Tag Archive: Blue Cross Of MN Leaving Business


 

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A 58-year-old convicted murderer has been charged in the road rage stabbing death of a Missouri Air National Guard member that occurred around 7:30pm on May 5th in Lee’s Summit, Mo.  Nicholas M. Webb is charged with second-degree murder and armed criminal action in the death of Cody Harter, 23, of St. Joseph, Mo.   The killing appeared to stem from a dispute over a lane merge as Webb and Harter both drove along northbound Missouri 291 at the merger of Interstate 470 in Lee’s Summit according to Webb’s statement to police in court documents.

At the scene, multiple drivers called police to the area after seeing Harter stumbling into traffic. By the time EMT’s arrived, Harter had collapsed in the median and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Lee’s Summit Police Department.  Witnesses told police they had seen a vehicle stopped in front of Harter’s truck and that he was arguing with another person with his hands in the air when the person swung at Harter.  Police believe that that the swing was when Harter was actually stabbed once in the chest before he stumbled back into the lanes of traffic and later died.

Police asked for the public’s help in finding the killer who fled north on I-470 or anyone that may have seen the confrontation.   “Literally hundreds of cars would have passed by and possibly saw the actual incident along 470.  What we’re asking people to do is come forward and help this family get closure and help us bring them justice in this case,” Sergeant Depue told reporters.  Harter’s family also made a tearful plea to the public in finding the suspect.   Police identified Webb as the suspect after viewing nearby security footage of the vehicles stopped along the highway from over 40 businesses in the area and through statements of 51 witnesses who came forward with information.

Webb was taken into custody around 6 p.m. Wednesday at his home in Pleasant Hill.  Webb was previously sentenced to 35 years in prison in 1981 for the strangling death of a 15 year old girl in Belton, MO in 1980. He served 15 years for that murder and was released in 1996.  In 1997, he was sent back to prison for violating parole and was released again in 2003.  In 2005, Webb was taken back into custody and remained in prison until his most recent parole in July 2017.  Police say Webb had several convictions including some for assault.  He was arrested in Liberty for drug possession and DUI on the same day of the deadly confrontation with Harter.  Information from that arrest said Webb had a knife in his pocket at the time of his arrest.

After the arrest, Cody Harter’s family and his girlfriend Shelby Berkemeier said they were thankful to the people who rushed to his aid, held his hand and prayed with him as he passed.  Harter’s mother Kerrie said her son was a loadmaster with the Missouri Air National Guard’s 180th Airlift Squadron who served a tour in Iraq and was in Quatar.  He also helped with hurricane relief in Houston and Puerto Rico. He was one semester away from completing his degree in technical engineering from Missouri Western State University.  During a press conference, his loved ones shared several stories about the kindness Cody showed people every day.  His sister Kylee spoke of a time he was driving with his girlfriend when he stopped to shovel the driveway after seeing an older woman outside in the snow.  Another time he was at the dirt bike track and took time away from his own riding to fix a little boy’s bicycle chain after it broke.  “He had the biggest heart and would do anything to help anyone at the drop of a hat,” said Kylee Harter.  “It was senseless. He’s been to war and back and to die because someone was angry, for someone to just take everything from him… They didn’t know him. He didn’t deserve this and we don’t deserve the pain that came with it.”

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During a historic meeting between Kim Jong-un and South Korean leader Moon Jae-in at the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries, Kim Jong-un told Moon Jae-in that North Korea would be willing to denuclearize in return for a commitment that the U.S. will not invade the country. During the meeting, which was broadcast live on the Korean Peninsula and around the world, the two leaders held hands and pledged to work for peace and replace the 1953 armistice with a formal peace treaty. The two countries have been involved a tense standoff on the Korean Peninsula that’s been in place since fighting in the Korean War ended 65 years ago.
The meeting was aimed at paving the way for Kim’s upcoming summit with President Trump. During the meeting, Kim signed a joint declaration affirming a “complete denuclearization” and “a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.” According to the South Korean government, the North Korean leader said he would invite experts and journalists from South Korea and the U.S. to witness the closing of the country’s only known underground nuclear test site. Kim announced an end to nuclear and long-range missile testing last week.
The Trump administration has been firm that complete denuclearization is required for the lifting of economic sanctions that have been placed on the country for years. U.S. officials spoke cautiously about the chances of reaching a deal and laid out a plan for the dismantling of the North’s nuclear program over a two-year period. National security adviser John R. Bolton said That would be accompanied by a “full, complete, total disclosure of everything related to their nuclear program with a full international verification.”
The two countries have recently taken other steps toward peace since the meeting with the South Korean military beginning to dismantle loudspeakers that have been blaring propaganda into the North since 2016. North Korea has announced it will shift its clocks forward 30 minutes to align with South Korea’s time zone. South Korean leader Moon Jae-in has also convinced North Korea’s Kim Jong-un to hold an upcoming summit with President Trump at the Demilitarized Zone, known as the DMZ.
Skeptics warn that North Korea previously made similar pledges of denuclearization on numerous occasions, with little or no intention of abiding by them. Kim’s could turn out to be nothing more than empty promises aimed at lifting sanctions on his isolated country. They say the closing of the nuclear site could be symbolic since the site may already be too unstable for further testing. They also question the honesty of Kim’s intentions siting the practicality of monitoring and inspections of supposedly closed sites.
The Denuclearization announcement came as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke for the first time about a “good conversation” he had with Mr. Kim during his secret visit to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, over Easter weekend. “We had an extensive conversation on the hardest issues that face our two countries. I had a clear mission statement from President Trump. When I left, Kim Jong-un understood the mission exactly as I described it today” Mr. Pompeo said. Pompeo added that the administration’s objective was “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization” with North Korea, and that Mr. Kim was prepared to “lay out a map that would help us achieve” denuclearization.

