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PM NewsBrief: Aug. 31, 2022

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This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022.

Walters calls for former Norman English teacher to have license revoked

Former Norman High School English teacher Summer Boismier has repeatedly and publicly acknowledged she shared a QR code with students encouraging them to read banned books.

She has also said she resigned because she didn’t think she could do her job well in the current climate surrounding House Bill 1775, a law that bans teaching controversial topics.

Now, State Secretary for Education Ryan Walters is calling for her to lose her teaching license over it.

In a letter to Oklahoma’s State Board of Education, Walters – Gov. Stitt’s cabinet secretary focused on education – called on the board to immediately revoke her teaching license.

“There is no place for a teacher with a liberal political agenda in the classroom,” he wrote. “Ms. Boismier’s providing access to banned and pornographic material to students is unacceptable and we must ensure she doesn’t go to another district and do the same thing.”

The State board’s rules around HB 1775 say if a teacher does “willfully violate” the law, their teaching license could be revoked. That educator would have the right to a hearing before the board with legal counsel.

Boismier would be the first teacher to potentially face consequences for violating the provisions of House Bill 1775, though it’s unclear if the board will do anything regarding Walters’ request. State Superintendent and Democratic candidate for Governor Joy Hofmeister is in charge of setting the board’s agenda.

Oklahoma’s State Board of Education does regularly revoke teaching licenses.

Marijuana State Question lawsuit

The Oklahoma Supreme Court could play a major role in determining whether Oklahomans get to vote on recreational marijuana this year.

Recreational marijuana supporters are fighting to get the question on this year’s ballot, as opposed to having voters wait up to two years. The issue is going before the state’s highest court soon.

State Question 820 would legalize cannabis for all adults 21 and older — not just ones with a medical card. It would also create a legal process for Oklahomans to modify, reverse or expunge any convictions related to low-level marijuana offenses.

Proponents gathered the signatures they needed, but according to reporting by Oklahoma Watch, the Secretary of State’s office took several weeks longer than normal to verify those signatures after employing a third-party vendor for the first time. State law requires a 10-business-day protest period after that verification, and it’s looking like by the time all is said and done, it would be too late to get the measure to election officials in time for the November elections.

Proponents asked the Court to step in and get the question onto this year’s ballot. On Tuesday, justices wrote that they will consider the case, but not until that 10-day period is over.

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt holds $1000-per-plate fundraiser while anti-turnpike protestors demonstrate outside

Supporters of Gov. Kevin Stitt were met with a barrage of turnpike protestors outside a Tuesday morning campaign fundraising luncheon. The governor — whose event advertised a suggested $1,000 donation per plate — did not acknowledge the demonstrators.

"I would just like to say, a man of integrity would walk out here, walk on those steps, come down on the grass knoll and say, ‘I want to talk to you,'" said one demonstrator.

About twenty protestors from the anti-turnpike organization Pike Off OTA demonstrated outside of the fundraiser held at the Association of Oklahoma General Contractors. Most demonstrators are residents whose homes are in the paths of several proposed turnpike routes near Norman. Protestors Roberta Provost and Terrie Clubb say this issue has lost the governor their votes.

"I’m Republican. Believe me, I’m not voting for him this year. I’ll vote Democrat," said Provost.

"I’m a Republican, and he’s going to force me to vote for a Democrat," Clubb said.

They say they’re frustrated Stitt isn’t following the state Republican party platform, which explicitly calls for a moratorium on new turnpikes until all of the others are paid off.

National Indian Gaming Commission reports record-high revenue

A new report shows the losses to tribal gaming revenue during the pandemic have been recovered in the last year.

The National Indian Gaming Commission announced a record-breaking revenue of $39 billion from the 2021 fiscal year during a press conference in Tulsa.

This is a 40% increase from the previous year, which also saw the industry’s greatest decrease in revenue. The commission attributes those losses to COVID-19 related closures.

The NIGC says the financial improvements have not been felt equally by all tribes but the regulatory lessons from the pandemic should help all tribal gaming operations.

Oklahoma has over 130 tribal gaming operations ranging from gas station slot machines to full-scale resort casinos.
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