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Today In The News

Oklahoma County DA charges OKC police officer with second-degree murder: An Oklahoma City police officer was charged Tuesday with second-degree murder, accused of unjustly shooting a suicidal person last month. Keith Patrick Sweeney, 32, is charged in Oklahoma County District Court. District Attorney David Prater filed the charge himself Tuesday morning. Sgt. Sweeney fatally shot Dustin Pigeon, 29, early Nov. 15 after the victim called 911 threatening suicide, police reported [NewsOK]. Building trust with communities can create a safer environment for both law enforcement agencies and citizens [OK Policy].

Oklahoma opponents of federal income tax bills plan state Capitol rally: Some Oklahomans were not happy with the income tax overhaul narrowly approved by the U.S. Senate last Friday night. How many and how angry may be clearer after a 1 p.m. Saturday rally at the state Capitol. Oklahoma Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford were lambasted on Twitter for voting in favor of the GOP-backed bill. Lankford, especially, became the target of stinging and sometimes profane criticism, most of which appeared to come from actual people living in Oklahoma and not bots or professional trolls [Tulsa World]. How Oklahomans would fare under the Congressional GOP tax plan [OK Policy].

House committee to hold first meeting in Dept. of Health investigation Monday: The House Special Investigation Committee plans to meet Monday to begin discussions on apparent mismanagement at the Oklahoma Department of Health. The committee will meet at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 11 with the former director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services Preston Doerflinger, acting director of the Department of Health, Denise Northrup, acting director of the OMES, and Chris Benge, chief of staff for Governor Mary Fallin [KOKH].

The cost of denying paid sick leave: Am I too sick to work? Can I take the day off? For many Oklahomans, the answer to these questions is usually “no.” Private employers are not required to offer paid sick leave to their employees in Oklahoma. In the last legislative session two bills that would have required paid sick leave in the state were introduced — HB 1310 by Rep. Walke (D-Oklahoma City) and HB 1536 by Rep. Dunnington (D-Oklahoma City). Neither bill was even allowed a vote in their House committees, and that’s unfortunate [OK Policy].

How a Tulsa ‘failure factory’ turned around its graduation rate in three years: The first thing you notice during morning arrival outside Daniel Webster High School is the cluster of red-jacketed young adults, each holding up a sign identifying their favorite hobby. They’re members of City Year, a nonprofit partner of AmeriCorps that places college-age members in high-poverty urban schools to serve as tutors and mentors. Many of the Webster upperclassmen simply walk by, but several younger students stop and chat about a shared love of video games or binge-watching YouTube clips [Hechinger Report].

Oklahoma judge denies motion to dismiss lawsuit against opioid manufacturers: A judge has denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against pharmaceutical companies. The lawsuit, filed by Oklahoma Attorney Mike Hunter, lists several companies including Purdue Pharma. The state claims companies have made billions through their “deceptive and misleading” opioid marketing campaign, convincing doctors and consumers there is a low risk of addiction with long-term opioid use [KFOR].

After big jump in toll prices, Turnpike Authority OKs another small increase effective next month: The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority on Tuesday voted to increase tolls on average by 2.5 percent to pay for a turnpike improvement and expansion project. The increase will take effect in early January, said Tim Gatz, OTA executive director. The hike comes on the heels of a 12 percent increase in March and another planned 2.5 percent raise effective July 1, 2019 [Tulsa World].

Two file for Oklahoma City mayor: Two people filed paperwork to run to become Oklahoma City’s next mayor on the first day of filing. Republican state Sen. David Holt filed Monday for mayor of Oklahoma City. He would succeed four-term Mayor Mick Cornett, who decided not to seek re-election and is running for governor. Holt had been the only announced candidate since District 2 Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan withdrew but another candidate, Randall Smith, filed Monday, as well [NewsOK].

GOP Budgets, Statements Make Plans Clear: Costly Tax Cuts for Wealthy Now, Program Cuts Later: As we’ve explained, the tax bill that congressional Republicans are finalizing is step one of a likely two-step tax and budget agenda: enacting costly tax cuts now that are heavily skewed toward wealthy households and profitable corporations, then decrying the enlarged deficits that those tax cuts fuel — and insisting that they necessitate program cuts mainly affecting low- and middle-income families. Republican leaders have repeatedly said in recent weeks that after enacting a tax bill, they will turn to budget cuts — particularly “welfare reform,” long a code for cuts to programs that help families of limited means afford food, housing, health care, and other basic needs [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities].

ACA mandate repeal may be less popular than GOP thinks: The tax bill that just passed the Senate eliminates the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, and the House is likely to go along when Congress writes the final version. With the tax legislation moving so quickly and the mandate lost in the maze of so many other consequential provisions, we are not likely to have much public debate about this big change in health policy. If we did, even though the mandate has never been popular, our polling shows that the public does not necessarily want to eliminate it as part of tax reform legislation, once they understand how it works and what the consequences of eliminating it might be [Axios].

Oil companies to attempt salt water contamination cleanup: Two oil companies that may be shut down by the Environmental Protection Agency will try to clean up a contaminated section of an Oklahoma creek. The Tulsa World reports that Warren American Oil Co. and Jireh Resources LLC will pump salty water out of Bird Creek in Osage County to see if fresh water takes its place. The companies say they don’t take responsibility for the contamination, which isn’t on land under their leases [AP].

Quote of the Day

“The traditional American high school is based on the premise that 15 percent of kids need extra help, 15 percent need remediation and 70 percent will do fine if you give them a good teacher. In high-needs schools, it’s like 95 percent need the additional support. We concentrate our neediest kids in a subset of schools that weren’t designed for that level of need.”

– Robert Balfanz, a research professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, who helped to develop a program that has increased graduation rates at a Tulsa high school from 53 percent of seniors in 2013 to 75 percent of seniors in 2016 (Source)

Number of the Day

$3.2 billion

Value of production of cattle and calves in Oklahoma in 2015

Source: USDA

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Washington Winks at Violent Discipline of Special Needs Kids: Kaden Perrizo was 11 years old when he entered an “orthopedic impaired” class at Taylor Elementary in Santa Clara, California. Kaden suffered an immune system disease as a toddler that left him unable to walk without leg braces or to speak more than a few words; his parents say he functions cognitively like a 4-year-old. His teacher, according to allegations set forth in a lawsuit brought by Kaden’s parents on his behalf, tied him to a chair. He was also confined in a 3-by-4-foot cell made of bookshelves [Politico].

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