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Oklahoma Voices

Oklahoma newsmakers talking about the issues that affect the Sooner state and beyond.

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Oklahoma state Capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Oklahomans go the polls on Tuesday for a statewide primary. All of Oklahoma’s U.S. Congressmen face challengers from within their own party, and it’s the first test for many of the educators running for state House and Senate seats.

The Journal Record’s Dale Denwalt and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley joined KGOU’s Jacob McCleland in the Oklahoma Senate press gallery to talk about the upcoming primary.

 

 

U.S. House primaries

 

Mike McGrath speaks at the Myriad Botanical Gardens on April 21, 2016.
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

Native bees provide a valuable service to gardeners, and there’s no downside to giving them a welcoming home in the garden. That’s the message Mike McGrath, the host of public radio program You Bet Your Garden, brought during a presentation on April 21 at the Myriad Botanical Gardens in Oklahoma City.

KGOU broadcast portions of McGrath’s presentation in coordination with International Pollinator Week, which runs June 20 to June 26.

President Lyndon Johnson, left, shakes civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s hand immediately after signing the Voting Rights Act, August 6, 1965.
Yoichi Okamoto / LBJ Library Photo (Public Domain)

Next week marks the third anniversary of an incredibly consequential U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down key provisions of landmark civil rights legislation. The high court’s 5-4 ruling in Shelby County vs. Holder meant that Alabama and many other southern states no longer had to seek federal approval to change their election laws under the Voting Rights Act.

But what happened, and how we got there, is so much more complicated. To really understand the narrative arc of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, you have to go back 100 years to the end of the Civil War and the three so-called “Reconstruction Amendments” to the U.S. Constitution. The 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments outlawed slavery, established citizenship for blacks, and gave them the right to vote.

University of Oklahoma President George Lynn Cross With Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher, 1948
Western History Collections / University of Oklahoma

Seventy years ago, a 21-year-old woman named Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher walked into the University of Oklahoma’s admissions office to apply for law school. She was immediately turned down because of the color of her skin.  He didn’t agree with the decision, but OU president George Lynn Cross had no choice but to deny the request, since state law mandated the segregation of public educational institutions.

The sun glistens off a cross at a makeshift memorial outside Plaza Towers Elementary School which was destroyed by a tornado nearly a week ago Sunday, May 26, 2013, in Moore, Okla. Monday's huge tornado destroyed the school killing seven students.
Charlie Riedel / AP

A week ago more than half-a-dozen tornadoes struck Oklahoma. Two people were killed in southern Oklahoma, and the EF4 tornado in Wynnewood near Interstate 35 is actually the strongest twister on record in this state in three years.

Department of Corrections Interim Director Joe Allbaugh
Oklahoma Watch

The Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ Interim Director spoke to a crowded café in Oklahoma City Tuesday night. Joe Allbaugh addressed challenges in the prison system’s record keeping, inmate population and budget strains. 

Allbaugh praised the legislature for allocating nearly $28 million from the state’s Rainy Day Fund to the Department of Corrections, but he said the agency is still set to see a multi-million dollar deficit by the end of the fiscal year.

Survivor Tree, Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum
Brian Hardzinski / KGOU

The bomb that destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City killed 168 people - including 19 children. It injured hundreds more, and forever shaped the community.

April 19, 1995 started as an idyllic spring morning - clear skies, calm winds - better than most Wednesdays during the state’s usually-turbulent severe weather season. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Workers showed up to their jobs, and went about their regular routines.

That all changed at 9:02 a.m.

The Ottoman surrender of Jerusalem to the British on December 9, 1917.
Wikimedia Commons

 

The first World War’s impact on the Middle East was significant, but the aftermath of the war shaped the region as we know it today.

The partition of the Ottoman Empire was arrived at through the process of wartime diplomacy, according to Eugene Rogan, a historian at Oxford University who spoke at the University of Oklahoma’s Teach-In on the First World War on March 7.

Russia staked a claim to Istanbul and waterways linking the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. The French claimed Syria and Cilicia in modern day southeastern Turkey.

State Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa
Oklahoma Senate

Oklahoma faces a projected $1.3 billion budget shortfall in the next fiscal year, which could mean cuts to vital services like mental health, education, public safety and corrections. A few ideas are floating around the legislature to generate more revenue or to save money, like delaying implementation of the individual income tax cuts, tax credit reform, and criminal justice reform. But so far, the legislature has not yet passed any big, sweeping bills.

The Oklahoma House and Senate are back in session Monday, after a largely inactive week. The legislature has already passed one big deadline this session - bills that have not made it through their chamber of origin are now dead.

On this episode of Oklahoma Voices, The Journal Record’s Capitol reporter Dale Denwalt and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley talk to KGOU’s Jacob McCleland about accomplishments during the first few weeks of the session, legislation that could pass, and surprises during the session’s opening weeks.

 

Wesley Fryer / Flickr

Oklahoma lawmakers and Gov. Mary Fallin have made a number of significant changes in Oklahoma’s criminal justice system over the past few weeks.

Fallin issued an executive order to all state agencies to ban the box on job applications that asks about a criminal history. State representatives passed a number of reform bills on the House floor, and they’ve now moved to the Senate.

Ashley Combs (left), Sam Flowers, Jacob McCleland, Jeanette Schreiber, Keith Lough and Lauren Jenks (not pictured) talk about presidential candidates at KGOU on Feb. 26, 2016.
Laura Knoll / KGOU

Oklahoma will play a big role in both the Republican and Democratic presidential primaries on Tuesday, and four candidates hit the state over the weekend. On Friday, Republican hopefuls Donald Trump and Marco Rubio stopped in Oklahoma City. On Sunday, Democrat Bernie Sanders rallied supporters in Oklahoma City while Republican Ted Cruz barnstormed the state, including stops in Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Lawton. Former President Bill Clinton campaigned on behalf of his wife, Hillary Clinton, in Edmond on Saturday.

University of Oklahoma President George Lynn Cross With Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher, 1948
Western History Collections / University of Oklahoma

Seventy years ago, a 21-year-old woman named Ada Lois Sipuel Fisher walked into the University of Oklahoma’s admissions office to apply for law school. She was immediately turned down because of the color of her skin.  He didn’t agree with the decision, but OU president George Lynn Cross had no choice but to deny the request, since state law mandated the segregation of public educational institutions.

Oklahoma Watch executive editor David Fritze, Oklahoma Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services commissioner Terri White, and Oklahoma Health Care Authority CEO Nico Gomez.
Patrick Roberts / KGOU

At the Oklahoma Watch-Out public forum last month, two prominent state health officials described the impact the state budget crisis and the oil-and-gas downturn could have on residents' physical and mental health.

As the Legislature prepares to assemble in February, the state’s two primary agencies that deal with health care for the impoverished and the mentally ill are bracing for cuts to services. At the same time, losses of jobs threaten to strain physical and emotional health for families at all income levels.

Oklahoma Capitol
Drew Tarvin / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Oklahoma lawmakers will face at least a $900 million budget shortfall, spending cuts, and a teacher shortage when it convenes Monday.

State Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, state Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman, and University of Oklahoma political scientist Keith Gaddie joined KGOU’s Jacob McCleland to talk about issues the legislature will address in its 2016 session.

 


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