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This Hour: Latest Oklahoma news, sports, business and entertainment

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GAY MARRIAGE-OKLAHOMA

Round 2: Court takes up Oklahoma gay-marriage case

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Lawyers for a couple challenging Oklahoma's gay marriage ban, and the clerk who refused to grant them a license, are headed to a federal appeals court today with a rare opportunity.

Judges at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado heard arguments last week about Utah's gay-marriage ban, and will take up the Oklahoma case Thursday.

That gave the Oklahoma legal teams on both sides a chance to fine-tune their arguments based on what they heard last week.

Attorneys defending the ban say they were encouraged by the judges' tough questions.

The couple's lawyers will likely look to the judge who asked whether Utah's ban was akin to a Virginia ban on interracial marriage struck down in 1967.

Both state cases involve bans on same-sex marriage passed by voters.

BILL SIGNINGS

Okla. governor vetoes Open Records bill, signs 21

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Governor Mary Fallin has vetoed legislation that would create a new exception to the Oklahoma's Open Records Act for the state's colleges and universities.

Fallin vetoed the measure Wednesday but signed 21 others dealing with a wide range of subjects, from bail bondsmen to foster care and candidates for election.

Fallin's veto message says the Open Records Act measure would have limited public access to various records containing proprietary information maintained by institutions that are part of the Oklahoma State System for Higher Education.

But Fallin says current law already protects the information and says no public agency is required to produce records if disclosure would give an unfair advantage to competitors.

Fallin says that makes expansion of exceptions to the act unnecessary.

READING SUFFICIENCY

Okla. Senate OKs 3rd grade reading law changes

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The Oklahoma Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill easing some of the requirements of a law that requires third graders who aren't reading at grade level be held back.

The Senate voted 43-1 Wednesday for the bill that modifies Oklahoma's Reading Sufficiency Act. It now returns to the House for consideration of Senate amendments.

The bill allows third graders who would otherwise be held back to be promoted if recommended by a new reading proficiency team created in the bill. It also allows third graders who pass other reading tests at any time during the third grade to qualify for promotion.

Tulsa Republican Senator Gary Stanislawski says he was primarily concerned about students who may perform poorly on a "single high-stakes test at the end of the school year."

VETERANS-SMOKING

Bill allows smoking at Okla. veterans' centers

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Residents of Oklahoma's veterans' centers will be allowed to smoke on the property for a few more years under an agreement worked out between the governor, Legislature and the War Veterans Commission.

The House gave final approval on Wednesday to a bill that would designate all state-operated veterans' centers as nonsmoking effective January 1st, but allow the centers to designate outdoor smoking areas for residents until January 1st, 2018.

Ardmore Republican Senator Frank Simpson says the bill resulted from an agreement between Governor Mary Fallin and veterans groups.

Fallin issued an executive order banning smoking on all state properties in 2012, including veterans' centers, and a bill placing the executive order in statute was approved last year.

Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz says the governor is pleased with the compromise.

SHANNON-CRUZ ENDORSEMENT

Shannon touts Cruz endorsement in US Senate race

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon is touting the endorsement of Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas in Shannon's race for the Republican nomination for Oklahoma's open U.S. Senate seat.

Shannon campaign consultant Trebor Worthen told The Associated Press Wednesday that Cruz has endorsed Shannon and is set to appear at a rally in Tulsa along with former Alaska Governor and GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and U.S. Senator Mike Lee of Utah.

Palin and Lee endorsed Shannon previously.

Shannon is a Republican from Lawton and is among seven GOP candidates in the race to replace Senator Tom Coburn for the last two years of his term. U.S. Representative James Lankford and former state Senator Randy Brogdon are also in the race as are three Democrats and an independent.

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