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Medicinal marijuana in container.
Dank Depot / Flickr Creative Commons

A group seeking to legalize the use of medical marijuana in Oklahoma has taken the first step toward putting the issue to a vote of the people in 2016.

Isaac Caviness with the group Green the Vote filed paperwork Friday with the Oklahoma Secretary of State's Office indicating their plans to have the question placed on the ballot.

Once the proposed language is approved, the group will have 90 days to gather about 124,000 signatures in order to qualify the state question.

police sirens
Highway Patrol Images / Flickr

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections says a man on probation who disappeared after disabling his monitoring device has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound following a police chase through rural Pontotoc County.

Corrections spokeswoman Terri Watkins says 42-year-old Johnnie Lewis Hawkins II apparently shot himself in the head Friday after authorities disabled the stolen vehicle he was driving.

State Sen. Bryce Marlatt (R-Woodward)
Oklahoma Senate

A Republican state senator from Woodward is proposing a constitutional amendment that would allow the state to raid money from Oklahoma's Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust fund to pay for a teacher pay raise. 

Sen. Bryce Marlatt announced on Tuesday his plan to introduce a resolution that would submit the proposal to a vote of the people.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker
Cherokee Nation

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker has been sworn in for his second, four-year term.

More than 1,000 people attended Friday's inauguration at Sequoyah High School in the tribal capital of Tahlequah to watch Baker and Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden sworn in.

Tribal councilors Rex Jordan, David Walkingstick, Shawn Crittenden, Dick Lay, Buel Anglen, Bryan Warner, Keith Austin and Wanda Hatfield also took office.

Oklahoma state Capitol
LLudo / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission has voted to suspend enforcement of two new agency rules that prompted a federal lawsuit by the Oklahoma Democratic Party.

The five-member commission voted Friday to suspend the rules that prohibit any fundraising or distribution of election materials on state-owned property.

The move comes after the Oklahoma Democratic Party filed a lawsuit earlier this week, arguing the new rules are an improper restraint on free speech in violation of the U.S. Constitution.

American currency
thinkpanama / Flickr Creative Commons

The Oklahoma Democratic Party is suing the state Ethics Commission over new agency rules that prohibit any fundraising or distribution of election materials on state-owned property.

Party officials filed the lawsuit Monday in federal court in Oklahoma City, arguing the new rules are an improper restraint on free speech in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman Mark Hammons says the rules already have forced the party to abandon a fundraiser scheduled at Oklahoma City Community College last month.

Republican state Sen. Rick Brinkley
Oklahoma Senate

Gov. Mary Fallin has called a special election to replace Republican state Sen. Rick Brinkley, who has announced he will resign at the end of the year. 

The Tulsa World reports that Fallin on Monday scheduled a Nov. 10 primary election for Brinkley's seat in north Tulsa County. A general election will be conducted on Jan. 12. The filing period for candidates is Aug. 31 through Sept. 2.

Republican state Sen. Rick Brinkley
Oklahoma Senate

A Republican state senator under investigation for embezzlement at the nonprofit agency where he once worked plans to resign from the chamber.

A spokesman for Republican Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman, Matt Glanville, says two-term Sen. Rick Brinkley of Owasso submitted a letter of resignation on Friday. Glanville says Brinkley will step down from the Senate's District 34 seat on Dec. 31. He says the letter cites only personal reasons.

16-year-old Michael Bever (left), and his brother, 18-year-old Robert Bever (right)
Tulsa County Jail

A judge has ruled that a transcript of a 911 call made from a Tulsa-area home where five people were stabbed to death can be released to the public, along with other records sought by reporters in the case.

In ordering only the transcript released, District Judge William Musseman granted the request Wednesday from defense attorneys for the two brothers accused of killing their parents and three of their siblings not to release an audio version. Police have described it as "gruesome."

Oklahoma Tax Commission

A federal appeals court says Oklahoma's standard license plates, which show an Apache warrior shooting an arrow into the sky, do not contain a religious message.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver on Tuesday upheld an Oklahomafederal judge who had tossed out a Bethany pastor's lawsuit against the state. Keith Cressman said the plate endorsed a polytheistic religion.

