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Capital City: Lawmaker accused of missing child support

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Good Wednesday morning. 

I'm headed to Broken Arrow today as Gov. Kevin Stitt and state Superintendent Joy Hofmeister tour a school with Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Donna Gradel

Lawmaker accused of owing child support ... State. Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, is being accused in a contempt-of-court citation of not paying his court-ordered child support and his share of his daughters' health expenses.

A judge has ordered him to appear for arraignment on the contempt citation in Chandler on Feb. 5, the second day of the upcoming legislative session.

Wallace has considerable clout at the state Capitol because he is chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. In that position, he plays a key role in deciding how billions of taxpayer dollars will be spent.

He and his wife divorced in 2013 and were granted shared custody of their two daughters. He was ordered to pay $280 a month in child support and half any medical, dental, optical or other health care expenses. The Oklahoman's Nolan Clay has more on this story.

Judge dismisses Richardson's lawsuit ... Oklahoma County District Judge Trevor Pemberton dismissed the defamation lawsuit former gubernatorial candidate Gary Richardson filed against KFOR-TV, reports The Frontier. Richardson sued KFOR in September 2018, alleging the news station defamed and misrepresented him in a story about a campaign ad Richardson created, ultimately damaging his law practice and gubernatorial bid.

Lawmakers seek political payback from teachers ... Oklahoma lawmakers have filed a host of bills that seek to crack down on the methods educators employed to stage a statewide walkout and Capitol protest last spring, reports the Tulsa World

Proposed measures range from criminal penalties for disrupting the Legislature to the mandatory loss of pay and teacher certification for those who strike or shut down schools to resolve differences with state leaders.

Other education bills include ... Sen. Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, has proposed Senate Bill 362 which would make changes to the school funding formula by altering the “weight” of certain students. Students in pre-K through third grade would be weighted lower than they are now, but the weight for low-income students would increase. The legislation comes after a task force he led wrapped up its work in September. Oklahoma Watch has more on a slate of education bills filed this year. 

Students demand change from OU president ... University of Oklahoma students demanded change Tuesday during a rally against racism after a video of a female student in blackface appeared on social media Friday. Two students involved withdrew from OU in the aftermath.

"As a black student, words don't matter anymore," said Jamelia Reed, who told OU President Jim Gallogly she would ask for his resignation if change didn't come. Also on Monday ... The former dean of the College of International Studies at the University of Oklahoma called for President Jim Gallogly to resign immediately during a rally Tuesday.

Farm offices develop plan during government shutdown ... Farm Service Agency offices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's main interface with farmers and ranchers, will restore normal office hours and begin offering a much wider range of services on Thursday, the department's top executive announced Tuesday.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the order temporarily recalls more than 9,700 agency employees nationwide to keep the offices open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, beginning Thursday and continuing through Feb. 8.

If the partial government shutdown continues past Feb. 8, Perdue said the plan is to keep the offices open during subsequent weeks on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

School district reveals plan ... On Tuesday night, Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Sean McDanielidentified as many as 18 schools that could be closed and used for other purposes in order to deliver on a promise of serving students equitably.

A standing-room-only crowd gathered for the board meeting that included discussion between the district's leader and members of the school board but no public comment.

"It is disruptive, and we know that," McDaniel said. "But we balanced that out with the good things that we are bringing back to our schools.

Thanks for reading. Got questions, suggestions or complaints? Email me at bfelder@oklahoman.com. 

Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the Oklahoma Gazette before joining The Oklahoman in 2016.... Read more ›

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