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A bill to require “In God We Trust” to be displayed in all state buildings passed the Oklahoma House on Tuesday.

Opponents of House Bill 3817, like Democratic Rep. Regina Goodwin, were frustrated by its sponsor, Republican Rep. Jay Steagall, who avoided answering questions outside the text of the bill.

"I am a Christian. I want to say that. But I also want to know, when you say, ‘we,’ who is the ‘we’ referring to in ‘In God We Trust’?" Goodwin said.

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Oklahoma prison officials expect to lift a statewide lock down today following what they called a "disturbance" among about a half dozen inmates.

There were no serious injuries as a result of the disturbance Monday night at Mack Alford Correctional Center in Stringtown, a medium-security men's prison about 105 miles southeast of Oklahoma City, said DOC spokesman Matt Elliott.

Elliott said the cause of the disturbances is under investigation and the lock down was ordered after investigators have learned of more potential violence at other state prisons.

Whitney Bryen-Oklahoma Watch

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — The former finance director of a public housing authority in Washington state has been indicted on federal charges that she stole nearly $7 million from the agency.

The four-count wire fraud indictment was unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, a day after Cova Campbell was arrested in Redbird, Oklahoma. The Pierce County Housing Authority fired Campbell last August after the state auditor uncovered financial irregularities.

Wednesday's top stories:

  • Former Vice President Joe Biden wins Oklahoma in a big Super Tuesday.
  • Voters in Tulsa and six other counties approve Sunday liquor sales.
  • Oklahoma prison officials expect to lift a statewide lockdown today.

David Shankbone-Wikimedia

Seven Oklahoma counties had propositions on their ballots to let liquor stores open on Sundays, and all seven passed. 

Cleveland, Creek, Kingfisher, Muskogee, Oklahoma, Tulsa and Washington counties passed propositions with varying levels of support, ranging from a high of 73% in Tulsa to a low of 56% in Muskogee.

Gage Skidmore

Former Vice President Joe Biden won Oklahoma’s Democratic presidential primary on Super Tuesday, building on momentum from a dominant victory in South Carolina and last-minute endorsements from two former opponents.

Nearly 30% of eligible voters cast ballots in the Democratic primary. Tulsa County Democratic Party Chair Amanda Swope said they’ll need more of that turnout in November.

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Oklahoma State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister is asking Oklahoma’s congressional delegation to help reverse changes to a rural-school funding program.

Pxhere

The coronavirus is a major factor in a softer economic outlook for a nine-state region that includes Oklahoma.

According to the Mid-America Business Conditions Index, 40% of supply managers said the coronavirus is hurting their companies. Creighton University economist Ernie Goss said 27% are cutting back on international buying, and 24% switched to domestic vendors for some orders.

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Tuesday’s presidential primaries across 14 states mark the first major security test since the 2018 midterm elections, with state and local election officials saying they are prepared to deal with everything from equipment problems to false information about the coronavirus.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Archaeologists will begin excavating a portion of Oaklawn Cemetery with potential mass graves from the Tulsa Race Massacre on April 1.

The plan is to carefully remove the top 2 feet of soil from an 8-foot by 10-foot area with machinery, then continue the excavation by hand. Surveying work showed anomalies in the southwest corner of the cemetery consistent with mass graves.

The whole process is expected to take around 10 days, though the team of researchers is still determining whether they will excavate straight down or in an inverted pyramid shape.

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A college president has apologized after a recruiter told students at an Oklahoma City high school to line up by the skin color and hair texture.

At an open campus meeting Sunday, Oklahoma Christian University President John DeSteiguer called recruiter Cedric Sunray’s actions at Harding Charter Preparatory High School “offensive, harmful and inappropriate.”

Tulsa County Sheriff

Detectives have arrested a 40-year-old man in connection with a double homicide in Tulsa yesterday.

Bryan Spence is being held without bond for the murder of his parents, Joseph and Beverly Spence. Police were called to an abandoned car near 91st Street and Harvard Avenue on Tuesday morning and found the keys and a couple rifles inside.

Officers traced the car back to the owners, Beverly and Joseph Spence, and found them dead from gunshot wounds inside their home near 91st Street and Yale Avenue.

Super Tuesday's top stories:

  • Oklahoma and 13 other states will award about one-third of the Democratic party's delegates in presidential primaries today.
  • The primaries mark the first major election security test since the 2018 midterms.
  • Nearly 51,000 Oklahomans, including roughly 8,500 in Tulsa County, voted early in person or by sending in absentee ballots.

Where's your polling place? Check the state voter portal to find out.

It's a big day in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination — Super Tuesday.

Oklahoma and 13 other states will award about one-third of the party’s delegates. Tulsa County Democratic Party Chair Amanda Swope said that makes it important to vote in the primary, something independents can do in the Democratic contest but not the Republican one.

Flickr/Mrs. Gemstone / https://www.flickr.com/photos/gemstone/8162709569/

Nearly 51,000 Oklahomans cast early votes or sent in absentee ballots for the presidential primaries.

In Tulsa County, more than 8,500 people voted early. That includes 4,937 people who came out for early, in-person voting Thursday through Saturday at the election board offices or Hardesty Library.

"We wound up with numbers just barely below what we did in 2016 during that presidential primary, and if you consider it, we had an open seat at that point. So, the numbers are very, very good," said Tulsa County Election Board Secretary Gwen Freeman.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

Tulsa-area churches are continuing a demonstration against current United Methodist policies in the lead up to a vote on potentially realigning the denomination.

