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AM NewsBrief: Feb. 29, 2024

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024.

Attorney General Says Oklahoma Transportation Secretary Must Quit Other Jobs

Attorney General Gentner Drummond says Oklahoma’s Secretary of Transportation can no longer hold his other two jobs

Tim Gatz has been serving as Oklahoma’s Secretary of Transportation, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and Executive Director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.

Gentner Drummond says he can only hold one public office.

The AG’s opinion states Gatz has in effect dropped his other two positions when taking the secretary role in Gov. Kevin Stitt’s cabinet.

Gatz has overseen several major transportation projects, and taken heat for his role in spearheading the ACCESS Oklahoma turnpike, which stirred controversy for its route through Norman.

Gatz resigned as Transportation secretary and director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority in response to the attorney general’s opinion.

Stitt thanked Gatz for his work in his cabinet in a statement. Stitt says Gatz will continue as the director of ODOT.

Oklahoma Lawmakers Advance Death Penalty Moratorium Bill

Oklahoma lawmakers unanimously advanced a bill Wednesday to pause executions for two years.

The Death Penalty Moratorium bill proposes a temporary suspension of all executions, including those on death row, while a task force focuses on reforming the death penalty process.

Bill author Rep. Kevin McDugle says the bill is needed, citing his confidence in the wrongful execution of individuals on death row in Oklahoma.

"We found that when DNA started becoming prevalent, many of the cases that had already gone through two trials were actually found innocent," McDugle said. "Now, what we've not done is gone back and taken DNA of people we did kill to see which one of those were actually innocent. Nobody wants to know that number."

The bill now moves to the House floor, but McDugle has doubts about its prospects, noting previous failures of similar legislation.

Norman City Council Rejects Purchase for Permanent Homeless Shelter

Norman City Council will not be moving forward with buying property for a permanent emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

Council voted 7 to 2 Tuesday night against the purchase of property located south of Indian Hills Road near I-35.

The cost was about $940,000. The city says it wants to foster feedback and public input as any plans move forward.

Norman currently has a contract with an organization to operate an emergency shelter on West Gray in downtown.

OU Women’s Softball Begins New Era In New Stadium

A new era begins this week for OU women’s softball as they begin play in their new stadium, Love’s Field.

The Sooners take on Miami University of Ohio at 2 p.m. Friday.

Sooners Head Coach Patty Gasso says she's excited to move to a new stadium, but she will always remember where the program was when she took the job 29 years ago.

“I think of the team that was over at Reaves and never got a locker room. And even when we had this built, we didn’t have this building,” Gasso said.

“So, players were still dressing in the bathrooms or dressing at home and going home in their uniforms. So, I think about those athletes that are alums, but never got to experience this.”

In 1995, Gasso’s first season as the Sooners head coach, the team finished with a 43-23 record.

When the Sooners step on Love’s Field Friday, they do so with a 67-game winning streak, the longest in collegiate softball.

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