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PM NewsBrief: Aug. 3, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Thursday, August 3, 2023.

State Lawmaker Pleaded Guilty To DUI Charge

State Representative Ryan Martinez of Edmond has pleaded guilty to a felony non-driving DUI charge.

Martinez signed a plea agreement in Oklahoma County District Court this week for an October incident.

Edmond Police found the Republican in a parking lot near the downtown bar The Patriarch with his car running last fall.

Martinez will be on probation for one year, pay $1,000 in court costs, and have an interlock device installed in his car for six months.

This is his second brush with the law for driving under the influence. He was charged for a misdemeanor DUI in 2014 before he was elected as a state lawmaker.

New OTA PlatePay System Unable To Recognize Tribal Tags

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority is losing toll money on vehicles with tribal tags.

Gov. Kevin Stitt raised the issue as he continues a legal battle with state lawmakers over tribal compacts.

Stitt says the state has lost $4.7 million because the Turnpike Authority can’t read tribal license plates.

"They're not in our system. That means they're driving on our turnpikes without paying the toll that everybody else does," Stitt said.

OTA Deputy Director Joe Echelle says it’s true the OTA has missed out on tolls from vehicles with tribal tags. But that’s unrelated to compact negotiations.

It’s a problem with Oklahoma’s new cashless tolling system, which scans license plates, looks up registration information and mails the driver a bill. It can’t do that for temporary paper tags, plates from a few other states and some tribal tags.

"We're going to be working with the local tribes to try to come up with a process," Echelle said.

In the meantime, drivers can register their tribal or temp tag online so PlatePay will work.

State Treasurer Provides Update On 'Blacklisted' Companies

State Treasurer Todd Russ is reportedly revising his so-called blacklist of more than a dozen financial companies.

Earlier this year, Russ put out a list of 13 financial services companies he called "woke", for their policies related to investing in the oil and gas industry. The list includes heavy hitters like BlackRock, Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

A 2022 law – that Russ voted for as a state representative – says that state entities can’t work with companies that boycott the oil and gas industry.

Now, Russ is walking back on some of that - saying there will be exemptions for the bans for pension systems using companies accused of boycotting the fossil fuel industry.

The Frontier reports that in a tense meeting, he told executives about these exemptions—after asking journalists and attorneys to leave the room.

Russ is expected to issue a revised list of financial institutions accused of boycotting at the end of the month that may no longer include some of the companies.

OKC Nature Preserve Project

A historic community in North East Oklahoma City will one day be the city’s newest nature preserve.

A new nature preserve is taking shape in the heart of Oklahoma City. Located on 133 acres of wooded land near Northeast 50th Street and Lincoln Boulevard, Red Ridge sits at the north entrance of our state’s Capitol corridor.

The Kirkpatrick Family Fund won an $11 million bid to purchase the tract of land. The foundation told KFOR it plans to make the site an urban study center.

The foundation’s plans include a library, outdoor classrooms, and restoring the Mediterranean-style main house. The surrounding green space could include community vegetable gardens and perhaps outdoor sculptures.

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