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OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Federal officials say overdose deaths in Oklahoma continue to climb, with more than 800 last year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 63,600 people died from overdoses nationwide last year. More than 42,000 of those deaths resulted from some form of opioids.

OETA

Oklahoma has learned its share of nearly $3 billion for the Children’s Health Insurance Program included in a short-term spending bill signed by the president today.

The Oklahoma Health Care Authority's allotment is $44.4 million.

"We have begun to recalculate our state fiscal year 2018 budget, and we believe we are close to being able to sufficiently fund our CHIP program through June of this year," said OHCA CEO Becky Pasternik-Ikard.

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The Senate left town for the year without acting on dozens of President Donald Trump's nominees, including his picks to head the Health and Human Services Department and NASA.

The Senate's lack of action returns the nominations to the White House, which will have to re-nominate them in January if Trump wants them installed.

Nominees in limbo include former pharmaceutical company executive Alex Azar to run Health and Human Services, Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine at NASA and Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback for an ambassador's post.

Former Oklahoma House Minority Leader Scott Inman announced Friday he is returning to the legislature.

"After much consideration and consultation with my family, I have decided to honor the trust and faith shown to me by the citizens of Del City and south Oklahoma City when they elected me to serve as their representative for the sixth time in November of 2016. Today, I am announcing my intent to return to the Oklahoma House next session to complete the important work facing our great state," Inman said in a statement.

Gov. Mary Fallin signed Friday afternoon bills making supplemental appropriations to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Human Services.  

The House signed off on the measures Friday morning.

The additional funding — $17.7 million for OHCA and $26.5 million for DHS will fund services for poor, elderly and disabled Oklahomans through April. That includes stopping Medicaid provider rate cuts and programs to keep elderly people who need minimal care stay in their homes rather than go to nursing homes.

In the local news:

  • Freezing rain, sleet and snow are in the forecast for the next 24 hours.
  • A bioterrorism drill is called off after a public outcry.
  • Embattled OU Regent Kirk Humphreys will step down after all.

Mowdy Ranch-Nancy Perry

 

An Oklahoma ranch offers visitors an up-close look at wild horses through a federal program aimed at protecting the symbols of the American West but also managing public land for multiple uses.

Mowdy Ranch in Coalgate is one of the Bureau of Land Management's three ecosanctuaries for mustangs. The BLM's Debbie Collins, with the agency's horse and bureau program, says it houses 150 mares relocated from Nevada.

Collins says the horses have 1,280 acres (518 hectares) of pastureland to graze. They are provided with hay in the winter.

Hugh Pickens

 

 

The Department of Homeland Security is suspending plans to conduct bioterrorism drills near the Kansas-Oklahoma border over concerns about their impact on grounds Native American tribes consider sacred.

Ready for Some Snow?

Dec 22, 2017
NWS-Tulsa

"Baby, it is cold outside".

The National Weather Service says that cold air will usher in our first real chance of snow fall this season. It will begin today as rain and freezing rain, then transition to sleet and snow tonight.

The Weather Service says we could get up to two inches of snow by tomorrow morning.

The rest of the holiday weekend looks clear, but cold.

State of Oklahoma

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones says he's recusing himself from oversight of audits of the state Department of Health following public disagreements he's had with governor's pick to lead the beleaguered agency.

Jones issued a public statement late Thursday saying he would remove himself from the auditing process and the review and release of a final report into the Health Department's finances.

Wikipedia

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.

Ballard-Facebook

 

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.

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