Local & Regional

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Environmental tests on an Oklahoma creek have led to the discovery of a saltwater spill into the main source of freshwater for Tallgrass Prairie Preserve.

An Environmental Protection Agency inspector working on Bird Creek was shown a broken drainage pipe on a hillside which led to finding the saltwater spill into Sand Creek on Tuesday.

Tallgrass Preserve Director Bob Hamilton says pumper trucks are taking water out of a pond below the broken pipe and some ditches have been dug to collect or divert contaminated water from the creek until it can be pumped out.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency chief on Thursday pulled out of a Republican fundraiser after a Democratic senator raised ethics concerns.

A spokesman for EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced he would not be attending next week's Oklahoma Republican Party gala. Pruitt, who previously served as Oklahoma's elected attorney general, had been scheduled as the keynote speaker.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma has hit a record high with more than 62,000 offenders in the state's department of corrections system.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh says the prison system is operating at 109 percent of capacity.

"It has taken just four months for an additional 1,000 people to be included in our numbers of incarcerated, supervised and county jail backup," Allbaugh said.

State of Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A Republican state senator who is being investigated for possible misuse of campaign funds has resigned from the Oklahoma Senate.

State Sen. Kyle Loveless submitted a two-sentence letter of resignation Thursday, saying he had made "mistakes."

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater confirmed Thursday a criminal investigation is ongoing over the potential embezzlement of campaign funds. No charges have been filed.

A telephone message left with Loveless was not immediately returned.

KWGS News File Photo

Oklahoma lawmakers' deadline to pass an education budget is nearly a month behind us now.

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said considering the ongoing difficulty collecting the forecasted amount of revenue, she wouldn't want the budget lawmakers would have passed April 1, anyway.

In the news:

  • Budget work is underway at the capitol, but public schools are still in the dark for planning their budgets.
  • The Oklahoma Senate approves "small loans," a short-term loan critics say preys on poor people.
  • Local immigration reform advocates join a national organization headed by tech industry leaders.

An Oklahoma coalition has joined a national immigration reform movement.

The new Oklahoma chapter of FWD.us involves business, community and faith leaders. Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Francisco Trevino said it’s important businesses take the lead because they understand the economic implications of immigration.

By 2025, three-fourths of the workforce is going to be Hispanics. What are we going to do without 11 million people that are not going to be able to work if they're not here?" Trevino said.

The state Senate approved a bill Thursday creating short-term loans known as “small loans.”

House Bill 1913 allows installment loans up to $1,500 either in a single loan or in total across multiple loans. Lenders can charge up to 17 percent interest per month, and terms are capped at 12 months.

Opponents say the finance charges on small loans end up being three to four times those allowed on installment loans known as "B loans" currently authorized by state law. In 2014, there were 77 consumer loans taken out for every 100 Oklahoma adults.

Okmulgee County EM

‘Turn around, don’t drown’ is emphasized as more heavy rainfall is predicted this weekend. Tulsa Area Emergency Manager Roger Joliffe says there are always incidents when people drive around barricades erected in low-lying areas…sometimes with tragic results. He says be safe and don’t chance it just to save a few minutes.

Heavy rainfall with the possibility of several inches filling creeks and lakes is expected this weekend.

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — An 1886 painting that was stolen as part of a Nazi looting campaign that stretched across Europe during World War II has been transferred to Paris from the University of Oklahoma.

The painting, "Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep," will be on display at the French museum, Musee d'Orsay, for five years before returning to the university in alternating three-year intervals.

Oklahoma-DOC

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma is moving forward with new protocols for executing death row inmates, despite a unanimous recommendation from a bipartisan study group that a moratorium on the death penalty remain in place, the state's new attorney general said Wednesday.

Republican Mike Hunter said while he respects the independent work of the Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission , he "respectfully disagrees" with the panel's findings.

Oklahoma Watch

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma's new Attorney General Mike Hunter is working with lawmakers to create a commission to study what he says is a growing problem of prescription painkiller abuse in Oklahoma.

Hunter joined members of the House and Senate on Wednesday to announce legislation to create the Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse. Under the resolution, Hunter would chair the nine-member committee composed of members of the health community, law enforcement and lawmakers.

KWGS News File Photo

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — The Oklahoma Capitol will be shut down for more than a week in the fall as part of an ongoing $245 million renovation of the 100-year-old building.

State officials announced Wednesday the building would be closed to tenants and visitors from Friday, Oct. 13, until Monday, Oct. 23.

Thursday's top stories:

  • Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum presents an $824 million budget to the city council.
  • Tulsa police arrest 92 people in a four-day sweep focused on violent crime.
  • PSO bills will go up this summer.

City of Tulsa

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum presented his first budget to the city council Wednesday night.

The total proposed fiscal year 2018 budget is $824 million. While the expected $269 million general fund is flat, additional funding from the Vision renewal is in play.

Bynum said his budget represents action rather than talk.

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The Oklahoma House gave final passage Wednesday to a bill increasing a fee on criminal and traffic fines.

Senate Bill 38 increases the Forensic Science Improvement Assessment from $5 to $10. The money goes to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Rep. Cory Williams said such fee increases contradict criminal justice reform efforts.

okhca.org

The Oklahoma Senate approved a bill Wednesday requiring annual reviews of SoonerCare enrollees’ eligibility.

