Matt Trotter

Reporter

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN. 

He has a master's degree from Arizona State University, where he spent a semester on the first reporting staff of Cronkite News Service's Washington, D.C., bureau. As a grad student, he won awards for multimedia journalism and in-depth TV reporting.

Matt is from Southern California, so he's slowly following Route 66 across the United States. He would have made it Chicago by now, but he's not a fan of long drives.

Ways to Connect

KWGS File photo

Oklahoma claims a large share of the $30 billion U.S. tribal gaming industry.

An analysis commissioned by the American Gaming Association finds Indian casinos in the state accounted for $8.7 billion in sales and 66,000 jobs.

"And that's not to mention the nearly $2.2 billion in tax revenue and the $3.6 billion in employee wages that go to those 66,000 employees across the state," said AGA's Steve Doty.

Pixabay

Whether it’s moderate or severe, a financial stress test finds Oklahoma is not prepared for the next national recession.

Moody’s Analytics’ study says states need at least 10 percent of their budgets in reserve funds to weather a moderate recession, and 16 for a severe one on par with the Great Recession.

Oklahoma has about 4 percent saved, making it the third-worst prepared state for an economic downturn, behind North Dakota and Louisiana.

Amazon

Tulsa is among the dozens of cities vying for Amazon HQ2, the company's $5 billion second headquarters and its promise of up to 50,000 high-paying jobs, but it could come at a cost to current residents.

A study by Apartment List estimates existing renters would see rents rise through the roof.

"That's especially true for lower-income renters who may be already struggling and just barely making ends meet, and if their rents are increasing another 2-plus percent a year, they'll really struggle," said research associate Sydney Bennet.

File photo

More than 78,000 Oklahomans will practice what to do during an earthquake Thursday, Oct. 19, at 10:19 a.m.

"As an Okie, you know, growing up, we were taught during tornadoes at school to get in a crouching position and put your hands over your neck," said Melinda Belcher, who is leading an earthquake drill at the Community Service Council. "And I've noticed a lot of similarities with an earthquake drill, except you need to get under a desk or a table and assume the same position but use the other arm to hold on to something."

Williamson Out As EMSA CEO

Oct 17, 2017
Matt Trotter / KWGS

EMSA President and CEO Steve Williamson has resigned effective Oct. 19.

The resignation was accepted by the EMSA board of trustees Tuesday morning after nearly two hours behind closed doors in Stroud. Stroud is halfway between EMSA’s Tulsa and Oklahoma City divisions.

"It’s been my pleasure to serve the organization that has, through its thousands of employees through 39 years, cared for and given millions of patients excellent medical care," Williamson said, reading from a prepared statement. 

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Three weeks into special session, there is no word of progress from Oklahoma City.

Owasso state Sen. J.J. Dossett said a lack of proposals isn’t the issue.

"There's bipartisan plans out there that have been agreed to by the majority of folks in the legislature and the governor's office. It's just there's a group that's holding onto political ideology as opposed to common sense solutions," Dossett said. "So, until we can remove the political aspect of this and start thinking of Oklahomans, we're going to have a problem."

Oklahoma Congressman Markwayne Mullin focused on business Monday at a Tulsa Regional Chamber congressional forum, but he touched on national security during a Q&A with the audience.

Beginning his remarks with a focus on business, Mullin said too many small businesses are failing. Mullin said small businesses account for a majority of the state’s economic activity, but just one in three make it past two years — and even fewer make it to five years.

Mullin said Oklahoma small business owners should be mentoring up-and-coming entrepreneurs to help them succeed.

Lobbyists want Oklahoma lawmakers to take another look at “prosperity districts” as a way to help struggling rural areas.

The districts let communities band together to form effectively self-governing entities exempt from state, local and some federal regulations.

"And that's the kind of dramatic change and reset button that some communities need, but we do allow for exemptions from these baseline concepts," said Compact for America's Nick Dranais.

KGOU

The Oklahoma state capitol is closed for repairs starting at 7 p.m. Friday.

