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PM NewsBrief: July 11, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Tuesday, July 11, 2023.

Special Elections Today

Seven Oklahoma counties are holding special elections today mostly for propositions related to municipal government or schools.

In Lincoln County, voters are being asked to consider two propositions for Carney Public Schools. The first would construct a new Ag building and install an air conditioning at a gym among other improvements. While a second proposition would pay for new vehicles.

In Cherokee County, Hulbert Public Schools has a proposition on the ballot that would ask voters to improve sports facilities at the school - as well as pay for a land acquisition to expand the district’s ag program.

Voters can learn more about their special elections by visiting their local election board or by seeing a sample ballot on their voter portal via the state election board website.

Polls are open until 7 this evening.

Blind Voter Ballots

A new law to make voting more accessible for blind Oklahomans took effect this month.

Republican Senator Brian Hill’s House Bill 1711 allows legally blind voters to request absentee ballots be delivered to them electronically.

This will allow blind voters to use screen reading software so they can cast their votes without the help of another person.

Though the law took effect on July 1, it was not implemented in time for this week’s special elections.

According to the law, implementation is up to the Secretary of the State Election Board.

This was one of the more than 50 laws that took effect at the beginning of July.

Lawton State Senator Resigns For Chamber Position

Lawton Republican Senator John Michael Montgomery is leaving the Oklahoma Senate.

Montgomery will become the new President and CEO for the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce.

Montgomery is a Lawton native, and says he looks forward to giving back to a community that has given him so much, and making an impact on his hometown.

“So, I’m born and raised here in Lawton, of course I went to Eisenhower High School and briefly did my time here at Cameron University, of course then I went and finished my undergrad at OU, finished up with that, came home and ran for office right after graduating,” Montgomery said.

Sen. Montgomery’s resignation takes effect August 1, 2023.

Montgomery was elected to his second four year term in November.

While Gov. Kevin Stitt hasn’t officially called a special election for Montgomery’s seat, several people have thrown their hats into the ring already, including Elgin Mayor JJ Francais and Army Veteran and local business woman Jennifer Ellis.

Oklahoma, ACLU Gender-Affirming Ban Lawsuit Responses

Oklahoma is fighting an ACLU effort to overturn the state’s ban on gender-affirming care for minors.

The state told a federal court the ban was enacted to protect children from permanent damages caused by hormone therapies.

According to the Mayo Clinic, hormone therapy can have complications, but ultimately improves psychological well-being and quality of life.

The state presented testimonies from Oklahomans who "detransitioned after receiving gender-affirming care." One says they detransitioned for religious reasons, while others blamed a lack of therapy for their decision.

However, the ACLU argues Oklahoma’s claims don’t justify the ban, as parents make medical decisions for their children. Lawyers also argued that gender-affirming care is well-researched, adding regret of transitioning is extremely rare.

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