KGOU

politics

File Photo / AP Images

The oil and gas industry is playing an early major role in deploying financial resources to try to influence the outcome of the Oklahoma governor’s race.

As the debate persists over how much the state should tax oil and gas production, an Oklahoma Watch review of campaign finance reports found oil and gas interest groups and executives have spent heavily in the early months of this year’s gubernatorial campaign. Fifteen candidates are running for the office.

Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Just 35 women filed for one of the 125 Oklahoma legislative seats that were up for election in 2012.

This year, there will be nearly four times as many women running for the same number of seats. And following a trend across the nation, women will be better represented on the ballot than in at least a decade – and likely ever.

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Deborah Gist cried as she stepped across the small stage in front the Oklahoma State Capitol. The Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools and a group of educators had just finished a 110-mile walk from Tulsa to Oklahoma City to highlight their fight for more school funding.


With Health Department News, Waves Of Disbelief Roll Across State

May 18, 2018
Oklahoma Watch

Justin Forney worked for the state Department of Health for 12 years as a public information officer, stationed in several county health departments, including Logan County.

Then, in the wake of a financial crisis that shook the department, Forney lost his job in March – the result of cuts of nearly 200 health department positions.

Forney is still unemployed. And on Thursday, as the news rolled out statewide that a grand jury had found the agency’s reported cash shortfall never happened, he felt a sense of shock.

Oklahoma State Senate

As a convicted felon on a suspended sentence, former state Rep. Gus Blackwell can’t vote. But he can still lobby his former colleagues in the Legislature.

Blackwell, who left office in 2014 and became a registered lobbyist, was convicted in 2017 of “double-dipping” on his per diem and travel claims when he was a legislator. He remained a lobbyist and still can be seen in the Capitol corridors pressing the interests of his client.

Oklahoma State Capitol Building
Claire Donnelly / KGOU

A small group of unelected citizens, all appointed by Republican state leaders, will soon be exercising significant powers to decide how the state’s top agencies spend their funding and which services they should provide.

Legislators and Gov. Mary Fallin added $2 million to the state budget this year to pay for state agency audits to be conducted by a private firm and overseen by a commission of Oklahoma business leaders.

Breaking Down The Impact Of The 2018 Legislative Session

May 8, 2018
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

The curtain fell Thursday night on the 2018 session of the Oklahoma Legislature, leaving indelible memories of chanting crowds and heated rhetoric.

This spring’s session – as well as the concurrent special session that carried over from last year – was dominated by the teacher walkout and the intense debate over tax increases to pay for teacher raises and to boost public education funding.

But lawmakers’ actions went well beyond those critical issues.

Brian Maughan for Mayor

The former director of a nonprofit charity has sued an Oklahoma County commissioner who founded the charity, accusing him and the group of failing to pay severance, berating the director publicly and making questionable deposits into a personal bank account.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Legislature adjourned onThursday night, ending its yearly session three weeks before the constitutional deadline on May 25.  

After two special sessions left over from last year’s budget woes, a teacher protest that lasted almost two weeks and more than a year of struggling to find funds for state services, lawmakers passed a $7.6 billion dollar state budget in April, the largest in state history.  Here’s a few more of state lawmakers’ accomplishments this year.

 

Teacher Pay Raise:

Oklahoma state capitol
Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Oklahoma’s $7.5 billion budget is on Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk after passing the House 63–31 this afternoon.

The spending bill assumes oil will stay around $53 a barrel for the next 12 months and natural gas will stay around $2.99 per thousand cubic feet. House Appropriations and Budget Chair Kevin Wallace was asked whether budgets should be based on more stable revenue, like income and sales taxes.

Oklahoma Watch

Lawmakers are on their way to passing the largest state budget in Oklahoma history. But that doesn’t mean state agencies have recovered from years of cost-cutting.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote Friday on a $7.5 billion appropriations bill that will be $724 million – or 10.9 percent – more than the state’s current fiscal year budget.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Legislature gave final approval on four criminal justice reform bills and sent them to the governor Tuesday. Here’s a breakdown of the measures and what they’re designed to do:

John Minchillo / AP Images

Oklahomans may no longer need to worry they might be breaking the law by posting a selfie with their ballot on Instagram on Election Day.

 

The state Senate has passed House Bill 3053, allowing voters to photograph both in-person and absentee ballots and post them on social media, as long as they don’t break any other laws by doing so. The House of Representatives passed the bill in February. It now heads to Gov. Mary Fallin for her signature.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma teacher walkout and educators’ demands for more school funding dominates the news. It’s unclear if lawmakers are willing to meet those demands and quell daily protests. One lingering question: If schools get more money, what happens to other state agencies and workers who need funding, too?

Oklahoma’s state Capitol has been a madhouse all week. Teachers pack the rotunda early, and by 9 a.m. the chants are loud enough to echo through the tunnels underneath the building.

Mike Boettcher / Unfiltered

Oklahoma Watch reporter Paul Monies reached out to the 11 declared gubernatorial candidates to ask them what they think about striking teachers’ demands and what more can be done to fund education and get teachers back in their classrooms. Responses came from the candidates or their representatives. Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb’s campaign pointed to an April 2 Fox News interview in which he addressed the strike. Responses have been condensed.

DEMOCRATS:

Drew Edmondson

Sue Ogrocki / AP Images

Sue Ogrocki / AP Images

Oklahoma lawmakers are searching for more ways to raise revenue as spring break begins and a teacher walkout looms on the horizon.

Sue Ogrocki / AP Images

The Oklahoma House of Representatives announced on Tuesday that it will choose one chaplain to lead its daily invocations for the rest of the legislative session.  

Step Up Campaign Highlights Gap In State Disclosure Laws

Feb 22, 2018
Jeff Raymond / Oklahoma Watch

The Step Up Oklahoma plan to raise taxes on cigarettes, fuel and energy failed to pass, but it highlighted a gap in state campaign finance laws that keeps much of the funding and spending on both sides of the issue a secret.

Jeff Raymond / Oklahoma Watch

Lawmakers are right back where they started after a much-anticipated vote to pass one of the largest tax increases in state history fell short in the state House.

Despite business luminaries and hundreds of educators filling the Capitol in support of the Step Up Oklahoma Plan, the revenue-raising proposal only received 63 votes, which was 13 votes shy of passing the constitutionally required three-fourths threshold for revenue-raising bills.

Pages