Politics and Government
6:37 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Chemical Castration Bill Killed By Oklahoma Senate Panel

Credit ensign_beedrill / Flickr Creative Commons

A proposal to force certain sex offenders in Oklahoma to undergo chemical castration as a condition of release from prison has failed in a state Senate committee.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 5-4 on Tuesday against the bill by Republican Sen. Mark Allen of Spiro.

Since this week is a deadline for bills to emerge from committee, the measure is likely dead for the session.

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Oklahoma News
5:36 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Mental Health Commissioner Apologizes To Judge Over Treatment Dispute

Terri White, Commissioner, The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Credit ok.gov

State mental health commissioner Terri White has apologized to a judge who threatened to hold her in contempt-of-court because a mentally ill defendant did not get treatment for six months.

The Oklahoman newspaper reports that White promised during a meeting Friday that the judge would be notified if competency treatment cannot be provided for a defendant within a reasonable time.

District Judge Ray C. Elliot dismissed a contempt-of-court proceeding against White after the meeting.

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Education
3:39 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

School Voucher Bill Clears Senate Committee

Credit comedy_nose / Flickr Creative Commons

A bill allowing parents to receive cash subsidies from the state to send their children to private schools has cleared a Senate committee despite bipartisan opposition.

The Senate Finance Committee voted 8-6 on Tuesday for the bill that is fiercely opposed by education groups, including those representing school boards, administrators and teachers.

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Business and Economy
1:22 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

AAA Oklahoma Says Gas Prices Are Ticking Higher

Credit futureatlas.com / Flickr Creative Commons

The average price for gasoline across Oklahoma is rising and now stands at $2.16 per gallon.

AAA Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai said Tuesday that the price of gas is going up despite falling prices for crude oil.

AAA says the price for a gallon of self-serve regular in Oklahoma is up 3½ cents from last week and is almost 35 cents per gallon more than in late January.

Average prices in selected cities across Oklahoma range from $2.09 per gallon in Idabel to $2.22 in Lawton. The average price in Lawton has risen by 12 cents per gallon in the past week.

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NPR Ed
12:44 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

The Great U.S. History Battle

American boys re-enact George Washington's crossing of the Delaware River in 1776.
Jack Fletcher National Geographic

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 2:04 pm

William Faulkner wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." And that's never more true than when people start arguing over how American history should be taught in school.

The current fight involves the Advanced Placement U.S. history exam. Nearly half a million high school students took the test last year, hoping to earn college credit.

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Oklahoma News
12:09 pm
Tue February 24, 2015

Oklahoma House Approves Texting While Driving Ban

Credit Jason Weaver / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma House has overwhelmingly approved legislation to prohibit texting while driving.

House members voted 96-2 for the bill and sent it on to the state Senate for debate and a vote. A similar bill is already pending on the Senate floor.

The bill by Republican Rep. Terry O'Donnell of Tulsa marks the second consecutive year he has authored legislation to ban texting while driving in the state. Last year, a similar bill died on the House floor.

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Oklahoma Watch
8:16 am
Tue February 24, 2015

What The State Spends On Travel, Memberships And ‘Swag’

Preston Doerflinger, Office of State Finance.
Credit Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Facing a budget hole of more than $611 million, state lawmakers said they're looking everywhere for revenue to fill that hole.

On Friday, Governor Fallin's finance secretary, Preston Doerflinger, said he may have found a source of savings: agency travel costs, agencies' memberships to other organizations and agency promotional and events expenses, or what his office calls "swag."

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Oklahoma Watch
6:03 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Released Offenders Face High Fees For Driver’s Licenses

John Atkinson, who was released from OKlahoma County Jail after serving time on drug and weapons charges, must pay $3,000 to get his driver's license restored. Until then, he is relying on family and friends for transportation.
Clifton Adcock Oklahoma Watch

Editor's Note: This is the sixth installment in a series reported jointly by Oklahoma Watch and KGOU Radio.

When offenders leave prison to re-enter society, one of the steepest barriers they face is finding a job.

Then they encounter a second barrier: paying hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees to reinstate a driver’s license so they can look for and keep a job.

Oklahomans who lose a license because of failing to pay a traffic fine or appear in court on the matter may have to pay several hundred dollars to restore the license.

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Business
5:16 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Analysts Fear A Prolonged Drop In Oil Prices Will Hurt Oklahoma's Banks

Drilling rigs dot the landscape near Calumet, Okla., in April 2013. Oklahoma's economy blossomed during the domestic fracking boom, but as the price of crude oil drops, that could change.
Sue Ogrocki AP

Originally published on Tue February 24, 2015 1:39 pm

In Oklahoma, a state that largely rode out the recession on a gusher of new-found oil, things may be about to change.

Now it costs more to produce most of Oklahoma's oil than it's worth on the world market. That's triggering a sharp economic reversal, one that some say has the makings of a prolonged downturn.

"Over the last five years, the stars really aligned," says Roy Williams, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. "The community's investment in itself just blossomed, the energy industry blossomed."

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Arts and Entertainment
5:47 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

State Arts, Libraries Agencies Prepare for Further Cuts

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 12:45 pm

A state House budget subcommittee asked cultural agencies Monday how they’re preparing for another year of cuts.

Oklahoma Arts Council Director Amber Sharples said their first cuts would be to community arts programs.

"These go very heavily to our rural communities — the festivals that take place everywhere from Claremore, Idabel, across the state," Sharples said. "So, obviously, that would have ramifications."

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