 

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Officials have identified nine Puerto Rico Air National Guard airmen killed when their plane crashed shortly after taking off in Savanna, Georgia. The plane, a C-130-type cargo plane from Puerto Rico’s 156th Airlift Wing, had been in Savannah for several days for routine maintenance. It took off about 11:30 a.m on Wednesday morning heading to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group in Arizona, where it was set to be decommissioned since it was one of the oldest such aircraft still flying—at more than 60 years old.
The plane made it about a mile from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport before it nose-dived toward a state highway intersection and exploded into a ball of fire and black smoke. Witnesses say the aircraft, with four turboprop engines on its overhead wing, banked left as it rapidly descended. The plane then plummeted behind trees. Seconds later, a fireball and thick black smoke erupted from the tree line. The wreck left a debris field of 360,000 square feet — about the area of six football fields. Chatham County officials said that Georgia Highway 21 will remain closed indefinitely as investigators examine the crash site and debris field.
Those killed in the crash have been identified as the pilot, Maj. Jose R. Roman Rosado from Manati, who left behind a wife and two sons; co-pilot, 1st Lt. David Albandoz from Madison, Alabama who left behind a wife and daughter; navigator, Maj. Carlos Perez Serra from Canovanas, who left behind a wife, two sons and a daughter; Senior Master Sgt. Jan Paravisini from Canovanas who left behing two daughters and son; Master Sgt. Jean Audriffred from Carolina who left behind a wife and two sons; Master Sgt. Mario Brana from Bayamon who left behind a daughter; Master Sgt. Eric Circuns from Rio Grande who left behind a wife, two stepdaughters and son; Master Sgt. Victor Colon of Santa Isabel, who left behind a wife and two daughters and Senior Airman Roberto Espada, from Salinas, who is survived by his grandmother.
An investigation into the cause of the crash is being carried out by the National Guard Bureau and the Air Force including whether it could be related to maintenance performed on the plane shortly before it took off or the craft’s age. A team from Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina is conducting the investigation, while a team from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware was sent to recover the airmen’s remains.
The destroyed C-130 and all nine crew members killed had helped with the hurricane recovery effort. The plane had been used to rescue Americans stranded in the British Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean late last year. Days later, Hurricane Maria slammed into the 156th Airlift Wing’s home base in Puerto Rico, and the plane subsequently transported supplies from the U.S. mainland to the ruined island. Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Roselló declared nine days of mourning for the crew, during which flags in the territory will fly at half-staff, according to a statement from his office.

 

 

 

