AM NewsBrief: Nov. 30, 2022
This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022.
Oklahoma schools may soon see a drastic decrease in funding due to a state Supreme Court decision. Tax protests from the state’s wind and solar industry are causing the drop.
Wind and solar companies use a special federal tax credit to finance construction projects. And before the October Supreme Court decision, the value of that tax credit was included in property valuations — meaning these companies were paying taxes on that full valuation with the credit included.
These taxes go to school districts, county health departments and technology centers — and those entities plan for and depend on that money. But while the case has been playing out in the courts, $80 million of funding from these property taxes has been held in escrow. Now, districts that had been counting on tax revenue to finance bond projects or other programs are looking at a drastically different budget scenario.
The state will step in to make sure districts near these energy companies are still funded at the required minimum, but that money comes from the same pot that funds all districts — so even districts with no ties to these energy companies will likely take a financial hit.
Oklahoma’s unemployment rate is the highest it’s been so far this year.
Statewide data from the Oklahoma Employment Security commission in October shows an increase of Oklahomans on the unemployment rolls.
More than 3,000 more people were unemployed in October when compared to September. The current unemployment rate of 3.4 percent is the highest recorded this year.
Unemployment was below 3 percent for the first half of the year, but has crept up since July.
Year over year, the unemployment rates in Oklahoma are also closer to the national average in 2022 compared to 2021, separated by only 0.3 percentage points in October compared to last year’s 1.9% difference.
A former legislative assistant is suing the state House of Representatives following what she says was wrongful termination.
The Oklahoman reports Amari Kimbro, a former legislative assistant to two Democratic representatives, says the director of operations for the House of Representatives, Jason Sutton, fired her less than two months after she attempted to de-escalate a confrontation between Black Lives Matter protestors and a group of Republican lawmakers last year.
Kimbro says she intervened because she believed the confrontation would become violent and she asked the protestors to leave. She says Sutton later fired her without giving a reason and says she believes she was fired because she is Black and a supporter of Black Lives Matter.
The lawsuit was filed last week in Oklahoma City federal court.
Oklahoma is experiencing a surge in pediatric hospitalizations, like the rest of the country, because of a respiratory virus that is not COVID.
A spike in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, hit the country hard this fall and is still going. Among other things, the virus inflames and tightens airways. This is especially concerning in small children because their airways are already so tiny.
For the past few weeks, pediatric hospital statewide occupancy has been around 80%. That figure is a 3-day average, so there are times when the hospitals are significantly more full. However, it’s unclear how many of the children being hospitalized have RSV because it’s not a "reportable disease". Unlike COVID or STIs, health providers don’t have to report RSV cases to the state.
The English is a new Western series that debuted on Amazon Prime earlier this month. The show is set in the late 1800's and features a Pawnee character. The director wanted Pawnee representation when creating the series.
Authentic Pawnee culture represented-check! Native actor playing one of the title roles-check! Native consultation throughout the scripting and producing project-check, check!
Oklahoma based IllumiNative founder Crystal Echo Hawk, who is Pawnee was involved in the project alongside Pawnee historian Matt Reed. Echo Hawk says this was a personal project growing out of IllumiNative's three year partnership with Amazon.
The series features Emily Blunt as Cornelia Locke, an Englishwoman seeking revenge when she meets an ex-cavalry scout from the Pawnee Nation named Eli Whipp, who is played by Chaske Spencer from the Ft. Peck Tribes.
Cayuga Actor Gary Farmer, who can be seen on Reservation Dogs is also a character in the series.
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