Workers are tackling an overhaul of the building’s electrical system as part of the $245 million renovation project. Manhattan Construction Project Manager Amanda Gossard said with the voltage they’re dealing with, there’s no way to safely do the work with any power on.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Swedish manufacturing firm Alfa Laval broke ground Thursday on an expansion of its Broken Arrow plant.

The company’s focus there is advanced welding technology for the oil and gas industry. Alfa Laval is expected to invest $15 million dollars for the first phase of the expansion. Broken Arrow Chamber President Wes Smithwick said that kind of direct foreign investment can start an economic chain reaction.

"When other companies in Sweden or Europe or even Asia, they see that, they know that we are working to grow business here and do it the right way," Smithwick said.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

After nearly three weeks of special session, there’s still no fix for Oklahoma’s budget.

Lawmakers are past the point where health and human service agencies have to make cuts to deal with the roughly $70 million apiece they stand to lose. Lawmakers remain in recess, with negotiations happening behind closed doors. Governor Fallin says she has an idea of what the problem is.

City councilors are working on regulations for short-term rentals like Airbnb or HomeAway.

Airbnb alone has more than 300 listings in Tulsa, but the zoning code classifies them as bed and breakfasts, which require a permit to operate. Going without one means a steep fine if caught.

Councilor Ben Kimbro said asking each short-term rental owner to request a special exception is cumbersome.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Broken Arrow chose one of their own to lead the police department.

Acting Chief Brandon Berryhill, a 23-year veteran of the Broken Arrow Police Department, has been named chief after David Boggs’ retirement in August.

The city got around three dozen applications in a nationwide search for Boggs’ replacement. Boggs retired in August. City Manager Michael Spurgeon said Berryhill had the qualifications and character the job demands.

CDC

The Oklahoma Supreme Court should soon rule on the constitutionality of another law passed during the regular legislative session.

The justices heard arguments Tuesday in a challenge of a new impaired driving law set to take effect Nov. 1.

Four DUI attorneys are suing the state, saying Senate Bill 643 violates the single-subject rule. Attorney Brian Morton said the law's stated purpose is administrative monitoring of impaired driving offenders.

Wikipedia

Oklahoma lawmakers will take another run at protecting military training routes from wind farm encroachment.

They held an interim study Tuesday to get input on the matter.

Tinker Air Force Base Lt. Gen. Lee Levy said besides being used to make sure workhorse planes are flight-ready, the routes are also used for parachute jump training and helicopter training. Levy said wind farm towers and turbines get in the way of all those exercises, and they can obscure general aviation aircraft that drift into training routes.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The City of Tulsa’s first observance of Native American Day is in the books.

A program of songs, dances and speeches at Guthrie Green marked the occasion just a few weeks after the city council unanimously approved a resolution establishing the celebration, and it carried several meanings.

It’s a rhyme nearly everyone has heard: "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue."

While that’s true, the larger idea it represents — that the Italian explorer discovered America — is not.

Tulsa Police have made a second arrest in the city’s 68th homicide of the year.

Dillon Rose, 25, turned himself in yesterday afternoon.

The victim, 38-year-old Jason Harris, was found around 5:15 a.m. Wednesday in the front seat of a Jeep parked on the inside shoulder of U.S. 169 near 31st Street. Harris had been shot. Passersby told Tulsa Police they saw the car sitting there as early as 3:45 a.m.

Friday's top stories:

  • Deal or no deal? House Democrats say they have a $560 million bipartisan package to fix the budget. Gov. Fallin says that's not the case.
  • Tulsa Police make a second arrest in the city's 68th homicide of 2017.
  • Sen. James Lankford is sponsoring legislation to ban abortions after 20 weeks.

File photo

U.S. House Republicans have positioned their party to pass a tax reform bill without Democrats’ support.

They passed a budget resolution Thursday that will allow the Senate to pass the proposal with only a simple majority, similar to procedures used for recent Affordable Care Act repeal efforts.

Oklahoma Rep. Markwayne Mullin took to Twitter on Wednesday to field questions about the GOP tax plan. He pushed back against a question about the proposal being a tax hike for workers and a tax cut for the wealthy.

Lankford

Oklahoma U.S. Senator James Lankford has sponsored a bill criminalizing most abortions after 20 weeks.

