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Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Crews have worked for more than a week to contain a massive wildfire that has torched more than a thousand square miles and killed one person and thousands of head of livestock in northwestern parts of Oklahoma. State budget cuts mean Oklahoma increasingly depends on other states to fight its largest and most dangerous wildfires.

A week after the fire started, state forestry director George Geissler oversaw the state’s response at a makeshift operations center at the Woodward County Fairgrounds.

Sue Ogrocki / AP

Oklahoma state Sen. Ralph Shortey was charged with three prostitution-related felonies on Thursday in Cleveland County Court.

 

Shortey was charged with engaging in child prostitution, prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church, and transporting a minor for prostitution/lewdness. A warrant for arrest has been issued. Judge Steve Stice set bond at $100,000.

 

Police found Shortey alone in a room at the Super 8 Motel in Moore on March 9 with a male juvenile.

 

Maya Media

 

An immigration raid at a slaughterhouse and meat-processing plant in Postville, Iowa in 2008 launched a Guatemalan-American filmmaker’s career in an entirely new direction.

When Luis Argueta heard about the raid in Postville, he went to investigate.

“What I thought would be a four day trip has turned into eight years,” Argueta told KGOU’s World Views.

His experience in Postville transformed during that time into three documentaries that tell the story of the small farm town and the immigrants that call it home.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

 

 

The Oklahoma legislature faces an approximately $880 million budget shortfall, and proposals to increase revenue have not gained traction. Meanwhile, the House passed a bill this week that would incrementally increase teacher pay.

A helicopter is shown on a landing pad at OU Medical Center, 700 NE 13th St. in Oklahoma City.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

 

Oklahoma City’s two largest hospital systems chose not go ahead with proposed merger earlier this week. The University of Oklahoma Medical Services and SSM Health, the parent company that operates St. Anthony’s Hospital, announced on Monday that their proposed merger had fallen through.

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The Oklahoma state House of Representatives furthered a bill Thursday that would roll back part of a state question that was approved by voters in November.

Oklahomans voted in favor of State Questions 780 and 781 last year, which reduced simple drug possession from a felony crime to a misdemeanor.

In debate on the House floor, Republican Representative Tim Downing, R-Purcell, said House Bill 1482 would give district attorneys the discretion to enhance simple drug possession to a felony if it occurs within 1,000 feet of a school

Edmond resident Jonathon Stranger in his 2013 Nissan Leaf, an all-electric car.
Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

A bill passed by the state House of Representatives Wednesday would impose an annual fee on owners of plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles in Oklahoma, and that’s leaving some electric car owners feeling singled out.

A gray 2013 Nissan Leaf sits in Edmond resident Jonathon Stranger’s driveway.

“There’s no gas. There’s no motor oil,” Stranger says. “It’s the future.”

Oklahoma state Sen. A.J. Griffin speaks at a committee meeting at the Oklahoma state Capitol.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation will be required to investigate all deaths in Oklahoma’s prisons and jails under a bill that passed through the state senate on Monday.

State Sen. A.J. Griffin, R-Guthrie, who authored Senate Bill 250, said she wants to understand why the state is losing people who are incarcerated.

“Anytime we have a vulnerable population, I think it’s important for us to take a systemic look,” she said.

Woodward Department of Civil Defense and Homeland Security

Wildfires spread across larges swaths of northwestern Oklahoma Monday, leading to evacuation warnings for several towns.

Evacuation orders were issued for the communities of Laverne, Buffalo and Fort Supply in Woodward and Payne Counties. The evacuation order in Fort Supply only applied to community members and not to the William S. Key Correctional Center, according to Matt Lehenbaur, the emergency management director for the city of Woodward.

Oklahoma Watch

State lawmakers are officially at the one-quarter point of this year’s legislative session after wrapping up four weeks’ worth of work.

So far only one bill – the Real ID compliance act – has made it through the Legislature and been signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin. And there remains plenty to do to find a solution to the state’s $878 million budget gap and tackle the hundreds of bills that remain at alive this point.

