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Oklahoma lawmakers eye new Industrial Hemp Task Force

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Oklahoma lawmakers eye new Industrial Hemp Task Force


Senate Bill 1422 creates a group to study industrial hemp and the measure sailed through Oklahoma’s Senate Agriculture Committee on Monday.

Ten lawmakers voted for the bill and there was one abstention.

One of the bill’s authors, state Sen. Roland Pederson (R-Burlington), said people already know industrial hemp is a viable crop for Oklahoma because it was grown throughout the U.S. during the 1940s.

“I think we could produce it as good as anybody in the nation as far as climate and everything goes,” Pederson said.

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Oklahoma legalized hemp in 2019, shortly after the nation made it legal in 2018.

Pederson helped conduct an interim study on the crop last year and he said one of the recommendations of that study included creating a task force to create supply chains, address legislative barriers and look at coordinating state and federal rules.

“One of the main things we need to do, I think, is distinguish between industrial hemp and medical marijuana,” Pederson said.

State lawmakers and agencies would appoint members to the group. Also, there would be appointees from Oklahoma State University College of Agriculture and University Oklahoma College of Architecture.

The task force won’t be looking at the production of hemp flowers for therapeutic reasons like medical marijuana or CBD, “which require separate licenses for approval,” Pederson said.

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This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.





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Oklahoma

Bill to remove cell phones from school classrooms advancing through Oklahoma legislature

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Bill to remove cell phones from school classrooms advancing through Oklahoma legislature


Okla. (KXII) – A bill with the goal of removing cell phones from school classrooms advanced past the Appropriations and Budget Education Subcommittee on Monday.

The bill is House Bill 3913, authored by Oklahoma Rep. Chad Caldwell.

“This seemed like a pretty simple change that could really have a dramatic, positive impact for our students,” Caldwell said.

The bill would provide schools with grant money for their own system for keeping cell phones out of the classroom.

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“It’s a one year pilot that encourages nine schools to establish a phone free program at their school,” Caldwell said. “We wanted to give them the ability to try and find the solution that that maybe makes the most sense for this school in their community.”

Caldwell says they would track the information over the course of the year and review it after the school year is over to see the impact on things like education outcomes, discipline and mental health issues.

Some believe that the removal of cell phones would also represent the removal of distractions during learning opportunities.

“I am certainly old enough to remember a time that every kid didn’t have a cell phone, and everybody seemed to get along just fine,” Caldwell said.

Some wonder about the wisdom of taking phones away should an emergency arise.

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“I think the best thing is to try and limit the distractions,” Caldwell said. “To make sure that they are able to completely focus on the adult in the front of the room who is able to give them instructions and say what exactly to do to keep them safest.”

The exact protocol in emergencies will be left up to the individual schools.

Caldwell said that they’re still at the beginning of the process, but he feels good about getting across the finish line.

“I’m pretty confident that we can find a solution that really makes the most sense for our schools, but really also for our students and their parents as well,” Caldwell said.

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Oklahoma State women’s basketball live score updates vs UCF in Big 12 game

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Oklahoma State women’s basketball live score updates vs UCF in Big 12 game


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Coach Jacie Hoyt and the Oklahoma State Cowgirls (12-13, 5-9 Big 12) host the UCF Knights (12-12, 3-11) on Wednesday in Stillwater. Here’s what you need to know:

More: Oklahoma State coach Jacie Hoyt says Cowgirls will ‘fix’ woes after loss to Houston

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Oklahoma State basketball live score updates vs. UCF

More: How Oklahoma State baseball found offensive life heading into challenging week in Texas

Oklahoma State basketball highlights vs. UCF

More: Can Oklahoma State men’s basketball translate home success to road wins?

What time does OSU basketball vs. UCF start?

  • Date: Wednesday, Feb. 21
  • Time: 6:30 p.m. CT
  • Where: Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater

What channel is OSU vs. UCF basketball on today?

