Oklahoma Watch
6:03 am
Tue February 24, 2015

Released Offenders Face High Fees For Driver’s Licenses

John Atkinson, who was released from OKlahoma County Jail after serving time on drug and weapons charges, must pay $3,000 to get his driver's license restored. Until then, he is relying on family and friends for transportation.
Clifton Adcock Oklahoma Watch

Editor's Note: This is the sixth installment in a series reported jointly by Oklahoma Watch and KGOU Radio.

When offenders leave prison to re-enter society, one of the steepest barriers they face is finding a job.

Then they encounter a second barrier: paying hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees to reinstate a driver’s license so they can look for and keep a job.

Oklahomans who lose a license because of failing to pay a traffic fine or appear in court on the matter may have to pay several hundred dollars to restore the license.

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Weather and Climate
5:36 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Snow, Sleet Lead To School Closings Due To 'Deteriorating Conditions' In Central Oklahoma

It will start off cold Tuesday, but then we will see more sun and warmer temperatures. There may still be hazardous travel this morning where snow and sleet accumulated on Sunday and Monday.
National Weather Service Norman Forecast Office

Updated 6:30 a.m.

Most central Oklahoma schools have canceled classes Tuesday due to continuing icy conditions, including Oklahoma City, Norman, Edmond, El Reno and Deer Creek Public Schools.

Several area universities have also delayed their openings.

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Oklahoma News
4:40 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Manhattan Construction Chosen For $91 Million Repair Of Capitol Building Interior

Oklahoma Capitol Building
Credit ana branca / Flickr Creative Commons

A Tulsa-based construction company has been selected to complete the repair and restoration of the interior of the state Capitol.

State officials announced Monday the selection of Manhattan Construction as the contractor on the project. A total of three vendors had submitted proposals.

State Capitol Project Manager Trait Thompson says the interior work should begin next year and will be capped at $91 million.

Renovations to the building's exterior are expected to begin this spring. That contract was awarded to JE Dunn Construction and capped at $25 million.

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Oklahoma News
3:42 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Tom Coburn Meets With State Republican Lawmakers

Credit Medill DC / Flickr Creative Commons

Former U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn is visiting with Republicans in the Oklahoma Legislature and urging them to join the list of states calling for a convention to amend the U.S. Constitution.

Coburn met separately Monday in Republican caucus meetings in the House and Senate to talk about the idea of a convention of the states to address the growing power of the federal government.

Separate measures in the House and Senate would call for a constitutional convention, which is authorized under Article Five of the U.S. Constitution.

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Politics and Government
1:23 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Oklahoma County DA Says DHS Failed To Protect Abused Child

David Prater, Oklahoma County District Attorney
Credit Oklahoma County District Attorney's Office

An Oklahoma prosecutor says the Department of Human Services didn't do enough to help an Oklahoma City girl whose grandmother is accused of dressing as a witch to abuse her.

The Oklahoman reports that Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater says the department should have done more after the girl's mother called the department's hotline in June to say there was a phone video of 49-year-old Geneva Robinson grabbing her daughter.

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Oklahoma Voices
1:02 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Economist Katz Urges Oklahomans To Adapt To Changing Economy

Bruce Katz, vice president and founding director of the Metropolitan Policy Program, regularly advises national, state, regional and municipal leaders on policy reforms that advance the competitiveness of metropolitan areas.

Organized citizens of large cities can be a greater force of innovation in leadership than state or federal governments, according to the vice president of the Brookings Institution.

Bruce Katz discussed the premise of his book The Metropolitan Revolution during a January 28 event at the University of Central Oklahoma. He emphasized the country’s economic growth model needs to “get back to the fundamentals” without relying on state and federal governments to lead the way.

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Politics and Government
12:28 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Lawmakers, Agencies Work To Plug Larger Budget Shortfall

Officials from state agencies across Oklahoma are returning to the Capitol for more budget briefings since the Legislature must deal with a $611 million shortfall in the next fiscal year — double the initial projection.

Appropriations and budget subcommittees in the House and Senate are meeting with agency leaders this week to find out how they would handle budget cuts ranging as high as 10 percent.

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Death Penalty
6:46 am
Mon February 23, 2015

Experimental Executions: State Lawmakers Consider Untested Gas Asphyxiation

The death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester.
Oklahoma Department of Corrections

After Oklahoma’s troubled execution last year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to review the state’s lethal injection procedures and postpone all scheduled executions

Amid the legal scrutiny and difficulty in obtaining drugs for future lethal injections, some state lawmakers are discussing a new, completely experimental method of execution.

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Politics and Government
7:16 am
Sun February 22, 2015

Oklahoma's Increased Road And Bridge Funding Comes With A Price

Credit J. Stephen Conn / Flickr Creative Commons

A decade ago, Oklahoma was the poster child for states with a crumbling infrastructure.

About one-third of the state's bridges were structurally deficient, including some too dangerous for school buses or commercial trucks to cross.

When Republicans came to power in 2004, they worked with Democrats on a direct allocation of income tax revenue to fund an eight-year plan to improve roads and bridges.

The program has been successful, cutting the number of bad bridges by more than a third and leading to other safety improvements like road shoulders and cable barriers.

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Science, Technology and Environment
7:01 am
Sun February 22, 2015

National Tornado Summit Attendees To Tour Operations Center

2015 National Tornado Summit
Credit Facebook

Dozens of people attending this year's National Tornado Summit in Oklahoma City will tour the state's Emergency Operations Center for a simulated disaster response.

More than 150 people will visit the center on Monday as if a disaster has occurred. The Oklahoma Office of Homeland Security's Command One trailer will also be on display.

The tour comes ahead of this year's tornado summit, which will draw about 1,000 emergency managers, insurance company representatives and city leaders from across the country.

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