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AM NewsBrief: Jan. 10, 2023

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.

Gov. Kevin Stitt sworn into second term as Oklahoma's governor

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt was sworn into his second term in office Monday at the state capitol.

Surrounded by members of the legislature, newly sworn in state officials  and leaders of the state’s tribal nations - Governor Kevin Stitt says his second term will continue his Top Ten plan for Oklahoma. 

Stitt, who was reelected to his second term in November, highlighted restructuring the state’s education system. 

“It’s time to rethink education in Oklahoma. It’s time for the tough conversations to address what's working and what’s not. It’s time to teach kids how to think - not what to think," said Stitt.

Other priorities the Republican Governor laid out for his next four years in office include reducing taxes, job creation and limiting big government. 

Stitt is scheduled to give another speech in February: his annual State of the State to kick off the new legislative session.

Disability services

More than 5,000 Oklahomans have been waiting over a decade for state-provided disability services. Last year, the state legislature funded a project to get everyone out of limbo. State officials say their focus now is getting a hold of families.

The Developmental Disability Services program is intended to give children and adults the help they need to live at home instead of an institutional setting — help like medication management or job training, which allow lower- and middle-income families to keep working instead of becoming full-time caregivers..

There’s a high demand for the service, and for decades, there’s been a grueling waiting list that takes as long as 13 years to get off of.

The Department of Human Services oversees the program, and its director, Samantha Galloway, said the department is bringing new waiting list families on each financial quarter, and nearly 1,700 have started getting services — but families with outdated information have been hard to reach.

"Call us. Update your contact information. It makes it easier for us to work through the waiting list and to get services to people faster," said Galloway.

For more about the program head to Oklahoma’s DHS website.

Bill filed to increase poll worker's compensation

An Oklahoma state senator has proposed legislation that would increase pay for election poll workers.

Sen. Warren Hamilton plans to introduce the bill in the 2023 session.

Currently, poll workers across the state are paid $110 per day, and judges and clerks are paid $100 per day. Sen. Hamilton’s proposed legislation would increase compensation to $200 a day.

Hamilton says the pay increase would help attract poll workers to counties in need.

Execution Clergy Lawsuit

A death row inmate and his clergy of record are suing the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, saying their First Amendment rights were violated.

Death row inmate Scott Eizember, who is scheduled to be executed this Thursday, will not be allowed to have his clergy of record, Reverend Dr. Jeff Hood, with him at the time of his death.

This is because last week, the Department of Corrections denied Hood’s application to accompany Eizember to the execution chamber. The DOC says this is to prevent any outbursts from Hood, who has been arrested for nonviolent offenses at protests in other states in the past.

The DOC says Hood will be allowed to communicate with Eizember in the time leading up to his execution and will witness the execution in a separate part of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary via closed-circuit feed.

Hood is also a spiritual advisor to several other inmates including Anthony Sanchez, who is scheduled to be executed in April.

Bills to require more water permits, info for Oklahoma MMJ growers

Oklahoma lawmakers are hoping to regulate how marijuana growers and processors utilize water in the state.

Adair Senator Michael Bergrstrom’s Senate Bill 117 would require medical marijuana growers and processors to get permission for water use. Growers using groundwater or streams would need a permit from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board; growers using a public water supplier would need official permission from the county or municipality that manages it.

A nearly identical version of this bill passed in the State House last year but didn’t get voted on in the Senate.

Another proposed measure by Tulsa Senator Cody Rogers would overhaul the licensing application for medical marijuana businesses. Among many proposed changes, SB 134 would require growers to provide a map of their water sources, storage tanks and irrigation systems

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