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PM NewsBrief: April 12, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Wednesday, April 12, 2023.

Vote on First Publicly Funded Catholic Charter School On Hold

The Oklahoma Statewide Virtual Charter School Board met Tuesday to review an application for an unprecedented, publicly funded Catholic charter school.

A vote on the proposal was delayed for 30 days.

All of the public commenters came out against St. Isidore of Seville’s Catholic Virtual Charter School’s application - the majority of whom were ordained clergy.

But State Superintendent Ryan Walters spoke against the comments, which caused Board Chairman Robert Franklin to step in.

“You’ve heard from some radical leftists that their hatred for the Catholic church blinds them in doing what’s best for kids. Their hatred for the Catholic Church has caused them to attack our very foundational religious liberties,” Walters said.

“No disrespect to you, but I didn’t hear a radical position, nor did I hear an attack to the Catholic Church,” Franklin said. “From just the chair’s perspective, I just want to make sure and go on record that I didn’t hear that from these comments today.”

“I’m sorry Dr. Franklin, the attacks have been really clear. And I think that we should distance ourselves from allowing radicals to inject their way into this and overly politicize this decision,” Walters said.

The Board will likely take up the application again at its May 9 meeting.

Canine Illnesses Continue To Spread

An outbreak of canine influenza and strep is hitting the metro area.

The highly contagious illnesses have led to animal shelters closing and experts urging caution.

Symptoms of the flu in dogs include coughing, runny nose, labored breathing and loss of appetite.

While most dogs recover within a few weeks, some may experience secondary infections or even death.

Animal experts are urging dog owners to talk to their vet about vaccination and when it's safe for their dogs to be around other dogs again.

The disease outbreak has closed or restricted access to several animal shelters. Oklahoma City's shelter was the first to close at the end of March with five dogs dying from the disease.

Moore and Midwest City shelters have also announced precautions and restrictions.

The Norman Animal Shelter says they have not been impacted by the flu and remain open, but they are only accepting dogs with proof of Norman residence.

College Athlete Compensation Bill Moves Forward

A bill aiming to help Oklahoma attract more college athletes is advancing in the State Legislature.

Republican Senator Greg McCortney’s Senate Bill 840 would get rid of the requirement for Oklahoma student athletes wanting to profit off their name, image, or likeness to hire a registered sports agent or attorney to negotiate their contracts. Instead, any individual could negotiate for the student.

Proponents of the bill say it would help make Oklahoma’s college sports programs more competitive with programs in other states where there are no restrictions for student athletes to be compensated through NIL.

The bill was granted a conference on Tuesday after House amendments were rejected last week.

Increasing Chance for Severe Weather and Fire Danger Friday

Much of Oklahoma is facing an increasing risk of severe weather and fire danger by the end of this week.

Although drought conditions continue to improve across the state, the panhandle and northwestern Oklahoma remain in exceptional or extreme drought, putting them particularly at risk for fires.

The Oklahoma Forestry Service says most of western Oklahoma has gone more than 40 days since receiving any significant moisture.

In the panhandle, Texas County has gone almost eight months.

As a cold front blows more dry air across the state on Friday, the Forestry Service says fire-favoring conditions will reach “a crescendo.”

People in Dumas, Texas, 60 miles southwest of Guymon, coordinated a regional prayer for more rain Tuesday night. But the forecast for the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles is still clear and breezy for now.

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