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PM NewsBrief: Dec. 19, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023.

Oklahoma Rural Water Association PAC Turns Itself In For Ethics Violations

The Oklahoma Rural Water Association’s political action committee has agreed to pay fines to the state and shut down after self-reported financial misconduct.

The Oklahoma Rural Water Association is a non-profit organization that aims to support water and wastewater treatment systems across the state. In 2015, it formed a political action committee - or PAC - that accepts financial contributions and uses them to support political candidates.

Recently, PAC officials went to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission to self-report that the PAC had broken state rules about political contributions and recordkeeping.

The problems included $3200 transferred improperly between the Rural Water Association non-profit and the PAC’s account. It also received more than $3500 of unclear origin and had other lapses in recordkeeping.

Now, the PAC has signed an agreement to pay $12,000 to the state’s general revenue fund before dissolving its assets, getting rid of its funds and shutting down.

The Rural Water Association won’t be able to form any new PAC for six months.

Democratic Lawmakers Call For Impeachment Investigation Against State Superintendent

Democratic lawmakers are renewing a call for an impeachment investigation against State Superintendent Ryan Walters.

The House Democratic Caucus is again calling for the Speaker of the House to create a special bipartisan committee to investigate the possibility of impeachment for Walters.

The request comes on the heels of House Republican Mark McBride’s recent complaint the department lacks transparency and doesn’t respond to information requests, as well as engages in what he calls unprofessional and immature discourse.

Oklahoma City Rep. Cyndi Munson cited allegations of Walters using taxpayer dollars for campaigning and reports from over 100 school districts saying they have yet to receive federal funding.

Tulsa Rep. Melissa Provenzano says in a news release she will be filing legislation to require the State Department of Education to submit quarterly reports to the legislature detailing state and federal spending.

Democrats last called for the investigation in August, but it was denied.

Shawnee Passes 'No Sit, No Lie' Ordinance

Shawnee city commissioners Monday evening passed a "no sit, no lie" ordinance.

Commissioners voted 6-1 to pass the new ordinance, which prohibits sitting or lying down on public sidewalks and sleeping outdoors in the downtown area.

City manager Andrea Weckmueller-Behringer says the ordinance was drafted in an attempt to make downtown Shawnee more family-friendly and supportive of tourism and businesses.

Weckmueller-Behringer clarified the ordinance does have some exceptions.

"The ordinance does not apply to any individual experiencing a medical emergency," she said. "It also does not apply to those who are participating in a public event, using provided benches or other seating, or waiting in line for goods and services."

The "no sit, no lie" ordinance will take effect on Jan. 17.

Oklahoma Military Bases To Receive $275 million In Federal Funding

Oklahoma's military bases are set to receive $275 million as part of a new Defense Department bill. This comes after congressional approval of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Sen. Markwayne Mullin said Oklahoma secured $152 million for its military installations, plus another $122 million in funding for Oklahoma’s higher education aerospace programs and defense industry partners.

See a breakdown of how much each Oklahoma military base will receive here.


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