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PM NewsBrief: Oct. 31, 2022

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Monday, Oct. 31, 2022.

Water assistance program

For the first time, Oklahomans who are struggling to pay their water and sewer bills can apply for financial assistance.

The Low Income Household Water Assistance Program uses federal pandemic relief money to help people who have lost or are in danger of losing access to drinking water and wastewater utilities. Each state or tribe is responsible for determining eligibility and distributing assistance.

Oklahoma and 22 tribal nations have almost $26 million to distribute this year. To apply for the state program, go to okdhslive.org and provide information about your household, including property, income and expenses.

Eligibility is based on income, and assistance is first-come, first-served. But OKDHS says they’ll prioritize households with people who are elderly, disabled or younger than 5.

Regents request nearly $100 million budget increase in effort to increase workforce readiness

Oklahoma’s Regents for Higher Education are asking the legislature to up funding for the state’s public colleges and universities.

The regents make an annual wish list usually including a budget increase, before the legislative session.

This year, they’re asking for a $96 million hike to take overall funding up to $986 million.

Cuts have hit Oklahoma’s higher education institutions hard since the 2008 recession, but as the state socked away billions of dollars in savings accounts this year they did get a modest increase.

It remains to be seen what the legislature will do with the request. Lawmakers’ increase in higher education funding this session was not as much as initially requested.

Early voting begins even earlier this year

Oklahoma voters can cast their ballot for the Nov. 8 General Election even earlier following new legislation enacted last year.

Voters can now cast their in-person absentee ballot at their early voting location starting Wednesday instead of Thursday.

Early voting takes place this Wednesday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. As always, no excuse is needed to cast an in-person absentee ballot in Oklahoma.

For your early voting location and to view a sample ballot visit the OK Voter Portal atelections.ok.gov.

Oklahoma's Corporation Commissioner Race

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission regulates utility and telecommunications companies, as well as oil and gas drilling. StateImpact’s Beth Wallis reports on who is running this November to fill a vacancy in the three-person commission.

In the race for Corporation Commissioner, Republican Senator Kim David faces Democrat Warigia Bowman, a law professor at the University of Tulsa.

David has been a member of the Oklahoma Senate since 2010 and describes herself as a conservative and a small business owner. She worked in petroleum marketing for about a decade and has a bachelor’s degree in petroleum geology.

Bowman served as an attorney in the environmental division of the U.S. Department of Justice before teaching law classes on water, natural resources and energy at TU.

Terms for the Corporation Commission are six years long, and commissioners can serve two times.

You'll find more on this and several other races that will be on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot in our online Voter Guide.

Muscogee Nation first arrest

Muscogee Nation Lighthorse Police made their first arrest after the passage of a new law aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence.

The Muscogee Nation Attorney General’s office announced their first arrest following the passage of the Nation’s “Victim Protection and Jurisdiction Expansion Act”. Last week, Lighthorse Police arrested Michael Wilson of Tulsa, a non-Native, on the charge of sexual abuse of a minor Native child.

Earlier this year, congress reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act, which took effect at the beginning of October. Under VAWA, tribal nations throughout the country can prosecute non-Natives for additional crimes like child sexual abuse when they are committed against Native people within reservation boundaries.

The passage of this new law within Muscogee Nation was meant to give greater protection to victims. Wilson is being held on a $45,000 cash bond and will have an arraignment date set in tribal court.

For additional news throughout the day visit our website, KGOU.org and follow us on social media.

We also invite you to subscribe to the KGOU AM NewsBrief with host Nyk Daniels.

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