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PM NewsBrief: Jan. 24, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023.

State Park Bills

A state senator has filed multiple pieces of legislation related to Oklahoma’s State Parks.
Republican Sen. George Burns filed Senate Bill 673 which addresses entrance fees to state parks. The bill states that entrance fees could only be charged for travel trailers and recreational vehicles and could not exceed $8.

Burns says reducing costs will encourage more visitors. The money collected would go back to the state park. Another measure, SB 675, would transfer Hugo Lake Park to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. The attraction hasn’t been classified as a state park in the last decade and--according to Burns--local economies have been negatively impacted. He says transferring the park back to the Tourism and Recreation Department would allow for more funding and modernization.

Lastly, SB 3 would require the state’s tourism department to get legislative approval if it decides to cancel or not renew a lease for state park property. The legislative session begins Feb. 6.

Swadley's Update

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond announced in a tweet on Monday that his office would be working with the Oklahoma Bureau of Investigations in the Swadley’s Foggy Bottom scandal. The case, which involves allegations of fraud involving millions of taxpayer funds through a contract with the state Department of Tourism and Recreation, has been ongoing since early last year.

The restaurant chain is currently in a lawsuit with the state of Oklahoma, and is being further investigated for numerous safety violations. According to the press release following Drummond’s tweet, his mission for the investigation and top priority as Attorney General is to QUOTE “end the culture of corruption and scandal.”

Pardon and Parole Board Changes

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board has replaced two of its five members this month. Earlier this month, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals appointed Richard A. Miller to the Pardon and Parole Board to replace Larry Morris, whose term expired this month. Late last week, Governor Kevin Stitt appointed Calvin Prince to replace Scott Williams, who had served on the board for less than two years.

This follows a string of recent changes to the board’s membership, including former Chairman Adam Luck resigning last year at the request of Governor Stitt, noting they had differing opinions on the death penalty. The Pardon and Parole Board votes on whether to recommend Governor Stitt grant clemency to death row inmates, of which there are 10 scheduled to be executed over the rest of the year.

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