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AM NewsBrief: Sept. 15, 2022

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This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022.

Oklahoma wildlife department monitors fatal brain disease in deer, elk

A diseased deer was found a couple of miles outside Oklahoma’s panhandle.

The carcass found along a Texas road near the Oklahoma border tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease.

The fatal disease affects the brains of deer, elk, moose and other members of the cervid family by creating sponge-like holes in their brains.

Big Game Biologist Dallas Barber says the department is ramping up its surveillance because of how close the deer was found to Oklahoma.

“This isn't something that can just be eradicated from a population, we have to know where it's at first to take measures to really manage the disease and prevent it from spreading as much as possible.”

Barber says the wildlife department has monitored the spread of the disease by testing tissue samples of hunter-harvested deer and elk.

He also says this particular disease has not been found to spread to humans or livestock.

Gov. Stitt joins other GOP governors in criticizing Biden student loan forgiveness plan

More than 20 Republican governors, including Gov. Kevin Stitt, signed a letter to the Biden administration criticizing his plan to pay off student loan debt for millions of borrowers.

The Biden administration is canceling $10,000 in federal student loan debt for Americans earning $125,000 or less per year.

Stitt and his GOP colleagues write that isn’t an equitable distribution, because it only impacts the between 16 to 17 percent of Americans who hold federal student loans. Those percentages represent more than 40 million people.

And in Oklahoma the Biden plan will likely bring relief to many. Hundreds of thousands of Oklahomans have federal student loan debt.

Amtrak halts service in OKC amid potential rail strike

Amtrak is halting service in Oklahoma City in advance of a threatened national rail strike.

The Oklahoman reports the Heartland Flyer will leave Oklahoma City today to make its trip to Fort Worth, but it will not make a return trip back to OKC this evening.

In a statement released Wednesday, Amtrak announced that while its operations are not a part of the labor negotiations, the majority of its routes are on tracks owned, maintained and dispatched by freight railroads.

An array of freight railroad unions are set to strike on Friday if a deadline to reach contract agreements are not met. The Heartland Flyer is one of 24 service routes Amtrak is shutting down.

OTA Supreme Court hearing

Opponents of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s plans to build three highly-contested central Oklahoma turnpike routes presented their case to a referee of the state Supreme Court Tuesday. The referee will make a recommendation to the high court in the coming weeks on how to proceed.

Much of the disagreement between the OTA and the project’s opposition centers around the language of the law. The OTA argues once a project location is authorized by the legislature, state statute gives the agency broad and sole discretion to decide how to route the new road, and that courts shouldn’t question whether better route options exist. But attorney for the opposition Rob Norman disagrees.

“What’s happening here is the OTA is trying to just say, ‘We don’t really care what the people think. We don’t really care about the principles of representative democracy. We just get to put a turnpike wherever we want because we’re the OTA and we’re undefeated.’ And that’s just wrong.”

Opposition attorneys argue that while the statute that authorizes new turnpikes is specific as to where it should go, one of the planned routes is well outside of that description, and the legislature decided decades ago that no new bonds could be issued for the other two contested routes.

Crews inspect fair rides for safety ahead of opening day

The Oklahoma State Fair returns today and crews have worked all week to inspect more than 60 rides for safety.

The Oklahoma Department of Labor as well as two other sets of third party inspectors checked out the amusement rides during the building process and through the test runs. Some rides have traveled nearly 600 miles to be at the fair, according to a spokesperson for the state Department of Labor.

Inspectors will continue to monitor the rides for safety during the fair as well. The state fair runs now through Sept. 25.


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