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PM NewsBrief: June 21, 2024

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for June 21, 2024.

Oklahoma City Selected To Host Two 2028 Olympic Events

Oklahoma City was selected to host two Olympic events for the 2028 summer games.

The Olympic organizing team announced Friday that the canoe slalom and softball competitions will be held in OKC.

Officials say the venues are world-class and built to international competition standards, ensuring a high-quality experience for athletes and fans.

Moving the games from the host city of Los Angeles is also a cost-savings.

State Superintendent Says Ban On Self-Promotion Does Not Apply To Him

State Superintendent Ryan Walters says Gov. Kevin Stitt’s move to veto restrictions on his agency’s public relations spending were done at Walters’ request.

And Walters says Stitt’s follow up executive order to limit public spending on self-promotion “doesn’t apply” to him.

Last week, Stitt line-item vetoed sections of the education budget that would have put guardrails on Walters’ PR spending, following an investigation that found he used agency funds to contract a PR firm to book national media appearances.

Stitt then issued an executive order to limit agency PR contracts and ban all state employees from using public funds for self-promotion.

In an interview with Fox 25 Tuesday, Walters said Stitt’s moves were made at his request.

“He did exactly what I asked him to do. He line-item vetoed the two items that Mark McBride and Speaker McCall had the teachers’ union write for them to attack me and censor me, those were eliminated,” Walters said.

“And he did an executive order that doesn’t apply to me. So that’s fine, but has no impact on the work we’ve been doing and has no impact on the work we’re going to do moving forward. So again, he did what we asked him to do,” Walters said.

Walters has not provided evidence there was teacher union involvement in the budget bill.

The governor’s office did not return repeated requests to confirm Walters’ claims about the vetoes and executive order.

Update On DEI Executive Order

Most state agencies have made no changes in the wake of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s executive order banning Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs

Per Stitt’s order, state agencies had until the end of May to cease using taxpayer funds on DEI programs.

An analysis by the nonprofit news outlet The Frontier shows the majority weren’t funding any in the first place.

There were some notable changes made, though, at higher education institutions.

The University of Oklahoma shuttered its DEI offices across campus and reassigned employees. UCO dissolved its Office of Inclusive Community.

While Oklahoma State restructured its Office of Institutional Diversity and renamed it the Division of Access and Community Impact. A school spokesman says that move was already in progress before the executive order.

Foreign Investors Own Small Percent Of Oklahoma Land

Foreign landowners have long been in the crosshairs of Oklahoma lawmakers looking to tighten restrictions.

Lawmakers spent much of the most recent session tweaking requirements and restrictions on people outside the country buying land in the state.

One law blocks a “foreign government adversary” from owning land in the state, meaning a government the U.S. Secretary of State deems “hostile” cannot own Oklahoma land.

Brad Clark is the Deputy General Counsel in the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office.

He said the new law clarifies a 2023 statute that tightened foreign land ownership rules and required extra paperwork.

Although the law targets illegal marijuana operations, he said it had ripple effects.

“Most of the questions from county clerks and other centers around: What is a deed? …The transfer on death deed, does that need an affidavit? Does the sheriff’s deed need the affidavit?” Clark said.

The law does not apply to mineral rights or a company belonging to a country that is a U.S. ally.

Out of Oklahoma’s nearly 44 million acres of land, foreign owners hold about 1.7 million acres.

Canadian investors own most of that acreage.

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