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PM NewsBrief: Aug. 1, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Tuesday, August 1, 2023.

Governor Signs “Women’s Bill of Rights” Into Law

Governor Kevin Stitt became the first governor in the country to issue an executive order defining men and women by their biological sex at birth.

In a ceremonial signing on Tuesday, Gov. Stitt signed an executive order to adopt a so-called “Women’s Bill of Rights” that was based on model legislation developed by Independent Women’s Voice, a conservative advocacy group.

The order defines men and women by their biological sex at birth - male or female - and defines biological sex as being equal to one’s reproductive system.

Stitt says it also seeks to ensure women’s spaces are only accessible to biological females.

“No men are going to go into women’s prisons in the state of Oklahoma. No men in women’s domestic shelters. No men in women’s locker rooms. No men in women’s bathrooms. No men in women’s sports,” Stitt said.

In a news release, Freedom Oklahoma, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, said the order will not protect women but instead create civil rights violations and subject both cisgender and transgender women to increased scrutiny and harassment.

National Approval Ratings Rank Governor Stitt As 6th Least Popular Governor

Approval ratings for Governors across the country show Oklahoma’s Kevin Stitt is popular.

But he’s not as popular as the vast majority of his counterparts in other states.

The Morning Consult’s latest report of approval ratings shows Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt is the sixth-least popular governor in the country.

The survey shows 51 percent of people approve of the job Stitt has done, while 40 percent disapprove.

Though a majority appear to approve in the state, that gap between approval and disapproval is one of the lowest in the nation.

The report shows every governor in the country has a higher approval than disapproval rating. The state with the most popular governor in the country was Vermont, where Phil Scott has a 76 percent approval rating.

The governor with the lowest approval rating is Tina Kotek of Oregon.

Congress Votes To Overturn Federal Protections Of Lesser Prairie Chicken

The U.S. House of Representatives voted to overturn the Endangered Species Act listing of the Lesser Prairie Chicken.

The U.S. Senate voted to overturn the ESA listing earlier this year.

President Joe Biden has already promised to veto a bill that would delist the lesser prairie chicken.

Whether the bird is delisted or federally regulated, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation says it won’t change the fact there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to make the state more habitable for the prairie chicken.

Kurt Kuklinski with Oklahoma’s Department of Wildlife Conservation says the state’s private landowners want to better conserve the prairie chicken without the intervention of federal regulations.

“Through voluntary programs, they've shown that they're willing to contribute to the conservation of this species. What they don't want is a heavy handed federal approach,” Kuklinski said.

According to the Audubon Society, Lesser Prairie-Chicken populations have declined by 97 percent across their range since nationwide bird monitoring began in the 1960s.

EMBARK Offers Free Bus Passes For OKC Students

Starting today, EMBARK is offering free bus passes for all students in the OKC metro.

EMBARK’s Haul Pass program expanded this year. Now, students up to 18 years old can enroll, and have access to EMBARK’s bus, streetcar and rapid transit services anytime at no cost.

The Haul Pass program began in 2014 through a partnership between EMBARK, the City of OKC, and Oklahoma City Public Schools.

The agencies hoped providing free access to buses would meet students’ transportation needs and encourage public transit use.

Haul Passes can be used on all routes at any time.

To enroll in this year’s program, students can complete an online form or visit the downtown Transit Center.

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