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PM NewsBrief: April 19, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Wednesday, April 19, 2023.

Remembrance Ceremony Held for 28th Anniversary of OKC Bombing

Oklahomans paused Wednesday morning to reflect on the 168 lives lost and those who survived the Murrah Federal Building bombing on April 19, 1995. The ceremony was held indoors across the street from the Memorial at OKC First Church due to the weather.

During the program family members and survivors read the names of the 168 people killed, and there were 168 seconds of silence.

Retired State Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven Taylor was the keynote speaker. Taylor presided over the trial of bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols in Oklahoma in 2004.

"Never forget that these 168 were the victims of hate and violence and domestic terrorism. As a nation we find ourselves divided on almost every subject...and I remind us that Abrahman Lincoln said, ‘that a house divided against itself cannot stand',"said Taylor.

Gov. Kevin Stitt and Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt also provided brief remarks

Bill that Would Affect School and Public Libraries Still Alive

A school library bill many thought was out of the running after it missed its committee deadline... has been resurrected.

BW: Senate Bill 397 by Republican Senator Sherrie Conley would require school and public libraries to conduct inventories of all library materials and designate them into four categories: elementary, junior high, under 16, and juniors and seniors.

Then, next July, districts would be required to separate the books into their corresponding buildings, like elementary-designated books in an elementary library.

But books labeled “juniors and seniors” would have their own rules: in school and public libraries, they would go to a section only accessible by staff and only available to a student with written permission from a parent or guardian.

The bill was thought to be out-of-play after it missed a key legislative deadline, but was resurrected through a procedural shortcut.

Opponents are concerned the censorship could go too far, and there’s no calculation of how much the new system would cost schools and libraries to implement.

Judge Rules Lawsuit Involving Poultry Megafarms Can Move Forward

A grassroots group in Northeast Oklahoma has sued the state for more public input on poultry mega-farms.

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry says the group did not have the standing to sue, but a judge disagrees.

After its waters bubble up from the ground, Spring Creek winds across the Cherokee Nation Reservation and through three counties before flowing into Fort Gibson Lake. On that 35-mile journey, the stream passes by dozens of poultry farms.

The Spring Creek Coalition says the state licenses those facilities without alerting residents, considering public comment or gathering information on the potential impacts to public health and the environment.

It filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry two years ago.

State officials acknowledged that Oklahoma provides no notice to surrounding residents before approving new poultry facilities.

But they argued the Spring Creek Coalition couldn’t bring this issue to court on behalf of individual landowners.

But last week, a district judge said the case should be heard in court.

The attorney representing the Spring Creek Coalition told the Tulsa World they’re working to set a date for the hearing.

Update on Bill Related to Forensic Exams for Sexual Assault Survivors

Oklahoma lawmakers are working for better access to sexual assault forensic exams.

Senate Bill 572 would create a new funding source for the state department of health. The specifics on how the department would use that funding to improve access are still in the works.

The title is off, which means the bill is in the draft process. But the goal is to make it easier for sexual assault survivors to get these exams.

The legislation’s author, Lawton Sen. John Michael Montgomery, says the district attorney’s council has a fund to help people pay for them.

“What we’re looking to do is supplement that … so that it is not as inconvenient to actually try to be able to get these kinds of exams when they’re necessary,” Montgomery said.

The measure passed out of the House appropriations committee on Tuesday, but it’s going to require a bit more work before it can become law.
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