Member Benefits: 'KOSU Alive' T-Shirt, Radio Tower Socks & Brewery Tours

We're happy to offer several special benefits for KOSU members during the 2017 Spring Membership Drive (taking place between Wednesday, March 1 to Wednesday, March 8). Make your pledge now! 1. Pledges of $60 ($5/month) will be eligible for the 2017 Keep It Local card. The Keep It Local OK card help you discover the best spots in town by rewarding you with discounts and incentives at locally-owned businesses across the state of Oklahoma. Businesses located in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Edmond,...

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Crude prices are on the rise, drilling activity is ramping up, and Oklahoma’s oil and gas regulator wants to limit the volume of wastewater energy companies pump into underground disposal wells, an activity scientists say is fueling the state’s earthquake boom.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm David Greene.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FOOTLOOSE")

KENNY LOGGINS: (Singing) Got to, got to cut loose, footloose, kick off...

The White House is admitting that it discussed with the FBI media reports that Trump campaign officials were in contact with Russian intelligence agents and that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus asked the FBI to publicly knock down the story.

FBI Director James Comey refused.

oksenate.gov

A Republican state senator from Oklahoma City is being investigated for possible ethics violations for not reporting campaign contributions during his last two election cycles.

State Sen. Kyle Loveless confirmed Friday that he was cooperating with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission investigation and vowed to resolve any issues that are uncovered.

Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said he has offered to work with the Ethics Commission because the alleged violations are potential felonies.

Headlines for Friday, February 24, 2017:

  • A state lawmaker faces an investigation of possible campaign violations. (NewsOK)

  • A panel investigating a state lawmaker makes no findings of sexual harassment despite recommending his expulsion. (Tulsa World)

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel and Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill about the $34M revenue failure facing state agencies as well as the $787M budget shortfall facing state lawmakers, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett announces he will not seek a fifth term as leader of the state's capital city and lawmakers fast track a bill to get the state in compliance with the Federal Real ID Act.

twitter.com/okcthunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls were able to pull off a multi-player deal before Thursday's NBA trade deadline.

The Thunder picked up reinforcements for Russell Westbrook by getting forwards Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott from the Bulls. The Thunder also get a second-round pick in the 2018 draft for Cameron Payne, Joffrey Lauvergne and Anthony Morrow.

McDermott is expected to boost an outside shooting attack that ranks 29th in 3-point shooting. Gibson fills a void left when Oklahoma City dealt Serge Ibaka in last year's NBA draft.

Kate Carlton Greer / Oklahoma Public Media Exchange

The director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections says the agency is imposing a hiring freeze to help cut costs as a result of a state revenue failure.

Director Joe Allbaugh said Thursday that the hiring freeze is the first of many possible changes in order to cut spending by about $3 million by the June 30 end of the state's fiscal year.

Allbaugh says there are 348 vacant positions that will go unfilled during the freeze. He says the freeze does not include correctional officers, probation and parole officers, medical professionals and food service workers.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

The crippling five-year drought Oklahoma finally broke out of in 2015 is still fresh in the memory of the state’s water regulators, which is looking for ways the state can better withstand future dry spells. The Water Resources Board this week approved new rules to allow water to be stored underground, in aquifers.

Nearly 3/4 of Oklahoma voters oppose a half-cent tax on wind-generated electricity proposed by Gov. Mary Fallin, The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports a poll sponsored by a wind advocacy group shows. “The State Chamber also is voicing opposition to the plan.”

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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 Senate education committee passed a school choice measure on Monday, which riled a lot of debate from lawmakers.

Education Savings Accounts are a touchy subject. They allow parents to use state tax dollars, that would normally go to a public school, towards private school tuition instead.

Senator Rob Standridge says his ESA bill, SB560, is aimed at helping low-income families afford a better educational option for their child.

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.”

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