KGOU
Oklahoma State Capitol Building
Claire Donnelly / KGOU

Capitol Insider: Lawmakers' Tempers Flare, Special Session Likely

Oklahoma state lawmakers have yet to agree on a plan to raise money for the state, and could be facing special session.

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Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

 

With a little less than two months until the end of this legislative session, the Oklahoma House and Senate are considering bills covering a wide range of topics, from gun rights to teacher pay raises.

Bill to loosen Oklahoma gun laws failed in Senate

House Bill 2323 would have allowed a citizen 21 or older, without a felony, to carry a loaded gun in their vehicle without a valid handgun license.

Voters wait in line at a polling place inside Life.Church in Edmond Tuesday.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

 

Voters in Edmond rejected a proposed expansion of the Spring Creek Plaza shopping center on Tuesday.

The Journal Record’s Molly Fleming writes the proposal would have added 260,000 square feet of retail space at S. Bryant Avenue and E. 15th Street, as well as 325 luxury apartments. The city council approved the zoning change to the 26-acre  property in November.

Clinton, Oklahoma, resident Cindy Box and her Horse, Rosie, at Foss State Park.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

In March, the legislature asked state agencies how they would deal with worst-case budget reductions of nearly 15 percent. A cut that deep at the Department of Tourism could cost Oklahoma half of its state parks.

In this May 19, 2010 file photo taken near Kingfisher, Okla., storm chasers and spectator vehicles clog the road and shoulder of Highway 81.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

 

 

Storm chasers continue to have a central role in documenting tornadoes, according to a leading Oklahoma meteorologist.

Gary England told KGOU that storm chasers give forecasters and meteorologists “eyes on the ground” that radars and other technological advances cannot provide. A human in the field sends back an immediate eye witness account of what is occurring during  storm, like a wall cloud, a funnel cloud or a tornado on the ground.

The Smart Saver grocery store at NE 23rd Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / The Journal Record

 

A bill that passed the Oklahoma Senate would establish a fund to get more fresh, healthy food into underserved areas.

Senate Bill 507, by Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City,  would create a mechanism to help small retails like convenience stores and grocers to stock fresh, perishable items.

In this Wednesday, June 8, 2011 file photo, sun sets behind an oil pump in the desert oil fields of Sakhir, Bahrain.
Hasan Jamali / AP

 

In 2003, Mike Stice was the chairman of the National Petroleum Council’s supply committee. They reached a consensus on the status of oil in the United States: The country was out of oil and gas.

“Of course, you can see today, we were so wrong,” Stice said.

Now the dean of the University of Oklahoma’s College of Earth and Energy, Stice says emerging technologies, such as hydraulic fracturing, have created a whole new supply of oil and gas in the United States.

 

Oklahoma Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger speaks during a meeting of the State Board of Equalization in Oklahoma City, Monday, June 20, 2016.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

 

 

Monthly revenue shortages have led Oklahoma finance officials to dip into the Rainy Day Fund again this year, draining it completely.

If the state does not have enough money to pay its monthly bills, it typically takes the difference from a state department.

“Normally, they would look to something like the Department of Transportation, which usually has large amounts of cash,” eCapitol news director Shawn Ashley said in his weekly interview with KGOU.

Bob Kerr on his ranch near Carnegie, Okla., which is flanked by turbines from the Blue Canyon Wind Farm.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

 

One major tax incentive for wind energy remains on the books in Oklahoma. And the Legislature is poised to end it — more than three years early. The politics of renewable energy have changed as state revenues have failed, but some wind producers say lawmakers are reneging on a deal that sends a bad message to any industry considering investing in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma’s wind industry has grown year after year. With 3,400 turbines spread across 41 wind farm projects, the state ranks No. 3 in the nation in the American Wind Energy Association’s report on wind power capacity.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric's Muskogee Power Plant.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order to roll back many Obama-era rules meant to combat climate change. Politico’s Alex Guillén reports many of the directives in the order are geared toward making it easier to produce coal used for power generation:

National Weather Service

Severe thunderstorms, heavy rainfall and flash floods are possible Tuesday and Tuesday night across most of Oklahoma.

The highest risk for severe storms will be in southwestern Oklahoma, including the communities of Lawton and Altus, where the chance is greatest for isolated supercells with large hail and possible tornadoes this afternoon and evening.

As the storms move east, the main threat will be damaging wind, though large hail and tornadoes will remain possible.

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