Oklahoma News
6:20 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

US Agriculture Secretary Meets With Choctaw Tribe Leaders

Credit Choctaw Nation website

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is in Oklahoma to meet with leaders of the Choctaw Nation.

Vilsack plans to tour the Choctaw Nation's Food Distribution Center in Durant on Thursday before speaking about the Agricultural Act of 2014 and Promise Zones Initiative that he says have helped to create economic growth in southern Oklahoma.

Last year, President Barack Obama designated the Choctaw Nation as the first tribal promise zone.

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Oklahoma News
5:16 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

State Rep. Sally Kern Withdraws Anti-Gay Bill

State Rep. Sally Kern (R-OKC)
Credit Oklahoma State Legislature

An Oklahoma legislator who has introduced several anti-gay bills for the upcoming session is withdrawing one measure because she says it didn't accomplish what she intended.

State Rep. Sally Kern said Thursday she has decided to withdraw her bill that would have allowed Oklahoma businesses to refuse service to any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person or group. Kern says her intention was to provide immunity from civil liability to business owners who refuse to provide a product or service to a gay person, like a baker who refuses to make a cake for a gay wedding.

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Campaign Finance
4:27 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Report Shows Some Candidates Donated Big To Their Own Campaigns

Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi
Credit Oklahoma Department of Education

While national groups like governors' associations were among the top donors for state-level elections across the country in 2014, in Oklahoma it was candidates themselves who spent the most money trying to win elections last year.

A new analysis from the Washington-based Center for Public Integrity shows the top single donor to a state-level election in Oklahoma was former Republican State Superintendent Janet Barresi, who gave $1.3 million to her own unsuccessful re-election campaign.

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Capital Punishment
3:08 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

AG To Push Resuming Executions Using Other Drugs

Attorney General Scott Pruitt
Credit Oklahoma Attorney General's Office

While the U.S. Supreme Court considers the constitutionality of a sedative Oklahoma uses in lethal injections, Attorney General Scott Pruitt says he'll push to resume executions.

Pruitt said Thursday that if the state can obtain doses of barbiturates Oklahoma has used to execute inmates in the past, he'll ask the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to set new execution dates.

That may be difficult, though. Oklahoma switched to the current method it uses when supplies of some drugs dried up.

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The Two-Way
1:44 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Senate OKs Keystone XL Pipeline, Setting Up Fight With Obama

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., prepares to speak to the media Thursday before the Senate voted to approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
Jim Lo Scalzo EPA /Landov

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 4:10 pm

Updated at 5:04 p.m. ET

The Senate in a bipartisan 62-to-36 vote approved Thursday the Keystone XL pipeline project, setting up a faceoff with the White House, which has threatened a presidential veto.

Nine Democrats joined 53 Republicans to pass the measure, which now must be reconciled with a version passed last month by the House. The Senate vote is also not enough to override a presidential veto.

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Education
12:24 pm
Thu January 29, 2015

Bill Would Repeal Requirement For End Of Instruction Exams

Credit timlewisnm / Flickr Creative Commons

An Oklahoma lawmaker has filed legislation to replace time-consuming end-of-instruction testing in public schools.

The bill by Rep. David Perryman of Chickasha would repeal the requirement that Oklahoma secondary-school students take an end-of-instruction exam to demonstrate their knowledge of academic subjects in order to graduate from a public high school. Instead, students would take the nationally accepted American College Test to demonstrate their proficiency.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
11:50 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Why Oklahoma Ranchers Are Getting More Federal Drought Aid Than Any Other State

AgriLife Today Flickr

Since the current drought in western Oklahoma began, ranchers have collected more than $800 million in federal drought relief payments that aid livestock producers. That’s more than any other state, including California and Texas, which have larger cattle industries, The Oklahoman‘s Silas Allen reports.

Here’s why:

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Energy
9:07 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Oklahoma Moves Up To Fourth Place In U.S. Wind Capacity

A wind farm in Ellis County in western Oklahoma.
Logan Layden StateImpact Oklahoma

The American Wind Energy Association says Oklahoma ranks fourth in the nation for wind capacity.

The Oklahoman reports the state moved up two spots in the rankings after adding 648 megawatts of wind capacity in 2014. Oklahoma now has 3,782 megawatts of wind capacity.

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StateImpact Oklahoma
7:59 am
Thu January 29, 2015

Bills Filed To Stop Local Bans On Oil And Gas Production

Hundreds gathered at a public meeting in Oklahoma City to hear about an oil company's proposal to drill near Lake Hefner.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Several bills filed for the upcoming 2015 legislate session rein in the power cities and counties have to regulate drilling and oil and gas production.

The Oklahoman‘s Paul Monies reports:

At least eight bills have been filed that would stop cities and counties from banning drilling operations, including proposals from top leaders in the House and Senate.

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Economy
7:36 am
Thu January 29, 2015

For Long-Haul Drivers, Cheap Gas Means A Sweeter Commute

Jed Brown drives 100 miles each day to work between Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Cheaper gas is making his commute more manageable, but he doesn't expect the low prices to last.
Uri Berliner NPR

Originally published on Thu January 29, 2015 7:21 am

With wages still stuck for many Americans, the big drop in gasoline prices is the equivalent of an unexpected cash bonus for the nation's drivers.

The average American household is expected to save $750 this year from lower gas prices, according to the Energy Department.

But Thomas Kinnaman, an economist at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, Pa., says it's instructive to look beyond the word "average."

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