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PM NewsBrief: Jan. 4, 2024

This is the KGOU PM NewsBrief for Thursday, January 4, 2024.

New Push To Raise Oklahoma’s Minimum Wage

The Oklahoma Supreme Court is set to hear arguments regarding a state question to raise the minimum wage.

State Question 832 would raise Oklahoma's minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2029--up from the federal minimum of $7.25.

The Oklahoma State Chamber and Oklahoma Farm Bureau have filed briefs to stop the circulation of the petition that would get it on the ballot.

The State Chamber argues a higher minimum wage would lead to increased consumer prices, reduced employment opportunities and more business failure rates.

The Farm Bureau expressed concerns that the initiative would undermine their support for farmers' freedoms and free enterprise.

Proponents of SQ 832 say wages should keep up with the rising cost of gas and groceries.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Jan. 31.

Oklahoma is one of 19 states that remains at the federal minimum wage. Click HEREto read more about this story and view an interactive map of state minimum wage rates.

Oklahoma Death Row Inmate Execution Delayed

What would have been Oklahoma’s first execution of 2024 has been delayed to evaluate the death row inmate’s mental state.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a 100-day stay of execution for 61-year-old James Ryder.

Ryder was scheduled to be executed on February 1st for the 1999 murder of 70-year-old Daisy Hallum.

The stay will provide time for a hearing to determine whether Ryder is competent enough to be executed. Under Oklahoma law, a death row inmate must be able to have a rational understanding of the reason they are being executed.

Ryder has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

The next death row inmate scheduled to be executed in Oklahoma is Michael DeWayne Smith on April 4.

Oklahoma Declines To Participate In Federal Summer Food Program For Children

Oklahoma will not participate in a federal summer food program for children that covers $40 a month in grocery expenses for eligible families.

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office told The Oklahoman newspaper it didn’t accept the funds because federal rules for the program weren’t clear.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates half a million children would have been eligible in Oklahoma.

According to a national report on the well-being of children, about one in five Oklahoma children face food insecurity. Hunger Free Oklahoma CEO Chris Benard told The Oklahoman Tuesday the governor’s decision was extremely disappointing, as families and kids are struggling.

The Cherokee and Chickasaw Nation signed up for the program, meaning Oklahoma families with kids attending a public school on their reservation territories won’t miss out on benefits.

Roland Representative Files Bill To Put Ten Commandments In Classrooms

A state lawmaker is pushing to mandate displaying the Ten Commandments in public school classrooms.

Roland Republican Rep. Jim Olsen filed a bill last week to require every Oklahoma public school classroom to display a poster or framed copy of the Ten Commandments.

The bill prescribes that it must be at least 16 inches wide and 20 inches tall and must include specific King James-style wording.

The bill echoes similar recommendations from a committee put together last year by State Superintendent Ryan Walters.

Tuesday, Walters went on the conservative radio program, the Lars Larson Show, to make his case the bill wouldn’t violate the Establishment Clause.

“Until the 1960s, if you would’ve walked into a schoolhouse, you would’ve seen the Ten Commandments. This was universally being done for over a century till a liberal court decided to weaponize its jurisprudence against Christians,” Walters said.

Thousands of bills are filed every year, and only a fraction of them end up passing through all of the legislative hurdles to become law.

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