1960s, the Mexican-American community began a period of reawakening.

In his new book, Mestizos Come Home! Making and Claiming Mexican American Identity, RC Davis explores how this community took hold of its past and cultural identity.

“They said we are going to embrace our culture and we're going to learn our history, we're going to share history with others. We're going to invite people in to learn about our culture. So it was a very deliberate act of cultural recovery,” Davis told KGOU’s World Views.

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The Oklahoma legislature wraps up today, as lawmakers pass a final budget deal that will fill a nearly $900 million shortfall. Legislators passed several bills that will have an impact on business in the state. Journal Record editor Ted Streuli and KGOU’s Jacob McCleland reviewed some of the business-related bills.

A demonstrator holds up seven fingers to send a message to a House committee that lawmakers should remove discounts and incentives so all oil and gas wells are taxed at 7 percent.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma lawmakers have struggled for months to agree on a formula to patch a nearly $900 million budget hole and sign off on a plan that funds state agencies. To help pay for the budget plan, lawmakers are considering ways to squeeze more from taxes on oil and gas production, an option that has divided politicians and one of the state’s biggest industries.

Matteo Paciotti / Flickr.com

Republicans and Democrats spent weeks battling over ways to fill Oklahoma’s budget shortfall. The two parties have found little common ground on tax revenue, but they have been able to agree on some items that could make it easier to toast legislative achievements, or drown their sorrows following a bill’s defeat.

 

 Lawmakers sit in the House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget on Tuesday night.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Lawmakers got their first peek at Oklahoma’s budget last night in a haphazard midnight session senior legislators described as the most disjointed in their career.

House and Senate committee members had mere minutes to review the proposed $6.9 billion dollar budget before voting on two versions of the state spending plan.

The bills are nearly identical. One would give teachers a $1,000 pay raise. Both deliver funding cuts for most state agencies. Sixteen agencies, including the Departments of Education and Transportation, are in line for flat budgets.

Rep. Steve Russell
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

U.S. Representative Steve Russell has announced he is seeking the chairmanship of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the House of Representatives.

A community leader presents her group's work in Amouja village in Bihar, India.
Srijana Karki / World Neighbors

In order to reduce poverty and introduce community development, oftentimes it’s best to start with women.

That’s the approach taken by Oklahoma City-based non-governmental organization World Neighbors in its work in Nepal and India. World Neighbors currently works in about 20 villages in Bihar, India and in nearly 32 communities over five districts in Nepal.

The three main areas of work are sustainable agriculture and rural livelihood, community-based natural resource management, and reproductive health and gender equity.

A tornado forms near Banner Road and Praire Circle in El Reno, Okla. on Friday, May 31, 2013.
Alonzo Adams / AP

The National Weather Service issued a preliminary rating for the tornado that hit Elk City last week as an EF-2. The tornado killed one person and destroyed over 40 homes.

Gary England, a consulting meteorologist-in-residence at the University of Oklahoma, says the Enhanced Fujita scale measures damage instead of wind. He says National Weather Service surveyors have to consider the location of damage, the type of damage and how affected houses are built.

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