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Pinnell Won't Seek Third Term

Mar 6, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Matt Pinnell says he won't seek another term in office when his term expires next month.

Pinnell said Wednesday he would not run for a third term at the Oklahoma Republican Party Convention on April 20. First elected in 2010 when former Chairman Gary Jones ran for Oklahoma auditor and inspector, Pinnell was re-elected to a full two-year term in 2011.

Low-Performing Schools Bill Passes Senate

Mar 6, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Parents of children in low performing Oklahoma public schools could petition to have them converted to charters school and, in some cases, have a principal and other administrators fired, under a bill approved by the Senate. 

Gov. Mary Fallin prepares to deliver her 2013 State of the State address, flanked by Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, and House Speaker T.W. Shannon.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Chesapeake Energy has been pushing for a new law to undo a previous law the company helped write.

On Tuesday, the new law was signed by Gov. Mary Fallin — the first bill signed by the Governor during the 2013 legislative session.

NASA Goddard Photo and Video / Flickr

A new study out this week finds that ice-free passage from North America to Asia directly over the North Pole could be possible after 2049.

UCLA geographers Laurence Smith and Scott Stephenson published the study Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

State House Passes Pension Bill

Mar 5, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - New state employees would have the option of a traditional pension or a defined contribution plan under a bill approved by the Oklahoma House.

The House voted 65-22 on Tuesday for the bill that would give state employees hired after July 1, 2014, the new option. The bill would make it a requirement for statewide elected officials elected after July 2014 to be a member of the new defined contribution plan.

Most Democrats opposed the measure, arguing it was the first step toward abolishing public pensions in Oklahoma.

Pruitt Appeals Abortion Ruling

Mar 5, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a decision by the Oklahoma Supreme Court that invalidated a state anti-abortion statute.

The state's highest court ruled in December that the anti-abortion law was ``facially unconstitutional'' and that a lower court judge was right to prevent its enforcement. The law restricted the off-label use of certain abortion-inducing drugs, such as RU-486.

OK Senate Approves Drought Relief Fund

Mar 5, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Senate has approved the creation of a special drought-relief fund to aid the state's agricultural community during times of drought emergency.

The full Senate voted without objection to create the fund that would be overseen by the Oklahoma Conservation Commission. However, there was no funding mechanism included in the bill, and any money deposited into it would come from direct appropriations from the Legislature.

School Security Group Submits Recommendations

Mar 5, 2013

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Members of a state task force created after the deadly shooting at a Connecticut elementary school have submitted five recommendations for legislative action to help prevent similar attacks in Oklahoma.

well site
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Earthquakes have been increasing in Oklahoma and other states throughout the mid-continent, and many seismologists think this increased seismicity is linked to disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry.

Person on bench at bus stop
Ed Shadid

The Oklahoma City metro is used to receiving top rankings in a number of areas, including unemployment, business climate and affordable housing, but there are other areas where the community falls short.

One of those is public transit. Of the top 50 cities in the nation, Oklahoma City is dead last in the quality and sustainability of public transportation.

40th anniversary of Wounded Knee '73

Mar 2, 2013

This week on Indian Times...last Wednesday was the 40th anniversary of Wounded Knee ‘73, it was the last armed conflict between Native Americans and the United States Government... and for many, their coming of age.  We'll talk with a participant, Louis Gray.

O. Louis Guglielmi / artinterrupted.org

On March 2, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art opened a recently-reassembled exhibit of modern American art the U.S. State Department recalled from an overseas tour in the 1940’s.

Eric Vernier / Flickr

The governor of the Bank of Greece says the recession has cut Greece’s economic output by 20.1 percent between 2008 and 2012. Earlier this week George Provopoulos says the country is “clearly improving,” but Greece’s economy would remain stuck in recession in 2013.

Alison Johnston is a comparative political scientist at Oregon State University, and studies economics and labor markets in the European Union. She says Greece will only leave the eurozone voluntarily.

“Are countries going to get kicked out of the euro?” Johnston asks. “Whenever I'm asked this question, I like to ask people, 'Well how likely is it that you think that a state like Massachusetts could kick a state like California out of the dollar because California might be borrowing from the U.S. government?'”

Duane Smith
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s water infrastructure needs are daunting, and replacing wastewater treatment plants, filtration systems, and pipelines is expensive.

That’s especially for smaller communities with just a few thousand residents to cover millions of dollars in costs.

There is federal and state aid available, but for some, turning to tribal governments is also an option.

A new corporate governance law sought by Chesapeake Energy now awaits Gov. Mary Fallin’s signature.

Final approval from the state Legislature came Wednesday. The measure — House Bill 1646, authored by Rep. Fred Jordan, R-Jenks — reverses 2010 legislation that mandated staggered elections of directors at certain public companies, a corporate governance strategy designed to prevent a boardroom takeover.

lighthouse at Lake Hefner
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

In many ways, the history of Oklahoma is a story of water. Our geography is drawn by rivers and streams. And our cultural legacy is informed by drought.

History, money and consumption have shaped Oklahoma water policy. Here’s a look at the role each part plays in the plan policymakers are writing to protect what former governor and U.S. senator Robert S. Kerr called, the state’s “most blessed resource.”

front-end loader
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Right now, Oklahoma law requires permits for the removal and use of both ground and surface water. But the water removed by the companies during the limestone and sand mining process fell outside of the rules — until now.

Justin Johnston crouching by sludge pump
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The city of Konawa will fix two wells and build new water lines with a state grant issued last week, the Ada News reports:

The grant, from the state’s Rural Economic Action Plan program, will be used to extend the well casing and build an elevated platform for the pumps and controls on two of the town’s nine water wells, and to construct seven-tenths of a mile of water lines, blueprints show.

Cos Cob
Georgia O'Keeffe / Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art

In 1946, the U.S. State Department tried to diplomatically reach politically unstable cultures in Eastern Europe and Latin America through a traveling exhibit of 117 modern and abstract paintings by leading American artists of the period.

“It really was almost a kind of "Who's who?" of American art at the time,” said Mark White, the Chief Curator of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma. “Georgia O'Keeffe. Ben Shahn. George L. K. Morris. Arthur Dove. John Marin.”

Feb. 6, 2013
Jacque Braun / tumblr

As Congress tries to avoid a looming set of sharp, across-the-board spending cuts that would strike the Pentagon and domestic agencies in just two weeks, a former State Department official says the Department of Defense could avoid “clumsy” automatic cuts by starting with personnel.

“In World War II, we had fewer flag and general officers than we do now,” said retired U.S. Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson. “Wow. People are anywhere from 50-60 percent, depending on whose records and analysis, of the DoD budget. They are so expensive.”

Wilkerson served as former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff from 2002-2005. 

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