Local & Regional

Oklahoma’s new school assessment and accountability system got its first approval by lawmakers Thursday.

State and federal law changes led to the overhaul, which involved a months-long study for the State Department of Education by a 95 member task force. The State Board of Education approved the new system in December.

Several House Democrats debated against the system, which preserves the school report cards derided by educators. Minority Leader Scott Inman said federal law doesn’t require them.

A once-prosperous section of Tulsa that became the site of one of the worst race riots in American history is attempting to remake itself again after decades of neglect.

 

Black leaders want to bring 100 new companies to the former Black Wall Street in north Tulsa by 2021, the 100th anniversary of its fall.

The initiative seeks to recapture the entrepreneurial spirit that helped make it one of the country's most affluent black areas.

OETA

 

 A Tulsa jury has awarded an insurance company and its CEO $4.3 million in a defamation case.

The Oklahoman reports former state legislator and former First Trinity director Wayne Pettigrew left First Trinity Financial Corp. in 2013 and issued a news release calling for investigation of the company and its CEO related to stock purchases.

Last week a jury found Pettigrew defamed the company and its CEO, Gregg Zahn. The jury also found Pettigrew breached his fiduciary duties to the company.

File photo

Nine more Oklahomans die of flu related complications in the past week, including one more in Tulsa County, which continues to lead the state with 10. Jamie Dukes with the Oklahoma Health Department says Tulsa County also leads in the number of hospitalizations with 338.                                     

Overall, 37 Oklahomans have died of flu during this season, and more than 14-hundred have been hospitalized. Most of the deaths have been in the age group 65 years old and older. Dukes says it’s NOT too late to get a shot.

KWGS News

Tulsa elementary students crowd into the auditorium at Will Rogers College High School. They are there to learn and show off their skills in a partnership with the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra.

For more than 30 years, Carnegie Hall Link Up has paired orchestras with students in grades 3-5 to explore orchestral repertoire and fundamental musical skills, including creative work and composition, through a hands-on music curriculum. Tulsa Symphony became a Link Up partner in the 2015-16 season.

In the local news:

  • A senate committee approves REAL ID.
  • Pruitt's emails show a cozy relationship with fossil fuel.
  • Repeal of the ACA is making low income health care providers nervous.

Red Flag Fire Warning for Tulsa Region

Feb 23, 2017

 

The National Weather Service in Tulsa has issued a Red Flag Warning, which is in effect from 11 AM this morning to 7 PM CST this evening. The Fire Weather Watch is no longer in effect.

 

* AFFECTED AREA...IN Oklahoma, Osage, Washington, Pawnee, Tulsa, Creek, Okfuskee, and Okmulgee counties.

 

* WIND...South winds 15 to 25 miles an hour with gusts to 35 miles an hour.

 

* HUMIDITY...Around 25 percent.

 

* TEMPERATURE...Highs in the mid 80s.

 

Oklahoma City

 

 The mayor of Oklahoma's largest city says he will not seek re-election in 2018.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett announced Wednesday that he will not run for re-election after serving about 14 years in office. He did not say what his future plans are.

Cornett had served three years on the City Council when was elected mayor in 2004 in a special election to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Kirk Humphries. Cornett had previously spent about 20 years as an Oklahoma City television sports and news anchor.

 

A court has ruled that a man from Syria who says he was tortured in his home country after converting to Christianity has no legal recourse against an Oklahoma church that published his name and baptism online.

The former Muslim is identified in the lawsuit only as "John Doe." He says that after his baptism in 2012 he returned to Syria and was kidnapped and tortured by radical Muslims. He claims he escaped by killing a relative who aided his captors.

KWGS News File Photo

 

 An Oklahoma Senate committee has approved legislation to repeal the trigger for a cut in the state's individual income tax rate.

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday voted 32-4 for the bill and sent it to the full Senate for a vote.

Legislation passed in 2014 provided a mechanism to reduce Oklahoma's top tax rate from 5 percent to 4.85 percent when tax collections increase by about $100 million annually, enough to cover the cost of the tax cut. Since then, state revenues have plummeted and the state faces a budget hole of $878 million next year.

FDA

The Oklahoma House has approved a bill to let schools send home extra food with needy kids.

Oklahoma City Democrat Jason Dunnington said right now, schools — his kids' included — often end up throwing out uneaten, extra food from breakfast and lunch.

"One in four children in Oklahoma suffer from food insecurity, and this is just a common-sense way of trying not to waste good food, send that home with kids that need it for themselves and their families," Dunnington said.

Dunnington co-authored House Bill 1875 with Guthrie Republican Sen. AJ Griffin.

After lengthy debate, an Oklahoma Senate panel advanced a bill Wednesday to let Oklahomans get identification compliant with 2005's federal REAL ID Act.

Lawmakers forbid state participation in the REAL ID Act’s implementation 10 years ago. House Bill 1845 lets Oklahomans choose compliant or non-compliant driver licenses and ID cards. Shawnee Republican Sen. Ron Sharp said there are some flaws in the bill, but it’s time to act.

Saturday Night Fever

 

Get out you white suit... Dancing in public is now legal in Henryetta.

City leaders voted Tuesday to abolish an ordinance that forbids dancing within 500 feet of a place of worship. The dance ban also prohibited dance halls within 500 feet of a church or public school.

In February, resident Joni Insabella decided to host a dance above her store. The city's Chamber of Commerce posted about the event and called Insabella a rule breaker on Facebook.

After the event was cancelled, Mayor Jennifer Clason decided to look over the ordinance.

