KGOU

News

Matteo Paciotti / Flickr.com

Republicans and Democrats spent weeks battling over ways to fill Oklahoma’s budget shortfall. The two parties have found little common ground on tax revenue, but they have been able to agree on some items that could make it easier to toast legislative achievements, or drown their sorrows following a bill’s defeat.

 

 Lawmakers sit in the House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget on Tuesday night.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Lawmakers got their first peek at Oklahoma’s budget last night in a haphazard midnight session senior legislators described as the most disjointed in their career.

House and Senate committee members had mere minutes to review the proposed $6.9 billion dollar budget before voting on two versions of the state spending plan.

The bills are nearly identical. One would give teachers a $1,000 pay raise. Both deliver funding cuts for most state agencies. Sixteen agencies, including the Departments of Education and Transportation, are in line for flat budgets.

Rep. Steve Russell
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

U.S. Representative Steve Russell has announced he is seeking the chairmanship of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee of the House of Representatives.

A community leader presents her group's work in Amouja village in Bihar, India.
Srijana Karki / World Neighbors

In order to reduce poverty and introduce community development, oftentimes it’s best to start with women.

That’s the approach taken by Oklahoma City-based non-governmental organization World Neighbors in its work in Nepal and India. World Neighbors currently works in about 20 villages in Bihar, India and in nearly 32 communities over five districts in Nepal.

The three main areas of work are sustainable agriculture and rural livelihood, community-based natural resource management, and reproductive health and gender equity.

A tornado forms near Banner Road and Praire Circle in El Reno, Okla. on Friday, May 31, 2013.
Alonzo Adams / AP

The National Weather Service issued a preliminary rating for the tornado that hit Elk City last week as an EF-2. The tornado killed one person and destroyed over 40 homes.

Gary England, a consulting meteorologist-in-residence at the University of Oklahoma, says the Enhanced Fujita scale measures damage instead of wind. He says National Weather Service surveyors have to consider the location of damage, the type of damage and how affected houses are built.

Oklahoma State Capitol Building
Claire Donnelly / KGOU

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

Betty Shelby leaves the courtroom with her husband, Dave Shelby, right, after the jury in her case began deliberations in Tulsa, Okla., Wednesday, May 17, 2017.
AP

Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby was found not guilty Wednesday night in the shooting death Terence Crutcher.

Jurors deliberated for more than 9 hours Wednesday before reaching their decision.

Jerry Laizure / AP Images

Former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating is among the candidates to replace James Comey as the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

National Weather Service

A night of storms brought power outages and damage to trees, buildings and infrastructure to central Oklahoma--and it's not over yet.

The supercell that produced the damaging tornado at Elk City Tuesday evening.
Jeff Piotrowski / twisterchasers.com

Officials in Oklahoma are assessing damage after tornadoes hit the Western part of the state Tuesday evening.

One tornado touched down in Elk City in Beckham County, injuring at least 10 people and killing one.

 

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

It was a wild day at the state capitol as lawmakers tried to find new sources of revenue to fill the nearly $900 million budget shortfall and fund teacher pay raises. But, with just three days left to find new money, they’re likely back at the drawing board.

Author Gillian Flynn talks to students at Dimensions Academy High School in Norman on May 12, 2017.
Alesha Leemaster / Norman Public Schools

 

Sam Weller stands before a group of high school students, waiting for his first guest of the day to appear on a large screen.

“Nate Marshall can you hear us?” he asks, as Marshall, a poet and rapper from the southside of Chicago, flickers via Skype into Dimensions Academy in Norman.

It’s a Thursday morning, and students are still clearing away the cobwebs as they huddle on sofas or park at their desks. Marshall starts by reading an aubade.

In this Monday, April 17, 2017 file photo, state Rep. Mike Ritze, R-Broken Arrow is pictured on the House floor in Oklahoma City.
Sue Ogracki / AP

 

Lawmakers are nearing the deadline to propose revenue-raising measures to fill Oklahoma’s $878 million budget hole. All budget and appropriations bills must be introduced before May 19.

Volunteers start on a new home at 7308 Park Meadow in Oklahoma City’s Legacy Estates addition as part of Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity’s annual Women Build.
Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity

Update May 5, 2017 at 1:44 p.m.

On Friday, the Senate Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget passed an amended version of the bill, now called HB 2403. It now excludes charitable giving from the $17,000 cap on itemized tax deductions. 

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

 

Ukraine has been in conflict since 2014, when President Viktor Yanukovych fled the country, and Russian troops annexed the Crimea region. Fighting has been off-and-on ever since, with Russian-armed separatists in the eastern Ukraine region of Donbass fighting against pro-government forces. The Council on Foreign Relations estimates over 9,600 people have been killed in the violence, and 1.1 million Ukrainians have become migrants or refugees.

A long line of cattle are herded into a semi-trailer at Oklahoma National Stockyards in Oklahoma City.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A former accountant and compliance officer for the Oklahoma Beef Council faces federal bank fraud and false tax return charges after an probe into suspected embezzlement of more than $2.6 million.

Pete Brown of Kingfisher oil company Brown & Borelli and former Tulsa mayor Dewey Bartlett of Keener Oil and Gas speak out against legislation to expand horizontal drilling at a Oklahoma Energy Producers Alliance media event.
Joe Wertz / State Impact Oklahoma

Oklahoma oil executives have argued for years over a new law that would let companies drill and frack longer horizontal wells in new areas.

Right now, companies with leases in non-shale rock formations can’t drill horizontal wells more than a mile long. This one-mile limit is frustrating many of the most active drillers in Oklahoma, who say companies, shareholders, mineral owners and the state’s tax coffers are missing out on millions in new development from booming oil fields. The potential is a promising political incentive, given the state’s nearly $900 million budget hole.

Michael Cross / KOSU

Criminal justice reform supporters rallied at the Capitol on Wednesday in a final push for bills to reduce prison populations.

The group Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform says about ten bills from the Governor's Justice Reform Initiative are still alive in conference committee and could pass before the end of session on May 26th.

Former House Speaker Kris Steele says fixing the broken justice system is absolutely a budget issue.

Oklahoma State Highway 9
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Driving on poorly maintained roads is costing Oklahoma drivers $5 billion dollars each year, according to a report released Wednesday.

U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., attends an organizational meeting of the House Rules Committee, January 7, 2015.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP

An Oklahoma congressman says he agrees with President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

Republican Rep. Tom Cole criticized Comey for his handling last summer of the investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Pages