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Blake Sonne, the lawyer representing Professional Oklahoma Educators, talks with reporters after presenting oral arguments before the State Supreme Court.
Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday over the legality of a petition to overturn new state taxes.

The petition, which is being circulated by an anti-tax group called Oklahoma Taxpayers Unite, seeks to overturn HB1010xx, a $430 million tax package lawmakers passed this year.

Nikka Singh / Reveal

Last fall, we threw out a simple question after a show about U.S. immigration policies: What do you wish you knew about immigration?

Across the country, listeners responded with hundreds of text messages – from small towns in Iowa, Colorado and Massachusetts to big cities such as Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago.

We chose four questions and took our team of reporters and producers to task to answer them. 

Josh Edelson / AP Images

Patients in Oklahoma will pay one of the highest tax rates for medical marijuana among the 30 states that currently offer it if State Question 788 is approved by voters this month, according to an Oklahoma Watch analysis.

Pexels

In this episode of Capitol Insider, StateImpact health reporter Jackie Fortier joins KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley to discuss State Question 788, which would legalize medical marijuana if it passes on June 26.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Canadian County Sheriff Chris West sits in a dimly lit office decorated with hunting trophies and law enforcement memorabilia. 

West is visibly frustrated when he says the Oklahoma Department of Corrections owes his county $88,691 for at least two years of jail costs — and he isn’t the only one complaining. The Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association says the state is shortchanging most counties for housing state prison inmates.

File Photo / AP Images

The oil and gas industry is playing an early major role in deploying financial resources to try to influence the outcome of the Oklahoma governor’s race.

As the debate persists over how much the state should tax oil and gas production, an Oklahoma Watch review of campaign finance reports found oil and gas interest groups and executives have spent heavily in the early months of this year’s gubernatorial campaign. Fifteen candidates are running for the office.

Oklahoma Suicide Rate Up 36 Percent Since 1999

Jun 7, 2018
CDC’s National Vital Statistics System; CDC Vital Signs, June 2018. / Centers for Disease Control

Suicide rates are on the rise in Oklahoma and nearly every state, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between 1999 and 2016, suicide rates increased significantly in 44 states. Oklahoma is one of 25 states that saw rates climb more than 30 percent.

oil pump jack
Paul Lowry / Flickr

The money collected by the state of Oklahoma, or gross receipts, totaled $970 million in May. That’s up by 13.6 percent from the same month last year and an all-time record for the state. It’s part of a steep upward trend that can be traced back to January 2017, according to the Oklahoma State Treasurer’s office.

Attorney Jack Fite, representing Public Service Co. of Oklahoma, addresses the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

Four companies have agreed to support a proposed $4.5 billion wind power project. The Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, Oneta Power LLC, South Central MCN and Tri-County Electric Cooperative reached an agreement with Public Service Co, or PSO, who announced the Wind Catcher project last summer. Wind Catcher could provide up to 2 gigawatts of electricity and could potentially be the largest wind farm in the country.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

It was 6 a.m. Las Vegas time when Keli Tointigh awoke to her cell phone ringing.

The Chickasha resident was on vacation with her husband, John Tointigh, when an Oklahoma Department of Human Services employee asked if the couple would be willing to take in the children of one of Keli Tointigh’s cousins. The Tointighs had never applied to be foster parents.

“She said, ‘Can you call me back today and let me know?’” Keli recalls. “I was like, ‘Today?’”

Robert's Grill in El Reno, Oklahoma has been serving up onion burgers like this one since 1926.
Claire Donnelly / KGOU

Many lists of unusual state statutes say it's against the law in Oklahoma to take a bite of someone else's hamburger. 

KGOU listener Greg Elwell asked How Curious: Is this a real law?

Nikka Singh / Reveal

Baltimore’s police department was already notorious.  

But this year, eight former police officers were convicted on federal racketeering charges stemming from an FBI investigation. They belonged to an elite task force charged with getting guns off the city’s streets. Instead, the plainclothes cops roamed Baltimore neighborhoods at will, robbing people on the street, breaking into homes to steal money, drugs or guns and planting evidence on their victims.  

Anna Vignet / Reveal

Some police departments are embracing tactics designed to reduce the use of force – and prevent shootings. Rather than rushing in aggressively, officers back off, wait out people in crisis and use words instead of weapons. It’s a technique called de-escalation.

But this training isn't required in most states. Reveal teams up with APM Reports and finds that most police spend a lot more time training to shoot their guns than learning how to avoid firing them.

A fence in a field near Hooker, Oklahoma on May 12, 2018.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Last month was the hottest May on record in Oklahoma. Preliminary data from the Mesonet indicates May finished with a statewide average of 74.6 degrees. That breaks the previous record of 74 degrees, which was set in May 1962.

James Johnson/ Wikimedia Commons

 

On this episode of Capitol Insider, KGOU’s Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley discuss the  Agency Performance and Accountability Commission, a special commission created to audit state agencies that will have to restart its work after violating the Open Meeting Act.

Pryor and Ashley also review a decision from the Court of Criminal Appeals that will affect Oklahoma’s Stand Your Ground law, the future of the state’s opioid task force, and the newly appointed Secretary of State.

 

FULL TRANSCRIPT

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

For Oklahomans accused of low-level crimes like possessing small amounts of drugs or public intoxication, getting out of jail free while the case is pending often depends less on the nature of the charge than on what county they are arrested in.

Court data shows that counties have widely varying rates of pretrial release of misdemeanor defendants without requiring cash bail.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

A new dog-training facility opened this week at Oklahoma’s largest women-only prison.

Corrections officials and women enrolled in the Guardian Angels program at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McCloud have waited four years for upgrades to the facility, which now has a designated building, a new kennel and exercise area with obstacles — and a new grooming area and a walking path.

Previously, dogs were trained on the prison’s bare yard and anywhere else program officials could find space. 

National Weather Service

Marvin Haworth walks through a house frame that’s under construction in the Seiter Farms development in Moore, Oklahoma.

“You see these hurricane clips right there? You see one at every rafter in the house. They’re all tied to the wall, so that rafter cannot be pulled loose from the wall,” Haworth says as he points toward the connection between the frame’s walls and roof.

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

Babies who begin life with a long hospital stay are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke. That’s galvanized health officials at one children’s hospital to focus on laying aside stigma when they ask parentsa simple question: ‘Do you smoke?’

Mercy athletic trainer Zane Brugenhemke works on OKC Energy FC goalkeeper Cody Laurendi Tuesday in Edmond.
Emmy Verdin / Journal Record

Professional athletic trainers will be required to obtain at least a Master’s Degree in order to sit for the National Athletic Trainers Association exam. Sarah Terry-Cobo writes in the Journal Record that the new, more stringent requirements will go into place for an industry that is expanding beyond sports teams and into the world of the military and industrial workplaces.

FULL TRANSCRIPT

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