Oklahoma State vs. UCF basketball betting odds

Odds courtesy of BetMGM as of Wednesday, Feb. 21:

  • Spread: OSU (-7.5)
  • Over/under: 130.5
  • Moneyline: OSU -400 | UCF +320

More: Big 12 baseball power rankings: Challenges await Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor

We occasionally recommend interesting products and services. If you make a purchase by clicking one of the links, we may earn an affiliate fee. USA TODAY Network newsrooms operate independently, and this doesn’t influence our coverage.



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Edmond Public Schools challenges Oklahoma State Department of Education's attempted book ban

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Edmond Public Schools challenges Oklahoma State Department of Education's attempted book ban


Edmond Public Schools is asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to intervene in an attempt by state officials to ban two books from school library shelves.

Edmond Superintendent Angela Grunewald said the Oklahoma State Department of Education ordered her district to remove “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini and “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls from high school libraries.

The agency threatened a potential downgrade to Edmond’s accreditation status if it doesn’t comply, Grunewald said.

The agency’s Library Media Review Committee decided both books are “pornographic” and contain “sexualized content,” according to the district’s legal complaint.

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The same library review committee made national news last month when Chaya Raichik, who runs the controversial social media account Libs of TikTok, was appointed as a member.

Grunewald said none of Edmond’s school libraries contain pornography, but the books’ material isn’t the central issue of the district’s legal challenge.

“It’s not about the books,” she said in a news conference Tuesday. “It’s about who has the right to decide what books should be in a library and who can say what books should be removed.”

In ordering the removal, the state agency relied on new administrative rules passed last year that prohibit books from containing pornographic or sexualized content, Grunewald said.

The Edmond Board of Education voted Tuesday in favor of asking the Oklahoma Supreme Court to deem the state agency’s administrative rules an unconstitutional overreach of executive authority.

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Edmond’s attorney, F. Andrew Fugitt, said he expects the Court to respond within 30 days.

State Superintendent Ryan Walters, who heads the agency, called the district’s legal filing an “ongoing subversion of accountability.”

“Edmond Public Schools not only allows kids to access porn in schools they are doubling down to keep pornography on the bookshelves,” Walters said in a statement. “Parents and kids should have the confidence of going to schools to learn. Instead of focusing on education, EPS has chosen to peddle porn and is leading the charge to undermine parents in Oklahoma.”

The state Education Department received five complaints about the books being part of the curriculum at Edmond high schools, Grunewald said. Parents already have a choice in which books their children read for high school classes, she said.

Although the complaints pertained to school lesson plans, Grunewald said the state’s Library Media Review Committee advised the books be removed from high school libraries, as well.

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In a Jan. 19 letter, the state agency gave Edmond administrators 14 days to take the books off library shelves, according to Edmond’s legal filing. If they don’t comply, they will have to appear at Thursday’s state Board of Education meeting and risk an accreditation penalty.

The district has had a policy since 1997 for parents to request a book be reviewed and possibly removed. The decision of whether to keep the book is made at the local school level, Grunewald said.

Both award-winning bestsellers, The Kite Runner and The Glass Castle include references to child sexual abuse and violence.

The Kite Runner highlights the friendship between two boys amid a tumultuous period in Afghanistan. The Glass Castle tells the story of the author’s dysfunctional upbringing.

Scrutiny of school library books has heightened under state Superintendent Ryan Walters. He called for a content review of 190 books focused on LGBTQ+ perspectives and said some books are too explicit to belong in schools.

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Walters’ administration created the new library content rules and brought them to the state Board of Education for a vote, despite the state Legislature not instructing him to do so.

For that reason, Attorney General Gentner Drummond issued an opinion in April stating the rules are invalid and cannot be enforced.

“It is well settled that an agency may only exercise the powers expressly given by statute,” Drummond said. “An agency cannot expand those powers by its own authority.”





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