Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Uptick in Quakes Could Prompt Action From Oklahoma Lawmakers

The power and frequency of earthquakes in Oklahoma have been increasing, but the Legislature has done little to try to curb the temblors that scientists have linked to the underground disposal of oil and gas drilling wastewater. That could change this year, as angry residents have been increasingly turning up at town hall meetings and legislative hearings to call for state leaders to address the problem. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Oklahoma this year has already had more than 90...
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Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Gov. Mary Fallin on Thursday approved the transfer of nearly $1.4 million from the state emergency fund to strengthen Oklahoma’s earthquake response.

The money is going to a pair of agencies tasked with researching the earthquake surge and regulating the oil and gas activities likely causing it.

Logan Layden / StateImpact Oklahoma

Water contaminated by algae blooms or choked by sediment and pollutants kills wildlife and isn’t healthy for humans. It’s up to the state to make sure Oklahoma’s lakes and rivers are safe, but budget cuts are threatening that mission, officials say.

WATER FUNDING ROLLER COASTER

Headlines for Thursday, January 28, 2016:

  • New coalition trying to reforming Oklahoma's criminal justice launches a ballot initiative. (NewsOK)

  • Northwestern Oklahoma State University installs a seismometer in Alva. (Enid News & Eagle)

Oklahoma Senate

An obscure sales tax break authored by Sen. Brian Bingman is “subsidizing an expensive form of enhanced oil recovery for seven companies, including the senator’s employer,” Oklahoma Watch reports.

The tax break on electricity used to power old “waterflood” recovery projects was authored in 2005 by now-Senate President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa.

The entire Oklahoma State University men's basketball team will be wearing the number "10" on their jerseys Wednesday evening when they take on Baylor University in Stillwater.

The 8 p.m. game comes 15 years since the plane crash that killed 10 members of the OSU basketball team, coaches, and support staff.

facebook.com/JoeDorman

Former Oklahoma state representative and gubernatorial candidate Joe Dorman has announced that he will take up a one-year term on Rush Springs' City Council following the resignations of two members.

The Express-Star reports that Dorman made his announcement Tuesday, and that he will not run for the seat. Marvin Loeffler resigned from the council about little over a month ago, while Brian Hale recently announced he was stepping down. Both resigned for personal reasons.

Headlines for Wednesday, January 27, 2016:

  • Gay rights advocates criticize dozens of bills filed in the upcoming legislature. (Tulsa World)

Ryan LaCroix / KOSU

Oklahoma’s Lieutenant Governor and prominent state business leaders are among those seeking to affect long term public policy through a newly formed foundation.

Lt. Governor Todd Lamb says E Foundation of Oklahoma seeks to create a more diversified economy, with the hope of insulating Oklahoma from a revenue failure like the one it now finds itself in.

facebook.com/FreedomOklahoma.org

Gay rights advocates in Oklahoma are calling on Republican leaders to repudiate more than two dozen bills that they say unfairly target members of the LGBT community.

Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Troy Stevenson said Tuesday that 18 bills remain active from last year. Another nine have been filed ahead of the 2016 session that he says discriminate against the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Headlines for Tuesday, January 26, 2016:

  • A new study finds Oklahoma has become an intake state for hydraulic fracturing waste-water. (Enid News & Eagle)

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Education News

U.S. Department of Education / Flickr

Oklahoma’s new English Language Arts and Math standards are finally complete, and have been approved by the State Board of Education. They now await the legislature’s approval. 

The Department of Education was tasked with creating new math and English standards after the Oklahoma legislature repealed the Common Core curriculum in 2014.

Oklahoma Senator David Holt is proposing $10,000 teacher pay raises over the next few years. And Holt says this can be done without raising taxes. 

His plan is three pronged. School districts would be consolidated and excess money would go to teacher pay. All revenue growth after fiscal year 2017 would go directly to raises, and the the state would find another $200 million by reforming tax credits.

Holt said legislators have a moral obligation to raise pay, and help solve the teacher shortage.

Emily Wendler / KOSU

Jason McMullen taught in Oklahoma for 12 years before he finally decided to move to Arkansas. When he left, his salary was $41,000. His wife was a teacher too, and earned less.  

"It just got to a point where it’s hard to buy a house," he said. "It’s hard to pay bills, it’s hard to raise kids."

After all their bills were paid each month, McMullen says he and his wife had about $250 left for groceries and other living expenses.

"I just could not financially afford to stay any longer," he said.

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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.

Political News

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 State of the State Address from Governor Fallin, a plan to increase cigarette taxes by $1.50 per pack and bills to eliminate, reduce or put a moratorium on tax credits.

The trio also discuss Senator James Lankford's plan to eliminate federal tax credits on wind energy and the Iowa Caucus results with less than a month before Oklahoma's Presidential Primary on Super Tuesday.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum ended his White House campaign on Wednesday and threw his support behind Florida Sen. Marco Rubio.

"We are suspending our campaign as of this moment," Santorum said on Fox News Channel's On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.

Santorum said that after much prayer, he had decided that he was suspending his campaign. After talking to Rubio for more than an hour on Tuesday, Santorum said, he decided to back him, calling him the best person to continue the message of fighting ISIS and defending "the central role of the family."

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is suspending his campaign for president after a disappointing finish in Iowa, turning his focus now to his Senate re-election bid.

"Across the country thousands upon thousands of young people flocked to our message of limited government, privacy, criminal justice reform and a reasonable foreign policy. Brushfires of Liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I," the Republican said in a statement.

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