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Gov. Mary Fallin is asking state lawmakers to boost the state tax on gasoline and diesel fuel and to increase the state tax on cigarettes.

Fallin's cigarette tax proposal is similar to one she proposed last year that lawmakers failed to act on.

The governor says smoking remains the No. 1 preventable cause of death in Oklahoma and costs the state $1.62 billion in health care costs.

State of Oklahoma

 

  

Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall has appointed a new chair of the House Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee following a sexual harassment investigation into the committee's former chair.

McCall on Monday announced that Republican Rep. Elise Hall of Oklahoma City will chair the committee. Hall is already a member of the committee.

She replaces Rep. Dan Kirby as committee chair.

McCall suspended Kirby as committee chair in January while a special committee investigated sexual harassment allegations against him.

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Republican Gov. Mary Fallin says she wants to eliminate the sales tax on groceries and the corporate income tax while expanding the state's sales tax base in other areas to boost state revenue and help eliminate an $870 million budget hole.

Fallin's plans came from prepared remarks from her state of the state speech to the state House and Senate to open the 2017 Oklahoma Legislature.

Tulsa County Booking Photo

   

Tulsa police have arrested a man accused of shooting and killing someone during a Super Bowl watch party.

Jail records show 41-year-old Fredrick Durrell Green was arrested Sunday on a complaint of first-degree murder and several outstanding traffic violations.

Tulsa Police Sgt. Dave Walker says Green was invited to watch the game with his children by their mother.

Green allegedly left the residence after shooting 48-year-old Charles LaMorris Ward, who was knocking at the door. Green was arrested a few blocks away from the residence.

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  The Federal Aviation Administration has been unable to determine why a Kansas woman became disconnected from her parachute and fell to her death in northern Oklahoma.

Twenty-six-year-old Sheralynn Neff of North Newton, Kansas, had jumped with an instructor from 10,000 feet on July 24 and deployed her parachute at about 6,000 feet. The instructor continued falling to clear her path before deploying her parachute, but Neff could not be found.

Her parachute was later found in a tree and her body was found the next day near Cushing, about five miles away.

Tulsa County Booking Photo

 

 The second murder trial of a former Tulsa police officer for the shooting death of his daughter's boyfriend is scheduled to begin.

Potential jurors are to gather Monday in Tulsa County District Court for the start of the first-degree murder trial of 56-year-old Shannon Kepler.

State of Oklahoma

 

If the Oklahoma Legislature wants to continue funding critical services like education, public safety and infrastructure, Gov. Mary Fallin says lawmakers should work with her to come up with permanent ways to fund those priorities.

Fallin will deliver her seventh state of the state speech to members of the House and Senate on Monday. The Republican governor says she will lay out a plan for a "major overhaul of our tax system" designed to close the budget gap and eliminate the need for lawmakers to continue using one-time sources of money to plug deficits.

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An Oklahoma lawmaker who admitted asking a legislative aide to send him topless photos and accompany him to a strip club has announced his resignation, two days after a special House committee recommended he be expelled from office.

Republican Rep. Dan Kirby of Tulsa submitted a two sentence letter Saturday to House Speaker Charles McCall saying his resignation is irrevocable and takes effect March 1. A spokesman for McCall says the speaker received the letter and forwarded it to the governor.

State of Oklahoma

Oklahoma lawmakers will be confronted by familiar issues when they convene the 2017 Oklahoma Legislature.

Leaders of the Republican-controlled House and Senate say they'll focus on their priorities when the four-month legislative session begins on Monday.

High on that list is coping with an $870 million state budget shortfall for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Republican Gov. Mary Fallin will call for "a major overhaul of our tax system" in her state-of-the-state speech to tap new revenue streams to help boost teacher pay and meet other needs.

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 The Environmental Protection Agency has told Oklahoma regulators to do more to protect the state from a surge in earthquake activity that scientists have linked to the underground disposal of oil and gas wastewater.

