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PM NewsBrief: March 15, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Wednesday, March 15, 2023.

OK Senate Sends Education Bills To House

A handful of education-related bills are on their way to the Oklahoma House.

The Tulsa World reports that bills passed Tuesday by the Senate are largely intended to bolster schools’ ability to attract new teachers and retain existing ones.

SB 529 would offer scholarships to Oklahoma university students who commit to teaching for a minimum of four years in a low-income school.

SB 525 would require school districts to pay costs associated with additional required education for certified teachers.

SB 531 creates the “Rewarding Student Outcomes Act.” It incentivizes school districts, charter schools and virtual charters that show at least a 1% increase in the number of graduates demonstrating college, career or military readiness above the prior school year. These monetary incentives include $1,500 awards for each economically disadvantaged graduate and $500 for each non-economically disadvantaged graduate.

Additional Senate-authored measures under consideration include legislation that provides 12 weeks of paid maternity leave for teachers and makes raises of between $3k and $6k available.

OK House Passes Measure Influencing Law Enforcement Oversight

A bill that passed the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Monday would require public bodies that may influence the discipline of police officers be comprised mostly of police officers.

House Bill 2161 would guarantee that police advisory boards in Oklahoma be two-thirds members of law enforcement.

While these boards only make recommendations, they can influence decisions around officer discipline or termination.

Tulsa representative Regina Goodwin said the bill should have never made it to the House floor.

“If there's an officer charged with misconduct, let's let all the officers determine his fate,” said Goodwin. “Why does that make sense?”

Several democrats pointed out that internal affairs divisions in police departments are already staffed entirely with police and actually hold the power to fire or discipline officers.

Bill author Ross Ford of Broken Arrow, who has a law enforcement background, claimed his bill strives for community safety by ensuring law enforcement presence on the committees.

“We’re not getting the ones who are truly wanting to make the community safer and better,” said Ford. “They’re looking for social justice.”

The bill passed 54-36 and now moves to the Senate.

Sales tax exemption bill advances

Oklahoma's House of Representatives is advancing a measure to give all Nonprofits with 501-c-3 status a sales tax exemption on purchases.

House Bill 1568 is authored by Bethany Republican Marilyn Stark. It would allow any Oklahoma-based 501-c-3 that receives $3 million dollars or less to be exempt from paying sales tax.

Alcohol and tobacco purchases would not be eligible for the exemption.

The measure would impact thousands of non-profit organizations in Oklahoma. It is now eligible to be heard in the Senate after passing in the house.

National Labor Relations Board Targets OK Starbucks

In a press release, Starbucks Workers United said the National Labor Relations Board has investigated their complaints about the company’s federal labor violations at two stores in Oklahoma City, one in Nichols Hills, and one in Norman. The NLRB will be pursuing civil prosecution.

The labor violations reported include interrogating workers about union activity, threatening disciplinary action and loss of previously announced pay raises and benefits, and firing a barista for participating in union activities.

This follows Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz agreeing to testify to a U.S. Senate committee investigating Starbucks’ labor practices.

A hearing is set for April 11 in Oklahoma City.


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