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AM NewsBrief: Sept. 27, 2022

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This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2022.

New poll finds Kevin Stitt has narrow lead on Joy Hofmeister in race for Oklahoma Governor

A poll from Amber Integrated Monday shows Gov. Kevin Stitt has a narrow lead on his Democratic opponent Joy Hofmeister.

It’s the second poll this month that shows a narrow lead for Stitt.

Overall, he’s up three points on his Democratic opponent, but that’s within the margin of error for the poll commissioned by local television station KOCO 5.

Stitt has a big advantage when it comes to men, white people and voters outside of the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metro areas. Plus he’s winning most Republicans.

But Hofmeister is taking away some of those Republican votes and Stitt is winning over few Democrats.

The results back up one from earlier this month from another pollster showing a tight race. Sooner Poll found Hofmeister within one point of Stitt. The two will face off in November. For StateImpact, I’m Robby Korth.

Amber Integrated also found Libertarian Natalie Bruno is polling at 2% and Independent Ervin Yen is polling at 1%.

OTA Open Meeting Act lawsuit update

Opponents of three highly-contested turnpike routes are celebrating a move forward in their legal battle against the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority. The lawsuit is based on allegations the agency violated the state’s Open Meeting Act.

Cleveland County District Court Judge Timothy Olsen decided Friday the case against the OTA can move forward despite the agency’s attempts to hold it up. The OTA had previously filed to delay proceedings until the state Supreme Court could decide if it would hear a separate petition by the OTA to validate its plans.

Olsen writes in his decision the OTA didn’t establish a “likelihood of success” that its Supreme Court case will be decided favorably. And even if it is decided in OTA’s favor, it’s likely the agency would still need to comply with this suit’s discovery period and produce the relevant documents for the Open Meeting Act violation claims to be resolved.

The Open Meeting Act case alleges the OTA didn’t clearly and transparently outline in its meeting agendas the scope and placement of the new routes. The suit is one of two currently making its way through district court against the new turnpike plans.

OSU/CHS invest millions for Native student recruitment

Less than 0.2% of physicians are Native American in the U.S., even less in STEM careers, according to Kent Smith from the office of American Indians in Medicine and Sciences at OSU's Center for Health Services. That's why the college is preparing to invest $3.5 million to recruit more Native American Students for medical school.

The money is coming from the Health Resources & Services Administration Center for Excellence and will help develop the program, provide scholarships for students as well as training and resources for those who are applying to medical school.

To develop a state flood plan, Oklahoma officials seek better understanding of community flooding hazards

The Oklahoma Water Resources Board is working on a comprehensive plan to protect people from the effects of flooding. To do that, the board is gathering information from communities.

After floods devastated much of northeastern Oklahoma in 2019, the state legislature tasked the Water Resources Board with creating an official Flood Plan. Aaron Milligan with the board says many smaller communities have trouble securing funding for crucial mitigation projects.

"We saw a lot of areas that, you know, needed a bulldozer dump truck project that could eliminate flooding. But it wasn't getting done," said Milligan.

The board is creating a list of those projects now, but they stilll need input from city, county and tribal governments. Officials can submit a short survey about flooding in their communities. Milligan says participation has been good, but they hope to hear from more people before the survey closes this Friday.

"You know, if we had every community in the state would contact us and give us information that would be a perfect world."

He says the plan should be ready sometime next summer.

Farm Bill town hall

A handful of people gathered at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma Monday evening, and expressed the importance of funding food programs in next year’s farm bill.

Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas took questions alongside a panel of directors of different food bank agencies at the Town Hall on Hunger in Oklahoma City.

Attendees expressed the need for legislators to maintain food programs in the 2023 farm bill, like The Emergency Food Assistance Program — which helps provide funding to food banks.

Ginger Tucker, director of the Temple Area Food Pantry, says the federal program helps feed nearly 400 families in her small southern Oklahoma town.

"Our community Temple is in a food desert. When we gave away fresh milk recently, I had a little mama thank me over and over." 

Congressman Lucas says nearly 80% of the farm bill's budget goes towards nutritional food programs, and he doesn’t see that changing in 2023.

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