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AM NewsBrief: April 19, 2023

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Idabel Mayor Reacts To McCurtain County Sheriff's Response To Recorded Conversation

Following a bomb threat at a local hospital, Idabel mayor Craig Young called out the McCurtain County Sheriff’s Office for doubling down amid allegations of racism and violent threats.

Four county officials including three members of the sheriff’s office were allegedly recorded at a March meeting saying they missed when racial violence in law enforcement was acceptable, discussing killing journalists and mocking a burn victim. Governor Kevin Stitt has called for their immediate resignations.

In a Monday statement, the sheriff’s office claimed the audio was altered and that the recordings violated Oklahoma’s Security of Communications Act.

Young didn’t mince words when asked about the sheriff’s statement.

"It’s a joke. I think it’s terrible. I mean, the damage is done, the trust is gone. I mean, even if the audio recording was illegal, it’s still audio recording out there," said Young.

Young said he doesn’t know if the recordings were altered, but said the subject matter was horrible.

Young’s remarks came just hours after a threat was called in to McCurtain County Community Hospital saying they would detonate a bomb if the officials didn’t resign from their positions and their roles on the hospital board. He said incidents like the bomb threat wouldn’t happen if they resigned.

Canine Flu Continues To Impact The Metro

As the canine influenza has ravaged dogs across the Oklahoma City Metro, it continues to impact the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter.

Almost 300 out of 400 dogs at the Oklahoma City shelter have gotten sick from a respiratory virus and five have died.

Many are doing better, but staff are still treating sick ones.

The closure that began in March is likely to continue for some time. The exact reopening date is unclear but shelter management says the soonest it could be is early May.

Symptoms of the flu in dogs include coughing, runny nose, labored breathing and loss of appetite. Animal experts are urging dog owners to talk to their vet about precautions and when it's safe for their dogs to be around other dogs again.

Sports Betting Bill Fails

A bill allowing sports betting in Oklahoma is dead following a recent deadline. KOSU's Allison Herrera has been following the story and has more.

House Bill 1027 would've allowed in person and mobile sports betting. But it failed to advance in the Senate.

Sen. Bill Coleman of Ponca City was a co-sponsor and he says the demise of the bill was partly due to lack of coordination between Governor Kevin Stitt and the tribes.

"We just felt, including myself that for the bill to move any further we really needed to make sure a conversation between the tribes and the governor took place so we could be fully confident they were in agreement about how sports betting would operate in the state of Oklahoma," Coleman said.

This is the second time a sports betting bill has not passed. Coleman says in the coming months, he'll be having conversations about a bill that will work for the upcoming legislative session.

Sexual Assault Forensic Exams Legislation

Oklahoma lawmakers are working for better access to sexual assault forensic exams. StateImpact’s Catherine Sweeney reports

Senate Bill 572 would create a new funding source for the state department of health. The specifics on how the department would use that funding to improve access? Still in the works. The title is off, which means the bill is in the draft process.

But the goal is to make it easier for sexual assault survivors to get these exams.

The author, Lawton Sen. John Michael Montgomery, says the district attorney’s council has a fund to help people pay for them.

"What we’re looking to do is supplement that … so that it is not as inconvenient to actually try to be able to get these kinds of exams when they’re necessary," said Montgomery.

The measure passed out of the House appropriations committee on Tuesday, but again, it’s going to require a bit more work before it can become law.

Education Funding Stalemate

The stalemate over education funding between Oklahoma’s House and Senate continues, despite the Senate advancing the package nearly three weeks ago. Here's more on what’s causing the holdup in the House.

$540 million in new education funding is still sitting on the table, and here’s what’s happened so far: House Bill 2775 and House Bill 1935 are linked — one is a massive new funding bill, the other is a $100 million voucher-like tax credit program, and the bills are written so that one can’t pass without the other.

But the Senate amended the House version in some big ways, and like Republican House Speaker Charles McCall warned at the beginning of the process, any changes to these bills would be non-starters for his chamber.

The versions have some pretty big differences, and here are some of them: the Senate’s gives bigger raises to more categories of educators, and it includes a merit pay bonus program for teachers. It also applies funding increases equally to all districts, citing substantially disproportionate funding in the House version that shorts big schools.

Lawmakers hope a special conference committee granted Monday can hash out a resolution.

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