An EPA administrator sent a letter in November to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, saying a magnitude 5.0 earthquake happened despite state and federal action to curb wastewater injection. The Frontier first reported the contents of the letter

 An Oklahoma woman has been sentenced to life in prison in the beating death of an 83-year-old Bluejacket resident.

A Craig County judge sentenced 21-year-old Chelsea Raulston on Friday in the death of Velma Bennett. Raulston was also given 30 more years for robbery, plus five years for the unauthorized use of a vehicle.

Court documents show that Raulston told authorities she and an accomplice planned to kill Bennett and take her money.

She admitted in a pre-sentencing investigation report that she used a metal pipe she was "able to swing" in the killing.

KWGS News/State of Oklahoma

 

 A Republican state lawmaker from Tulsa accused of sexually harassing two former legislative assistants says he's "very disheartened and disappointed" by the recommendation of a special House committee that he be kicked out of the chamber.

Rep. Dan Kirby said in a statement Thursday he believes the recommendation by the Special Investigative Committee that he be expelled from the House are more severe than necessary.

Kirby says he has not had time to review the report and that he does not plan to immediately respond to the committee's recommendation.

KWGS News File Photo

 

 Officials say the Tulsa County jail is facing a $2 million shortfall for the current budget year.

Brad Johnson, who advises Sheriff Vic Regalado, told the Tulsa County Budget Board on Thursday that the jail needs $800,000 per month to pay its bills. But now, the jail is collecting just under $500,000 per month, which is creating the shortfall.

Johnson says the jail is receiving less revenue than expected from federal law enforcement agencies, particularly Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs

 

Three agencies are investigating another death of a resident at the Oklahoma Veterans Center in Talihina.

The Tulsa World reports the Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office recently finished an examination of the body of 70-year-old Leonard Smith. The cause of death is pending the results of toxicology tests.

Investigations are also ongoing by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services' Adult Protective Services program.

 

Emergency crews say one person has died in a trailer fire that broke out southwest of the town of Oologah in Rogers County.

A spokesman for the Oologah-Talala Emergency Medical Services District says firefighters arrived Thursday at the detached trailer around 3:25 p.m. to find it fully engulfed in flames.

Service spokesman John Wylie says the fire was extinguished and the state fire marshal has been called to the scene.

Authorities are investigating what caused the fire. The name of the victim wasn't released.

State of Oklahoma-File Photo

 

A special House committee investigating a Tulsa Republican lawmaker accused of sexually harassing two former legislative assistants has recommended he be kicked out of office.

If the House votes to expel, it would be the first time in state history. Expulsion requires a two-thirds majority vote.

The committee's report says Rep. Dan Kirby took one of his legislative assistants to a strip club and received topless photos of her.

AG Office

   

Republicans voted to send to the full Senate the nomination of President Donald Trump's pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.

The vote came after Republican suspended committee rules to muscle through the vote, because Democrats boycotted the meeting.

State Forestry Service

 

Crews are battling a wildfire in rural eastern Oklahoma that has burned more than 7 square miles so far.

Oklahoma Forestry Services spokeswoman Michelle Finch-Walker says the fire in Haskell County was about 30 percent contained as of Wednesday night, and it continues to burn Thursday morning.

The blaze is in the Beaver Mountain area, about 120 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.

KWGS News photo

 

Gov. Mary Fallin says online retail giant Amazon will begin collecting sales tax on purchases made by Oklahoma customers, a move she says is estimated to bring "tens of millions of dollars" into state and local coffers.

Fallin announced on Thursday that Amazon will begin collecting sales taxes next month, and that the money will begin flowing into the state in May. She says the revenue will not affect this year's current $870 million budget hole, because the Tax Commission already projected some increased collections as a result of their negotiations with Amazon.

Oklahoma House/KWGS News

 

Oklahoma's new Republican House Speaker Charles McCall is setting up a special committee to review and approve House expenditures in excess of $15,000.

McCall announced the creation of the new committee on Wednesday based on a recommendation from a special panel that is investigating a $44,500 wrongful-termination settlement with a former employee who alleged she was sexually harassed.

