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AM NewsBrief: Aug. 23, 2022

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This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022.

Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office deputy is dead, another seriously wounded

An Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office deputy is dead and another is seriously wounded after both were shot by a suspect Monday afternoon, while serving eviction papers at a home in southwest Oklahoma City. Sheriff Tommie Johnson described the situation during a press conference.

“…Contacted the individual at the front door. They went around to the back door and that’s when the shooting began. Shot the first deputy. The second deputy tried to get that deputy out of the way of gunfire. And then he was struck as well,” said Johnson.

The deputies, described as veteran officers who have been with the department more than 20 years, were taken to OU Medical Center.

The deputy who died in the line of duty has been identified as Sgt. Bobby Swartz.

The wounded deputy’s name has not been released.

“Law enforcement, it's a tight community, and I'm so thankful they were screaming across the state for my guys,” Johnson said.

The suspect accused of the shooting has been identified as Benjamin Plank. He was taken into custody following a short vehicle chase.

Election day in Oklahoma

Today is election day in Oklahoma. Voters will decide party candidates in runoffs ahead of November’s general election.

Several key Republican runoffs are taking place. Congressman Markwayne Mullin faces former state House speaker T.W. Shannon to determine which candidate will lead the party in the race to fill the remainder of retiring Senator Jim Inhofe’s unexpired term. The Democratic challenger - former Congresswoman Kendra Horn - has already advanced to the November election.

There are also Republican runoffs for State Superintendent, between April Grace and Ryan Walters, and for Congressional District 2, between Josh Brecheen and Avery Frix.

There is also a Democratic runoff for U.S. Senate between Jason Bollinger and Madison Horn. The winner of that race will be on the ballot against U.S. Senator James Lankford in November.

There are also runoffs for State Treasurer, Labor Commissioner and Corporation Commissioner, as well as dozens of bond propositions.

Voting takes place today between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Lesser Prairie Chicken update

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could be facing a lawsuit for its delay in listing the Lesser Prairie Chicken as a threatened and endangered species. While conservationists wait, the bird’s population is taking a nosedive.

The Center for Biological Diversity announced it would be pursuing legal action against the US Fish and Wildlife Service unless it decides to list the Lesser Prairie Chicken as threatened and endangered within the next couple of months.

Last June, the agency proposed it would list the approximately 25,000 Lesser Prairie Chickens living in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle as threatened, and the just 1,500 chickens living in West Texas and New Mexico would be listed as endangered. Fish and Wildlife was expected to finalize that proposal by this June, but has yet to do it.

The bird’s been listed before, but the listing was quickly overturned after a lawsuit from the oil and gas industry.

The Western Alliance of Fish and Wildlife Agencies reports from its aerial surveys that in the last two years alone, the Lesser Prairie Chicken’s population has dropped by 20%.

Republican state senator announces plans to ban to ban gender affirming medical treatment for Oklahomans under 21

Sen. Warren Hamilton says he plans to refile legislation that would prohibit those under the age of 21 from receiving any gender affirming medical treatment in the state, including surgery and hormones.

Additionally, the legislation would make it a felony for parents or guardians of transgender youth to pursue any such procedures for their children under 18, including puberty blockers.

The legislation would also make it a felony for a healthcare professional to provide gender affirming medical treatment to anyone under 21.

These felony charges would come with a fine of up to $20,000 and three years to life in prison. Hamilton originally filed this legislation in 2021, but it did not receive a hearing.

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