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Oklahoma’s 280 alternative education programs taught more than 11,000 students last year.

More than 3,000 of them were seniors.

"Of those seniors that they served, they had a 93 percent graduation rate. So, of those students that were on track to drop out, they were able to enter one of these 280 programs and get back on track and graduated," State Director of Alternative Education Jennifer Wilkinson told the State Board of Education this week.

Wilkinson said Oklahoma’s philosophy is a big part of that success.

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Tax breaks on oil and gas production will cost Oklahoma nearly $400 million this year and next.

Gross production tax collections this year are projected to be $638 million. That's $397.5 million less than what they would be if the rate were the standard 7 percent rather than at incentive rates for the first years of production. The state will also pay out $2 million in tax credits and adjustments.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Oklahoma House gaveled in and out Thursday, but that's not because they didn't need to be at the capitol.

The Constitution required the House be in session for an official second reading of bills sending supplemental funding to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Human Services. Representatives will vote on those measures Friday morning after a third official reading.

The measures will pay OHCA and DHS bills through April, meaning provider rate cuts will be stopped.

KFOR-TV

A University of Oklahoma regent who likened gay people to pedophiles during an Oklahoma City public affairs TV show says he will resign before the start of the upcoming academic year.

Vice Chair Kirk Humphreys said Thursday he does not want to be a distraction and announced plans to resign at a board meeting during which members were scheduled to discuss "any board member(s) as it may pertain to board leadership positions."

In the local news:

  • The State Senate okays a spending plan.
  • Still no firm figure on next year's budget hole.
  • Bixby Schools and the Rogers County DA are squabling.

OETA

 

Despite some economic growth and increased revenue from new laws passed this year, Oklahoma finance officials project lawmakers will still face a budget hole next year because of how much non-recurring revenue was used this year.

The Board of Equalization led by Gov. Mary Fallin certified on Wednesday that lawmakers will have about $5.7 billion available to spend on next year's budget. But finance officials warned the state's budget picture is still hazy because the Legislature hasn't finalized the current year's state budget.

File Photo

 

The Oklahoma attorney general's opioid commission has proposed changes to law enforcement, new rules for prescribers and increased data collection.

The Oklahoman reports that the commission laid out five initial recommendations during a meeting Tuesday. Lawmakers will consider the proposals they return for regular session in February. The commission has met multiple times this year under the direction of Attorney General Mike Hunter.

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A prosecutor says it's been "frustratingly difficult" obtaining key details from an Oklahoma school district being investigated for failing to immediately alert police after a 16-year-old football player said he was sexually assaulted by several teammates.

Prosecutor Matt Ballard in a statement Wednesday addressed criticism from Bixby school board members who called on Ballard to correct what they said are factual errors in a case affidavit. The board didn't specify what was wrong.

 

A group led by a longtime oil and gas industry leader is seeking a public vote in November on whether to impose an across-the-board 7 percent tax rate on oil and natural gas production in Oklahoma to help fund public education.

Mickey Thompson with Restore Oklahoma Now, Inc. filed paperwork on Wednesday with the secretary of state's office. About 90 percent of the revenue would be earmarked for a $4,000 teacher pay raise and to address the ongoing teacher shortage. The other 10 percent would fund early childhood education.

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The Oklahoma Public Employees Association has asked for an investigation of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department.

The request went to Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater and the House Special Investigative Committee.

"There was an audit done at the tourism department, and, subsequently, the auditor was let go after he made his findings known," said OPEA's Tom Dunning. "It's that sort of thing that really kind of sends up red flags about how tourism is operating."

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is nearly law.

Sen. Jim Inhofe said the tax reform plan passed by Congress Wednesday will be a boon for Oklahomans.

"The average family of four in my state of Oklahoma will get an increase in their take-home pay of $2,000," Inhofe said on the Senate floor in the lead up to votes on the bill.

KWGS News File Photo

 

Despite some economic growth and increased revenue from new laws passed this year, Oklahoma finance officials project lawmakers will still face a budget hole next year because of how much non-recurring revenue was used this year.

The Board of Equalization led by Gov. Mary Fallin certified on Wednesday that lawmakers will have about $5.7 billion available to spend on next year's budget. But finance officials warned the state's budget picture is still hazy because the Legislature hasn't finalized the current year's state budget.

Additional funding for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Human Services is just a House vote away from approval.

The full Senate approved measures Wednesday giving OHCA $17.7 million and DHS $26.5 million to get them through April. The funding will halt provider rate cuts by OHCA.

USGS Map

 

The U.S. Geological Survey reports a magnitude 3.3 earthquake in north-central Oklahoma.

The quake was recorded early Wednesday near Marshall, about 50 miles north of Oklahoma City.

No injuries or damage are reported.

The quake comes a day after at least 10 temblors were recorded in the state, including one of magnitude 4.0.

Google Street View

 

An Oklahoma college town has approved a petition to rename a street honoring a Ku Klux Klan leader who was also a prominent professor.

The Norman City Council gave its unanimous approval Tuesday to rename DeBarr Avenue as Deans Row Avenue. Public Works Director Shawn O'Leary tells The Norman Transcript that the city will aim to make the change within 30 days.

Edwin DeBarr was one of the first professors at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. DeBarr became a grand dragon in the KKK while at the school and was forced out in 1923 because of his Klan involvement.

