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Capital City: Stitt seeks boost in closing fund

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Good Tuesday morning. 

First up -- The Oklahoma City Public Schools board voted Monday to approve a controversial plan to close 15 schools and reconfigure or relocate 17 others in time for the start of the 2019-20 school year. The Oklahoman's Tim Willert has more from last night's meeting

Also, today is Election Day in some parts of Oklahoma, including some school districts. Here's a complete list

QUICK ACTION CLOSING FUND ... Gov. Kevin Stitt plans to aggressively use the Quick Action Closing Fund, a Legislature-approved pot of money the governor can use freely to cover infrastructure and development costs for new businesses.

The House has already approved an immediate injection of $5 million into the fund, which still requires Senate approval. Once the money is approved, Stitt plans to tap the fund.

“We are talking with companies right now where it’s down to us and another state,” said Donelle Harder, Stitt’s spokeswoman.

I had a story this week on the Quick Action Closing Fund, controversy over its use in the past and how it is used in other states. 

FIRST LADY VISITS TULSA ... First Lady Melania Trump brought her “Be Best” initiative to Dove School of Discovery in Tulsa to promote children’s well-being and speak out against cyberbullying and opioid abuse. It was her first stop on a planned three-state tour that will take her next to Seattle and Las Vegas, reports the Tulsa World

STITT VISITS MUSLIM DAY ... Gov. Stitt made an unscheduled visit to the 2019 "Muslim Day at the Capitol," becoming the first Oklahoma governor to greet Muslim participants in the event's five-year history. The day is designed to bring Muslims to the Capitol to directly meet with their state legislators to discuss issues impacting Oklahoma's Muslim community.

"If different groups are going to take their time to come to the Capitol, I think it's my responsibility as governor to come welcome them and say hello and say we're all Oklahomans," Stitt told The Oklahoman. "I'm the governor for all 4 million Oklahomans, and I just wanted to make sure that they knew that they're welcome here."

POLITICAL STATE - On the latest episode of the Political State podcast State Sen. Julia Kirt discusses the first month of the legislative session and her first term in office. You can watch/listen here

INHOFE MAY VOTE AGAINST NATIONAL EMERGENCY ...U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofesaid early Monday he might vote for a resolution blocking President Donald Trump's emergency declaration.

Speaking to radio station KRMG, Inhofe repeated his concern that $3.6 billion in military construction appropriations that Trump wants to redirect to border security under the emergency order will cause the delay or cancellation of planned projects.

Inhofe's comment came as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, acknowledged that a resolution blocking the emergency declaration would likely pass in the Republican-controlled Senate.

BILL WOULD GIVE MONEY TO 'CHOOSE LIFE CENTERS' ... Organizations that try to persuade pregnant women to give birth would receive $2 million in state funding under legislation approved Monday by the Oklahoma House of Representatives, reports the Tulsa World

House Bill 2592, by Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, appropriates the money from general revenue to the state Health Department for grants to “choose life centers” as described in legislation approved two years ago.

OPIOID COMPANY SEEKS TRIAL DELAY ... Pharmaceutical company attorneys are requesting a 100-day delay in the start of a trial in which opioid manufacturing companies are accused of causing thousands of Oklahoma overdose deaths and addictions through the fraudulent marketing of their powerful pain killing drugs.

They want the trial's start delayed from May 28 to Sept. 16.

Attorneys for the state oppose the delay, calling the request "frivolous, desperate, and disingenuous."

Cleveland County District Judge Thad Balkman has scheduled a hearing for 3:30 p.m. Friday to hear arguments on the matter.

TURNING UP THE HEAT ON MAPS 4 ... After Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid asked pointed questions last week about MAPS 4, Mayor David Holtposted on Twitter his State of the City speech remarks, in which the mayor summarized around two dozen ideas that seemed to "have some traction and fit the transformational tradition of MAPS."

Shadid's remarks at Tuesday's city council meeting and the mayor's posts − and ensuing discussion − followed publication Monday of architects' renderings of a proposed $96.6 million Fairgrounds Coliseum. The State Fair board has endorsed the idea of including the coliseum in MAPS 4.

"I've run on a MAPS for neighborhoods campaign twice, I've had town hall meetings, I've talked to thousands of people, I haven't really heard any clamoring for an arena at the Fairgrounds," Shadid said.

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

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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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