Politics and Government
8:41 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Access To Police Videos Prompts Open Records Clash

Oklahoma State Senator David Holt is now the sponsor of a Senate bill that will affect current open records law in Oklahoma.
Credit oksenate.gov

Public and media access to police footage from cameras worn by officers or in their patrol cars has led to a clash over Oklahoma's Open Records Act as police and prosecutors seek to limit what kinds of videos are publicly released.

Advocates for more government openness raised concerns after a bill in a House committee was amended to gut a law that allows the public to access government records.

Rep. Mike Christian, a former Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper and the committee's chairman, acknowledged his amendment went too far and says he will work with prosecutors, police and the press on a compromise.

Meanwhile, freshman Democratic Rep. Claudia Griffith, who authored the original bill, said she would not bring it to her colleagues without a major rewrite.

"In no way will I let it be heard on the House floor in this way," said Griffith, D-Norman. Her original bill would have let police hold back videos from dashboard cameras and other records that might be used as evidence in criminal trials.

At issue now is how much access the media and public should have to police videos. In a letter to police chiefs across the state, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater urged departments not to outfit their officers with body-worn video cameras until the Open Records Act can be changed.

"My biggest concern is to protect law enforcement officers, victims, witnesses and the integrity of law enforcement investigations," Prater said. "There is a lot of privacy interests involved here."

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Oklahoma Watch
7:02 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Offender’s Story: Untying The Bonds Of Court Debt

Before he took an unusual step, Homer Stephens, of Oklahoma City, faced thousands of dollars in court fines and fees.
Clifton Adcock Oklahoma Watch

Thousands of offenders in Oklahoma fail to pay what they owe on court fines and fees each year.

The reason often has less to do with defiance than with being too poor to make good on debt, some judges say.

In Oklahoma County, for example, as of August the district court had about 134,000 open cases going back to 2000 in which offenders owed a total of around $110 million, said Oklahoma County Special Judge Donald Easter.

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Politics and Government
6:51 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Proposed Bill Would Give Governor New Appointment Power

Governor Mary Fallin.
Credit facebook

A bill that would give Oklahoma's governor sweeping new power to appoint the heads of 10 different state entities is scheduled for a vote in a Senate committee.

The bill by Broken Arrow Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm is scheduled for a hearing Monday in his Senate General Government Committee.

It calls for the heads of 10 different state agencies and boards to be terminated effective Jan. 1 and allows the governor to name their replacements.

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Oklahoma News
6:34 am
Sun March 1, 2015

Construction Set To Begin On I-35 Widening In Norman

The I-35 interchanges at SH-9 East and Lindsey St. in Norman before construction begins March 1, 2015.
Credit Oklahoma Department of Transportation

Construction is set to start on a $77 million project to widen Interstate 35 through Norman to six lanes.

The Oklahoman reports that the project, which should be completed in two years or less, will begin Monday.

Tulsa-based Sherwood Construction Company has been contracted to complete the project. According to state engineer Ron Brown, this is the largest construction project ever awarded in the Transportation Department's history.

According to The Norman Transcript, funding for the project primarily comes from the fuel tax.

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Manager's Desk
6:15 am
Sun March 1, 2015

K286BZ Serves Shawnee At 105.1 FM

The tower where K286BZ, Shawnee, operates at 105.1 FM.
Credit Patrick Roberts / KGOU

This week, I’m very happy to announce that we have expanded the KGOU service area a few more miles with the installation of a small transmitter near Shawnee, Oklahoma.

K286BZ operates at 105.1 FM at about 250 watts and will help fill in with a clear signal in Shawnee. It should serve the northern half of Pottawatomie County.

The dip in the land in Shawnee and generally just south of I40 was an area where both KGOU and KROU signals get very fuzzy. So this addition of this small transmitter will deliver the KGOU signal clearly into town.

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Oklahoma News
5:59 am
Sun March 1, 2015

BIA's Indian Child Welfare Act Guideline Revision Applauded

Credit Cherokee Nation

Cherokee Nation leaders are lauding a guideline revision that could have impacted a bitter custody case in 2013.

The BIA's new guidelines prioritize early intervention — with services designed to prevent Native children from being removed from their homes.

The new guidelines also give state courts direction on how to locate family and tribal members for placement if a Native child can no longer safely remain in his or her own home.

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Weather and Climate
11:04 am
Sat February 28, 2015

Winter Weather Advisory Extended As More Heavy Snow Falls Across Oklahoma Saturday

Brian Hardzinski KGOU

Updated 3:17 p.m.

Saturday afternoon the Norman forecast office of the National Weather Service extended the Winter Weather Advisory until 6 a.m. Sunday.

Sleet will likely continue Saturday afternoon, eventually changing over to freezing rain between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m. as lows fall to the upper 20s. Little to no sleet accumulation is expected.

Sunday morning there's a possibility of freezing rain before 7 a.m., but that should change over to just rain as much warmer temperatures arrive. Highs will be around 43 degrees.

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Politics and Government
7:03 am
Sat February 28, 2015

First Legislative Deadline Passed

Oklahoma House of Representatives Chamber
Credit http://www.oklegislature.gov/

Lawmakers crossed the deadline for hearing bills and joint resolutions in committees of their chamber of origin Thursday and Friday, cutting the number of measures from over 2,100 to just over 900.

By Jan. 22’s deadline for filing bills and joint resolutions to be heard during the 2015 legislative session, representatives filed a total of 1,233 measures and senators filed 828.

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Education
6:45 am
Sat February 28, 2015

Oklahoma Education Board OKs Sugary Snack Sales In Schools

Ladybug bake sale cupcakes.
Credit Flickr Creative Commons

Oklahoma education officials say students can continue to sell snack foods in schools despite concerns that the fundraisers contribute to health problems.

State Board of Education members Thursday granted schools the ability to set local exemptions to a 2010 federal law that limits the sale of foods high in sugar or salt at schools.

The board previously allowed a limited number of fundraiser exemptions per school.

Proponents say the fundraising helps communities and that health decisions should be made locally.

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Oklahoma News
6:03 am
Sat February 28, 2015

Osage Nation Planning For Sovereignty Celebration Events

Seal of the Osage Nation
Credit Osage Nation

Tribal members are preparing for the Osage Nation's Sovereignty Day, which is celebrated annually on March 11 to recognize the ratification of the Constitution of the Osage Nation.

The celebration begins March 11 with a gathering of Osage Nation leadership at the Osage Minerals Chambers in Pawhuska.

Osage Nation Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear will provide a welcome address and speech.

The second day of celebration is devoted to tribal youth, while the third is meant to honor tribal elders. The last day offers the most activities for the public.

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