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The Oklahoma City and Tulsa school districts are being allowed to intervene in a lawsuit by charter schools over funding.

An Oklahoma County district court judge ruled Friday that the two can join the lawsuit by the Oklahoma Public Charter Schools Association against the state Board of Education.

District officials say each stands to lose $1 million to $1.5 million if the lawsuit succeeds.

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Two Republican former Oklahoma state representatives have been named directors of U.S. Department of Agriculture agencies in Oklahoma.

The U.S.D.A. announced Saturday that former Rep. Scott Biggs of Chickasha was appointed by President Donald Trump as Farm Service Agency state director and Lee Denney of Cushing was named Rural Development state director.

Biggs announced his immediate resignation from the state House on Thursday. Denney was term--limited and did not seek re-election in 2016.

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The mayor of McAlester says at least some water service has been restored to most of the approximately 28,000 city and rural customers who lost service, including the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

Mayor John Browne says one of the city's four pumps was working Saturday after a fire and a water line break shut off service, but the system will be shut down for about four hours starting at 7 a.m. Sunday for repairs.

Browne says pumps and fire trucks maintained water pressure at the hospital in the city of about 18,000, about 105 miles southeast of Oklahoma City.

State of Oklahoma

Oklahoma state Treasurer Ken Miller says the state collected 10.6 percent more revenue in October than in October 2016, with nearly 19 percent of the increase due to the elimination of some tax exemptions and rebates and some new fees.

Miller said Friday the treasury collected $980.2 million in October, an increase of $90.4 million from the same month last year and called the growth encouraging.

The Oklahoma Tax Commission says $17.8 million of the increase comes from bills passed during the regular Legislative session.

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A lawsuit is challenging Oklahoma's debt-collection system that routinely sends poor people to jail for failing to pay court fines and fees.

The Tulsa World reports that the federal lawsuit filed Thursday names the Oklahoma Sheriffs' Association, every county sheriff in the state and Aberdeen Enterprizes, a private collections company.

Oklahoma Watch

   

Legislation that appropriates $23.3 million to Oklahoma's mental health agency is headed to Gov. Mary Fallin's desk to be signed into law.

The measure received final approval in the state Senate on Wednesday. It's the first measure to pass both chambers of the Legislature after six weeks of a special legislative session to fill a $215 million hole in the state budget created when the Oklahoma Supreme Court invalidated a $1.50-per-pack cigarette fee passed by lawmakers earlier this year.

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Authorities say a 28-year-old man has died after he reportedly stabbed two people then set himself on fire in a lakefront area of northeast Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation says the three men were co-workers and had stopped to eat lunch Thursday at Monkey Island on Grand Lake, about 70 miles  northeast of Tulsa. Authorities say an altercation occurred, and the man stabbed his co-workers.

State of OKlahoma

State Rep. Scott Biggs, a three-term Chickasha Republican who has recently opposed changes in Oklahoma's criminal justice system, has announced his resignation effective immediately. Biggs resigned Thursday in a letter to House Speaker Charles McCall, in which he said he'd accepted a federal appointment effective immediately. He didn't specify what his new job will be but said he believes he "can do much more for out state as I work to promote the agriculture industry in Oklahoma."

Oklahoma Watch

 

A probe of the Oklahoma State Department of Health is being changed to an investigative audit, meaning it could lead to criminal charges.

State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones told The Oklahoman on Thursday that the state attorney general's office requested the change.

The health department requested an audit last month after Commissioner Terry Cline and senior Deputy Commissioner Julie Cox-Kain reported "a budget and operating cash shortfall" since the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

CAAIR

 

A class-action lawsuit filed against an Oklahoma drug rehabilitation program alleges participants were forced to perform thousands of hours of free labor for businesses and individuals in Oklahoma and Arkansas.

The ACLU of Oklahoma filed the suit Wednesday on behalf of seven people. It alleges the Drug and Alcohol Recovery Program "created a pipeline for forced labor" and human trafficking at its facilities in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and Decatur, Arkansas.

