In The Know: OKC Council adds housing discrimination protections for LGBT residents

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Council includes LGBT protections in Oklahoma City’s housing discrimination ordinance: The Oklahoma City Council voted 5-4 Tuesday to add LGBT protections to its housing discrimination ordinance. Besides adding protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the update adds protections for familial status, disability and age. The Norman City Council added lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender protections to its civil rights ordinance in December [NewsOK].

Pre-registration can improve Oklahoma’s dismal turnout by young voters: Low youth voter registration and turnout for elections is problematic for the United States and Oklahoma. In the 2014 general election, only 42.2 percent of the United States citizens ages 18-24 were registered to vote, and only 17.1 percent actually voted. In Oklahoma registration and turnout by young voters was even worse. In 2014, only 33.8 percent of eligible Oklahomans age 18-24 were registered to vote, while a miniscule 11.8 percent voted [OK Policy].

Funding, teacher shortage impact state education: With the current state of the economy in Oklahoma, the State Department of Education is looking at two big problems that have been festering — falling revenue and an ongoing teacher shortage. In December, Preston Doerflinger, Oklahoma’s secretary of finance, announced the state was in the midst of a revenue failure and ordered across-the-board cuts of 3 percent to all state agencies, including the Department of Education. That amounts to a $46.7 million reduction in funding for pre-K through 12th-grade public education between January and June of this year [Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise].

Bill seeks sanctions against welfare-to-work employees who quit jobs: After seeing his own welfare-to-work employees walk out of a job for supposedly petty reasons, state Sen. Roger Thompson is proposing a six-month ban on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits for recipients who quit their jobs. David Blatt, executive director of the think tank Oklahoma Policy Institute, said he’s not sure what problem is being addressed in the legislation. State law allows the Department of Human Services to financially penalize TANF recipients who do not comply with a personal responsibility agreement [Journal Record].

Former Oklahoma City charter school worker claims discrimination, retaliation: A former teacher’s assistant is suing a public charter school in downtown Oklahoma City, claiming she was fired in retaliation for reporting student abuse by her supervisor at the time. Sarah Payne filed the complaint Dec. 29 against John Rex Charter Elementary School. Payne claims in the lawsuit she observed prekindergarten teacher Julia Roth drag children across the floor by their arms, throw them out of their chairs and threaten to pull their hair [NewsOK].

Rep. Richard Morrissette criticizes Fallin administration’s response on earthquakes: In a House Democratic staff press release last Wednesday (December 30), veteran state Rep. Richard Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, said the Fallin Administration continues to “pass the buck” on oilfield disposal wells linked to earthquakes. He contends the governor should use “the bully pulpit” of her office and send “a strongly worded letter” to the Corporation Commission, urging that panel to shut down all disposal wells in all seismically active areas in Oklahoma – as the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission did in August 2011 [The City Sentinel].

Gov. Fallin names Andy Lester to State Regents, appoints others, announces FEMA approval: At the end of a challenging year for Oklahoma, Governor Mary Fallin took several executive actions in December, including a trio of appointments to governing boards. She named Andy Lester to the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. Lester will replace Marlin “Ike” Glass Jr., whom Fallin thanked for his 18 years of service as a regent. Glass’s second nine-year term expires in May. Lester, of Edmond, has served on the Board of Regents for Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical (A&M) Colleges since 2007 [The City Sentinel].

Cherokee Nation treasurer named to federal panel: Cherokee Nation officials announced Monday that Treasurer Lacey Horn was appointed to the Treasury Department’s Tribal Advisory Committee. Horn will join two other Native Americans on the seven-person committee that advises federal treasury officials on taxing American Indians and training Internal Revenue Service field agents [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“There are already harsh penalties for those who don’t meet the work requirements. You’re risking taking a family that’s already facing real hardship and making it even harder for them to dig out.”

-OK Policy Executive Director David Blatt, speaking about a proposed bill by state Sen. Roger Thompson that would revoke Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits if recipients quit their jobs (Source).

Number of the Day


Average annual income for child care workers in Oklahoma.

Source: Child Care Aware

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What happens when instead of suspensions, kids talk out their mistakes? In traditional school discipline programs, students face an escalating scale of punishments for infractions that can ultimately lead to expulsion. But there is now strong research that shows pulling students out of class as punishment can hurt their long-term academic prospects. What’s more, data show that punishments are often unequal. Nationally, more black students are suspended than white students, for example [Hechinger Report].

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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