More than 60 legislative bills have been filed since 2015 that seek to make voting and registering to vote easier in the state. Ten passed, but the most significant one, allowing online voter registration, may not be in place for two to three more years.
Oil and gas companies, along with their trade groups, have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign donations to lawmakers over more than two years, with top Republican leaders at the forefront of budget talks taking in some of the largest amounts.
Virtual charter schools will have to start tracking student attendance in accordance with a new law signed Friday by Gov. Mary Fallin. The proposal arose after Oklahoma Watch revealed last year that all five of Oklahoma’s virtual charter schools reported between 98 and 100 percent attendance last year. Two reported 100 percent.
When school’s out, in summer or afternoon, many parents face a struggle. Research shows that children without access to summer and after-school learning programs can suffer academically, but finding good, affordable ones is an arduous task. Oklahoma provides no state funding, and a federal program could be eliminated.
In some Oklahoma schools, children whose school meal accounts aren’t paid in full sometimes face embarrassment in the cafeteria line. The schools take away their trays and give them a cold sandwich instead. Others put a stamp on the student’s hand that reads “lunch money.” The practices have triggered a backlash.
Hunger in Oklahoma was the focus of an “Oklahoma Watch-Out” public forum, featuring Hunger Free Oklahoma Executive Director Chris Bernard; Katie Fitzgerald, CEO of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, and Leon Hill, Oklahoma City Public Schools executive director of operations services.
Of 10 payday lending bills identified in seven states this year, Oklahoma’s legislation appears to have had one of the higher potential interest rates — 204 percent annually. The bill likely represented a payday lending industry push nationwide.