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Elder care advocates have been sounding the alarm over possible nursing home closures because of Oklahoma’s budget crisis, and now it’s starting to happen.

Ada-based BK Strategies has closed Wynnewood Care Center. CEO Bart Reed said Oklahoma’s Medicaid reimbursement rate has dwindled over the past decade as the state turned to cuts to deal with budget shortfalls.

"We've provided a good service for the town and were hoping that we could keep it afloat, but the state doesn't seem to be interested in giving us a stable funding source," Reed said.

St-Gregory's

  An Oklahoma university has announced that it will be shutting down at the end of the fall semester due to financial difficulties.

Students at St. Gregory's University were informed of the closure at an emergency meeting on Wednesday.

The board of directors says the decision came after the school was denied a loan application to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The board says it will continue to "work actively to resolve financial difficulties and to explore possible partnerships in order to move forward."

Winners and Losers in the Failed Vote on Tax Package

Nov 9, 2017
Oklahoma Watch

In the end, the backing of more than 45 health-care, education and public-policy advocacy groups – along with the support of a bipartisan group of current and former state leaders – wasn’t enough Wednesday.

 

Oklahoma authorities are investigating the death of a man who was hit by an officer's Taser and caught on fire after allegedly dousing himself with gasoline and taking out a lighter.

McClain County Sheriff Don Hewett says that Norman police requested a welfare check Tuesday on a man who'd made comments about suicide.

Authorities, who were responding to a call of a man acting erratic, found the man about 2 miles northwest of Lindsay sitting inside a van with a container of gasoline.

Tulsa Drug Ring Mirrors Pizza Business

Nov 9, 2017
10th Circuit Court

They did not promise your delivery in 30 minutes or your heroin's free; but otherwise, federal prosecutors in Tulsa say a drug operation worked much like a pizza deliverly system.  A Federal Grand Jury in Tulsa has indicted five people in a drug delivery scheme. 

In the local news:

  • The "Grand Bargain" fails in the state house.
  • The Community Policing program moves forward in Tulsa.
  • Congressman Bridenstine moves closer to becoming the NASA Chief.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Oklahoma House narrowly missed the three-fourths majority needed for a revenue bill to fill the state’s $215 million budget hole.

With 76 votes needed to send the measure to the governor, the final vote was 71–27. "Yes" votes came from 48 Republicans and 23 Democrats. "No" votes came from 22 Republicans and five Democrats.

State of Oklahoma

 

A plan to hike taxes on tobacco, alcohol, fuel and energy production in order to plug a hole in Oklahoma's budget and to stabilize state spending has fallen five votes short in the House amid bipartisan opposition.

The full House voted 71-27 on Wednesday for the bill. A total of 76 votes were needed to pass a revenue-raising measure out of the House. Both Republicans and Democrats opposed it.

Oklahoma U.S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine moved a step closer Wednesday to leading the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Bridenstine’s nomination to be the next NASA administrator came up for a vote before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, where he faced a contentious hearing a week ago.

A 14–13 vote fell strictly along party lines in the committee, sending Bridenstine's nomination to the full U.S. Senate.

USGS

 

The U.S. Geological Survey reports an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 3.7 has been recorded in north central Oklahoma.

The quake struck at 5:47 a.m. Wednesday near Covington, about 55 miles (89 kilometers) north of Oklahoma City.

There are no reports of injury or severe damage.

The quake struck about 30 miles (48 kilometers) northeast of where a series of about a dozen earthquakes, including one of magnitude 4.1, have occurred since Oct. 31.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

 

A Senate panel has narrowly backed President Donald Trump's nominee to serve as the next NASA chief.

Republicans on the Commerce, Science and Transportation used their majority to overcome objections from Democrats to advance the selection of GOP Rep. Jim Bridenstine. The vote was 14-13.

Democrats criticized past comments Bridenstine had made dismissive of global warming as a man-made problem.

Wikimedia

Oklahoma lawmakers’ inability to pass a special session budget fix has not gone unnoticed.

A new report from credit ratings agency Moody’s called the lack of a permanent fix after nearly six weeks “credit negative.” Oklahoma has had a credit negative outlook from Moody’s since 2015, and that won’t improve until lawmakers start passing balanced budgets with recurring revenue.

American Airlines

A Tulsa to Dallas flight makes an emergency landing in Dallas. The flight departed Tulsa and was on its way to Dallas when an inflight emergency was declared.

There was a report of a strong odor in the in the cockpit. The airline says Flight 1060 has 158 people on board with a crew of six.

Airline spokeswoman Linda Brock tells KWGS News the plane landed safely at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport.  She says the maintenance team is evaluating the aircraft.

Community Policing Board Named

Nov 8, 2017
File photo-Tulsa Police

Mayor G.T. Bynum and Tulsa Police Chief Chuck  Jordan announced members of the newly formed Citizen Advisory Board and Citizen Action Groups that will help build collaboration between the Tulsa Police Department and the citizens of Tulsa.

In the local news:

  • A house committee moves forward a revenue bill will a Gross Production Tax hike.
  • Ground is broken for a new CNG facility.
  • Squabbling over who controls personnel at the Oklahoma Aquarium.

