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.

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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."

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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Law
6:50 am
Mon March 2, 2015

Supreme Court To Weigh Power Of Redistricting Commissions

Arizona state Sen. Andy Biggs flips through redistricting maps during a special legislative committee hearing to discuss the state commission's proposed maps in 2011.
Ross D. Franklin AP

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 4:06 pm

Take a look at a congressional district map, and it can look like a madman's jigsaw puzzle. The reason is, in part, that the district lines are drawn by state legislators seeking to maximize partisan advantage. It's a process that critics say is responsible for much that's wrong with Washington.

That's why some states have tried setting up independent commissions to draw the map. Arizona voters created such a commission in 2000. But when the commission chair displeased the governor and state Senate, they tried, unsuccessfully, to remove her.

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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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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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