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PM NewsBrief: Aug. 17, 2023

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Thursday, August 17, 2023.

Interim Study: Resettled Afghan Refugees Still Struggling In Oklahoma

Two years after the fall of the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan, refugees who fled to Oklahoma are still struggling to get settled in their new homes.

The Oklahoma Senate Veterans and Military Affairs Committee held an interim study of the state’s Afghan Placement and Assistance Program on Tuesday. The study was requested by Democratic Senator Carri Hicks.

After the capital city of Kabul fell in 2021, 1,800 Afghanis were resettled in Oklahoma - the third highest number in the United States, only behind California and Texas.

Veronica Laizure, the Deputy Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Oklahoma chapter, said while the refugees did receive assistance when they first arrived, resources were and continue to be limited and the community still faces challenges almost two years later.

“Many of our new friends have experienced a really traumatic and difficult and challenging journey only to experience further challenges once they have started rebuilding their lives here in Oklahoma,” Laizure said.

The study’s policy recommendations include creating a better interagency communication structure, increasing access to safe and affordable housing for refugees, and making state documents easier for refugees to obtain.

OK AG Calls On Congress To Pass EATS Act

Oklahoma Attorney General Gentner Drummond is calling on the U.S. Congress to pass the Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression Act.

The EATs Act is a bill designed to prevent states and local governments from regulating the production and distribution of food products within their borders that are subject to interstate commerce.

Drummond and 15 other state attorneys general signed a letter to Congress advocating federal legislators to pass the bill.

The letter is in response to the U.S. Supreme Court upholding Proposition 12 in May.

Prop 12 is a California law that requires breeding pigs to be raised within a certain amount of space for their pork to be in the state.

The letter, written by the Attorney General of Iowa Brenna Bird, argues Prop 12 imposes unfair restrictions on farmers producing food outside of California in order to sell products there and is costly for them to implement.

The implementation of Prop. 12 was delayed in June until the end of the year to allow pork producers time to adjust to the new regulations.

Study: Edmond Needs More Affordable Housing

A study finds that more than half of Edmond residents can’t afford an average-priced new home in the city.

Development Strategies conducted the assessment, and found 64% of Edmond residents cannot afford the average new home price of $400,000 in the city.

At a City Council meeting this week, some residents voiced opposition to several proposed solutions to the lack of affordable housing in the report’s findings - proposals like increasing education funding and building more affordable homes.

But local builder Caleb McCaleb told the council more work needs to be done.

“The “We’re here, you can’t come in” attitude has got to stop. When 75% of your workforce can’t live in the town they work in, that’s a sad statement,” McCaleb said.

The housing study also found the city needs to add a projected 8,900 units of all housing options over the next decade to catch up with demand.

Prague Earthquake Settlement

There’s another settlement in the $5.9 million dollar class action lawsuit related to a strong 2011 earthquake near Prague, Oklahoma, and others linked to wastewater disposal and the oil and gas industry.

The U.S. Geological Survey in 2014 found the Prague-area quakes were -quote- human-induced. The lawsuit has been going on for years, and blames some energy companies for earthquakes felt in Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio and Arkansas in 2011.

In Prague, the quake reached 5.7 magnitude, leaving heavy damage. It was the first event in Oklahoma scientists linked to the energy industry’s practice of pumping oil-field wastewater into underground disposal wells.

New Dominion LLC, disputed allegations of triggering the earthquakes, but is the latest company to settle in the case.

OK Energy Today reports a law firm for the plaintiffs is attempting to notify Oklahomans who were impacted by the earthquakes. Some residents could be eligible to receive part of the settlement.

A final approval hearing will be held in late September.

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