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A deadly shooting at a Waffle House restaurant in suburban Nashville in the early morning hours of April 22, 2018 ended with four people dead and another four wounded before a heroe patron wrestled the gun away from the shooter. After being disarmed, the shooter, identified as 29-year-old Travis Reinking, fled on foot. Reinking was taken into custody the next day not far from his apartment complex, after an intense 34 hour manhunt.
Reinking reportedly arrived at the Waffle House naked, except for a jacket, armed with an AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle just after 3am. He fatally shot two people just outside the Waffle House, 20 year old Joe Perez and 29 year old waffle house employee Taurean C. Sanderlin before entering and continuing his rampage. Once inside, he killed DeEbony Groves and shot 23 year old Akilah DaSilva, who was rushed to the Vanderbilt University Medical Center where he later died.
DaSilva’s 21-year-old girlfriend Shanita Waggoner and 24-year-old Sharita Henderson were also shot and wounded in the shooting. Two other people were wounded by breaking glass during the shooting. Twenty-nine year old James Shaw Jr., who suffered a bullet graze wound, has been hailed a hero for ending the bloodshed. Shaw hid near the restaurant’s bathrooms when the shooting began but when he saw an opportunity, he rushed the shooter and wrestled the rifle away. The gunman then fled on foot, leaving behind his rifle and ammunition.
Reinking was from Morton, Illinois but moved to the Nashville area in the Fall of 2017. He has had a history of erratic and delusional behavior. In May 2016, Tazewell County police responded to a call from Reinking’s parents in the parking lot of a drugstore, where a paramedic said Reinking had delusions that Taylor Swift was stalking him and hacking his phone. Reinking had previously lived in an apartment above his father’s crane rental business in Tremont, Illinois. In June 2017, an employee of the business called police, saying Reinking had come downstairs carrying a rifle, wearing a pink dress, and using an expletive before tossing the rifle in his trunk and leaving the building. On another occasion around the same time, a public pool director called police to report Reinking had come to the pool in a “pink women’s housecoat” and then exposed himself to lifeguards.
In July 2017, the U.S. Secret Service arrested Reinking near the White House after he crossed a barrier and refused to leave. The Secret Service said Reinking had said he “wanted to set up a meeting with the president.” Reinking was charged with a misdemeanor, unlawful entry and entered into a deferred prosecution agreement in July 2017. Reinking performed 32 hours of community service and was ordered to stay away from the White House. Reinking successfully completed the program in November 2017 and the court dismissed the case.
A month after his arrest, Illinois authorities revoked his state firearms authorization and seized four of his weapons, including the AR-15 used in the Nashville shooting. Two additional rifles and a handgun were also seized. The sheriff of Tazewell County, Illinois, said that Reinking’s father, Jeffrey Reinking held a valid state authorization card and asked sheriff’s deputies whether he could keep the guns. They allowed him to do so after he assured them he would keep them secure and away from his son. Reinking’s father now could face criminal charges after he admitted that he eventually gave all four guns back to his son which is potentially a violation of federal law.

 

 

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A Pennsylvania court found comedian Bill Cosby guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. The 80 year old comedian is facing 30 years in prison and his sentencing hearing is scheduled for this summer. Though he faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele indicated he would not press for that sentence.
Legal experts believe that it is unlikely Cosby will ever be incarcerated and a judge will probably sentence him to home refinement due to his poor health. Legal analyst Areva Martin said the judge’s rulings so far suggest he will give Cosby a much reduced sentence. “I think the fact that the judge yesterday allowed him to walk out of that courtroom, did not remand him immediately to jail, gives us a sense about what this judge is likely to do when he gets to the sentencing hearing,” she said.
Judges can take any number of mitigating factors into consideration when issuing a sentence, she explained. “He will be able to take into consideration Cosby’s age, the status of his health, the philanthropic work that he’s done over the last several decades, the fact that this is his first criminal conviction — all of those will be factors that the judge can take into consideration when sentencing him.”
Constand is the former director of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University where Cosby was a trustee and one of about 60 women who have accused him of sexual assaults dating back decades. Constand’s case is the only criminal case stemming from the dozens of accusations of sexual misconduct — all of which the comedian/actor denies. She says she was “paralyzed” by pills he gave her while he claimed it was just Benadryl and that the encounter was consensual.
He maintains that the sexual encounters were consensual but has admitted to giving them drugs prior to the encounters. In January 2005, in a civil suit Constand filed, she accused Cosby of giving her pills, groping her and assaulting her. Thirteen other women relayed similar claims in court papers and agreed to testify to these claims but the case was settled out of court in 2006. Many of the women gave similar accounts of what happened to them but didn’t come forward for years because they felt no one would believe them over the well-loved actor/comedian.
That changed in October 2014 when comedian Hannibal Burress made fun of Cosby during a stand-up comedy bit and called him a rapist. “People think I’m making it up. I’m like ‘Bill Cosby has a lot of rape allegations,’ (they reply back) ‘No, you do’….That sh*t is upsetting, if you didn’t know about it trust me. Google ‘Bill Cosby rape.
Then in November 2014, Barbara Bowman wrote a Washington Post essay that immediately went viral in which she discussed being raped by Cosby and questioned why it took so long for people to believe her. For months after that essay, dozens of women came forward with similar accusations occurring as far back as the 1960’s.

 

Barbara Bush Passes Away

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Former first lady Barbara Bush has died at her home in Houston, Texas at the age of 92 at. She is one of only two women in U.S. history to be both the wife of a U.S. president and the mother of another.  The mother of six children — one of whom, a daughter, Robin, died as a child from leukemia, stood by her husband George H.W. Bush’s side during his nearly 30 year political career has he rose to become vice president and president.

