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PM NewsBrief: Jan. 12, 2023

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This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023.

Oklahoma carries out first execution of 2023

Oklahoma has executed its first death row inmate this year. Scott Eizember was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 10:15 a.m. Thursday morning.

He is the eighth death row inmate to be killed since the state resumed capital punishment in October 2021 after a six-year moratorium. Eizember was convicted in the 2003 beating death of 76-year-old A.J. Cantrell. He was also sentenced to 150 years in prison for the shooting death of 70-year-old Patsy Cantrell.

Oklahoma has 10 more executions scheduled this year, and 20 total before the end of 2024.

Stitt reshapes Oklahoma state boards for education and veterans affairs for his second term

Gov. Kevin Stitt is reshaping two state boards he’s occasionally been at odds with.

Stitt is retaining two members of the state board of education: Trent Smith and Sarah Lepak, who were both appointed by him in the last two years. Every other member – including a homeschool teacher, an energy executive and a conservative former state representative candidate – will be new. The moves come as new state superintendent Ryan Walters gets ready to shape a new era at the State Department of Education.

Stitt also terminated four of the veteran’s commission members, including its chairman. The governor has been trying to oust veteran’s commission executive director Joel Kintsel after he challenged Stitt in the GOP primary last year. The commission had been protecting him.

All of Stitt’s appointees to the boards must be approved by the Senate, where Republicans hold a supermajority.

Read more about this story here.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs proposes new rules to protect Osage mineral rights

The last time the BIA updated the protections of the Osage Nation's Mineral Estate was in 1974. According to a statement released on Thursday, the federal agency will weigh increasing the amount of money oil and gas producers put up in the form of bonds, which they say would better protect the Osage Nation when companies default. It will also consider detailed requirements for how oil and gas produced from the mineral estate is measured.

Assistant Secretary of the Interior Bryan Newland says the federal government has a fiduciary and trust responsibility to the Osage Nation and the department will be consulting with the tribal nation about these and other proposed revisions in the near future.

In addition to in person consultation, the BIA will accept written testimony about the potential rule changes until March 17th.

USDA Rural Business Grants

The US Department of Agriculture is giving grants to small businesses in, what it says, is an ongoing effort to give rural communities the resources they need to thrive. But the deadline to apply is just around the corner.

According to the USDA, all sorts of rural public entities are eligible to receive grant funding: towns, communities, nonprofits, higher education institutes, federally-recognized tribes, and more. To qualify for rural business development grant funding, the entity must have fewer than 50 new workers and less than one-million dollars in gross revenue. Although there is no maximum grant amount, smaller grants will be given priority. Businesses will be selected based on economic need, evidence of local job creation, experience, and consistency with local economic development priorities. Applications for grants end Feb. 28 at 4:30p.m.

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