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AM NewsBrief: July 26, 2023

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Wednesday, July 26, 2023.

Attorney General Intercedes In Lawsuit Over Tribal Gaming Compacts

Attorney General Gentner Drummond says he’s taking over gaming compact negotiations with tribal nations from Gov. Kevin Stitt for the state of Oklahoma.

Drummond says Stitt’s litigation with the tribes has cost Oklahoma taxpayers millions of dollars and has damaged state and tribal relations.

In the last month, Legislative leaders have asked Drummond to take over for Stitt in compact negotiations. In a letter he obliges.

Stitt has said Drummond doesn’t have the authority to take over the lawsuits or negotiations for compacts between the state and tribal governments. The compacts determine the rules and payments tribal nations make to the state to operate gambling operations in Oklahoma.

The lawsuits stem from Stitt entering into four gaming compacts with tribal nations in 2020 outside of what other tribes use. He was sued by four other tribes over the legality of the move. And that is what Drummond says he will be formally taking over.

Oklahoma Education Secretary Resigns

After just three months in office, Oklahoma Secretary of Education Katherine Curry is resigning from Governor Kevin Stitt’s cabinet and returning to her professor position at Oklahoma State University.

In a press release, Curry says “the complexity and political environment have led me to the conclusion that I can better serve Oklahoma’s students and future teachers by dedicating my time and energy to the classroom.”

Curry was appointed in April to the position, which oversees 41 boards, agencies and commissions. Most recently, she served as a professor and program coordinator for the Educational Leadership and School Administration Program at OSU.

Curry’s appointment came on the heels of controversy, as the previous office-holder, now-State Superintendent Ryan Walters, was drawing two state salaries from his secretary and superintendent positions. Walters faced an unlikely confirmation as Secretary during this spring’s legislative session, leading Gov. Stitt to appoint Curry instead. No news on her replacement.

Extreme Heat Impacting Oklahoma Farmers

The National Weather Service is issuing heat advisories for Oklahoma this week. Excessive heat and severe weather has changed one farmer’s routine.

Micha Anderson has 11 acres of pecan trees and a half acre of fruits and vegetables on his farm in Piedmont Oklahoma. He also works as an extension agent for Langston University.

Anderson says Oklahoma’s weather is a lot different than it was growing up. Hail and damaging winds are more unpredictable and times of drought and rain are more intense. This year, two weeks-worth of crops he and other researchers grew at Langston had to be disposed of due to hail damage.

This gives Anderson more reason to grow hybrid plants that can better withstand changes in Oklahoma’s weather.

“Some people like the old heirlooms, like the black diamonds and what have you, but they don't handle the extremes as well as the hybrids do.

Anderson says growing hybrids is like raising a mule. They’re just more resilient.

OKC Human Rights Commission Meeting

As Oklahoma City’s Human Rights commission gears up in the wake of its re-launch – former state historical society director Bob Blackburn is looking toward the past.

Blackburn says Oklahoma has always been a state of injustice.

He pointed to events like the Tulsa Race Massacre and Osage Murders, in an hour-long presentation to OKC’s Human Rights Commission. The commission is aiming to use its first year to learn the history of human rights in the city.

To prevent future injustice, Blackburn says attitudes must change through education and discussions.

We’ve got these scars, we’ve got the culture that is not granting justice to everyone equally. How can we do that together? We have to have this dialogue. (10 seconds)

Blackburn says progress has been made toward healing, though there have been setbacks. He also says Oklahoma City is at a point where diversity needs to be recognized.

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