KGOU

Oklahoma Watch

Lobbyist Spending Nears Record Levels

Jun 18, 2019
Members of the Senate are seen nearing the end of a session in May 2018.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Lobbyists seeking to influence elected officials in Oklahoma continue to spend some of the highest amounts ever in spite of rules intended to curb their practices.

Cheaper, stripped-down health plans could soon see a resurgence in Oklahoma, potentially reducing the number of uninsured while leaving policyholders with unexpected medical bills.

Vaccination has become a dirty word at the Oklahoma Capitol.

Jessica Collett, assistant sexual assault nurse examiner coordinator at the Women’s Resource Center in Norman, demonstrates the dangers of strangulation on a mannequin head.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

On a June night last year, an argument broke out at an Atoka County home.

A woman’s teenage daughter was playing loud music, and her husband asked her to tell the daughter to turn the music off. The argument escalated, and the woman said her husband “put both hands around her neck and choked her” so that “she felt her body being lifted off of the ground by her neck,” a court affidavit said.

It wasn’t publicized locally, but within the past few years teams of health officials at two Oklahoma health facilities took rapid actions to contain the spread of a fungal “superbug” that federal officials have declared a serious global health threat.

Two students at Ketchum Elementary School write on a dry-erase board during their speech class.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Gov. Kevin Stitt has abandoned a 2017 effort by the state to push schools to funnel more dollars into the classroom or risk consolidation.

Working In Background, Lawyer Reaps Fees In Opioid Case

Apr 10, 2019
Attorney Glenn Coffee, former state senator and Oklahoma Secretary of State, appeared at a news conference in January 2018 in support of a plan called “Step Up Oklahoma” designed to resolve a legislative budget impasse.
Jim Beckel / The Oklahoman

Attorneys in the state’s sprawling opioid lawsuit have bragged that they slept on cots in their offices and went through millions of pages of evidence.

Voters cast their ballots for the 2018 general election at the McClain County Election Board in Purcell.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Election officials are gearing up to remove tens of thousands of Oklahomans from the state’s voter rolls – a controversial practice voting-rights advocates say can lead to disenfranchised voters.

Gov. Kevin Stitt describes how he plans to implement his government-reform agenda. Stitt campaigned on improving Oklahoma’s rankings in various categories and stressed the need for the governor to have greater control of state agencies.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

A strategic plan laying out one-year and four-year goals for Gov. Kevin Stitt’s administration includes securing gubernatorial control of all state agencies and boards, changing the educational system and launching an initiative aimed at social issues.

Teachers, students and supporters march in front of the capitol on April 2 during a walkout aimed at increasing education funding.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

In Oklahoma, 30,000 teachers have left the profession in the past six years. That’s the eye-popping statistic that stands out in the latest Oklahoma Teacher Supply and Demand report, and it represents a loss of an average of 10 percent of the state’s teaching workforce—compared to a national average of 7.7 percent attrition.

Thousands more Oklahoma students were held back in early grades than what the U.S. Department of Education reported, according to newly released state data.

Much of Tahlequah is included in one of Oklahoma’s Opportunity Zones, which offer tax breaks for new investments, but the Tahlequah-based Cherokee Nation can’t take advantage of a key part of the new tax law.
Tesina Jackson / Tahlequah Daily Press

Native American tribes across the country were left out of a major part of a new federal tax incentive for opportunity zones, with their governments unable to pool investments to support projects in some of the nation’s poorest areas. 

Brian Brurud withdrew his name from consideration to become Gov. Kevin Stitt’s secretary of veterans affairs and the military.
Cory Young / Tulsa World

The head of an international consulting firm that is being sued by more than a dozen veterans has withdrawn his nomination from Gov. Kevin Stitt to be Oklahoma’s next secretary of veterans affairs and the military.

The state Pardon and Parole Board will consider a group of inmates who qualify under a new, streamlined parole process.
Oklahoma Watch

A new type of streamlined parole will get its first test next week when the initial group of inmates eligible for the early release are considered by the Pardon and Parole Board.

Gov. Kevin Stitt walks past an applauding crowd to take the podium for his first State of the State address at the Capitol.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

Gov. Kevin Stitt ran for office on his business acumen and background in building a national mortgage company. His recently filed financial disclosure forms provide a glimpse at how Stitt has invested some of his wealth.

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s pick to becomes Oklahoma’s next secretary of veterans affairs and the military is facing accusations that his consulting company violated federal labor laws by underpaying veterans.

The Oklahoma City skyline is seen from Skydance Pedestrian Bridge on Feb. 20.
Whitney Bryen / Oklahoma Watch

A new federal tax incentive to encourage long-term investments in low-income areas includes most of downtown Oklahoma City and Tulsa and other pockets of prosperity in the state, but excludes many areas that are impoverished.

Three former legislators who left office in November are now lobbyists, embodying a practice that state ethics officials have unsuccessfully tried to ban in the face of opposition from the Legislature.

Oklahoma Watch

Time is running out for efforts to have a bipartisan, citizen-led commission redraw Oklahoma’s legislative and congressional boundaries – a move that would take the process out of the hands of the Legislature.

Oklahoma Watch

Oklahoma district attorneys have more than $56 million in uncollected fees on their books and are being advised they should hire collection agencies to go after offenders to recover more of the debt.

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