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PM NewsBrief: March 23, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Thursday, March 23, 2023.

Oklahoma Senate Passes Tribal Regalia at Graduation Bill

A bill that would require schools to allow Native students to wear tribal regalia during graduation ceremonies passed unanimously in the Oklahoma Senate Wednesday.

Senate Bill 429 would prevent public and charter schools from banning students from wearing their tribal regalia during graduation or other school functions. That includes things like eagle feathers in their caps, beadwork or moccasins.

Cindy Nguyen is the policy director at ACLU Oklahoma-one of the organizations advocating for this bill to be passed.

“We have heard school boards say that, well, if we do this for Indigenous students, we would have to do it for all students. And we say we don't see a problem with that,” Nguyen said.

Similar measures were introduced in 2021 but ultimately failed.

The Senate voted unanimously to approve the bill. Now, it heads to the state House.

Oklahoma City Mayor Finalist for Law School Dean Job

Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt is one of four finalists for Oklahoma City University’s new dean for its law school.

Holt told The Oklahoman newspaper that his mayoral service would not be affected if he were to be appointed.

The university is expected to announce the selection for the position in the coming weeks.

Survivorship Act Passes House

A slimmed-down version of a bill to protect survivors of domestic violence from long prison sentences advanced to the Senate on Wednesday.

Republican Representative Toni Hasenbeck’s House Bill 1639, which would create the Domestic Abuse Survivorship Act, passed unanimously on the House floor on Wednesday.

The original version of the bill created mandatory sentencing ranges for criminalized survivors of domestic violence who can prove they were abused in the year leading up to their crime against their abuser. The version passed leaves those sentencing ranges up to the discretion of the courts.

Additionally, it does not allow for the law to be applied retroactively, meaning it would not immediately apply to criminalized survivors currently serving decades-long sentences.

Colleen McCarty with the Oklahoma Survivor Justice Coalition says retroactivity is an important part of survivor justice reform.

"Oklahomans broadly support retroactivity on criminal justice reform issues. When we realize we’ve made a mistake and we need to go back and correct it, I mean, that’s kind of what justice is," said McCarty.

The title was stricken from the bill, meaning it can still be changed before the end of the session.

Ukrainian Soldiers Wrap Up Training At Fort Sill

Ukrainian soldiers are nearing the end of their 10-week training at Fort Sill. Since January, 65 Ukrainian soldiers have been training on how to use the Patriot missile system at Fort Sill just outside of Lawton.

According to the Associated Press, the soldiers are expected to leave Oklahoma in the next several days for additional training in Europe before they deploy to Ukraine with a Patriot missile battery.

U.S. Army soldiers at Fort Sill who trained the Ukrainians said they were surprised how quickly the visiting soldiers grasped the concepts and learned how to operate the equipment.

The training of the Ukrainian soldiers is part of a larger international effort involving more than 50 countries who are providing security assistance to Ukraine.

Tulsa Area Kids Get Books Thanks to Dolly Parton

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library has come to Tulsa.

The Dollywood Foundation has teamed up with local organizations to help get free books to children under five in the city.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum praised Dolly Parton for her philanthropy at a press conference about the program Tuesday.

Kimberly Johnson, CEO of Tulsa City-County Library, said one purpose of the initiative is to build a love of reading at an early age, especially for kids who may not otherwise have access.

Under the program, free books come in the mail every month until a child's fifth birthday.


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