KGOU

StateImpact Oklahoma

With a huge freshman class and a promise for less gridlock, Oklahoma lawmakers filed more than 2,800 bills this legislative session. With a third of the session now over, the StateImpact team has an update on some bills we’re following.

Tracy Smallwood is grateful for the life she’s worked to build after leaving prison.
Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Tracy Smallwood says her life before she went to prison was just “dead time.”

Oklahoma school districts 2018- 2019. Boundaries based on information provided by the Oklahoma Department of Education.
Center for Spatial Analysis / University of Oklahoma

Oklahoma has more than 500 school districts--up to three times more than some states with similar student populations. KGOU listener Beverly Funderburk emailed How Curious and asked: “How did Oklahoma end up with so many districts?”

 

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Crews pulling in to remove drilling equipment damaged during a deadly explosion and fire at a natural gas well near Quinton, Okla.
Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Federal authorities cited and fined three oil and gas companies for exposing workers to dangerous hazards after a deadly explosion and fire on a drilling rig in January.

Katie Stokes

This is the Manager’s Minute.

KGOU has just ended one fiscal year, and begun another.

This has been an eventful year – we’ve added a new transmitter in Clinton, expanded our StateImpact Oklahoma team and dramatically increased our number of weekly listeners.

We’ve launched two new podcasts (How Curious and Capitol Insider) and improved our severe storms and emergency alert system. We've grown our StateImpact Oklahoma reporting and launched the Oklahoma Engaged 2018 election project.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

When the Oklahoma Legislature passed HB 1010XX in March, it was the first time lawmakers had increased state taxes in 28 years. Both the House and the Senate applauded themselves.

The governor acted swiftly to sign the bill, and at first, it seemed like a reason for school leaders to celebrate. They had been begging lawmakers to increase teacher pay for years, and it finally happened.


Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Canadian County Sheriff Chris West sits in a dimly lit office decorated with hunting trophies and law enforcement memorabilia. 

West is visibly frustrated when he says the Oklahoma Department of Corrections owes his county $88,691 for at least two years of jail costs — and he isn’t the only one complaining. The Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association says the state is shortchanging most counties for housing state prison inmates.

Oklahoma Suicide Rate Up 36 Percent Since 1999

Jun 7, 2018
CDC’s National Vital Statistics System; CDC Vital Signs, June 2018. / Centers for Disease Control

Suicide rates are on the rise in Oklahoma and nearly every state, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Between 1999 and 2016, suicide rates increased significantly in 44 states. Oklahoma is one of 25 states that saw rates climb more than 30 percent.

This is the Manager’s Minute.

2018 is a monumental election year in Oklahoma. All statewide offices, including governor, are on the ballot, along with judicial, legislative and congressional races.

With so many issues facing the state, interest is high – and we’re meeting that demand with an ambitious and innovative plan for election coverage.

KGOU and StateImpact Oklahoma, along with our public radio partners, KOSU, KWGS, and KCCU have launched Oklahoma Engaged: Project Public Office.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

A new dog-training facility opened this week at Oklahoma’s largest women-only prison.

Corrections officials and women enrolled in the Guardian Angels program at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McCloud have waited four years for upgrades to the facility, which now has a designated building, a new kennel and exercise area with obstacles — and a new grooming area and a walking path.

Previously, dogs were trained on the prison’s bare yard and anywhere else program officials could find space. 

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact Oklahoma

Babies who begin life with a long hospital stay are especially vulnerable to secondhand smoke. That’s galvanized health officials at one children’s hospital to focus on laying aside stigma when they ask parentsa simple question: ‘Do you smoke?’

Jacob McCleland / KGOU

Deborah Gist cried as she stepped across the small stage in front the Oklahoma State Capitol. The Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools and a group of educators had just finished a 110-mile walk from Tulsa to Oklahoma City to highlight their fight for more school funding.


Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

A district court judge has approved class-action status for a lawsuit accusing an Tulsa oil company of being responsible for damage caused by earthquakes.

StateImpact Oklahoma

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a case about Native American territory and a 1999 murder that could broadly affect tribal sovereignty and state legal authority.

Dario Lopez-Mills / KGOU

The estate of a 16-year-old boy who committed suicide in a Muskogee juvenile detention center has filed a lawsuit against multiple government agencies and employees arguing the boy’s life could have “easily” been saved if staff had done their jobs.

Dario Lopez-Mills / AP Images

The estate of a 16-year-old boy who committed suicide in a Muskogee juvenile detention center has filed a lawsuit against multiple government agencies and employees arguing the boy’s life could have “easily” been saved if staff had done their jobs.

Quinton Chandler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Baby Roman is just waking up from his afternoon nap and now he’s looking for a toy. His grandfather, Frank McCarrell, is trying to distract him from the house’s décor with a bottle of milk.

“He don’t usually be asleep this time,” said McCarrell, who just finished his workday to babysit for his daughter. “When I come home … usually he’s up and raring to go. Huh? You be running Papa around?

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

George Wang, a senior at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics, recently made a discovery that disrupts a fundamental theory in chemistry.


Rod Waddington / Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0StateImpact Oklahoma

A bill that would allow Oklahomans to carry firearms in public without getting permission from the state is on Gov. Mary Fallin’s desk.

State senators gave Senate Bill 1212 their final approval late Wednesday night on a measure that allows gun owners to carry their firearms openly or hidden from view without a permit, passing state background checks or paying the related fees. They also won’t have to take 16 hours of firearms safety training currently required before carrying a gun in public.

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