HPPR Health, Education & Welfare

Health

‐state policy‐impact of federal policy‐rural health care delivery‐access & availability

Education

‐state policy‐programs and opportunities‐access & availability

Welfare

‐state policies‐income levels‐wellness‐quality of life

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Oklahoma’s gun laws can be confusing. They shift frequently, and state lawmakers often propose legislation to loosen gun laws.

As the U.S. once again takes up a vigorous debate on the place of guns in society, residents of Western Oklahoma may be wondering: What exactly are the laws in the Sooner State?

Wallethub

Texas is the fourth most sinful state in America, according to a new Wallethub study.

The personal finance website reached its findings by ranking all 50 states across 38 key indicators of immorality, including violent crimes per capita, excessive drinking, and share of the population with gambling disorders.

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Speaking at a large conservative political gathering near the nation’s capital last week, Donald Trump reiterated that he would like to see more public-school teachers carrying concealed guns. And as POLITICO reports, the State of Texas may be a model for Trump’s vision of a nation full of gun-toting educators.

Even before releasing their results, consultants hired to guide Kansas lawmakers to a school funding plan that meets legal muster endured a grilling on Friday.

How, wondered lawmakers, would the consultants reach their conclusions on how much money school districts need to help students succeed academically? Why do the consultants seem to be excluding the overhead, non-classroom expenses of running schools from their study? And what about criticism of work they’d done in other states?

A call sets it off.

One of Kansas’ two foster care contractors learns another child has landed in state custody. It has four hours to pick the kid up.

Part 1 of a three-part series.

An alarming number of women die while pregnant or shortly after giving birth in Texas. According to national researchers who say the U.S. as a whole has a serious problem, Texas is an “outlier” when it comes to its high rate of maternal deaths.

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Health care costs for Coloradans are above average, according to a new study, and highest in the state’s eastern plains.

A study by the national Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement found that Colorado’s health care costs are 17 percent above average when compared to Maryland, Minnesota, Oregon and Utah. The cost of outpatient services in Colorado was even higher at 30 percent above average

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A recently implemented program at West Texas A&M University’s School of Music has been gaining a good deal of attention.

As The Amarillo Globe-News reports, WT’s partnership with Belmont University in Nashville gives students in the Panhandle a pathway toward careers in the music industry. Darrell Bledsoe, coordinator of music business at WT, said the program is exploding in popularity, adding: “It’s amazing.”

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Kansas school districts plan to use the proposed additional $600 million on personnel and programs for at-risk children.

When it comes to packing Statehouse hearings, few groups fill a room more reliably than those pushing for Medicaid expansion.

What they’re less good at, at least so far, is convincing lawmakers and a governor to expand Medicaid eligibility to another 150,000 low-income Kansans.

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Another bill that would have given teachers a pay raise failed on the floor of the Oklahoma Legislature this week.

As it stands now, Oklahoma teachers haven’t received a raise in a decade. As KFOR reports, the bill would have paid for an educator pay increase by raising taxes on tobacco, diesel fuel and wind energy.

U.S. Customs & Border Protection

Xcel Energy crews from West Texas have been hard at work in Puerto Rico, helping to restore power to devastated hurricane victims there, reports The Amarillo Globe-News.

Xcel spokesman Wes Reeves says some crews will be returning this weekend, at which point another energy crew will head out for a three-week deployment.

From Texas Standard.

It’s Valentine’s Day and so we put together a story for you about hearts – not candy hearts or even those filled with chocolate, but human hearts. These days, we know quite a bit about them. It’s been 50 years since the first successful transplant. But, in a way, hearts are also still full of mystery – and I’m not trying to get romantic on you. A doctor in Dallas is trying to solve those mysteries of the heart by studying the organs that no one wants anymore.

High Plains Morning thanks our esteemed guests on Tuesday, who stopped by the studio to announce the $91,000 grant from the Allstate Foundation's Purple Purse Challenge to further nonprofit work for domestic violence survivors in the Texas Panhandle.

We welcomed KathyTortoreo, Director of Crisis Services at Family Support Services and Connie Garcia, Executive Director at Martha’s Home. Both of these women dedicate their time to combat the impact of domestic violence and homelessness on women in their local communities.  FSS and Martha's Home are one of thousands of organizations this year to receive Allstate’s support, which supports the organizations’ missions to empower women and children to create a violence-free world. ***(Our honorary guest was Rex Young, 20-year Allstate Agent in Amarillo, Borger & Pampa, who was not present due to illness. FEEL BETTER, REX!)

