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AM NewsBrief: Dec. 15, 2022

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

Endangered Species Act listing of Lesser Prairie-Chicken expected to ramp up demand for conservation banking

Following a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list the Lesser Prairie-Chicken under the Endangered Species Act, conservation organizations are expecting a boom from energy companies adapting to new protections and landowners volunteering their acreage for habitat. StateImpact checked in with one of those organizations to see how it’s handling the change.

Well before the recent decision to list the chicken as threatened and endangered, Common Ground Capital was knocking on doors of ranchers, trying to convince them to share their land with the Lesser Prairie-Chicken — and get paid for it.

Under the Endangered Species Act listing, companies are prohibited from harming the chickens. But they can get permits for incidental harm, and pay companies such as Common Ground Capital to maintain habitat for the grouse, like at the Gardiner Angus Ranch in Kansas. Wayne Walker with Common Ground says now that the bird’s listed, ranchers are starting to take notice.

"We hope over time that as we expand beyond the Gardiners and other landowners and Kansas and Texas and New Mexico and hopefully even Oklahoma again soon that, you know, more and more landowners will see this model as a win-win for them," said Walker.

The Service says it’s working with states to determine the grouse’s protected critical habitat area.

2SLGBTQ+ advocate reflects on Respect for Marriage Act passage

One Oklahoma 2SLGBTQ+ advocate was present at the signage of the Respect for Marriage Act in Washington D.C. earlier this week.

Nicole McAfee is the executive director of Freedom Oklahoma, a local group that advocates for the 2SLGBTQ+ community. They say there was a sense of joy during the signing.

“To be on the ground in Washington, DC, with queer people from around the country... And to just see queer love affirmed and celebrated is really beautiful and exciting,” said McAfee.

Although the Respect for Marriage Act guarantees every state in the nation must recognize same sex and interracial marriages - it does not guarantee the right to marry.

“Our hope is that this passage does nothing but affirm protections, and that it's not something that we ever have to engage.”

But McAfee says if there was ever a challenge to these protections that Freedom Oklahoma would advocate and make sure people are aware of their rights and are engaged with groups who do more direct litigation or representation.

Preemption law repeal

One of Oklahoma’s Democratic state representatives says his caucus hopes to repeal a state law that keeps local governments from passing stricter gun ordinances than what’s enforced at a state level.

Tulsa’s Democratic state representative Monroe Nichols wants to repeal the state’s preemption law, which prohibits local governments in Oklahoma from enacting stricter gun restrictions than at the state level.

"We want Tulsa to decide what we will allow folks to carry in our community because we have, you know, some major population centers, and somebody could do a lot of damage in a short amount of time just because we have a lot of folks who are all close to each other," said Nichols.

Republican state representative Justin Humphrey said he disagrees with repealing the preemption law because he believes people throughout Oklahoma should have the same gun rights.

Holiday shipping deadlines quickly approaching

The deadline to guarantee a package before Christmas is quickly approaching.

The United States Postal Service says it’s ready to handle the influx of mail over the coming week. Oklahoma City USPS officials say the distribution center in the metro has the ability to process nearly 280,000 packages a day. The postal service says Saturday, Dec. 17 is the last day for delivery via ground service. For priority mail, the deadline is Monday, Dec. 19.

FedEx’s deadline has already passed, but you can use the company’s premium options to guarantee delivery by Christmas.

UPS encourages people to use its website to calculate the deadline as ship times vary depending on the route.

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