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PM NewsBrief: Jan. 19, 2023

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This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Thursday, Jan. 19, 2023.

The Oklahoma Senate unveils legislative plan for education; includes teacher raises, charter school board revamp

In a Wednesday press conference, Republican Sen. Adam Pugh — who also chairs the Education Committee — unveiled his plan for education reform during the upcoming legislative session.

The 14 proposals focus on a variety of areas: attracting and retaining teachers, school safety, school funding, charter school reform and bolstering learning opportunities for students.

Notably absent from the priorities list is any mention of school vouchers — an issue persistently championed by Secretary of Education and newly elected State Superintendent Ryan Walters, as well as Governor Kevin Stitt. Last session’s voucher bill was narrowly defeated.

Pugh said the priority list was crafted after he spent the summer in conversations with stakeholders.

“I met with over 200 public school superintendents. I met with every college president in the state of Oklahoma. I met with hundreds, if not thousands, of teachers and parents and advocacy groups,” Pugh said. “And the goal there was just to listen and take notes and hear their concerns, and find areas where we can work together to advance education and outcomes for our kids and for the state of Oklahoma.”

Bill filed to require mental health wellness training for first responders

Republican Sen. Julie Daniels filed Senate Bill 379 that would make mental health wellness training for first responders necessary in order to earn a peace officer certification.

The measure would require eight hours of mental and behavioral health wellness training as part of the certification. It would also incorporate a continuing education requirement.

Daniels said the job merits making sure first responders can take care of themselves.

Enid federal water money

The City of Enid has received $8 million in federal funds for water infrastructure projects.

Right now, Enid relies on more than one hundred groundwater wells to support its 50,000 residents. In response to current demand, drought conditions and anticipated population growth, the city is working to shore up its existing water infrastructure and secure an alternative surface water source.

Enid has received $4 million to update an existing pipeline carrying water from a well site in Ames, about 20 miles southwest of the city. That pipeline is 70 years old.

The city also received another $4 million to help build over 70 miles of new pipe to carry water from Kaw Lake. That project’s overall cost is just shy of half a billion dollars, which will mostly be covered by outside grants, sales tax and utility payments.

New app helps visitors explore Lawton-Fort Sill

The Lawton-Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce has a new app that helps visitor's explore southwest Oklahoma called Visit Lawton-Fort Sill.

Chamber President Krista Ratliff says the app will connect users with the community.

"We have pre-designed tours of Lawton-Fort Sill History, African American History, Native American History, wildlife and lakes, and then you can interject restaurants into that tour as well," said Ratliff.

To learn more about the app and the chamber, visit the chamber's website.

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