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PM NewsBrief: Jan. 22, 2024

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Monday, January 22, 2024.

NTSB Investigating Deadly Air Evac Helicopter Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a deadly helicopter crash.

Three people were killed when the Air Evac helicopter went down Saturday night in southwest Oklahoma.

The Air Evac Lifeteam identified the victims as Pilot Russell Haslam, Flight Paramedic Steven Fitzgerald, and Flight Nurse Adam Tebben.

The crash happened after the team transported a patient to Oklahoma City.

They were on their way back to their base in Weatherford when the control center lost contact with the helicopter.

Judge In St. Isidore School Lawsuit Disqualified

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit against what would be the nation’s first publicly funded religious school were handed a win Friday

The judge presiding over the case has been disqualified.

The lawsuit is against the St. Isidore of Seville Catholic Virtual Charter School and the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board.

It was brought on by Oklahoma taxpayers and a parent advocacy group.

Plaintiffs wanted Judge Brent Dishman disqualified from the case because of what they say are two conflicts of interest:

One, he sits on the Board of Trustees for a private Christian university involved in a similar legal controversy that was represented by the same lawyers who represent the defendants in THIS case.

And two, Dishman’s brother is married to a member of the controlling body of one of the plaintiffs, the Oklahoma Parent Legislative Action Committee.

Concern for even the appearance of bias for either side led Oklahoma County’s chief district judge to pull the case from Dishman.

It will now be presided over by County District Judge Richard Ogden.

Legislative Session Preview:  Elections

Oklahoma lawmakers will convene in early February for the start of the legislative session - and one issue they will likely address will be elections.

Lawmakers will weigh a handful of election subjects including technology use, requiring an ID at the polls and more.

One bill by Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm would add restrictions to absentee voting by requiring each special ballot to contain a watermark.

SB1374 would also require county elections board officials to be the verifiers of the absentee ballots containing the watermark before they can be counted.

SB 1515 by Republican Sen. George Burns would allow the use of GPS by county election board secretaries to ensure a voter is assigned to the right precinct.

Burns also has a bill that is pushing for picture voter IDs at the polls.

Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Julia Kirt is sponsoring a bill for more nonpartisan local elections. SB1544 would require all county elections to be nonpartisan beginning in 2025.

State Launches Initiative On Safe Use, Disposal Of Prescriptions

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is launching a new initiative to educate the public on how to safely use, store and dispose of opioids and other prescription meds.

Although it might seem like common sense to safely store medications, not share them and properly dispose of them, every year, thousands of children end up in the ER from finding and taking medicines.

That’s why the department’s senior director of public relations Bonnie Campo says the SAFER campaign is important.

She says it aims to help educate people 12 years and older on how they can safely manage their medications.

“This should be commonplace, and it's just not. This is education that we can all use right now," Campo said.

The SAFER campaign’s website also includes a compilation of locations for drug disposal sites and Naloxone vending machines in Oklahoma.

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