Sen. James Leewright says Medicaid enrollment errors are costly.

"In Illinois, they found that 14,148 people were receiving benefits but were actually deceased," Leewright said. "Arkansas, we had 43,000 Medicaid enrollees that weren't even residents of the state."

A citizen-led campaign to redesign the City of Tulsa flag presented its three finalists Wednesday.

About 400 designs were submitted, and more than 600 people responded to a survey to help guide those designs.

"The question we found to be most productive in providing the best input was, 'What event in Tulsa's history is most important?'" said Joey Wignarajah. "In any good flag, so much of what makes it important is the narrative behind it. When you look at the American flag, all of us learned the importance of the American flag."

Tulsa Violent Crime Targeted in 4 Day Sweep

Apr 26, 2017
KWGS News

92 people are arrested following a four day law enforcement sweep in Tulsa. Those arrested were wanted for violent crimes and or drug activity in Tulsa.

In addition to the arrests, pounds of methamphetamine and marijuana were seized and 29 guns were confiscated. Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan says the FBI, ATF and the Tulsa County District Attorney's office were also involved.

Chief Jordan says the operation was paid for with a grant from the state attorney general’s office. He says the operation cost $74,000.  He says there will be more such raids in Tulsa.

PSO

 

Public Service Company of Oklahoma says monthly bills to its customers will be rising because of increased fuel costs, known as the fuel factor.

The company says that starting with May billing, a typical customer who uses 1,100 kilowatt hours of electricity per month will see their bills rise by about $6 per month.

Department of Agriculture

 

Deep snow is melting into Western mountain streams, but some farmers and ranchers on the high plains are struggling amid a lengthy dry spell and the aftermath of destructive wildfires.

A swath of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas has been in a drought or near-drought condition for six months, putting some of the winter wheat crop in doubt.

Travel Group

   

Authorities say a body has been found near the Arkansas River in a public access area in western Arkansas.

Sebastian County Sheriff's Capt. Philip Pevehouse says the body was found Tuesday afternoon in the Vache Grasse Public Access area near Lavaca.

Pevehouse says the body is being sent to the state Crime Lab to determine the cause of death.

He says the person's name is not being released, but said it is not either of two people missing since a boating accident in the river on Sunday in neighboring Le Flore County, Oklahoma.

AG Office

 

A Senate Democrat says the head of the Environmental Protection Agency is breaking the law by agreeing to headline a state GOP fundraiser.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse filed an ethics complaint Tuesday against EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt over a planned May 5 appearance as the keynote speaker at the Oklahoma Republican Party's annual gala dinner. The Rhode Island Democrat says that would violate the Hatch Act, which limits the political activities of executive branch employees.

In the local news:

  • Oklahoma's Death Penalty Review Commission recommends the state extend its death row moratorium.
  • A tornado touches down near the Mayes County town of Adair.
  • More protests against development in a section of Helmerich Park.

   

A Houston-based pipeline company is cleaning up a nearly 19,000 gallon oil spill in northwest Oklahoma that threatened a local water supply.

Crews from Plains All American Pipeline were at the site Tuesday in Loyal, about 60 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.

The leak was reported Friday, but it's unclear when it started. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are monitoring the cleanup.

Stormy Night Across Green Country

Apr 26, 2017
KWGS News File Photo

It was a stormy overnight period in Oklahoma. Strong winds and at least one, maybe two, tornadoes caused damage in eastern Oklahoma.

A tornado was confirmed near the Mayes County town of Adair. The tornado was reported on the ground by the National Weather Service around 11:30 last night. The twister damaged mostly trees, power lines and out buildings. There have been no reports of injuries.

Another storm spawned a possible tornado near Eufaula. Damage was reported there, as well as in Stidham and Checotah. Again, no reports of injuries.

Clifton Adcock/Oklahoma Watch

A bill preventing gun regulations in Oklahoma from anyone but state lawmakers failed to advance from the Senate Tuesday.

House Bill 2322 was another of several recent preemption bills considered by the legislature. Others have dealt with oil and gas regulations, and protection from discrimination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer persons.

Sen. Kay Floyd said the measure goes too far because it would affect current state law.

“Authorized Use Only” signs reinvigorate opponents of a deal to sell part of Tulsa’s Helmerich Park.

About 40 protesters gathered there midday Tuesday.

A deal reached last month will see 8.8 of the 65 acres at 71st Street and Riverside Drive sold. As a result, the city abandoned that portion of the park. Former Mayor Terry Young said that’s not the right process.

"The people have not abandoned this park, and so it cannot be declared so by the city council. It's a matter of law," Young said.

KWGS News/State of Oklahoma

 

A commission that's been conducting a review of Oklahoma's use of the death penalty says the state should extend its moratorium on capital punishment.

Members of the Oklahoma Death Penalty Review Commission made the decision unanimously. The panel released its final, 300-plus page report Tuesday.

Former Democratic Gov. Brad Henry co-chaired the group. He said the volume and seriousness of flaws with the state's system still needs reform before it can carry out the death penalty.

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 Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin has signed a Senate bill that will allow universities to sue sports boosters and agents who violate regulations.

The bill signed Thursday allows a lawsuit against third parties who trigger penalties and economic losses against universities for breaking a governing body's rules. It will go into effect in November.

The Oklahoman reports schools have lost revenue from sanctions that have prevented playoff appearances and other missed games.

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