Oklahoma

Environment, Education, Energy: Policy to People

How Increasing The Minimum Wage Could Lead To Healthier Babies

Baby Jacob weighs 7.14 pounds - some infants aren't as lucky.

Jackie Fortier / StateImpact

Baby Jacob weighs 7.14 pounds - some infants aren't as lucky.

Jacob is just a few hours old when registered nurse Amy Burnett begins one of the simplest measurements to tell if a newborn is healthy — their weight.

“You want to make sure that they are naked, they have no diaper, and you bring him to the scale,” she says as she removes his tiny Pampers.

She gently picks him up, confidently balancing his body on her forearm like a football. Her purple gloved fingers encircle his neck as she hits a button on the scale, which beeps loudly, zeroing it out.

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Research on Tulsa Program Suggests Statewide Pre-K Has Long-Term Benefits

Preschool teacher, Irene Castell, works on counting with a small group of students.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

Preschool teacher, Irene Castell, works on counting with a small group of kids.

Kids are scattered around the preschool classroom at Zarrow International School in Tulsa. It’s loud and chaotic, but it’s organized. Some students paint pictures; others write out the letters of the alphabet. The small group sitting around teacher Irene Castell is learning to count and compare numbers.

Castell says many kids would not learn these skills if they stayed home, or went to daycare.

“We always hear back from teachers of kindergartners, ‘We can always tell who’s been to pre-K,’” she says.

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Industry Group Challenges Proposed Ballot Question To Raise Oil And Gas Taxes

The state's largest industry group has mounted a two-pronged legal challenge to the proposed SQ 795.

The state's largest industry group has mounted a two-pronged legal challenge to the proposed SQ 795.

The Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association on Wednesday filed two separate state Supreme Court challenges to a proposed state question that would ask voters to end industry discounts and impose a broad 7 percent tax on oil and gas production to fund teacher pay raises and early childhood education.

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Parents Still Fighting To Remove Humphreys From School Board

John Rex Elementary in  downtown Oklahoma City.

Emily Wendler / StateImpact Oklahoma

John Rex Elementary in downtown Oklahoma City.


A group of about 20 parents asked Oklahoma City Public School Board members on Monday to kick former OKC Mayor Kirk Humphreys off the board of a local charter school.

Humphreys recently equated homosexuality to pedophilia while on a Sunday morning talk show, and many John Rex Charter School parents feel his comments were homophobic, and disqualify him from serving on the charter’s board of directors.

Jaricha Scales says his words go directly against the charter school’s creed her children are supposed to follow.

“How can we hold our students accountable, and not our board members?,” Scales asked during public comment.

Spokesperson for OKCPS, Beth Harrison, says while the district does authorize the charter contract for John Rex, its board has very little influence over whether Humphreys stays or goes. Harrison says that decision would be up to the John Rex Board of Directors.

Carrie Jacobs, who is on John Rex’s Board, says discussions are ongoing about what, if anything, should happen.

An Oilman Who Helped Write Energy Industry Tax Breaks Is Leading An Effort To Remove Them

Mickey Thompson, founder and director of Restore Oklahoma Now, leaves the attorney general's office after filing paperwork for State Question 795.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Mickey Thompson, founder and director of Restore Oklahoma Now, leaves the attorney general's office after filing paperwork for State Question 795.

Mickey Thompson has a manila envelope tucked under his arm as he walks towards the Oklahoma Capitol. If the paperwork doesn’t start a fight, it almost certainly will add fuel to one.

Inside the envelope is the handiwork of about 10 people over a couple of months that could clear a path for Oklahoma voters to do something most lawmakers won’t consider: Enact broad tax hikes on oil and gas production to help fund public education.

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Q&A: A Look Ahead At The Stories StateImpact Is Following Into The New Year

StateImpact reporters preview the key health, education, energy and environment issues they'll be tracking in 2018.

StateImpact Oklahoma

StateImpact reporters preview the key health, education, energy and environment issues they'll be tracking in 2018.

Twenty-seventeen is wrapping up, but the growing group of reporters at StateImpact are following many important government policy issues that will carry on into the new year.

Senior Reporter and Managing Editor Joe Wertz brought the StateImpact team into the studio for a preview of their coverage in the year to come. Here are some excerpts from the conversation edited for clarity:

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Group Led By Long-Time Energy Leader Seeks Public Vote To Increase Oil And Gas Taxes

Mickey Thompson of Restore Oklahoma Now filing the paperwork for SQ 795, which would ask voters to increase taxes on oil and gas production to help fund education.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Mickey Thompson of Restore Oklahoma Now filing the paperwork for SQ 795, which would ask voters to increase taxes on oil and gas production to help fund education.

A group led by a long-time energy industry leader wants Oklahoma voters to approve an increase in taxes on oil and gas production to help fund public education.

Currently, taxes on oil and gas production are discounted for the first three years making the effective tax rate somewhere around 3.2 percent. Mickey Thompson with Restore Oklahoma Now on Wednesday filed the paperwork for State Question 795 to increase that rate to 7 percent across-the-board. Continue Reading

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