President Trump salutes a uniformed serviceman
Getty Images

President Trump has signed a revised executive order, once again barring travel to the United States from six majority-Muslim countries and suspending the U.S. refugee program. It's similar to the president's January order that was blocked by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. But this latest order leaves Iraq off the list of barred countries. The White House cites more cooperation with the Iraqi government in vetting people who apply for U.S. visas. The latest order also specifically states that it does not apply to legal permanent U.S. residents or current visa holders.

Storme Jones / KGOU

 

Oklahomans rallied at the State Capitol Saturday as part of a nationwide effort called March 4 Trump.

 

State Sen. Ervin Yen, R-Oklahoma City, spoke at the event and said Trump hasn’t had a chance to begin governing yet.

 

“Donald Trump is my president. Let’s give him a chance. Let’s stop bashing him,” Yen said. “The administration that he has put together, I think there are some really sharp people in there. Let’s see what happens”

 

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NPR

This is the Manager’s Minute.

KGOU, Your NPR Source.

If you’re an avid listener, you’ve heard us say that many times.

But, it’s more than a slogan. It signals our commitment to trusted news and information, and the “Dialogue of Democracy.”

That’s what public service media is all about.

The ratings, across the nation, prove the value of NPR.

In 2016, ratings for the flagship programs, Morning Edition and All Things Considered, increased 25 to 43 percent in the 25 to 54 year old age group.

Oklahoma Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger speaks during a meeting of the State Board of Equalization in Oklahoma City, Monday, June 20, 2016.
Sue Ogrocki / AP

Moments after explaining how another state revenue failure will require millions of dollars of mid-year budget cuts, Secretary of Finance Preston Doerflinger issued a warning to lawmakers and top state officials.

“I don’t know how much more I can emphasize that the time for action is now,” he said at last week’s Board of Equalization meeting, at which the group also certified revenue figures that show an $878 million shortfall for next year. “It’s not a game. We need new revenue.”

 

Oklahomans will have the option to get new identification cards in compliance with the federal government’s REAL ID Act. Also this week, a major rating agency decreased the state’s credit rate, which could make the capitol restoration more expensive.

Governor Mary Fallin signed the REAL ID Act into effect on Thursday to make Oklahoma state licenses comply with federal minimum safety standards of identification.

The Department of Public Safety must now find a provider to issue the IDs.

Jan Damm, left; Sabine Choucair, center; and Kolleen Kintz, back perform in Greece for Clowns Without Borders.
Clowns Without Borders

 

 

Andrew Horton believes the best way to understand a country’s people is to learn what makes them laugh.

“Laughter crosses borders,” he says.

Students listen during a class titled “Land and Lease” at Oklahoma City University’s School of Law in downtown Oklahoma City Monday.
Brent Fuchs / Journal Record

 

It’s been nearly 70 years since Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher made history when she became the first African American law student at the University of Oklahoma. Today, there are still few African Americans at law firms.

The Journal Record’s Sarah Terry Cobo writes Sipuel Fisher was a pioneer who challenged segregation.

A field medic raises her fist as protestors stand near a fire blocking a road along the Dakota Access Pipeline Route near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.
Oceti Sakowin Camp / CC BY-NC 2.0

Oklahoma legislators are advancing a bill that outlaws trespassing on sites containing “critical infrastructure.” Supporters say the measure will help prevent damage and disruption of energy markets, electric grids and water services, but environmental activists and civil rights groups say the bill’s real purpose is to block political protests of pipelines and similar projects.

‘A NUMBER ON MY ARM’

U.S. Drought Monitor

Frigid temperatures never fully took hold in Oklahoma this winter. February saw record high temperatures, and instead of ice and snow, wildfires were the main weather-related concern, and drought — though improved — has persisted across much of the state.

In a statement summarizing February’s weather highlights and looking ahead to March, State Climatologist Gary McManus says the first two months of 2017 broke the record for the warmest combined January and February in state history.

Oklahoma Supreme Court chambers
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has granted a request by the Attorney General’s office to delay a lower court’s order requiring the agency to turn over records sought by a watchdog group.

The Center for Media and Democracy sued the agency in February to force it to handover emails sent during the tenure of former attorney general Scott Pruitt, now administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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