The House passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on Tuesday. It bans abortion after 20 weeks except in cases of rape, incest or where the mother’s life is endangered. Lankford said the bill catches the U.S. up with the rest of the world.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

House Minority Leader Scott Inman said Thursday there’s a bipartisan budget deal at the capitol.

Hours later, Gov. Mary Fallin said that's not the case.

The Bipartisan Oklahoma Plan Inman announced consists of a $1.50 per pack cigarette tax, a 6 cent gas tax increase, elimination of the wind sales tax exemption, a sales tax on certain services, a 5 percent gross production tax on new wells and undoing income tax cuts for wealthy Oklahomans.

Thursday's top stories:

  • The Oklahoma Health Care Authority could cut Medicaid reimbursement rates 9 percent if lawmakers can't find the agency $70 million soon.
  • In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas, Oklahoma's congressional delegation is not in a rush to take action.
  • You'll soon start seeing tobacco ads in print and on TV, but they won't be selling you the products.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin has scheduled a town hall meeting for this Friday, months after canceling a similar event at the last minute.

Mullin canceled a town hall in Tahlequah in April, citing safety concerns.

"Over the past few weeks, we have seen an escalation of protesters at congressional town halls across the nation," Mullin said in a statement then, adding that his staff and the venue couldn't come to an agreement over security.

Friday's town hall will be at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church, 201 Commercial Road.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections

A body found in a Jeep parked on the inside shoulder of U.S. 169 near 31st Street early Wednesday is the victim of Tulsa's 68th murder this year.

Jason Harris, 38, was found shot to death in the front seat around 5:15 a.m. Passersby told Tulsa Police they saw the car sitting there as early as 3:45 a.m.

Officers initially found the Jeep's previous owner sold it for cash. They were able to find the owner, 29-year-old Dustin Baker, and determined he was driving at the time of the murder. Baker was arrested.

City of Broken Arrow

An ambitious plan by the City of Broken Arrow to improve its water, sewer and storm water systems means residents will be paying more soon.

City council–approved increases will show up on November bills.

"For an average household using about 7,000 gallons of water per month, they'll see an increase of about $3.75," said city spokeswoman Krista Flasch.

Tulsa Regional Chamber

The Tulsa Regional Chamber leads a group of around 100 elected officials, business leaders and other partners to Fort Worth, Texas, on an annual trip intended to give them ideas to improve Tulsa.

BOK Financial President and CEO and chamber chair-elect Steve Bradshaw said Fort Worth has put a lot of work into revitalizing its riverfront area, and the group is getting ideas for the Arkansas River from that.

okhca.org

If lawmakers don’t find $70 million dollars for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority soon, the agency will have to cut many SoonerCare reimbursement rates 9 percent.

The OHCA has been on shaky budget ground for months.

"I think we would look at the possibility of a provider rate cut in combination, maybe, with some other kinds of cost savings measures. If it's solely a provider rate cut, it translates into about 8 percent to garner $70 million in state dollars," OHCA CEO Becky Pasternik-Ikard said in July.

File Photo

You’ll soon start seeing tobacco ads in print and on TV, but they won’t be trying to sell you the products.

These are court-ordered corrective statements coming from tobacco companies after more than 11 years of litigation. They'll address how tobacco companies understated the dangers of their products and marketed them to children.

In the wake of a mass shooting in Las Vegas that killed 59 and injured more than 500, Oklahoma’s congressional delegation is not in a rush to take action.

Authorities said Stephen Paddock used a bump stock to effectively make his rifles fire like automatic weapons. Rep. Tom Cole said he wants to look at the legality of such gun modifications, but he is not in favor of doing anything to otherwise limit the number or kind of guns people can own.

Cole stopped short of saying mass shootings are a price of preserving Second Amendment rights.

Wednesday's top stories:

  • Oklahoma AG Mike Hunter joins 38 other state attorneys general in asking Congress for Medicaid funding for residential addiction treatment.
  • Members of the Oklahoma House may return to the capitol Monday to resume special session budget work.
  • Tulsa to OKC in 25 minutes? Some passenger rail proponents think it's time to jump ahead to high-speed rail.

Pages