AM NewsBrief: May 2, 2023
This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Tuesday, May 2, 2023.
Seven people have been found dead in Henryetta, including two teenagers reported missing Monday.
14-year-old Ivy Webster and 16-year-old Brittany Brewer were among the bodies identified by Okmulgee County officials on Monday afternoon. Another was 39-year-old Jesse McFadden. An Amber Alert for the girls had been issued earlier in the day stating they may be with suspect Jesse McFadden in a Chevy Avalanche.
According to officials, Webster and Brewer were spending the weekend with the McFadden family, along with his three children and their mother, Holly McFadden. Their plan was to go swimming in McAlester, but officials say the family never arrived.
Jesse McFaden is a convicted sex offender, and previously spent 17 years in prison for first degree rape, and was released in 2020. He was charged with using a contraband cell phone to send sexual messages to a teenage girl in 2017, and was supposed to appear before a court the same day authorities discovered the bodies.
After initially refusing invitations earlier this session, Superintendent Ryan Walters attended a House committee meeting Monday to answer questions about his policies and rhetoric.
Walters responded to a question from Democratic Representative Forrest Bennett, who asks how Walters’ recent video encouraging more Bibles in classrooms wouldn’t be considered indoctrination — a refrain Walters uses often. Walters says the representative’s question was illustrative of how, “Democrats want to strike out any mentions of the Bible from our history.”
And that was one of several contentious moments during Monday’s hearing, which also included Walters calling teachers’ unions “terrorist organizations,” and saying his agency was an “absolute dumpster fire,” when he started and one that previous Superintendent Joy Hofmeister “ran… into the ground.”
Walters was also tasked with providing data to back up his claims that indoctrination is what’s keeping Oklahoma students from reaching higher academic outcomes.
Legislation to exempt the natural gas industry from an Oklahoma price gouging law is headed to the Governor’s desk.
The existing Emergency Price Stabilization Act prohibits anyone from increasing prices more than 10% after a declared emergency in Oklahoma.
Rep. Mark McBride authored House Bill 2561, which exempts the natural gas industry from the rule. He says Oklahoma’s natural gas utilities can’t control the market and shouldn’t have to foot the bill after emergencies.
But Democrats say this leaves Oklahoman utility customers no recourse against natural gas price surges, like those after Winter Storm Uri in 2021.
Del City Rep. Andy Fugate says the new amendment could prevent future state investigations into potential natural gas price gouging.
"We should allow an attorney general the opportunity to go look the next time around, instead of writing into statute, 'You will turn a blind eye.,'" said Fugate.
The bill cleared the Senate last week, and is now awaiting the governor’s approval.
Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond is continuing his support of death row inmate Richard Glossip’s application for stay of execution.
AG Drummond filed a response in support of Richard Glossip’s stay of execution application to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.
Glossip filed the application following the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board’s vote against recommending clemency last week.
Earlier this year, Drummond ordered an independent counsel to review Glossip’s murder conviction and death sentence. Following the results of the investigation, he filed a request with the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals to vacate Glossip’s conviction. Last week, he made an unprecedented move as AG to ask the Pardon and Parole Board to recommend clemency.
Glossip is scheduled to be executed on May 18.
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