Until that vote in May, churches must abide by bans on ordaining LGBTQ clergy and marrying same-sex couples. They also must enforce disciplinary sanctions when those bans are violated.

A state lawmaker is proposing a change to Oklahoma’s initiative petition process.

Republican Rep. John Pfeiffer wants the signatures needed to get state questions on the ballot to be a percentage of voters from each congressional district rather than a percentage of the total number of votes in the last gubernatorial election.

Pfeiffer said he’s trying to protect the voice of the state’s rural minority.

Tulsa Public Schools

Tulsa Public Schools is offering a new mentoring program for African American and Latinx boys ages 12 and up.

It’s called C.H.A.M.P.S., which stands for Culturally Helping and Making Positive Success.

"CHAMPS is designed with an understanding that our young men come from different cultural, educational, religious, economic and professional backgrounds, and a primary goal is to make sure that every participant receives high-quality mentoring," said Superintendent Deborah Gist.

Measures classifying abortion as homicide and banning the procedure outright were not heard before the Oklahoma legislature’s first deadline, but several bills to restrict it are still alive.

Those include a bill banning abortion after a heartbeat can be detected at roughly six weeks, one to strip doctors of their licenses if they perform the procedure and one letting third parties sue doctors for wrongful death.

Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat indicated last month that he wants to get something passed.

Matt Trotter / KWGS

The City of Tulsa is looking to help revitalize boarded-up stores in the heart of town with financial incentives.

Officials want to expand eligibility for a program offering up to $2 million over 10 years so it can be used not just for public improvements like new roads and sewer lines, but also for redevelopment costs. City Economic Development Specialist Spencer Mitchell said if they do that and ease geographic restrictions, it could help get developers interested in properties like the old Sears at 21st Street and Yale Avenue.

Monday's headlines:

  • The City of Tulsa could use a retail incentive program to help bring new life to vacant shopping centers.
  • Gov. Kevin Stitt's battle with Oklahoma tribes over gaming compacts has raised questions about tribal citizenship and identity.
  • A state lawmaker is proposing changes to Oklahoma's initiative petition process.

Sanders Campaign

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. (AP) — It isn’t easy being a Bernie Sanders supporter in a conservative state like Oklahoma. Travis Wyman, a 40-year-old construction worker and online “social justice warrior,” says he and other Sanders fans can hear “fear-mongering words” like socialist and communist thrown at them many times a day.

Robby Korth / StateImpact Oklahoma

When Republican Kevin Stitt was elected Oklahoma governor in 2018, many Cherokee Nation members felt proud that one of their own had accomplished such a feat, even if their politics didn’t necessarily align with his.

But in less than a year in office, Stitt began facing fierce blowback, particularly from fellow tribal citizens, for engaging in a battle with the Cherokee Nation and other Oklahoma-based Native American tribes over the amount of casino gambling revenue they were giving to the state.

OU Black Emergency Response Team

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Dozens of students at the University of Oklahoma have ended a sit-in outside the university’s administrative offices following two instances in which professors used racial slurs in their classrooms.

The three-day sit-in organized by the Black Emergency Response Team, known as BERT, ended Friday with the student group saying that progress had been made.

Instagram/Garth Brooks

DETROIT (AP) — Leave it to the internet to interpret Garth Brooks wearing a Barry Sanders jersey during a recent concert in Detroit as a political endorsement of a certain liberal presidential candidate.

The more than 70,000 fans who attended the country music star’s Feb. 22 show at Ford Field understood it was a tribute to one of greatest NFL running backs and Detroit Lions players ever.

File photo

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Prosecutors say a Chinese national who admitted stealing trade secrets from a U.S. petroleum company has been sentenced to two years in federal prison.

Hongjin Tan pleaded guilty in November to theft of a trade secret in connection to his work as a scientist at a Phillips 66 research facility in Oklahoma.

Pixabay

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt discussed some of his SoonerCare 2.0 ideas during an event Friday at the Tulsa Press Club.

SoonerCare 2.0 is how Stitt is referring to his plan for Medicaid expansion. The governor plans to expand Medicaid, then apply for a waiver through a new capped-funding program the Trump administration is now offering to implement restrictions like work requirements.

Stitt said part of that waiver will be monthly premiums for Medicaid enrollees

"If your’e a caregiver, the premium is $0. I believe you need skin in the game," Stitt said.

Serge Melki

A bill classifying abortion as murder was not heard in the Oklahoma legislature ahead of this week’s deadline for bills to advance in their chambers of origin.

House Bill 2545 was just a shell bill up until this week. It was amended Wednesday by Rep. Justin Humphrey, who has referred to pregnant women as "hosts" and has pushed a bill requiring fathers to sign off on abortions.

Oklahoma Call for Reproductive Justice Board President Danielle Williams said HB2545 as amended was unclear.

American Airlines

American Airlines announced Friday it will spend $550 million on improvements at its Tulsa maintenance base.

Over seven years, American will improve nearly every building on the base, and in early 2021, they’ll start building a 193,000-square foot hangar to accommodate the larger planes in their current fleet and a 132,000-square foot base support building.

Friday's top stories:

  • A state House committee passes a bill changed at the last minute to support Second Amendment sanctuary cities.
  • A federal judge rejects two Oklahoma tribes' request to join the gaming lawsuit against Gov. Kevin Stitt.
  • Tulsa County is up to 10 flu deaths for the season, tied for most in the state.

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