U.S.
2:41 am
Tue March 3, 2015

States Face Correctional Officer Shortage Amid A Cultural Stigma

Corrections officer Sgt. Charles Galaviz secures an inmate for transfer with handcuffs and shackles Jan. 24 at the Lexington Assessment and Reception Center, in Lexington, Okla. Overtime is mandatory for correctional officers in the state's prisons, which have a manpower shortage of about 33 percent and the highest inmate homicide rate in the country.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 1:40 pm

More than 1.3 million people are incarcerated in state prisons in this country, and keeping those prisons running requires tens of thousands of corrections officers. But right now, some states are facing major staffing shortages.

Much of this shortfall is because of the strong economy, but recruiters also are struggling with the job's cultural stigma.

Cadets at Wyoming's Department of Corrections Training Academy are practicing how they'll handcuff prisoners. In a few weeks this scenario will be very real, but right now everyone is pretty relaxed.

Read more
Oklahoma News
5:59 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

House Passes Bill Reducing Wind Industry Tax Subsidies

A wind farm in Ellis County in western Oklahoma.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A bill that would reduce the amount of tax subsidies paid to wind producers in Oklahoma has been unanimously approved by the House of Representatives.

The House voted 89-0 on Monday for the bill by Bartlesville Republican Rep. Earl Sears. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

Read more
Politics and Government
5:12 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Senate Committee Approves Bill Giving Governor New Appointment Powers

State Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow)
Credit oksenate.gov

Oklahoma's governor would have broad new powers to appoint the directors of ten different state entities under a bill narrowly passed by a Senate committee.

The Senate General Government Committee voted 5-4 on Monday for the bill by Broken Arrow Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm, despite concerns it gives the governor too much power. Dahm says he expects the bill to be rewritten.

The bill calls for the heads of ten different state agencies and boards to be fired effective Jan. 1 and allows the governor to name their replacement.

Read more
Law
5:02 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Supreme Court Seems Divided Over Independent Redistricting Commissions

Arizona commission attorney Mary O'Grady (left) and Stephen Miller, a city council member, point to a possible redistricted map in 2011.
Ross D. Franklin AP

Originally published on Tue March 3, 2015 11:49 am

The U.S. Supreme Court seemed closely divided Monday as it heard arguments testing how far states may go to prevent political parties from drawing congressional district lines to maximize partisan advantage.

Read more
Oklahoma News
4:42 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Ardmore Company Awarded $9.5 Million Contract For Weigh Station

Credit Mitch Groff / Flickr Creative Commons

An Ardmore company has been awarded a $9.5 million contract to build a new weigh and inspection station on Interstate 35 just north of the Texas border.

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission voted Monday to award the contract to Overland Corporation of Ardmore. Construction on the new station 12 miles north of the Oklahoma-Texas border is expected to begin the spring and take a little more than a year to complete.

Read more
Oklahoma Watch
1:48 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Key Lawmakers Say Child Welfare Reforms Will Be Funded

Synergos Institute Flickr

Despite a budget hole of $611 million, a court-ordered reform of Oklahoma’s child welfare system will be funded for the 2016 fiscal year, the chairmen of the Legislature’s budget-writing committees said Monday.  

State Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, said the Department of Human Services’ Pinnacle Plan would be funded for the next fiscal year.

“It’s not up for debate,” said Jolley, chairman of the Senate’s Appropriations Committee. “The Pinnacle Plan will be funded.”

Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, who is House budget chair, agreed.

Read more
Business and Economy
12:52 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Regional Economic Survey Predicts Growth

Credit Simon Cunningham / Flickr Creative Commons

A new report suggests economic growth is ahead for nine Midwestern and Plains states.

The survey report issued Monday says the overall Mid-America Business Conditions Index climbed to 57.0 in February from 54.8 in January.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the regional growth is likely although areas "linked closely to the energy sector, including ethanol, are experiencing pullbacks in economic activity."

Read more
Oklahoma News
12:11 pm
Mon March 2, 2015

Man Dies After OKC Police Use Stun Gun During Arrest

Darrell Gatewood
Credit Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office

Oklahoma City police say a man has died at a hospital after officers used a stun gun on him during an arrest.

Police Master Sgt. Gary Knight says officers responded Sunday night to a report of a man breaking and smashing things inside an apartment.

Knight says the man's roommates were able to get him out of the residence, but that he kicked in the door and continued being aggressive. When officers arrived, Knight says the man became involved in an altercation with them.

Read more
Oklahoma Voices
11:19 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Panel On Oklahoma’s Economy: A Growing State With A Declining Workforce

Credit okpolicy.org

Unresolved issues tied to education, incarceration and mental health services will hamstring Oklahoma’s ability to remain among the nation’s top 5 fastest growing economies, a panel of government officials and economists concluded during the Oklahoma Policy Institute’s 2nd Annual State Budget Summit.

On January 29, OPI Director of Policy Gene Perry led the panel through “An Economic Check-Up” of the state’s current economic conditions and fiscal policies. 

Read more
Transportation
7:40 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Construction Begins Monday To Widen Interstate 35, Replace Lindsey Street Bridge In Norman

The Interstate 35 interchanges at SH-9 East and Lindsey St. in Norman, pictured here looking south.
Oklahoma Department of Transportation

Construction starts Monday on a $71 million project to widen Interstate 35 through Norman to six lanes.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation estimates the project should be completed in about two years, with about $2 million in financial incentives to finish early.

Read more

Pages