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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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."