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AM NewsBrief: Feb. 14, 2023

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2023.

Big school bond proposals on the ballot in Norman

Oklahomans across 62 counties have something to vote on during the primary and special election today.

More than a dozen school bond proposals also appear on ballots. Norman will decide on a massive 10-year, $353.9 million bond proposal package. Big ticket items to be funded by the package include a more than $24 million upgrade to the Norman North football stadium and more than $32 million will go toward the construction of a stand-alone facility for the Oklahoma Aviation Academy at Max Westheimer Airport. Norman High’s football stadium will also see some upgrades.

Other projects to be funded include a new all-schools fine arts performance auditorium, a new animal barn for the FFA program and dozens more. Officials say approval of the bond package will not result in new taxes for residents. Polls are open from 7 am to 7 pm. For your voting location visit the Oklahoma State Election Board’s website.

Black History Day at Oklahoma Capitol

Throngs of people flooded the State Capitol Monday to take part in the first Black History Day held there. Education reform was a common topic, in response to the legislature’s focus on diversity discussions in the classroom.

Civil rights activists, artists, students and community leaders spoke and performed to a packed rotunda at the Capitol. After 2021’s House Bill 1775, Oklahoma’s so-called Critical Race Theory ban, Black community leaders called attention to concerns of stifling historical discussion in the classroom.

"It might not be taught to you in the classroom, but it doesn’t make any difference. ‘Cause we can teach ourselves our history," said Marilyn Luper Hildreth, daughter of civil rights icon Clara Luper.

Oklahoma City rapper and activist Jabee spoke pointedly.

"White Republicans in this state have decided to make our classrooms, our teachers and our children their battleground — their battleground for racism," said Jabee.

Lawmakers are considering more classroom content restrictions this session.

Congenital syphilis legislation

Oklahoma has seen its rate of congenital syphilis soar. Lawmakers are considering a bill that could get those babies help before they’re born.

For decades, syphilis seemed all but eradicated. But ten years ago, new cases started to skyrocket. That included cases in newborns, who contract the bacterial infection while passing through the birth canal.

The CDC estimates that from 2016 to 2020, the rate of babies born with syphilis in Oklahoma went up by nearly 2,000%. Back in 2016, congenital syphilis was rare. And by 2020, Oklahoma ranked 5th in the nation for babies born with the disease.

State law requires medical providers to test pregnant patients for syphilis once — at the beginning of the pregnancy. Public health and medical experts have been pushing for more screening throughout pregnancy.

Senate Bill 292, filed by Midwest City Senator Brenda Stanley, would up that requirement to three times in pregnancy, including right before delivery. The bill advanced out of the Senate health committee last week.

Tiny home pushback in Tulsa

A Tulsa neighborhood association is pushing back against planned affordable housing communities.

The Tulsa World reports members of the Chamberlain Area Neighborhood Association are speaking out against City Lights Village, a planned 10-acre tiny-home community for individuals transitioning out of homelessness.

The community would provide 400-square-foot homes for about $400 a month in addition to a community center, gardens, a laundry facility, and other services for residents.

Jane Malone, the president of the association, says she is concerned the community would decrease property values and increase foot traffic in the area.

The Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission will discuss whether to recommend approval of City Lights Village on Wednesday.


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