News

American Energy Partners' headquarters in Oklahoma City.
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

American Energy Partners is shutting down, just over two months after its founder and CEO Aubrey McClendon died in a car crash in northeast Oklahoma City.

AEP issued a statement Wednesday saying it decided to wind down operations, and that the five independent companies it launched would not be affected. 

The Oklahoman’s Adam Wilmoth reports the company laid off half of its 100 employees on Wednesday:

Columbus Oil Company owner Darlene Wallace in the field with a "stripper well," which produces two-and-a-half barrels of oil a day.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The deadline to fund state government is rapidly approaching, and legislators are struggling to bridge a $1.3 billion budget gap. One idea is to end a tax rebate for unprofitable oil and gas wells, but small oil and gas producers say their safety net shouldn’t be used to plug the state’s budget hole.

Revenue, Rebates

The Oklahoma House of Representatives is in session, and Darlene Wallace is blocking the ornate entrance to the main floor. She’s an obstacle, an oil producer — and she’s clutching a clipboard with the names of lawmakers.

Students from the Classen School of Advanced Studies march from their school to the Capitol on May 18, 2016 in protest of state budget cuts.
Rachel Hubbard / The Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

For the second time this week Oklahoma City Public Schools students protested budget cuts to their education, but this time they marched all the way to the state Capitol.

In this Monday, Jan. 17. 2011 file photo protestors greet soldiers during a demonstration against former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in the center of Tunis.
Christophe Ena / AP

In February 2011, President Obama criticized the U.S. intelligence community for not accurately forecasting the unrest in Tunisia would spread to Egypt and other Middle East countries, sparking a region-wide Arab Spring, an unremitting civil war in Syria, and the rise of ISIS.

The president had harsh words for the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper about how quickly the forces in Tunisia turned against the authoritarian regime, The New York Times’ Mark Mazzetti wrote at the time:

Upupa4me / Flickr Creative Commons

A House committee rejected a proposal Tuesday to increase Oklahoma's fuel taxes by three percent.

The House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget voted 14-to-9 against the bill that would've raised gasoline taxes from 17 to 20 cents per gallon and from 14 to 17 cents for diesel. Supporters like House Budget Committee chairman Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville, say the increase would free revenue used to pay for road and bridge construction.

“It's $86 million that would help us,” Sears said. “I like using this word: A 'safe landing' of our state budget."

empty classroom
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Updated May 18, 5:20 p.m.

Two bills regarding a teacher pay raise in the Oklahoma House were apparently a mistake. The Tulsa World’s Randy Krehbiel reported the bills were not intended to be added to Tuesday’s Appropriations and Budget Committee agenda.

An American Energy Woodford well near Perkins, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The oil boom minted millionaire executives and transformed Oklahoma City into a corporate energy hub, but industry tax breaks and funding cuts kept much of the prosperity from reaching public services, a new Reuters investigation shows.

Oklahoma City Public Schools Associate Superintendent Aurora Lora waits on Board of Education members to emerge from executive session during an April 25, 2016 meeting.
Emily Wendler / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

Oklahoma City Public Schools will end classes two days early this year. The final day for students will be Wednesday, May 25.

Updated 8:31 a.m.

The Board of Education voted 4-2 during a Wednesday breakfast meeting at the Faculty House in Oklahoma City to end the school year two days early as part of a cost-saving measure.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy talks with recovering addict Justin Zagaruyka on Monday at Catalyst Behavioral Services in Oklahoma City.
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The U.S. Surgeon General visited Oklahoma City on Monday as part the federal response to the rise in opioid addiction.

After touring Catalyst Behavioral Services, Dr. Vivek Murthy said more funding needs to be available for treatment, physician prescribing practices need to improve, and naloxone – a medication which blocks opioids’ effects – should be more widely available. He said the country needs to address the stigma associated with addiction.

State Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, on the floor of the Oklahoma House in Oklahoma City, March 2, 2015.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

The Oklahoma House rejected a proposed $1.50 per-pack tax on cigarettes to help shore up the state's health care system.

Updated May 19, 10:36 a.m.

House Bill 3210 failed on a vote of 59-40 against the measure even after House Speaker Jeff Hickman, R-Fairview, held the vote open for more than two hours Wednesday night to fix what he called a “health care disaster.” Republicans blaming Democrats for the bill's failure.

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