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AM NewsBrief: June 24, 2024

This is the KGOU AM NewsBrief for Monday, June 24, 2024.

Oklahoma AG Defends State Immigration Law Against DOJ Challenge

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond is reaffirming his push for state-level immigration enforcement in federal court.

Drummond responded to a lawsuit by Department of Justice officials over the new law by calling all of their claims unjustifiable.

In his June 13 court filing in the Western District Court of Oklahoma, Drummond takes aim at each of the federal government’s complaints about House Bill 4156, the state’s new law criminalizing anyone in the country without legal permission.

He claims federal authorities are “not likely” to show the measure is unconstitutional because it complements federal law.

But what Drummond calls complementing, Department of Justice officials are calling overstepping. They say the new law preempts federal authority over matters of immigration and interferes with the United States’ foreign commerce relationships.

The state attorney general dismisses that and every other argument plaintiffs have made, saying Oklahoma is entitled to protect itself under the U.S. Constitution during what he claims is an invasion at the southern border.

OU Announces Tuition Hike

The University of Oklahoma will be increasing tuition and fees for the 2024-2025 school year. OU President Joe Harroz says the bump will allow OU to invest in its faculty and students.

The Board of Regents approved an increase of 3% for graduate and undergraduate programs and between 3 to 5% for Health Sciences, depending on the program.

In a news release, Harroz says the increase will go in part toward a merit-based raise program for faculty and staff, as well as increased stipends for graduate students and critical upgrades for campus infrastructure.

In the past five years, OU raised tuition and fees by 1.2% per year for resident undergraduates and 1.8% per year for nonresident undergraduates. Harroz notes in the release the university has also ramped up tuition waivers and scholarships to help with affordability.

According to OU’s website, the average cost of undergraduate resident tuition and fees for one school year is about $14,000, so the bump would add about $420 a year for those students. The state’s second largest university, Oklahoma State University, voted earlier this month to keep tuition flat for the third straight year.

Update On DEI Executive Order

Most state agencies have made no changes in the wake of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s executive order banning Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs

Per Stitt’s order, state agencies had until the end of May to cease using taxpayer funds on DEI programs.

An analysis by the nonprofit news outlet The Frontier shows the majority weren’t funding any in the first place.

There were some notable changes made, though, at higher education institutions.

The University of Oklahoma shuttered its DEI offices across campus and reassigned employees. UCO dissolved its Office of Inclusive Community.

While Oklahoma State restructured its Office of Institutional Diversity and renamed it the Division of Access and Community Impact. A school spokesman says that move was already in progress before the executive order.

White House Official Highlights Tulsa’s Role in Addressing National Cybersecurity Workforce Gap

A White House official visited Oklahoma last week to highlight Tulsa partnerships in an effort to fill half a million available cybersecurity jobs in the U.S. National Cyber Director Harry Coker Jr.’s visit to the Sooner State.

National Cyber Director Harry Coker Jr.’s spoke in a panel with representatives from Black Tech Street and Tulsa Innovation Labs. Both organizations are focused on growing Tulsa’s tech sector.

Coker said there are nearly 500,000 open cybersecurity jobs available in the U.S. right now.

"In order for our nation to be as strong as it needs to be — and that includes economic prosperity — we need to fill those positions. We need Tulsa to help us with that," Coker said.

Coker said the need for tech jobs is emphasized by issues like infrastructure gaps, ransomware threats and the proliferation of artificial intelligence.

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