File Photo-Facebook

 

Authorities say the search of an eastern Oklahoma property yielded no new evidence in the decades-old disappearance of a 6-year-old Arkansas girl.

LeFlore County Sheriff Rob Seale says authorities searched property in Spiro, Oklahoma, on Monday and Tuesday after police received a tip regarding a local case. That property is the same one searched in 2010 in connection with the 1995 kidnapping of Morgan Nick, for whom Arkansas' missing-child alert system is named.

KWGS News file photo

Did you know a low-water dam is still in the works for Sand Springs?

Tulsa County Commissioners approved a sponsor agreement for it this week with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It’s a reminder the county can pay for the project and a commitment to preserve any historically significant finds during construction.

"I like to tell everybody that this is, like, a 50 step process and this is step No. 25 of that 50 step process, so I'd say we're a little bit more than halfway there — just barely — on getting this to fruition," said District Two Chief Deputy John Fothergill.

In the local news:

  • New information regarding the State Health Department's fiscal mess.
  • Bixby's School Superintendent is out.
  • Progress reported on a state budget fix.

 

Four faculty members of a central Oklahoma school district have been suspended amid an investigation into alleged abuse and embezzlement within the district.

Chickasha Public Schools suspended Athletic Director Yohance Brown, Assistant Superintendent of Transportation and Maintenance Pete Bush, Special Services Director Pam Huggins and administrative assistant Stacy Crutchfield last week.

The district's attorney, Richard O'Carroll, says the district is conducting "an independent investigation" of the allegations.

KWGS File Photo

 

A state Supreme Court has decided a man who says he was tortured in his home country of Syria after converting to Christianity can take legal action against an Oklahoma church for publishing his name and baptism online.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court released its 5-4 opinion on Tuesday. It reverses a February decision in which justices decided to let stand a lower court ruling dismissing the case. The case now returns to a Tulsa district court to consider on its merit.

File Photo-Google Street View

 

An Oklahoma superintendent has resigned amid an investigation accusing school officials of failing to promptly report the sexual assault of a 16-year-old football player by several teammates.

The Bixby school board accepted the resignation Tuesday of Kyle Wood at a special meeting.

School administrators are accused of waiting eight days to report what they first deemed "an alleged hazing incident" after the player told them a teammate had inserted a pool cue into his anus through his shorts.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Oklahoma’s second extraordinary session of 2017 is moving right along.

House and Senate budget committees passed bills Tuesday to fund the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Human Services through April. The agencies are in line for $17.7 and $26.5 million of an estimated $50 million coming from the early end of gross production tax incentives on some oil and gas wells. But Rep. Jason Dunnington noted there’s some lag time here.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled that a new drunken-driving law that created a new program for first-time DUI offenders and abolished the appeals process for those trying to keep their licenses after a DUI arrest is unconstitutional.

In 5–4 decision, the state's highest court invalidated the Impaired Driving Elimination Act Tuesday because it violates a state constitutional guideline that legislation pertain to a single subject.

City of Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A University of Oklahoma regent who likened gay people to pedophiles publicly apologized Tuesday during an appearance with the head of an LGBTQ advocacy group and reiterated that he doesn't plan to resign.

Kirk Humphreys, a real estate developer and former Oklahoma City mayor, said his comments during an Oklahoma City public affairs TV show that aired Dec. 10 went "off the rails" and that he regrets hurting people.

State of Oklahoma-File photo

The former Oklahoma State Department of Health Chief Operations Officer testified Tuesday to the House investigative committee.

Deborah Nichols laid out a timeline of the agency’s finances starting around January 2016. That’s when the agency pulled the plug on a remodel of three floors of its headquarters days before the bid was signed because the money for the project wasn’t there.

"So, that was one of the first red flags," Nichols said. "You don't — you don't know that you don't have $8 million. You either have it or you don't have it."

Oklahoma Watch

Two federal agencies are now participating in a probe of financial mismanagement at the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

The FBI and the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will partner with Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter's office to investigate issues relating to the use of federal funds at the health department.

The partnership means the management of state and federal funding is under scrutiny.

In the local news:

  • The 2nd Special Legislative Session of the year is now underway.
  • The Bixby School Superintendent is expected to resign tonight.
  • Kettle donations are off. the Tulsa Salvation Army is coming up short.

Wikipedia

 

A new chapel in central Oklahoma will be dedicated in honor of a martyred priest from the state.

Enid News reports that the Blessed Stanley Rother Chapel will be located at the Center of Family Love, an organization committed to helping people with disabilities. The Most Rev. Paul Coakley, archbishop of Oklahoma, will lead the celebration at the chapel in Okarche on Thursday.

The chapel will serve the 130 adults who live at the center, their families, friends and the community.

File photo

 

A 115-count indictment has been returned by a federal grand jury against the owners of a diabetic supply company accused of filing false claims with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.

Federal and state prosecutors said Monday the indictment was returned against 55-year-old Eunja Vasquez and 61-year-old Lawrence Vasquez, both of Edmond.

Jeff Raymond-Oklahoma Watch

 

Oklahoma lawmakers have convened for the third time this year, beginning a second special session to try and patch the budget and shore up funding for key state health agencies.

The House and Senate each met briefly Monday afternoon, and lawmakers introduced two bills. One appropriates $17.7 million to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and another $26.5 million to the Department of Human Services.

The money comes from a bill passed in the first special session to end a tax break on certain oil and gas wells.

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