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Today In The News
Audit records show state law enforcement misusing seized property: Under a practice called ‘civil asset forfeiture,’ law enforcement are authorized to seize money and property they have reason to suspect is involved in the commission of a crime. Authorities can keep the assets regardless of whether the suspect is charged or convicted, although the proceeds are supposed to be used to enforce drug laws or drug-abuse prevention. However, state audit data shows that, on occasion, Oklahoma law enforcement have used seized property for personal use: an assistant defense attorney lived rent-free in a seized house for years, and seized money was used to pay for a prosecutor’s student loans [Oklahoma Watch]. A further listing of the audit’s findings is available here.
President Obama comes to Oklahoma: Speaking in Durant on Wednesday, President Obama announced Connect Home, which works to close the digital divide between students with easy access to internet and those without. The program plans to offer free or reduced-cost high-speed internet service in 27 communities around the US and the Choctaw Nation. President Obama spoke publicly at Durant High School for about 30 minutes and met privately with a group of Native American teenagers for about an hour [Tulsa World]. The full text of his speech is available here. A group convened a rally around the Confederate battle flag in Durant prior to the President’s arrival, although due the property owners’ requests, the group was forced to relocate several times [Tulsa World]. The President will tour the Federal Correction Institution El Reno on Thursday – the first sitting president to visit a federal prison [NewsOK].
Health care wonks, execs encourage state to accept Affordable Care Act: At a forum convened by the Tulsa Regional Chamber on Wednesday, representatives from a range of organizations involved in health care policy in Oklahoma urged the Governor and the Legislature to take advantage of the opportunities created by the Affordable Care Act, including job creation and the expansion of health coverage to uninsured Oklahomans. Although the panel was agreed on the health law’s benefits, many expressed concern that the political will isn’t present to expand coverage to over 100,000 Oklahomans who are currently unable to access health coverage [Journal Record]. The Tulsa World’s Editorial Board called on the state to broaden coverage by expand its its popular Insure Oklahoma [Tulsa World]. Insure Oklahoma currently covers nearly 18,000 Oklahomans with a combination of state and federal funds [OK Policy].
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