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Today In The News
As some states curb high fines, Oklahoma’s go even higher: When riots erupted two years ago in Ferguson, Missouri, some of the tension in the black community was blamed on the city’s use of court fines and fees that burdened many low-income people with debts they could not pay. Since then, Missouri has reduced the maximum fines for traffic tickets and other violations and limited the share of city budgets supported by fees. California and other states also adopted reforms, offering amnesty to some indigent offenders with large debts. Oklahoma made changes too, but its lawmakers went the other direction [Associated Press]. Oklahoma went the wrong way on fines and fees during the 2016 legislative session [OK Policy].
Section 8 housing voucher freeze hits Oklahoma City’s poorest residents hardest: Last March, about the time she and her husband were splitting up, Stacy Pece says she walked into the Oklahoma City Housing Authority and filled out an application for housing assistance. Six months later, Pece, 33, is living at the City Rescue Mission, an Oklahoma City homeless shelter, waiting to hear back from the housing authority. She guesses she’s called the agency about 200 times, looking for an update on the status of her application. She hasn’t heard back, she said [NewsOK]. Even though Oklahoma is considered an affordable place to live, housing costs are still unaffordable for many lower wage earners [OK Policy].
Oklahoma Transportation Department to share in returned funds: Flummoxed state transportation officials got the relief they were looking for Tuesday. State finance officials reversed course and said the Transportation Department is entitled to get back $11.35 million, after all. The money will be used to improve roads and bridges. “We’re delighted that everything worked out,” Mike Patterson, the Transportation Department’s executive director, said Tuesday [NewsOK].