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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Headlines for Monday, February 13, 2017:

  • A new study ranks Oklahoma number one in children abused or neglected by foster parents in 2015. (NewsOK)

  • Oregon rape survivor hopes to change laws in Oklahoma. (NewsOK)

Tulsa Public Schools

At all elementary and middle schools and some high schools in the Houston Independent School District — 220 in all — every student begins the day with a free breakfast right in the classroom.

The result: fewer absences and discipline problems and an increase in math scores, according to the district’s former superintendent Terry Grier.

The 59th annual Grammy Awards brought a pair of sweeps: a likely one for a dearly departed star, a surprise for the reigning queen of pop — and more performances than anyone will likely remember tomorrow.

The latest market report from the American Wind Energy Association comes as lawmakers start discussions over the future of state incentives for wind generation “and the possibility of a new tax on wind production proposed by Gov. Mary Fallin,” The Oklahoman’s Paul Monies reports.

Gov. John Kasich has put Ohio executions on hold until May, citing a legal challenge to the state's three-drug lethal injection protocol.

The governor's office released a statement saying it had postponed the execution dates for the next eight prisoners on death row, including the next prisoner to die, Ronald Phillips, who had his date moved from next Wednesday to May 10.

David Bitton / Oklahoma Watch

The State Department of Education is introducing a new math class for high schoolers that's aimed at reducing the need for math remediation in college.

Almost 40 percent of Oklahoma college freshman have to take a remedial math class for which they receive no credit, and the state Department of Education estimates this costs students and families millions of dollars.  

The new College Career Math Ready class, available next school year, will help kids brush up on their skills before college, and will hopefully save them time and money. 

Headlines for Friday, February 10, 2017:

  • A Ten Commandments monument bill advances out of House Committee. (Tulsa World)

  • Experts sound of on Governor Fallin’s tax plan. (Journal record)

The Environmental Protection Agency's presence at an environmental conference in Alaska this week was cut in half, after the Trump administration's transition officials ordered the change. The agency had helped to plan the Alaska Forum on the Environment — but days before it was to start, word came that half of the EPA's 34 planned attendees wouldn't be making the trip.

This Week in Oklahoma Politics, KOSU's Michael Cross talks with ACLU Oklahoma Executive Director Ryan Kiesel and Republican Political Consultant Neva Hill about Governor Fallin kicking off the 2017 legislative session with her Sate of the State Address and the next four months ahead for lawmakers as well as a a lawsuit against Attorney General Scott Pruitt over Oklahoma's Open Records Act.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Federal authorities are investigating the alleged embezzlement of $2.6 million dollars from an obscure Oklahoma board that promotes the beef industry. The investigation and related lawsuits add to questions about oversight of a national program funded by fees charged to ordinary farmers and ranchers.

On a brisk and busy January morning at the Oklahoma National Stockyards, cattle arrive for auction in trailers pulled by pickup trucks — and leave in double-decker cars towed by semis.

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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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