ICE

 

An Oklahoma family says their father and husband was tricked by federal immigration officials and deported to Mexico.

U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials say 44-year-old Luis Plaza Moreno of Norman was arrested in October at an Oklahoma City immigration office after failing to report to ICE agents for more than three years. ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok says Moreno was deported on Saturday.

 

 The Oklahoma House has approved a measure to increase the gross production tax on oil and gas to 7 percent for some wells after defeating a proposal to impose the maximum 7 percent rate on all wells.

The House approved the measure Wednesday on a 64-31 vote. The Republican-controlled chamber tabled attempts by Democrats to raise the gross production tax for all wells as high as 7 percent. The House also defeated a Democratic proposal to raise the rate to 4 percent for all wells currently taxed at less than 4 percent.

State of Oklahoma-File photo

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Health Department's top lawyer and business planning director have left the beleaguered agency following the resignation of its commissioner and his top deputy.

Health Department General Counsel Donald Maisch and Business Planning Director Felesha Scanlan left the agency in the wake of Monday's resignations of Health Commissioner Terry Cline and Senior Deputy Commissioner Julie Cox-Kain.

Oklahoma Watch

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Supreme Court will not take up a lawsuit challenging a new state law that uncouples Oklahoma's standard deduction rate for income tax returns from the federal rate.

The state's highest court ruled Wednesday that it will not hear a lawsuit filed by Tulsa attorney Gary Richardson, a Republican candidate for governor, that challenges the law adopted earlier this year.

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Fee raising measures that were approved by the Oklahoma Legislature last session have gone into effect.

Residents ranging from felons to aircraft owners will see higher fees due to the increases that went into effect Wednesday.

The maximum fee for pre-sentence investigations that's charged to felons has doubled from $250 to $500. Fingerprinting and forensic science improvement fees have also doubled from $5 to $10. Felons and people convicted of traffic violations will have to pay the fees.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Immigration officials lied to an Oklahoma father of six who wanted to extend his permits to live and work in the U.S., telling him they'd grant the extensions if he came to their office but arresting and quickly deporting him instead, his lawyer said.

U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials say Luis Plaza Moreno, of Norman, was arrested Oct. 25 at an Oklahoma City immigration office after failing to report to ICE agents for more than three years. Moreno, 44, was deported Saturday to Mexico, said ICE spokesman Carl Rusnok.

KWGS News

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Campaign donations are pouring in for Oklahoma's open governor's race next year with a political newcomer raising the most money during the past three months.

Republican Kevin Stitt reported raising $811,000 in the three months ending Sept. 30. The mortgage company founder from Tulsa also added $800,000 of his own money to his coffers.

OETA

 

A monthly survey of business leaders suggests economic conditions are still improving in nine Midwest and Plains states. A report released Wednesday says the Mid-America Business Conditions Index rose to 58.8 in October from 58.2 in September. Survey organizers say any score above 50 suggests growth in that factor. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss says national and regional indices indicate the manufacturing sector is expanding at a very healthy pace.

 

Crews are working to restore full website access at the Oklahoma Corporation Commission after the agency's networks and computer systems were knocked offline last week by hackers.

The Oklahoman reports that internal website access was restored Tuesday and officials say the commission's external site is expected to be up and running later in the day.

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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Financial concerns that prompted Oklahoma's health commissioner to ask for a state audit of his agency also led to the commissioner's resignation, Oklahoma's top auditor said Tuesday.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A judge has temporarily blocked an insurance company from ending its current contracts with several hospitals in rural Oklahoma.

Four hospitals asked for the temporary restraining order after suing Blue Cross Blue Shield. The hospitals allege the insurance company breached their contracts and planned to cut provider reimbursement rates.

The Oklahoman reports the lawsuit was filed on behalf of hospitals in Prague, Fairfax, Haskell and Drumright. The insurance company has declined to comment.

