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Robin Wertz, of Exodus House in Oklahoma City, which helps people released from prison gain a footing as they re-enter society, has been out of prison for 11 years. But she still in prohibited from voting, and won't be able to cast a ballot until 2024.
Ilea Shutler / Oklahoma Watch

For Robin Wertz, the wait will be long before she can cast a ballot at an Oklahoma polling place.

Wertz, who runs a nonprofit center in Oklahoma City that helps people transition from prison back into society, is prohibited from voting in any election until 2024. That’s in spite of the fact that she has been out of prison for 11 years, works full-time, has never re-offended and can travel abroad with no restrictions.

“I’ve never even received a traffic ticket,” Wertz said of her time since leaving prison. “It’s like I’m still being punished.”

Erik Hersman/Flickr

In this episode of Capitol Insider, KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley are joined once again by political scientist Keith Gaddie.

The three discuss the surge in voter registration ahead of the June 26 primary election, how State Question 788 could affect turnout and the three-way tie in the race for Oklahoma’s governorship.

Wikimedia Commons

On Wednesday a U.S. Supreme Court decision reversed a 1992 precedent that said businesses were only required to pay sales tax if they had a physical presence in the state. It was welcome news for Oklahoma, which has been trying for years to force online companies to pay sales tax., which made up 31 percent of state revenue in 2017.

 

Wikimedia Commons

Following the 2014-16 oil bust, Oklahoma’s oil production reached new heights. But gains in employment haven’t kept pace. The state’s oil and gas industry employs 20 percent fewer people than it did at the height of production last year, according to a new analysis by the Kansas City Federal Reserve.

A sign marks the entrance to a coal ash reclamation pit near Bokoshe in southeastern Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma is the first state in the nation to receive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approval to manage its own coal ash disposal program. State and federal officials and utility companies said Oklahoma’s plan would improve oversight, but environmental groups like Earthjustice and the Sierra Club said the move protects industry and endangers public health.

USDA/Lance Cheung

The Chinese government plans to implement retaliatory tariffs on $50 billion worth of American goods next month. Although beef is on the list, Oklahoma cattlemen are also keeping an eye on pork tariffs.

 

 

China is an up and coming market for Oklahoma’s cattle ranchers. American producers just regained access to China as an export market when a 14-year ban on U.S. beef exports to the country was lifted last year.

SandRidge Energy held its annual shareholder meeting at 123 Robert S. Kerr Ave. in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

SandRidge shareholders elected four of Carl Icahn’s nominees to the company’s seven-member board of directors Tuesday, giving the activist investor a slim majority on the board. The Journal Record’s Sarah Terry-Cobo writes the company will likely be sold, but it is not clear if Icahn will first break SandRidge up into pieces.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

How Curious question-asker Greg Elwell stands outside Robert's Grill in El Reno. Elwell asked How Curious if it's illegal in Oklahoma to take a bite of someone else's hamburger.
Claire Donnelly / KGOU

In our last episode, listener Greg Elwell asked How Curious if it was really illegal in Oklahoma to take a bite of someone else’s hamburger. This week, we have an update.

Kevin Stitt, candidate for the Republican nomination for Oklahoma Governor, speaks in Guthrie, Okla., Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

Republican businessman Kevin Stitt, who has pitched his gubernatorial campaign on his outsider status, has voted in just eight elections since 2000, according to Oklahoma voter history records.

None of those elections included the race for governor.

Stitt, who founded a Tulsa-based mortgage company, is among the frontrunners in the GOP primary, along with Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb and Mick Cornett, a former Oklahoma City mayor. The crowded Republican field attracted 10 candidates, including Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson and State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones.

John Minchillo / AP Images

Out-of-state interests are increasingly spending money and spending it earlier in attempt to influence Oklahoma’s congressional races.

Recently released campaign finance records show nearly half of all money raised so far among the 39 candidates running for one of the state’s five U.S. House seats has come from out of state.

Reveal: Losing Ground

Jun 18, 2018
Ben Fine / Reveal

Picture an American farmer. Chances are, the farmer you’re imagining is white – more than 9 out of 10 American farmers today are. But historically, African Americans played a huge role in agriculture. The nation’s economy was built largely on black farm labor: in bondage for hundreds of years, followed by a century of sharecropping and tenant farming.
 

U.S. Geological Survey

Previously unmapped faults in Oklahoma could be contributing to an intense uptick in earthquakes triggered by oil-field wastewater disposal, a new study suggests.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

When the Oklahoma Legislature passed HB 1010XX in March, it was the first time lawmakers had increased state taxes in 28 years. Both the House and the Senate applauded themselves.

The governor acted swiftly to sign the bill, and at first, it seemed like a reason for school leaders to celebrate. They had been begging lawmakers to increase teacher pay for years, and it finally happened.


Anthony Bourdain attends the Turner Network 2016 Upfronts at Nick & Stef's Steakhouse
Evan Agostini / Invision/AP

Both centers in Oklahoma that receive calls from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are seeing an increase in calls following last week’s deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain.

At HeartLine in Oklahoma City, crisis intervention director Megan Rollins says the number of calls more than doubled last week, as compared to the same week the year before. Last week, the center received 351 calls. During the same week in 2017, 168 calls came in.

AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki

A Senate committee will vote Thursday, June 14,  on Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice Patrick Wyrick’s nomination to become a federal judge in Oklahoma’s Western District. Though he’s expected to be confirmed along party lines, the process has opened Wyrick up to scrutiny about his work under former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who now heads the Environmental Protection Agency.

Eric Haynes of Ada, Okla., says poorly maintained roads and sidewalks are among the biggest issues his community faces.
Caroline Halter / KGOU

Oklahoma voters will pick their primary candidates on June 26 and weigh in on a state question about legalizing medical marijuana. The political heat will build through the summer with high-profile endorsements, big-money ad blitzes and campaign promises.

Oklahoma State Reformatory is a minimum security prison that houses over a thousand male inmates.
Bill Broiles / Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Repair crews on Tuesday restored water service to Oklahoma State Reformatory in southwestern Oklahoma. 

Oklahoma Department of Corrections officials said a leak in a local water line drained the prison’s water tower Sunday night.

The leak drained multiple water towers near the town of Granite, including the prison’s. But state prison officials say malfunctioning pumps at a nearby water treatment plant added to the problem. Without the pumps it was difficult to refill the empty water towers. 

Johnny Tallbear said he was “happy” to be released after his conviction was vacated by the Oklahoma County District Court.
Nick Oxford / Innocence Project

Johnny Tallbear has proclaimed his innocence for 26 years. Now, people are listening to him. 

 

DNA tests ordered by the Innocence Project led prosecutors to ask a judge to dismiss a first-degree murder charge levied against Tallbear, which led to his conviction and life-prison sentence in 1992. 

Jim Collard, economic development director with the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, speaks during the International Inter-tribal Trade and Investment Organization Conference at the University of Oklahoma College of Law in Norman.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

Before the formation of boundaries between the United States and Canada, indigenous tribes would trade freely with one another. An organization called the Inter-tribal Trade and Investment Organization, or ITTIO, is trying to restore those connections.

The Oklahoma Judicial Center houses the state Supreme Court, the Court of Criminal Appeals and the Administrative Office of the Courts.
Trevor Brown / Oklahoma Watch

The Oklahoma Supreme Court heard arguments Monday on a pair of lawsuits to stop an effort to repeal tax increases that helped pay for the historic teacher pay package.

At stake is whether Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite!, a group led by former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, can continue collecting signatures to ask voters to nullify the nearly $450 million revenue-raising bill passed by the Legislature earlier this year.

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