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PM NewsBrief: June 26, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Monday, June 26, 2023.

Oklahoma City Starbucks Union Workers Strike Over Banned Pride Decorations

Starbucks union workers in Oklahoma City went on strike over the weekend to protest a ban on Pride Month displays.

Oklahoma City Starbucks partners and other community supporters formed a picket line outside the Starbucks store on 36th and May on Sunday morning.

The strike was in response to the company’s decision to ban Pride Month decorations at more than 100 stores in the region, including Oklahoma, Arkansas, Kansas, and Missouri.

While the workers say the company originally denied banning Pride Month decorations, barista Niko Melton says the company has reversed their decision and allowed the stores to decorate for the final week of the month following media backlash.

"We’re not just going to have them up for one week. We’re queer every single month of the year and we want to show that," said Melton.

This follows the Starbucks union filing an unfair labor practice complaint earlier this month.

Oklahoma Death Row Inmate Rejects A Clemency Hearing

An Oklahoma death row inmate has decided not to have a clemency hearing.

Anthony Sanchez continues to claim his innocence in the rape and murder of an University of Oklahoma student in 1996, but doesn’t feel Oklahoma’s clemency process is fair.

This is from a letter he wrote to the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.

“The state always seems to come out on top. Even when it doesn’t, Gov. Stitt is more than willing to make sure that death wins in the end. Why would someone like me participate in such a process?," said Sanchez.

Those sentenced to death in Oklahoma rarely have their sentence reduced or pardoned.

Between 1977 and 2022, Oklahoma executed more than 100 people. During that same period, four people were granted clemency, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Sanchez is scheduled to be executed in September.

Report Shows Farmers Are Producing Significantly More Pot Than Necessary For Medical Patients

A report ordered by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority reveals marijuana farmers are producing 32 times as much pot as is necessary for medical patients in Oklahoma.

Researchers interviewed more than 1,300 cannabis consumers across Oklahoma.

Based on what they said, producers are vastly oversupplying the market. They say there is 32 times more regulated marijuana produced compared to what is needed for people with medical cards.

The report also found that the oversupply of products is likely adding to the illicit market both at the point of cultivation and the point of retail sale - and that the illicit market may “be hiding in plain sight.”

Voters approved Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program in 2018 and rejected legalizing recreational use in March. Nearly 10% of Oklahomans have a medical marijuana card.

New Program To Add Mental Health Counselors To Rural Schools

Oklahoma is one of the states most in need of school counselors.

A new program called Project Rural Innovation for Mental Health Enhancement, or PRIME, is aiming to address mental health needs in rural Oklahoma schools.

The program allows those in the special education field to return back to school and receive training to better serve rural students.

For every year a professional receives funding, they pledge two years of their time serving a school in need.

Dr. Brittany Hott, Associate Professor of Special Education at OU helped spearhead the project, and says PRIME has already seen success since it was implemented back in January.

“We're already seeing increased academic achievement, decreased suspensions, we're seeing happier teachers. We're seeing teachers that are satisfied with their jobs,” Hott said.

Currently, Oklahoma is the 4th highest need state for counselors, with a ratio of almost 421 students per 1 counselor.

A U.S. Department of Education $5.6 million grant funds the PRIME program.

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