Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Drought Creeps Back Into Oklahoma As Dry Fall Leads to Waterless Winter

Drought is back in Oklahoma. More than half the state now falls in the extreme drought category, and normally water-rich southeast Oklahoma is bearing the brunt of a very dry fall and winter. Tree stumps poke above Atoka Lake’s surface, and it’s easy to see where the water line used to reach. In early 2016, lake levels were high. But now, Atoka is in the bullseye of the worst of Oklahoma’s current drought. Atoka Emergency Manager Derrick Mixon says last week’s snowstorm didn’t help much. “All...

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Headlines for Thursday, January 5, 2017:

  • The National Weather Service is issuing a Winter Weather Advisory for parts of central and western Oklahoma. (NewsOK)

  • State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is asking legislators to give schools more money next year.  (NewsOK)

ok.gov/sde/superintendent

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is asking legislators for an increase of $220 million in funding next year, despite a projected budget shortfall.

On Wednesday, Hofmeister made her case for the additional funds—saying they are essential to keep up with a growing student population and increased health care costs. She also says schools desperately need new textbooks, and new teachers need more professional development. 

With President-elect Donald Trump's tough talk on immigration, private prisons may be an early winner under his administration.

In the week after Election Day, stocks of GEO and CoreCivic, the two biggest for-profit detention companies, shot up more than 20 and 40 percent, respectively.

Last spring at a town hall meeting on MSNBC, Trump said this about the confinement industry: "By the way, with prisons I do think we can do a lot of privatizations and private prisons. It seems to work a lot better."

Josh DeLozier's Top 13 Songs of 2016

Jan 4, 2017

Wiretap, an hour-long countdown of 13 hottest alternative songs of the week, debuts Friday night at 9 p.m.

We asked Josh DeLozier, the show's host and The Spy's general manager, to list his top songs of 2016:

13. Junebug Spade - "Turn You On"

 

A recent federal court ruling could open a new wave of redistricting challenges across the country. And that includes Oklahoma, where Republicans now control 78.5 percent of the statehouse seats – a 10 percentage-point increase since the GOP-controlled Legislature redrew legislative boundaries five years ago.

Headlines for Wednesday, January 4, 2017:

  • The State House and Senate gather for Organizational Day as the 56th Oklahoma legislature. (Fox25)

  • A state lawmaker at the center of sexual harassment allegations questions why his accuser was paid. (Tulsa World)

Oklahoma Department of Public Safety

Gov. Mary Fallin says Oklahoma has received an extension to comply with the federal REAL ID Act.

Fallin said Tuesday the extension is through June 6, 2017, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security warned that failure to act during the 2017 legislative session to commit Oklahoma to all REAL ID requirements could result in the denial of future extensions.

After a storm of criticism, including from President-elect Donald Trump, House Republicans have reversed themselves and restored the current rules of the Office of Congressional Ethics.

GOP members met Tuesday afternoon and agreed by unanimous consent to withdraw a change to House rules approved late Monday evening, before the new Congress was sworn in, that would have weakened the ethics office, an independent watchdog first established in 2008 under House Democrats.

Updated at 10:15 a.m. ET

The House Republican Conference voted Monday night to approve a change to House rules to weaken the independence of the Office of Congressional Ethics and place it under the oversight of the House Ethics Committee, a panel controlled by party leaders.

It will be part of a broader House Rules package to be voted on by the full body on Tuesday after the 115th Congress officially convenes and the House elects a speaker.

Headlines for Tuesday, January 3, 2017:

  • Nine Oklahoma county assessors fail a state audit in property values. (Tulsa World)

  • A new law allows you to donate your state income tax return back to Oklahoma. (NewsOK)

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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

Betsy DeVos, who is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for education secretary, has given millions in campaign contributions to politicians across the country.

Some of that fiscal muscle trickled into Oklahoma during the last election cycle through a pro-school-choice “Super PAC” that, notably, opposed so-called “teachers’ caucus” candidates in many instances. (The caucus arose out of many educators’ frustration over what they view as low education funding levels and teacher pay.)

The Oklahoma State Department of Education will invest $2 million dollars in career development programs over the next three years. This money comes from a grant, funded by JP Morgan Chase & Co.

The U.S. economy is projected to produce millions of high-skill, well-paying jobs over the next decade, but more and more kids are graduating from high school unprepared for college or a career.

So JP Morgan Chase is pumping $20 million dollars in to ten states to change that. Oklahoma is one of those states.

ok.gov/sde/superintendent

State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is asking legislators for an increase of $220 million in funding next year, despite a projected budget shortfall.

On Wednesday, Hofmeister made her case for the additional funds—saying they are essential to keep up with a growing student population and increased health care costs. She also says schools desperately need new textbooks, and new teachers need more professional development. 

More Education News
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.