Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Senate Confirms Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as Nation's Top Environmental Watchdog

The U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, a federal regulatory agency the Oklahoma politician has built his brand fighting against. Pruitt has led a coordinated legal effort to fight the EPA through the courts, an alliance with other Republican attorneys general that’s made him popular among conservatives. The confirmation sends a strong signal that Congressional Republicans share with President Donald...

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Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

State Representative Leslie Osborn is the new chair of the powerful House Appropriations and Budget Committee, an influential position that gives her bills extra weight. StateImpact talked to Osborn about legislation she’s pushing to increase mining fees, and to explore the sale of the Grand River Dam Authority.

GRDA IN THE CROSSHAIRS

Updated 9:05 p.m. ET with 9th Circuit appeals court delay

President Trump says his administration will continue to fight for his existing travel ban in the court system, and that he will also issue a new, "very comprehensive order" next week.

Trump provided no details on what that new order would entail, but said it would "comprehensively protect our country." The president made the remarks during a news conference Thursday at the White House.

Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb is announcing his resignation from his position as Oklahoma's small business advocate on Gov. Mary Fallin's cabinet, citing a disagreement with Fallin over her plans to broaden the sales tax.

Lamb - who's considered a likely candidate for governor in 2018 - says he felt it was best to step aside from his cabinet post because he's unwilling to be an advocate for the tax proposals.

Wind power is the largest source of renewable energy in the United States. But a broad swath of the country has had no large, commercial wind farms — until now. A new one with 104 towers is up and running near Elizabeth City, N.C., where it spans 22,000 acres.

Headlines for Thursday, February 16, 2017:

  • A senate subcommittee passes several bills about teacher pay.  (Tulsa World)

  • For the second time this year, the state’s monthly payment to schools will be short.  (Tulsa World)

oksenate.gov

A Oklahoma Senate subcommittee passed seven bills about teacher pay on Wednesday, each one providing a different solution to the teacher pay problem.

Some of the bills propose $1,000 raises, others $10,000. Some provide funding mechanisms, while others do not.

Senator J.J. Dossett (D-Owasso) says this is just the beginning of the conversation. He says the legislature knows raising teacher pay is the right thing to do and they've just got to figure out the right way to do it.

okhouse.gov

A bill that would change some of the criminal justice reforms voters approved in November advances in the legislature.

House Bill 1482 would again make it a felony to possess drugs within 1,000 feet of a school.

Rep. Tim Downing (R-Purcell) co-authored the bill and says it restores protection for children. A person can take heroin on an elementary school playground and do it an unlimited amount of times and essentially pay a ticket for it.

Russian intelligence officials made repeated contact with members of President Trump's campaign staff, according to new reports that cite anonymous U.S. officials. American agencies were concerned about the contacts but haven't seen proof of collusion between the campaign and the Russian security apparatus, the reports say.

Headlines for Wednesday, February 15, 2017:

  • The ACLU of Oklahoma is filing a lawsuit over the newest member of the state Supreme Court. (Tulsa World)

  • A bill prohibiting abortions without the father’s approval passes out of House Committee. (NewsOK)

okhouse.gov

A bill prohibiting abortions without the father’s approval passes out of House Committee.

Representative Justin Humphrey says he took the title off House Bill 1441 so it could be amended and go through the committee process. The Atoka Republican says he wants the bill to start the conversation of getting a father involved in the pregnancy.

"I'm proud that I've gotten a chance to start the conversation. Where the conversation ends, we're not sure."

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KOSU's Michael Cross talks about political news in Oklahoma with ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel and Republican political consultant Neva Hill.

Stream classical music via our partners at KUCO!

Education News

oksenate.gov

A Oklahoma Senate subcommittee passed seven bills about teacher pay on Wednesday, each one providing a different solution to the teacher pay problem.

Some of the bills propose $1,000 raises, others $10,000. Some provide funding mechanisms, while others do not.

Senator J.J. Dossett (D-Owasso) says this is just the beginning of the conversation. He says the legislature knows raising teacher pay is the right thing to do and they've just got to figure out the right way to do it.

With a nearly $900 million budget shortfall, Oklahoma lawmakers want accountability for every penny. But within the coffers of private charter school management companies are millions of dollars that lawmakers can't see. 

Senator Jason Smalley wants to know exactly how much schools are spending on administration. He filed a bill to find out, because right now he said it’s not clear.

“Are all the individuals that should be classified as administration costs, actually being reported as that?” he asked. “I think that’s what the greater conversation is.”

Emily Wendler / KOSU

There is a debate nationwide over the effectiveness of online education, and Oklahoma isn’t immune to it. Here, enrollment in virtual schools is booming, but the schools are performing poorly. There are also questions about the companies that run these schools and their financial practices.

Opponents to online education say the state should stop supporting virtual schools until there’s more information about them. But, others say they are vital to certain types of students. 

Throughout middle school, Toby Carter’s teachers struggled to keep him challenged.

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A weekly two-hour show of Oklahoma music, from across the state. The show opens a window of Oklahoma music to the rest of the world.