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AM NewsBrief: May, 5, 2023

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Friday, May 5, 2023.

DEQ Issues Order Not To Use City of McAlester Water

The Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality has issued an order not to use water from the City of McAlester and several nearby Rural Water Districts.

An electrical problem shut down the pumps that feed McAlester’s water towers on Wednesday.

Later that evening, the city told residents it had bypassed the pumps and restored water.

That bypass involved using a fire truck as a pump. A DEQ spokesperson says a fire truck is “not approved equipment” for moving potable water.

The DEQ issued an order not to use the water Thursday morning.

This is not a boil order. Boiling water kills bacteria but doesn’t help with other contaminants, and the DEQ doesn’t know what McAlester’s water might contain.

The agency says affected residents should use bottled water for drinking, cooking, doing dishes, brushing teeth and washing hands.

It’s unclear when the DEQ will lift the order. But an agency spokesperson estimates next week. For now, the National Guard is in McAlester providing assistance.

Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat Losing Hope On Ability To Override Governor's Vetoes

Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat says he's losing hope the Oklahoma legislature will be able to override Governor Kevin Stitt’s dozens of vetoes.

The comments come amid a fight over education funding, where the House and Governor are pressuring the Senate to adopt their plan.
Treat says many state programs are getting caught in the crossfire.

"A lot of people are going to pay for that because the speaker is not going to override those vetoes that were vital because he doesn't want to upset his new friendship and it’s very frustrating to me," Treat said.

Stitt has vetoed bills that do things like fund public television, Native American education programs and bring Oklahoma in line with other states on Name, Image, Likeness regulations for college sports.

The legislative session is scheduled to end in three weeks.

TurboTax Settlement

Thousands of Oklahomans who were tricked into paying for tax services that should have been free will soon receive a check from a settlement.

Attorney General Gentner Drummond says Oklahoma will receive more than $1.7 million from a multi-state settlement with TurboTax's owner Intuit.

Eligible consumers include those who paid to file their federal tax returns through TurboTax for tax years 2016, 2017 and 2018... but were eligible to file for free through the IRS Free File Program.

Drummond says more than 56,000 people in Oklahoma will receive a check in the mail this month.

Lawmakers, Faith Leaders Gather In Support Of Richard Glossip

With Richard Glossip’s execution date coming up in just two weeks, some Oklahoma lawmakers and faith leaders are ramping up their efforts to intervene. KGOU’s/OPMX Hannah France has more.

On Thursday morning, lawmakers and faith leaders gathered at the state capitol to ask Gov.Kevin Stitt to stop the execution of Richard Glossip.

Republican State Representative Kevin McDugle said the juries at both Glossip’s original trial and his retrial were deprived of important evidence, including letters suggesting the key witness wanted to recant his testimony implicating Glossip in the 1997 murder of Barry Van Treese. He said some people in power are ignoring this evidence.

"It’s no longer about the evidence in this case. It’s literally about the DAs of Oklahoma wanting this guy dead," said McDugle.

Death penalty abolitionist and subject of the 1995 movie Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean, was also in attendance.

"I understand that a lot of people support the death penalty. You hear about a terrible crime and you say we got to have the death penalty. These people don’t deserve to live. The question is, who deserves to kill them?," said Prejean.

The Pardon and Parole Board voted against recommending clemency for Glossip last week. He is scheduled to be executed on May 18.

Murdered And Missing Indigenous People's Day

President Joe Biden officially declared May 5 Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons Day. Organizations across Oklahoma have been calling for more accountability around this issue that they're calling a crisis.

Oklahoma has some of the highest rates of domestic violence in the country; many of the victims are Indigenous.

Kayla Woody is the prevention specialist for House of Hope, an organization run by Citizen Potawatomi Nation. They help Native and non-Native survivors of domestic violence.

"There is a lot of gaps between those different entities working together," said Woody.

Last month, local organizations including House of Hope gave blistering testimony to the Not Invisible Act Commission saying that the response to MMIP cases were inadequate and that local law enforcement needed more education on the issue.

"There's a different process that needs to be taken when Native individuals are experiencing these types of crimes or when homicides are happening," Woody said.

Oklahoma has recently passed two laws to help in MMIP cases: Kasey's Act, which is an alert system for missing Indigenous Adults and Ida's Law: designed to get state, federal and tribal officials on the same page and solve MMIP cases.


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