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State Supreme Court Rewrites Ballot Titles

Posted by Bob Sands on

Ballot titles re-written by Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for a pair of state questions have been re-written again this time by the State Supreme Court. The high court ruled the ballot titles from Pruitts office were deficient and were "misleading and partial". The ballot issues are intended to help control the future growth of Oklahoma's prison population.

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"Right to Farm" will stay on the November Ballot

Posted by Bob Sands on

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has let stand a low court ruling dismissing a challenge to State Question 777. Opponents alleged the measure would allow large farming corporations to set state agricultural policy instead of voters and lawmakers.

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County Judge Rules in Liquor Battle

Posted by Bob Sands on

The Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma lost it's fight for an injunction to block a November vote on a plan that makes major changes to the states liquor laws. But an Oklahoma County judge did say there are still constitutional issues that need to be addressed. A hearing on that will happen soon.

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Pro-Education Candidates Oust Some Incumbents

Posted by Bob Sands on

Two members of the Oklahoma House and one state senator lost in primary election returns to pro-education candidates. 33 other new candidates from the education group also won their primaries while at least 8 others are in runoffs.

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Little Support For a Special Legislative Session

Posted by Bob Sands on

From teachers to legislative leaders, there is little support for Governor Fallins suggestion that the legislature go into special session to pass a teacher pay raise. House Speaker Jeff Hickman says he is open to discussions but the state must be very cautious about pay hikes using one time money.

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Governor Fallin Considers Special Session for Teacher Pay Raises

Posted by Bob Sands on

State government has $140.8 million in extra cash after reconciling the books for fiscal year 2016. Now Governor Mary Faillin says she is talking with legislative leaders about calling lawmakers back into session in order to use the money to give teacher pay raises. That would use one time extra funds to give teachers a less than $2-thousand a year pay hike.

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O.U. Hikes Tuition Rates Because of Budget Cuts

Posted by Bob Sands on

It will cost University of Oklahoma students 7 percent more in tuition and fees to attend classes this fall. The University estimates that will offset about a third of the $35-million dollar budget cut they took for fiscal year 2017 which begins July 1st. Other cost savings will come from voluntary retirements, salary cuts of 3 percent for top leaders and not replacing people when they leave.

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Former Senate Leader Headed to Prison

Posted by Bob Sands on

Former Sen. President Pro Temp Mike Morgan will now spend 18 months behind bars for taking bribes. Morgan's original sentence of probation was seen as too light by federal prosecutors who sought and got a re-sentencing hearing. Morgan has to surrender to federal prison on July 21st.

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Oklahoma Unemployment Continues to Increase

Posted by Bob Sands on

State lawmakers used to brag about Oklahoma's low unemployment rate. Last month that rate came in at 4.7 percent tied with the national rate. The number of jobless is up by 10,000 workers with more than 7,000 dropping out of the work force. The bright spot for workers were job increases in education and health services and the construction industry.

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Budget Rebates may be in Order

Posted by Bob Sands on

The budget cuts because of mid-year revenue failures in state government tax collections went too deep, leaving the state with a fiscal year end surplus. It now stands at over $166-million dollars but will likely finish the current fiscal year around $120-million. That means state agencies budgets will get some money back. How much is not yet known

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Governor Headed for New York City

Posted by Bob Sands on

Governor Mary Fallin is taking several people with her this week on a trip to the nation's top credit rating agencies. Specifically she has invited two legislators along for the ride because she wants them to, as she puts it, understand the nuances rating agencies consider when analyzing Oklahoma's budgeting.

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OHP using Card Scanners to Seize Assets

Posted by Bob Sands on

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol has deployed scanners that can seize money from prepaid debit cards from people they suspect of being drug traffickers. The discovery of the scanners has set off a fire-storm of protest with calls for an end to the use of the devices.

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State Revenues Continue to Fall

Posted by Bob Sands on

Revenue collections at the state treasury last month hit a six year low. State Treasurer Ken Miller says every major revenue stream for state government came in lower than expected. That is the 9th month in a row that gross receipts to the state treasury were lower than the same time a year ago.

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Energy Companies want Earthquake Lawsuit Dismissed

Posted by Bob Sands on

The lawsuit was filed by the Oklahoma Sierra Club against several Oklahoma energy companies who own saltwater disposal wells suspected of causing earthquakes. The suit seeks to force the companies to lower injection volumes. Devon Energy Corp. says it selling off the disposal wells at issue and all the companies argue the Corporation Commission is already dealing with induced earthquakes.

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Oklahoma Legislature Finishes Work for the Year

Posted by Bob Sands on

By a narrow margin, the Okllahoma House voted for the FY 2017 budget. That was the last piece of major legislation for the session. The senate adjourned for the year several hours earlier.

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