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PM NewsBrief: Nov. 30, 2022

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2022.

Unemployment in Oklahoma hits 3.4% - the highest recorded rate this year

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.

Oklahoma lawmaker fills bill to restore authority to the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Commission

Okemah Senator Roger Thompson has filed a bill to rescind the Governor’s authority to hire the leader of Oklahoma’s Tourism and Recreation Department.

The Republican’s bill would also give the department’s oversight board authority over the state agency. Right now, it has a strictly advisory role. Lawmakers are scrutinizing the tourism department for its multimillion-dollar management fees and reimbursements paid to Swadley’s Barbeque for renovating state park restaurants.

Thompson announced his intentions to file the bill in June, following a state investigation of the agency’s contract with Swadley’s.

“We need accountability. We need checks and balances. We are here for one purpose, and that is to protect the taxpayers' money. Today, that's not being done.”

Thompson’s bill also makes it harder for the Governor to remove commission members.

Former legislative assistant sues state House of Representatives

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.

NASA astronaut answers Osage County students’ questions

Nicole Mann answered Osage County students’ questions live from the International Space Station last week.

The first question came from Malana McGlaston, a fourth-grade student at Daposka Ahnkodapi, the Osage Nation’s language immersion school.

“I asked Nicole Mann, ‘What did you bring of your tribal heritage?’”

Mann is the first Indigenous American woman in space. She says she brought a dreamcatcher her mother gave her to the space station.

“I have it floating next to my crew quarters to remind me of home and keep my dreams good at night.”

To prepare for the event, students at Daposka Ahnkodapi have been learning Osage space-themed vocabulary and talking about science and rocketry. School officials say they wanted to help students see themselves in science and engineering careers.

Fifth-grader Dominic Shackelford says he learned some important lessons.

“Even a small engine can have a lot of power.”

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