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PM NewsBrief: Jan. 10, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023.

Ukrainians to start training on Patriot Missile System at Fort Sill

At the end of last year, the US announced it would send a patriot missile defense system to Ukraine for the first time, to aid in its war against Russia. 100 Ukrainian soldiers are being trained to operate the system at Fort Sill.

The Patriot Missile Defense System was first deployed in 1984 and has been upgraded throughout the decades since, to be effective against aircraft and tactical ballistic missiles alike. Moreover, the system is accurate, fireable in any weather conditions, and nearly autonomous. But, despite its advantages, the four-million-dollar-per-shot machine needs trained soldiers to operate it. In a report from CNN, that training is happening at Oklahoma’s own Fort Sill.

According to the Department of Defense, 100 Ukrainian soldiers are being trained to use the system and it will likely take several months before their training is complete. This will be one of two Patriot Missile Systems in Ukraine, the other comes from Germany.

Disability services

More than 5,000 Oklahomans have been waiting over a decade for state-provided disability services. Last year, the state legislature funded a project to get everyone out of limbo. State officials say their focus now is getting a hold of families.

The Developmental Disability Services program is intended to give children and adults the help they need to live at home instead of an institutional setting — help like medication management or job training, which allow lower- and middle-income families to keep working instead of becoming full-time caregivers..

There’s a high demand for the service, and for decades, there’s been a grueling waiting list that takes as long as 13 years to get off of.

The Department of Human Services oversees the program, and its director, Samantha Galloway, said the department is bringing new waiting list families on each financial quarter, and nearly 1,700 have started getting services — but families with outdated information have been hard to reach.

"Call us. Update your contact information. It makes it easier for us to work through the waiting list and to get services to people faster," said Galloway.

For more about the program head to Oklahoma’s DHS website.

Gov. Kevin Stitt sworn into second term as Oklahoma's governor

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt was sworn into his second term in office Monday at the state capitol.

Surrounded by members of the legislature, newly sworn in state officials and leaders of the state’s tribal nations - Governor Kevin Stitt says his second term will continue his Top Ten plan for Oklahoma.

Stitt, who was reelected to his second term in November, highlighted restructuring the state’s education system.

“It’s time to rethink education in Oklahoma. It’s time for the tough conversations to address what's working and what’s not. It’s time to teach kids how to think - not what to think," said Stitt.

Other priorities the Republican Governor laid out for his next four years in office include reducing taxes, job creation and limiting big government.

Stitt is scheduled to give another speech in February: his annual State of the State to kick off the new legislative session.

Online voter registration bill

A state lawmaker is filing legislation that would set a hard deadline for the rollout of Oklahoma’s online voter registration system. Oklahoma is one of only a handful of states that lack completely online voter registration.

In 2015, the Legislature authorized state election officials to create the online voter registration system, but technical problems have cropped up that have delayed full implementation for years. Currently, Oklahomans can start the registration process online, but then they have to print out the form, sign it and deliver it to their county election board in person or by mail.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, Oklahoma is one of 10 states that accept only physical voter registration forms. Democratic Sen. Julia Kirt wants to change that with Senate Bill 90 that would require the State Election Board to accept voter registration applications online no later than Dec.31. Kirt said she’s concerned the project will be set aside without a required completion date.

State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax told Oklahoma Watch that testing of the final phase of the project is ongoing, but added that placing a firm deadline on the project could jeopardize security and overall functionality. Voter advocacy groups say online voter registration is an effective tool to boost youth voter turnout and civic engagement, which has historically lagged in Oklahoma.

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

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