 

While serving as Oklahoma's attorney general, new Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt was in frequent contact with fossil fuel companies and special interest groups working to undermine federal efforts to curb planet-warming carbon emissions.

This was shown by emails released under court order late Tuesday after an Oklahoma judge ruled that Pruitt had been illegally withholding his official correspondence from the public for the last two years.

In the local news:

  • The latest on the Oklahoma Budget.
  • The Tulsa School Board welcomes a new member.
  • A Helmerich Park vote is delayed by the City Council.

Healthline

 

 Legislation that would ban smoking in vehicles containing children has cleared an Oklahoma House committee.

The House Public Health Committee voted 7-1 Tuesday for the bill by Democratic Rep. Donnie Condit of McAlester. It now goes to the full House for a vote.

The bill would make it illegal for the driver or a passenger in a motor vehicle to smoke cigarettes, pipes or cigars if a child is present in the vehicle. The fine for violating the anti-smoking measure would be $20, the same as the penalty for a seat-belt violation.

Tulsa County Booking Photo

 

 Arraignment has been delayed for a Tulsa man on first-degree murder and hate crime charges in the killing of his Lebanese neighbor.

Arraignment for 62-year-old Stanley Vernon Majors in the shooting death of 37-year-old Khalid Jabara that was scheduled Tuesday was postponed until March 21.

Online court records do not list a reason for the delay, but it comes six days after the initial judge recused himself from the case and Majors' attorneys filed documents saying they will pursue an insanity defense.

State of Oklahoma

 

 Thirteen more rank-and-file Republican legislators have announced their opposition to Gov. Mary Fallin's plan to expand the existing state sales tax to dozens of services that are currently exempt.

A news release Tuesday from the Oklahoma House says 27 House and Senate members have publicly said they are opposed to Fallin's sales tax proposal.

The state faces a budget shortfall of nearly $880 million and Fallin has proposed expanding the sales tax, along with increases in the tax on cigarettes and motor fuel.

 

 A spokesman for the Oklahoma attorney's office says the agency has gone above and beyond a judge's order to turn over documents related to new Environmental Protection Agency leader Scott Pruitt's communications with energy companies.

Spokesman Lincoln Ferguson said Tuesday that the office had turned over emails and other documents that the Wisconsin-based Center for Media and Democracy sought for more than two years. Ferguson says other documents were turned over to the Oklahoma judge.

Richardson Law Firm

 

Former federal prosecutor Gary Richardson says he's formed an exploratory committee for next year's governor's race.

Richardson, who donated more than $2 million to his own campaign for governor in 2002, announced plans Tuesday for his exploratory committee.

Richardson ran as an independent in 2002 against Democrat Brad Henry and Republican Steve Largent and won more than 14 percent of the vote in the race that was won by Henry. Richardson said Tuesday that he'll "explore the viability of a run for the GOP nomination" next year.

KWGS News

Revenues are "pathetic" and Oklahoma is "out of tricks," Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger told the State Board of Equalization.

The board certified Tuesday an $878.2 million budget hole — $10 million dollars deeper than it was two months ago —and declared fiscal year 2017's first revenue failure.

Revenues declined from 4.4 percent below estimates in December to 5.7 percent below this month. State Treasurer Ken Miller said forecasting is difficult with an economy reliant upon commodities.

KWGS News File Photo

A news conference is set for Friday morning at the Greenwood Cultural Center to  announce the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot Centennial Commission.

KWGS News File Photo

Here are the first two parts of our special news series:  

In the local news:

  • The Tulsa City Council considers what to do with Helmerich Park.
  • Mike Hunter will replace Scott Pruitt as Oklahoma's Attorney General.
  • Another revenue failure is expected for Oklahoma.

 

Oklahoma revenue officials are likely to declare a revenue failure when a state board meets Tuesday to certify the amount of state revenue lawmakers have to appropriate next year.

Preliminary figures from the Office of Management and Enterprise Services indicate collections by the general revenue fund are projected to fall 5.7 percent below estimates.

Legislation to phase in a $6,000 raise for Oklahoma teachers over three years has been approved by a state House committee although lawmakers don't know how to pay for it. The House Appropriations and Budget Committee voted 26-2 Monday to send the measure to the House floor for a vote. The bill by Republican Rep. Michael Rogers of Broken Arrow calls for a $1,000 pay raise next year, $2,000 the following year and $3,000 in the third year.

State of Oklahoma-File photo

 

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has appointed Secretary of State Mike Hunter to replace former Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who was tapped by President Donald Trump as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Fallin appointed Hunter on Monday, four days after Pruitt resigned following his confirmation by the U.S. Senate as EPA administrator.

Hunter served as first assistant attorney general under Pruitt until Fallin appointed him secretary of state and special legal counsel last year. Hunter takes over as attorney general immediately.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

A foundation has been set up to accept private dollars on behalf of the Tulsa County Sheriff’s Office.

"Law enforcement personnel, professional training, top-notch equipment and a transparent, community response requires additional funding to accomplish the goal of providing the best public safety in Tulsa County," said Tulsa County Sheriff’s Foundation Chairman Tim Harris.

The initial goal is $300,000 in private donations to fund body cameras for all deputies and to hire someone to oversee a new citizens advisory board.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

An Oklahoma senate panel approved a bill Monday to prevent city and county governments from outdoing state laws on employment and public accommodations.

The bill initially prevented local governments from going further than any state law. A committee substitute focused it on employment and public accommodations laws.

Senate Bill 694 author Sen. Joshua Brecheen sparred with Sen. Kay Floyd over the need to preemptively protect business owners' expression of sincerely held religious beliefs through refusing service to LGBTQ people.

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