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 Police in northern Oklahoma say they've arrested a substitute teacher on an indecent exposure complaint after she reportedly did a cartwheel in front of students while wearing a skirt but no undergarments.

The Pawhuska Police Department says a student recorded the incident on a cellphone. Police Chief Scott Laird says the incident reportedly happened during a high school choir class in Pawhuska, about 100 miles northeast of Oklahoma City.

State of Oklahoma-File Photo

 

A special House committee investigating a Tulsa Republican lawmaker accused of sexually harassing two former legislative assistants is set to release its final report.

House officials announced in a press release Wednesday that the special investigative committee has wrapped up its probe into the allegations, as well as a wrongful-termination settlement agreement paid to one of the accusers.

The panel will release its findings and recommendations at 1 p.m. Thursday at the state Capitol.

Oklahoma Forestry Services

 

 Oklahoma has been placed under a national fire advisory as much of the state struggles with persistent drought and tinder-dry vegetation capable of igniting and quickly spreading out of control.

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, issued the rare advisory Wednesday for the next two weeks, warning residents and firefighters to prepare for the chance of severe wildfires. The advisory comes as the state enters its peak wildfire season of February and March.

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Democrats temporally thwarted a Senate confirmation vote on President Donald Trump's pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency by boycotting a key committee meeting.

The seats reserved for the 10 Democrats on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee were empty as Wednesday's meeting to discuss to nomination of Scott Pruitt was called to order. Committee rules require that at least two members of the minority party be present for a vote to be held.

 Hormel Foods Corp. says it has stopped accepting hogs from a pork supplier in Oklahoma after an animal rights group released video from a farm the supplier owns there.

The company says it learned of the undercover video Tuesday and is investigating the farm owned by The Maschhoffs, one of the nation's largest pork producers based in Carlyle, Illinois.

Austin, Minnesota-based Hormel said third-party auditors would go to other Maschhoffs sites to check animal care standards.

 

 Results from a monthly survey of business supply managers suggest economic conditions continue to improve in nine Midwest and Plains states.

The Mid-America Business Conditions Index report released Wednesday says the overall economic index for the region rose to 54.7 in January from 53.1 in December. It's the highest figure since February 2015 and the third monthly increase in a row.

Creighton University economist Ernie Goss oversees the survey, and he says the increases point to an improving regional manufacturing economy.

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 A preliminary report on a plane crash in northeastern Oklahoma that killed a Grove man says the aircraft lost engine power while in flight.

The report from the National Transportation Safety Board published Monday says the pilot tried to make a forced landing after losing engine power and crashed into trees before the plane landed upside down.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says 61-year-old pilot Robert Hudson died in the crash last Wednesday and was the only person on board the plane.

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 A preliminary report on a plane crash in northeastern Oklahoma that killed a Grove man says the aircraft lost engine power while in flight.

The report from the National Transportation Safety Board published Monday says the pilot tried to make a forced landing after losing engine power and crashed into trees before the plane landed upside down.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says 61-year-old pilot Robert Hudson died in the crash last Wednesday and was the only person on board the plane.

Governor's Office--File Photo

 

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin is touting the state's technology and energy industries at an event in Italy.

Fallin spoke Monday at the annual meeting of GE's Oil and Gas Division in Florence, Italy. According to a speech provided to The Oklahoman, Fallin praised GE's new global center in Oklahoma City and said researchers are working to find new technologies that will "create an abundance of oil and gas in a more efficient and less costly manner."

The governor also pitched Oklahoma as a low-tax, stable place for investment.

Bureau of Prisons

 

 Federal charges have been filed against incarcerated alleged members of the Irish Mob who are now accused of laundering money in prison.

The Oklahoman reports the charges were filed against 36-year-old Nathan Hudson, 33-year-old Richard Joseph Coker, 29-year-old Christopher Paul Brown and 39-year-old Richard Lee Potts.

A 50-count indictment filed in Oklahoma City federal court this month alleges that Coker and Brown used smuggled cellphones to coordinate drug deals, arrange purchases and sales of drugs, and received prepaid debit card and internet payments.

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