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AM NewsBrief: July 2, 2024

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Tuesday, July 2, 2024.

Federal Judge Stops Oklahoma Immigration Law From Taking Effect, Latino Community Reacts

Oklahoma’s new immigration law banning people from the state who don’t have legal status is temporarily halted.

Many in the state’s immigrant community are celebrating. But for some, the mere existence of House Bill 4156 has served as a reality check.

Anita Menjivar is the president of Oklahoma’s Association of Hondurans. Her organization led protests with hundreds of people against House Bill 4156 at the State Capitol.

Menjivar is a citizen. She says seeing her community unite against the bill helped her realize the importance of voting in local and state-level elections.

“I've never voted for someone at the state-level. But I realized that it’s so important to choose our local representatives, because I felt so discriminated against, and that’s where it was coming from," Menjivar said through a translator.

Now Menjivar says it’s up to her to help convince her family, friends and neighbors of the same thing: that local elections matter too.

Dozens of New Laws Went Into Effect July 1 in Oklahoma

Over 80 new laws went into effect in Oklahoma Monday.

Nearly 30 are centered around education.

Among the notable changes, third through fifth graders are now mandated to learn cursive reading and writing.

Additionally, any electronic communication between students and school personnel must include a parent or guardian.

Also, a new law now requires the State Department of Education to offer a universal electronic application for families seeking free or reduced school meals.

South Central Oklahoma County Picks New Sheriff by Drawing Name from a Bucket

A south central Oklahoma County just picked its new sheriff by pulling a name out of a bucket. More on Oklahoma’s procedures for tied elections and potential legislation to change them:

After incumbent Carter County Sheriff Chris Bryant received the exact same number of votes as challenger DJ Long in last month’s Republican primary, the County Election Board pulled a name from a bucket to determine the winner. Long got the luck of the draw — because only Republicans ran, he’ll be the county’s next sheriff.

State Rep. Tammy Townley’s district includes much of Carter County. After seeing her newest Sheriff chosen in what she calls “a game of chance,” Townley is pledging to introduce legislation to change state election processes.

Under existing state law, tied races with only two candidates can’t go to a runoff election — just a recount, if requested, and then a drawing.

Townley says her bill would offer County Election Boards several options in the case of a tied race, including a runoff.

Little Drought in Oklahoma's Panhandle

The latest drought monitor map shows drought is mostly out of Oklahoma’s panhandle. This comes after the area had a historic 1,000-year rainfall event in late June, flooding homes, roads and fields.

Goodwell received over seven inches of rain, nearly half its annual rainfall average in less than eight hours on June 19… smashing the old daily rainfall record set in 1942 and leading to floodwater rescues.

Lance Goehring is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Amarillo, Texas.

He says when rain falls that hard and fast, some of it will run off into reservoirs or bodies of water, and some will soak into the soil. That means it could still be abating drought conditions days later.

“So, that Drought Monitor could still improve even without additional rainfall, perhaps, it’s going to just lag a little bit. We actually have already seen some improvements," said Goehring.

Western Oklahoma is often in need of more rain. But not in the way it fell later in June.

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