Oklahoma State University economist Dan Rickman
Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma will continue to see job growth in 2015, even if lower energy prices slow those increases, Oklahoma State University economist Dan Rickman said Tuesday.

Speaking at the 2015 Oklahoma Economic Outlook Conference, which is hosted by the OSU Center for Applied Economic Research at the university’s Spears School of Business, Rickman forecast over 30,000 jobs will be added to the Oklahoma workforce during the 12-month period beginning Jan. 1.

The majority of the jobs, he said, are expected to be in administrative and support services and durable goods manufacturing. More than 5,000 new jobs are projected to be created in each sector, according to Rickman.

Emily Soreghan

The idea of local, sustainable food isn't new. It's pretty much the only way early settlers on the Oklahoma prairie didn't starve to death.

But in the 21st century, everything from home gardens, to restaurants, to huge organic agribusinesses help pass the practices, and the connection between the land and the food that comes from it, to future generations.

Katie Shauberger’s yard has two small garden plots, which she showed me on a cool September night. Katie is a senior at The University of Oklahoma and an avid gardener who has many reasons for growing her own food

Four state universities offer new programs to make college education more affordable. OU, OSU, Langston University, and USAO have moved to a flat-rate tuition, where students pay one rate regardless of hours taken. OU has also launched a debt-free teacher initiative, in which the school will forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debt if a student agrees to teach in Oklahoma for at least 4 years.

A Mental Health Mission Goes Statewide

Aug 24, 2014
Michael Brose, Executive Director of the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma.
Angela Chambers / Oklahoma Watch

Growing up in Kansas near the Oklahoma Panhandle, Michael Brose saw firsthand the struggles of rural residents to find quality health care.

Later, in two decades as executive director of the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, Brose observed similar problems with urban residents’ access to affordable care for mental illness and substance abuse.

Today, Brose is using his experience in those two settings to carry out a new, broader mission for his advocacy organization. In April, the Mental Health Association in Tulsa renamed itself the Mental Health Association Oklahoma. That change occurred after the Mental Health Association of Central Oklahoma in Oklahoma City closed its doors.

MHA Oklahoma, based in Tulsa, is now the state’s most prominent nonprofit to focus on mental health services beyond the local level. The need is great: Oklahoma’s rate of mental illness ranks among the highest in the nation, and funding for health services is limited.

In an interview with Oklahoma Watch, Brose discussed the association’s plans for expansion; efforts to help the homeless, teens and veterans, and how to prevent suicide. The interview has been edited and condensed.

You now lead an organization for the entire state. Does that mean you will be offering your services for the mentally ill in every part of Oklahoma?

It’s a step-by-step approach. We’ve always served the Tulsa metro area. The next step is to develop systems that will primarily be targeting Oklahoma City and central Oklahoma areas that will include Norman. I spoke and met with people in Stillwater not too long ago. Ultimately, we want to serve the whole state. Before the expansion, we consulted and worked with contacts in central Oklahoma and around the state in rural areas. We’ve become a member of the United Way of Central Oklahoma, so we’re members of both United Ways (Tulsa and Central Oklahoma).

One of the most exciting things about expanding in other parts of the state is meeting people. We’re all Oklahomans and have similar needs. We’ve had this long history of this dichotomy between Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and we’re really about doing our part to break down those barriers.

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

A federal judge has scheduled a hearing for next month in a lawsuit filed by a group of death row inmates over Oklahoma's execution procedures.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Friot on Tuesday scheduled a hearing for Sept. 18 in the case, which was filed by 21 inmates following the April 29 botched execution of Clayton Lockett. The inmates are trying to halt any attempt to execute them using the state's current lethal injection protocols.

U.S. Energy Information Agency

There were 211 drilling rigs operating in Oklahoma last week, the state’s highest level in almost six years, Bloomberg’s Lynn Doan and Richard Stubbe report.

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

Three Oklahoma death row inmates whose execution dates have already been set are among 21 plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the state's lethal injection procedures.

—Charles Frederick Warner, 47, had been set to die on the same day as the botched execution of Clayton Lockett but is now scheduled to be executed on Nov. 13 for the 1997 rape and murder of 11-month-old Adrianna Walker, the daughter of his roommate.

OETA reports that both Oklahoma and Texas are looking for information and entities willing to take over operations of the Heartland Flyer.

State Sen. Jerry Ellis, D-Valiant.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

State Sen. Jerry Ellis on Monday suggested that a federal task force be formed to develop a statewide earthquake “emergency action plan.”

The task force would be charged with examining and evaluating scientific studies related to Oklahoma’s earthquake swarm, which a growing chorus of scientistssay is likely linked to disposal wells used by the oil and gas industry, and make recommendations on possible solutions, according to a press release from the House Democratic Caucus. 

Lora Zibman / Flickr Creative Commons

On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on the legality of tax subsidies being provided to people who bought “Obamacare” health insurance policies in Oklahoma and 35 other states.

Here’s a look at the rulings’ potential impact in Oklahoma.

I’m confused. What did the courts rule today?