Jeffrey Beall

Colorado’s four-year colleges are feeling the sting of the low-cost tuition and unique course offerings of the state’s community colleges.

As The Denver Post reports, the state’s 39 rural colleges are branching out, offering courses in everything from gun-smithing to wind energy and nursing they are delivering those courses at much lower tuition rates.

From Texas Standard.

The first state-licensed cannabis dispensary for patients with intractable epilepsy is now open in Manchaca, and, so far, 18 neurologist doctors are on the Compassionate Registry – including Dr. Gina Jetter, a member of Northeast Texas Neurologists Association in Tyler.

Kansas could struggle to stop college students from taking their money to other Midwestern states if it continues to charge higher tuition.

The Texas Tribune

More than half of Texas public school students are in districts that don't require teachers to be certified, according to state officials, due to a recent law giving schools more freedom on educational requirements. 

A 2015 law lets public schools access exemptions from requirements such as teacher certification, school start dates and class sizes — the same exemptions allowed for open enrollment charter schools. Using a District of Innovation plan, districts can create a comprehensive educational program and identify provisions under Texas law that would inhibit their goals.

Kansas schools that want to offer gun training in the earliest grades would be required to use a program designed by the National Rifle Association, under a bill lawmakers studied on Tuesday.

wbu.edu

Wayland Baptist University officials announced this week that the university has received an anonymous gift of $8 million, reports The Amarillo Globe-News. The money came from one of the college’s alumni, and it’s the largest single cash donation the institution has ever received.

University President Bobby Hall praised the donation, saying, “Words cannot express how grateful we are for the generosity of this gift.”

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The State of Texas may soon close some of its state-run juvenile prisons, reports The Houston Chronicle.

The juvenile prisons have been the focus of controversy in recent months, and the newly installed executive director of the beleaguered Texas Juvenile Justice Department hopes to change that image.

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A private organization announced this week that it is supplying every sheriff’s department in Oklahoma with a drug that can reverse opiate overdoses.

A proposed telemedicine bill has Kansas medical providers pushing for a new chance to make their services eligible for reimbursement.

Under the House bill, introduced last month, licensed mental health care professionals and physicians can tend to faraway patients over phone or video calls. Insurers would have to cover their services as if they had seen patients in person.

Groups representing chiropractors, occupational therapists, nurses and other health professionals made their case for inclusion before the House Health and Human Services Committee on Monday.

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An influential Texas conservative group mailed letters to school district employees across the state last week, asking for them to report teachers who they believe are trying to accomplish liberal political objectives in Texas classrooms.

As reported in The Dallas Morning News, the letter from Empower Texans asked educators to report “suspicious activities” among their fellow teachers.

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A controversial new bill in Oklahoma would allow the state to chemically castrate sex offenders, reports TIME magazine.

The proposed law is being sponsored by Rep. Rick West, a Republican from the small southeastern Oklahoma town of Heavener. If the bill passes, sex offenders who are released back into society would be required to take drugs that lower testosterone and decrease sexual libido.

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News of Oklahoma’s struggling public education system has now reached London, where the legendary news magazine The Economist published an analysis this week of the state’s pervasive and seemingly insurmountable school funding issues.

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On a recent report card comparing rural health care among states, Texas received a grade of D-.

The report card, published last month by researchers at Texas Tech University, compared several key metrics including mortality, quality of life and access to care.

From Texas Standard.

Since October 2017, over 2300 Texans have died from the flu. Of those death, over half have been among the elderly. Called the worst flu season in over a decade, it has sparked many conversations about how we can better protect ourselves and our loved-ones from the annual virus. Part of that protection, and part of limiting risk exposure, comes from how we talk about the flu.

Texas’ second attempt to require health providers to bury or cremate fetal remains has been temporarily thwarted by a federal judge.

In his Monday afternoon ruling, U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra said the Texas Department of State Health Services’ arguments “lack merit.”

The chief school finance official in Kansas — under fire from top Republican lawmakers, backed by scores of people in state education circles — on Friday avoided a suspension.

Dale Dennis, the state’s deputy education commissioner and a walking encyclopedia of Kansas school finance policy, came under attack over an audit that showed some school districts had long been getting money for buses beyond what lawmakers authorized.

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