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AM NewsBrief: Aug. 18, 2022

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022.

Oklahoma Turnpike Authority accused of violating the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act

A lawsuit filed over the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority’s ACCESS turnpike projects is moving forward, and the City of Norman is looking to join the fight at the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

The suit, filed by over 100 plaintiffs, cleared a hurdle after a judge denied attempts by the OTA to have the case dismissed.

The lawsuit alleges the OTA violated the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act by failing to inform residents of its plan to build several turnpike extensions.

Norman City Attorney Kathryn Walker also announced her city will be joining the fight in another filing.

The OTA petitioned the Oklahoma Supreme Court last week to rule on whether the agency has jurisdiction to build the extensions, and to validate the issuance of bonds to pay for them. That hearing is scheduled for September 13.

Pike Off OTA, the turnpike opposition group, is asking residents to pressure the Cleveland County Commissioners to join in legal action against the OTA. The Commissioners previously passed a resolution condemning construction of the new routes.

New operators named for two new MAPS 4 projects

Oklahoma County Diversion Hub Inc. and Metro Technology Centers were selected as the two operators of the newest MAPS 4 projects.

Oklahoma County Diversion Hub Inc. will operate a $19 million project to build a facility for the Diversion Hub which will provide resources for Oklahoma City residents involved in the criminal legal system. Programming could include a variety of services from case management to employment and education assistance.

Metro Technology Centers will operate a $15 million project to renovate a building for the Henrietta B. Foster Center and other local organizations to be used as a small business center that offers workshops and other services for local business owners.

Both projects will begin construction in the fall.

Study finds significant pay disparities for Oklahoma teachers

A study of national wage data shows Oklahoma teachers have one of the largest pay disparities in the country when compared to workers with similar qualifications in different jobs.

The study by the Economic Policy Institute finds Oklahoma teachers are paid more than 30 percent less than their college-educated counterparts.

The gap between other college-educated workers and teachers is nationwide and can be found in every state. But Oklahoma’s gap is particularly large. It’s the second-largest percentage gap in the country, trailing only Colorado.

Researchers found that teacher pay gaps are only growing nationally. Teacher pay has been relatively flat as pay for college-educated workers generally has grown.

Oklahoma Republican primary voter polling shows some disparities between voters and legislators on abortion policies

Amber Integrated polled Republicans who are likely to vote in next week’s runoffs. The firm found that sixty-two percent of the respondents said they support abortion bans that have carve outs for life-threatening emergencies and for sexual assault survivors.

The bans that took effect this year do have an exception for medical emergencies, but they have no exception for pregnancies that result from sexual assault and incest.

Nineteen percent of those polled said abortions should never be allowed, and 12 percent said they should have no restrictions.

The primary runoffs take place Tuesday, August 23rd.

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