Road Work Ahead

Nov 8, 2017
KWGS News File photo

 

The Oklahoma Transportation Commission has approved a work plan that calls for repairing or replacing nearly 400 county bridges and improving more than 800 miles of county roads over the next five years.

About $926 million in federal, state, local and tribal funds will go toward the County Improvement for Roads and Bridges plan that was approved on Monday. The plan is administered by the state Department of Transportation.

State of Oklahoma

 

Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has appointed Oklahoma County assistant district attorney Scott Rowland to the state Court of Criminal Appeals.

Rowland has spent nearly 11 years as first assistant district attorney in Oklahoma Count. He previously was an attorney for the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs Control and is a former Oklahoma assistant attorney general.

As an assistant district attorney in Oklahoma County, Rowland prosecuted capital murder, racketeering and conspiracy cases.

OU

 

After a series of small to moderate earthquakes in central Oklahoma, two companies are being told to reduce the amount of wastewater they inject into the ground.

About a dozen quakes have struck just south of Hennessey, about 45 miles northwest of Oklahoma City since Oct. 31, the largest being a magnitude 4.1.

There are no reports of injury or severe damage.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission spokesman Matt Skinner says Choate Disposal Service and Chaparral Energy were told to reduce their injection of wastewater in the area.

Oklahoma House/KWGS News

 

 A key Oklahoma House budget panel has passed a broad range of tax increases to shore up a hole in the budget, sending a signal that House leaders could be willing to give the package a vote on the floor this week.

The House budget committee on Tuesday voted 19-6 for the same package of taxes that cleared the full Senate a day earlier. It includes an additional tax of $1.50-per-pack on cigarettes, 6 cents on gasoline and diesel and a hike in the gross production tax on oil and gas from 2 percent to 4 percent.

KWGS News

What will be the largest capacity natural gas fueling station in the state is being built in northeast Tulsa. It’s being built along the I-44 CNG Corridor, linking St. Louis and Dallas. Oklahoma Energy Secretary Michael Teague was there for the groundbreaking. He says more infra-structure, like the new station, is needed for natural gas vehicles to make it more convenient for drivers.

The natural gas company, Sparq is building the station along I-44 at 129th East Avenue. It’s the company’s 5th CNG station in Oklahoma.

Lankford's office

Oklahoma U.S. Sen. James Lankford said Special Counsel Robert Mueller must be able to finish his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

  •  The state senate approves a budget measure that failed in the house.
  • The state health department needs a $30-million fix.
  • A Tulsa house fire kills two adults.

Tulsa Fire Department-Facebook

A man and a woman have been found dead following a house fire in north Tulsa.

District Fire Chief Bryan Hickerson told reporters that firefighters were called to the home about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday and found the couple inside the home after bringing the fire under control.

He said the couple had two children who were not at home at the time. The names of the victims have not been released.

State Senate

 

In a late afternoon meeting Monday, the Oklahoma Senate amended a special session House budget bill to make it into a long-awaited "grand bargain" to fill the state's $215 million budget hole — then passed the bill.

Senate leaders discuss agreement.Senate leaders talk to Capitol press following Monday's 37-5 vote on bipartisan revenue bill. Pictured are Appropriations Vice Chair Sen. Eddie Fields, R-Wynona; Appropriations Chair Sen. Kim David, R-Porter; Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Schulz, R-Altus; and Majority Leader Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City.Credit State SenateEdit | Remove

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation got approval Monday to issue bonds for its contribution to funding to finish the Gilcrease Expressway.

ODOT may issue up to $70 million in bonds for the project in anticipation of federal grants to INCOG. The bonds will be issued in the spring of 2018, making funding for the project available before the federal grants are available.

Oklahoma Watch

The financial mismanagement of the state health department is going to be expensive. Interim Department Director Preston Doerflinger say it will take an infusion of cash to stop the bleeding.

He is asking the legislature for an emergency supplemental appropriation of $30-million to pay bills and make payroll. There is no word on where the cash-strapped legislature will find that kind of money.                        

Tulsa Sheriff's Office

The Tulsa Sheriff will add some psychological testing to background checks for jail guards. At least six Tulsa County officers have been arrested and fired since summer. Most are in roles as detention officers. Sheriff Vic Regalado admits it seems like a lot in a short period of time, but says his office remains committed to transparency on these cases. He does say another aspect will be added to the background checks, psychological tests for potential new employees.

Regalado says ‘violations of the law and the public’s trust will not be tolerated by his agency’.

 

One of the nation's top rating agencies is issuing Oklahoma a "credit negative" warning amid the state Legislature's inability to close a $215 million hole in its budget for the current fiscal year.

Moody's Investor Service issued the credit outlook for Oklahoma Monday in its latest credit bulletin on U.S. public finance.

The rating agency noted that while the estimated budget gap is only 4 percent of general fund spending, it is meaningful. It pointed specifically to the legislative budget impasse that has stretched on for nearly six weeks.

State of Oklahoma-File photo

 

Oklahoma's attorney general is refusing all political donations from prescription drug manufacturers and distributors.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, who's seeking election in 2018 to a four-year term, received $3,500 in donations from political action committees associated with drugmakers in July and August. He returned those donations last month.

 Hunter has prioritized battling the opioid epidemic since he was appointed in February by Gov. Mary Fallin. He's helped create and is the chairman of the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse.

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