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AM NewsBrief: Feb. 14, 2024

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024.

Special Election Results

Voters in 57 counties went to the polls yesterday to vote on local propositions, city council members and more.

House District 39 Race

Voters in West Edmond elected their new state representative in yesterday’s election.

Voters in House District 39 elected Republican Erick Harris as their newest representative in the Oklahoma State Legislature.

The results fill a gap in the House left when Rep. Ryan Martinez resigned last fall.

Harris says one of his priorities is to limit redundant spending within state agencies.

"Time and time again, we see state agencies where they are repeating the same thing as another agency, and that's wasting money. It's wasting resources and those resources we could put somewhere else," said Harris.

Harris also supports cutting the state income tax, abortion prohibitions, and education reforms aimed at improving school outcomes.

He won the district by 261 votes over his strongest contender, Democrat Regan Raff.

Edmond School Bond Package

Voters in the Edmond Public Schools district overwhelmingly passed a massive $147 million bond package, with nearly 80 percent of voters approving both measures.

The first proposition of $144 million will fund the construction of new elementary and middle schools and a new “Freshman Academy” at Edmond Santa Fe High School. There will also be security improvements and new turf for baseball and softball fields at all three high schools.

A second proposal approved by voters will put $3 million to pay for new school buses and vehicles.

Norman, Moore Elections

New city council members in Norman, and a new mayor for Moore.

None of the five candidates for Norman’s Ward 2 reached the 50% threshold needed to secure the win, so Russell Rice, who got just over 32% of the vote, and Matthew Peacock, who got just over 27% of the vote, will head to a runoff election on April 2.

Incumbent Ward 4 council member, Helen Grant, won reelection, while Joshua Hinkle won the race for Ward 6 and Scott Dixon won the race for Ward 8.

In Moore, Mark Hamm was elected mayor - becoming the city’s first new mayor in 30 years. Current mayor, Glenn Lewis, will retire from public office when Hamm takes office in April.

State Lawmakers Considering Bumping Up Teachers’ Pay

Oklahoma teachers may see another pay raise this year.

Following last year’s raise of $3-6,000, Senate Education Chair Adam Pugh is looking to bump pay a little more this year for Oklahoma teachers with Senate Bill 1313.

It would raise the minimum salary schedule by $1,500-3,000.

The bill got one step closer to becoming a reality Tuesday after passing the Senate Education Committee.

But like several of the Senate’s fiscal education bills this year, lawmakers added an amendment to make the initiative subject to the availability of funds, so dedicated money for the raise is still up in the air.

“Because we’re changing our budget process, we’ve had to change some of the fiscal bills that are running through this committee. ... We want to meet our committee deadlines, but keep bills alive without them necessarily being built into the budget once they pass,” Pugh said.

The bill passed with a lone “nay” vote from Bartlesville Republican Julie Daniels. It now heads to the Senate Appropriations committee.

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