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AM NewsBrief: Sept. 13, 2022

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This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022.

Republican lawmakers call for investigation into Norman teacher for potential HB 1775 violation

Late last week 14 Oklahoma GOP lawmakers called for the State Department of Education to investigate a former Norman teacher for potentially violating House Bill 1775.

Former Norman English teacher Summer Boismier made headlines following her resignation from Norman High. She says she resigned after sharing a QR code linking students to a banned book resource from the Brooklyn Public Library in New York. 

The Republican lawmakers say they’re concerned about a comment she made to Oklahoma City television station Fox 25 about the state’s so-called critical race theory ban.

"I am a walking HB 1775 violation. And one of the sticking points between myself and my previous district is I would do it again," said Boismier.

The law says a teacher can have their license revoked for willfully violating HB 1775. But no teacher has faced that yet. Revocations are typically for serious, felony-level crimes.

A spokesperson for the State Department of Education says the agency has not yet received a complaint regarding a potential HB 1775 violation from any parents in Norman.

Record tribal gaming fees in August

Oklahoma tribal gaming fees reached a record high in August.

The state received nearly $17.9 million in tribal gaming exclusivity fees last month. The previous record was nearly $17.8 million in May of 2021.

Summer is typically a strong season for the tribal gaming industry. A large chunk of business comes from Texans and other travelers.

The record amount is one sign of the region’s continued economic growth despite rising inflation.

I-35 construction will cause delays for motorists

Motorists are being advised to start planning for new construction projects on I-35 in Oklahoma City over the next several weeks, including weekend closures.

Though work began last week on southbound I-35 between I-44 and I-40 in Oklahoma City for a four-mile resurfacing project, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is advising motorists to prepare for two upcoming weekend closures-- one on southbound I-35, and one on northbound I-35 later in September.

Motorists can expect intermittent lane narrowing and ramp closures for paving operations as well.

The project comes as an interim fix to help preserve the pavement and improve the surface until future reconstruction of this section of I-35, which is tentatively scheduled for 2029.

The nearly $5 million project is expected to complete by mid-October depending on weather conditions.

Oklahoma anglers get pass to take more small bass as new fishing rules go into effect

The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has developed new rules for black bass fishing that encourage anglers to take home more small bass.

The new rules, which went into effect Sunday, Sept. 11, allow anglers to keep six black bass every day, but only one can be longer than 16 inches. These regulations apply in all of Oklahoma’s lakes except Texoma and Doc Hollis.

The change is an effort to achieve and maintain healthy bass populations. Previous rules prohibited anglers from taking bass smaller than 14 inches—but now those smaller fish make up 80% of the species in Oklahoma’s lakes. Josh Johnston with the state wildlife department says that’s a problem.

"They're not growing, because they don't have enough to eat. They're competing too hard."

The new regulations aim to rebalance the bass population while still allowing flexibility for tournaments and trophy fishing. Tourney organizers can apply for exceptions to the new rules on the department’s Go Outdoors Oklahoma app or website.

Native American life expectancy falls

The Centers for Disease Control has released new information about the average life expectancy for Americans. While the life span for all groups fell, it was even sharper among Native people.

Between 2019 and 2021, the life expectancy for all Americans dropped from 77 years to 76.1 years. But among Indigenous people the expected lifespan dropped close to seven years from 71.8 to 65.2. The reason: COVID-19.

Even though Native people have some of the highest vaccination rates, they also experienced more mortality due to the virus. The CDC blames other chronic and underlying health issues. They also point to the inequities Indigenous people face when seeking treatment-like long traveling distances to hospitals or clinics.

In Oklahoma, a number of Indigenous elders, culture bearers and First language speakers died because of the virus.

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