Salvation Army

 

Officials in Oklahoma and Texas are collaborating to provide housing vouchers for low-income residents of Houston where Hurricane Harvey ruined many of the already limited affordable housing options in the city.

The Oklahoma City Housing Authority will provide dozens of vouchers that people in Houston can use for rental housing in that Texas city or elsewhere. Officials say there aren't enough public housing units in Houston for the tenants that need them.

Sapulpa Herald-Facebook

 

A small-town Oklahoma newspaper publisher found a startling front-page story practically in his newsroom: There was a hissing bobcat in the bathroom.

Sapulpa Herald publisher Darren Sumner says the wild animal jumped at him one recent morning as he was heading into the restroom at his office in Sapulpa.

Sumner shut the door and trapped the adult male cat inside until police and a game warden arrived. Wildlife control workers captured the bobcat in a cage and released it in nearby Pawnee County.

KWGS News File Photo

 

The Oklahoma House has approved spending bills that would supplement the budgets of three state agencies but didn't consider any measures to raise new revenue to help fill a $215 million hole in the state budget.

The House passed four measures Monday that would appropriate funds from the general revenue and constitutional Rainy Day Reserve funds. If they become law, the bills would fill only half the hole created when the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled a cigarette fee passed by lawmakers earlier this year was unconstitutional.

State of Oklahoma

 

Oklahoma's state health commissioner has resigned after the board accused him of mismanaging the health department's finances.

The board voted at an emergency meeting Monday to accept Terry Cline's resignation and appoint its finance secretary, Preston Doerflinger, as interim commissioner.

The board also said Julie Cox-Kain, Cline's senior deputy commissioner, also has resigned. It also has ordered a special audit of the department.

Cline had served as Oklahoma's health commissioner since June 2009.

OSBI

 

Investigators say a body discovered in rural Caddo County has been identified as that of a 30-year-old woman.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation said Monday that the Sheriff's Office has asked the agency to help investigate the woman's death. Latent fingerprint examiners with the OSBI have positively identified her as Cindy Rose Kaudlekaule of Carnegie.

Caddo County officials requested OSBI's help on Thursday after county employees mowing in a rural area found a woman's body two miles east of Carnegie.

Tom Holland-Wikimedia

 

Oklahoma lawmakers plan to reconvene a special session to fill a $215 million hole in the state budget after accomplishing nothing during a brief meeting over the weekend.

The Oklahoma House and Senate are scheduled to reconvene Monday afternoon to consider a variety of revenue-raising proposals. Lawmakers convened on Saturday but adjourned within minutes without taking any action.

OKC Fire Department-Facebook

 

Authorities say whatever made more than a dozen Oklahoma City workers sick remains a mystery after testing detected nothing unusual at a downtown office building.

Oklahoma City Battalion Fire Chief Benny Fulkerson said the investigation into reports of dizziness, headaches and difficulty breathing has closed with no cause for the illnesses. Fulkerson said air monitors did not detect natural gas or carbon monoxide and no odors indicated a sewage leak.

State Senate

 

Both the Oklahoma House and Senate adjourned minutes after convening with neither taking action on a $215 million budget hole.

The Senate convened at 10 a.m. Saturday and immediately recessed while the House gaveled in at 11 a.m. and recessed nine minutes later.

The special session was called to fill the budget hole, but lawmakers have been unable to reach consensus on ways to raise revenue.

A key issue is a proposal to increase the production tax on oil and gas that Democrats have called for since the regular legislative session in the spring.

Helmet Hut

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Baker Mayfield completed 22 of 34 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns, and ran for another score to lead Number 10 Oklahoma to a 49-27 victory over Texas Tech Saturday night. Rodney Anderson had 181 yards rushing and a touchdown, and Abdul Adams returned from a two-game absence due to an ankle injury to add 95 yards rushing on 10 carries for the Sooners.

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