The plate was inspired by Allan Houser's "Sacred Rain Arrow" statue, but the 10th Circuit noted a state task force in 2007 wanted a new plate to market Oklahoma to potential tourists.

State Rep. Mike Shelton (D-Oklahoma City)
Oklahoma House

An Oklahoma lawmaker says he plans to file legislation to require Oklahoma schools to have written plans and procedures for dealing with earthquakes.

Democratic Rep. Mike Shelton of Oklahoma City said Monday the training is vital to protect students, faculty, staff and visitors from earthquakes. Shelton says the bill is similar to one he filed in 2012 that died in a Republican-controlled House committee.

U.S. Air Force / Senior Airman Elizabeth Rissmiller

The Oklahoma Air National Guard is getting a new aircraft, and a new mission.

A ceremony is planned Saturday at the Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City to celebrate the arrival of the MC-12W aircraft.

Oklahoma City Energy FC logo
Oklahoma City Energy FC

A former Oklahoma City soccer coach who was accused in the death of an off-duty police officer in England plans to rejoin the organization after he was cleared of all charges.

The Oklahoma City Energy FC said in a statement Friday that 30-year-old Chris Spendlove has accepted an offer to return to the team. It plays in the USL PRO league. The organization had terminated his contract when the allegations surfaced in December.

police sirens
Highway Patrol Images / Flickr

A New York high school teacher on a cross-country bicycle trip has died after authorities say he was struck by a car on an Oklahoma highway because the driver was on her phone.

The Oklahoman reports that Patrick Wanninkhof was pronounced dead at the scene on Thursday. The 25-year-old and other cyclists were traveling for Bike & Build, a nonprofit organization that raises money to build affordable housing.

Robert Bever
Broken Arrow Police Department

First-degree murder charges have been formally filed against two Oklahoma brothers accused in the stabbing deaths of their parents and three siblings.

Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler's office filed the charges Friday against 18-year-old Robert Davis Bever and 16-year-old Michael John Bever. Court records did not show whether the brothers are represented by an attorney.

American Indian Cultural Center & Museum

Officials estimate that construction on the planned American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City is still at least two years away from being finished.

An Oklahoma City Council committee on Tuesday also concluded that another year will be needed to install Smithsonian Institution-quality exhibits.

Sample ballots for the June 24 elections in Oklahoma County.
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

State officials in Oklahoma and voting rights advocates have announced an agreement to provide more voter registration access toOklahoma citizens and stave off a potential lawsuit over the state's compliance with federal voting laws.

Details of the settlement agreement were released on Thursday by the OklahomaState Election Board and a group that had voiced concerns about Oklahoma'scompliance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

Robert Bever
Tulsa County Jail

An Oklahoma city says it will release a recording of the 911 call made from a Broken Arrow home where a couple and three of their children were stabbed to death last week.

In a reversal Tuesday, Broken Arrow City Attorney Beth Anne Wilkening says investigators would provide the information to the media next Tuesday.

Randy Brogdon / Facebook

Recently released videos that show a Planned Parenthood official discussing the distribution of fetal body parts are being used by anti-abortion advocates in Oklahoma to seek political contributions and bolster support for legislation to further restrict abortion.

Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Randy Brogdon sent an email on Thursday soliciting donations to "help us end abortion in Oklahoma." He also urged the governor to call a special session to outlaw abortion altogether and shut down Planned Parenthood, which operates four health clinics in the state.

StickWare / Flickr

Registered independents in Oklahoma will now be able to vote in Democratic primaries.

The vote by the Oklahoma Democratic Party to allow the move came during the reconvening of its State Convention in Oklahoma City on Saturday.

With the approval, independents will be able to vote in elections as soon as September.

New Party Chairman Mark Hammons supports the move and said he believes it would help Democratic candidates appeal to more voters. Some longtime party activists contend it could water down the party's message.

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