In The Know: State Rep. Kern files handful of anti-gay proposals

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

State Rep. Sally Kern filed three anti-gay bills, including one to allow businesses to refuse service “to any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person, group or association.” A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Oklahoma women earn some of the lowest wages in the country.

The widow of a man killed by three Moore police officers and two off-duty game wardens in the parking lot of a movie theater filed a lawsuit alleging unreasonable force; Rodriguez had not committed any crime, didn’t attempt to resist or evade arrest and didn’t have a criminal record.

A proposal to ban oil and natural gas drilling in some parts of Stillwater was rejected by the city council. Gov. Mary Fallin announced Oklahoma’s new secretary of education and workforce development.

The OK Policy Blog discusses Governor Fallin’s goal of boosting educational attainment – and President Obama’s new plan to make that happen. The Number of the Day is the percentage of women incarcerated in Oklahoma who ran away from home before age 18. In today’s Policy Note, PolicyLink published new research to inform the debate about racial equity and the future of the American economy. 

In The News

State Rep. Sally Kern files three bills targeting gays

State Rep. Sally Kern has filed three measures aimed at the gay community. House Bill 1599 is dubbed the “Preservation and Sovereignty of Marriage Act.” House Bill 1598 is called the “Freedom to Obtain Conversion Therapy Act.” A third measure would allow businesses to refuse to provide services to the gay community, among others.

Read more from Tulsa World 

Women in Oklahoma are among lowest wage earners in U.S.

The hourly wage gap between men and women in Oklahoma widened by nearly 5 cents between 2012 and 2013, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor. In 2013, Oklahoma women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median weekly earnings of $591, compared with the $756 median weekly earnings of their male counterparts. Women earned about 78 cents for each dollar men were paid.

Read more from NewsOK

Widow sues over police in-custody death outside Warren Theatre

A wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by the family of Luis Rodriguez, who died after a confrontation with law enforcement officers in the parking lot of the Warren Theatre in Moore. Rodriguez’s Feb. 15 death was ruled a homicide by the state medical examiner, the result of a heart condition brought on by physical restraint. Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn declined to file criminal charges against the five lawmen, who included three Moore police officers and two off-duty game wardens working security for the theater.

Read more from NewsOK

Stillwater City Council rejects ban on drilling in city limits

A proposal to ban oil and natural gas drilling in some parts of Stillwater failed Thursday, but the city council asked City Attorney John Dorman to quickly develop a new recommendation that would prevent wells from being sited near homes, hospitals and other structures. Councilors voted 2-2 on the proposed ordinance that would have prevented all new mining activity — including oil and natural gas drilling — on zoned agricultural land within city limits. Vice Mayor Mike Polehna did not attend the meeting.

Read more from NewsOK

Governor Fallin wants to boost educational attainment. President Obama has a new plan to do it

President Obama’s proposal requires approval from Congress, but if passed it would provide funding equal to three-quarters of the national average cost of community college for all participating students, with states subsidizing the remaining amount. In Oklahoma, community college tuition for 2014-15 averaged $3,493 per year. That falls slightly above the weighted national average of $3,347. Depending on student enrollment choices, spending on existing aid programs would likely cover much of the state’s required financial commitment; however, these programs may need to be restructured to allow for the greatest benefit from America’s College Promise.

Read more from Oklahoma Policy Institute

Quote of the Day

“I can’t breathe!”

Luis Rodriguez, who died after being taken down by three Moore police officers and two off-duty game wardens in the parking lot of a movie theater, while his wife and daughter looked on

Number of the Day

52.5 percent

Percentage of women incarcerated in Oklahoma who ran away from home before age 18.

Source: Oklahoma Department of Corrections

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The Equity Solution: Racial Inclusion Is Key to Growing a Strong New Economy

America is quickly becoming a majority people of color nation. At the same time, inequality is skyrocketing and racial
inequities—from the homogeneity of the tech sector to the segregated suburbs of St. Louis—are wide, persistent, and glaring. Equity—just and fair inclusion of all—has always been a moral imperative in this country, but a new consensus is emerging that equity is also an economic imperative. Scores of economists and institutions like Standard & Poor’s and Morgan Stanley now believe that rising inequality and low wages for workers on the bottom rungs of the economic ladder are stifling growth and competitiveness, and that racial inequities threaten economic growth and prosperity as people of color become the majority.

Read more from PolicyLink

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