Known as the “enforcer” in her family — the glue who kept the high-powered clan together, she adopted literacy as a cause, raising awareness and eventually launching the nonprofit Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. After George H.W. Bush’s presidency, he and Barbara raised more than $1 billion for literacy and cancer charities.  “I chose literacy because I honestly believe that if more people could read, write, and comprehend, we would be that much closer to solving so many of the problems that plague our nation and our society,” she said.

She had been admired by many for her trademark bluntness, her championing of literacy efforts and her embrace of HIV-positive babies in the late 1980s, when ignorance about the disease was rampant.  Grief over her daughter Robin’s death from leukemia allowed her to comfort others who were afflicted and made it easy for her to relate to the underdog.

Bush battled health problems for most of her later years of life. In 1988, she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disease that commonly affects the thyroid. In 2008, she underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer and in 2009 she had open-heart surgery.  In her final years, she was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) as well as congestive heart failure.   Despite these health setbacks, she and her husband kept an active public schedule, raising money for charity.

In April 2018, her family released a statement regarding her failing health, stating that she had chosen to be at home with family-desiring “comfort care” rather than further treatment.  According to family spokesman Jim McGrath, her decision came as a result of “a series of recent hospitalizations.”  Funeral services will be held April 21st at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston.

 

 

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One person was killed and seven others sustained minor injuries on a Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas when an engine exploded in midair.  The explosion occurred about 20 minutes into the flight, shattering a window that passengers said partially sucked a woman out of the aircraft.  The Southwest plane, a two-engine Boeing 737, made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport at about 11:20 a.m.  Flight 1380 was on its way from La Guardia Airport in New York to Dallas Love Field with 144 passengers and five Southwest employees on board.

It quickly lost altitude after the explosion and violently depressurized after shrapnel from the explosion burst through the window.  Passengers said the window burst and the woman, identified as 43 year old Jennifer Riordan, was partially sucked out of the 10-by-14-inch window head first.  Firefighter Andrew Needum, of Celina, Texas, said he heard a “loud pop” moments after flight attendants had begun to take drink orders. Needum, seated next to his father and son, turned back to see that oxygen masks had deployed in the cabin and there was a commotion a few rows behind him.  When he rushed to row 14, passenger Tim McGinty was trying to pull Riordan back inside the plane. Needum helped McGinty pull Riordan back inside the plane but she was unconscious and seriously injured.

Passenger Peggy Phillips, a retired nurse and an emergency medical technician onboard laid the woman down and immediately began administering CPR, while the pilot urged everyone to brace for an emergency landing.  They continued CPR for the entire 20 minutes until the plane landed safely and airports EMT’s took over.  Philadelphia Department of Public Health spokesman James Garrow said Jennifer Riordan, a mother of two and Wells Fargo executive from Albuquerque, died of blunt force trauma to her head, neck and torso and that her death was listed as an accident.

For that terrifying 20 minutes, passengers and flight crew unsuccessfully tried to plug the hole with luggage and clothing, which was just sucked out of the broken window.  Finally, another brave passenger stood in front of the broken window with his lower back covering the hole to help maintain cabin pressure.  Other terrified passengers spent those minutes thinking they were their last.  Many were scrambling for phones and other electronic devices to record their final goodbyes or purchase wifi to contact loved ones.

Southwest captain Tammie Jo Shults, a former fighter pilot with the U.S. Navy, on her final approach to an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport calmly described conditions on the craft to the air traffic controller:

“Southwest 1380, we’re single engine,” said Shults,. “We have part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit.” She asked for medical personnel to meet the aircraft on the runway. “We’ve got injured passengers.”

“Injured passengers, okay, and is your airplane physically on fire?” asked the air traffic controller.

“No, it’s not on fire, but part of it’s missing,” Shults said, pausing for a moment. “They said there’s a hole, and, uh, someone went out.”

The National Transportation Safety Board has said the principal culprit of the explosion was a fracture — most likely because of metal fatigue — of one of the 24 fan blades in the engine. When that blade broke away at the fan’s hub, it carried with it parts of the engine cowling and related engine parts.

 

 

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The federal government, along with state regulators have halted the demolition of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation until a safe plan can be developed after the discovery that dozens of demolition workers have inhaled or ingested radioactive particles in the past year.  The Hanford site is a plutonium processing plant from the 1940s located Richland, Washington that took liquid plutonium and shaped it into hockey puck-sized disks for use in nuclear warheads.  The plant helped create the nation’s nuclear arsenal and made key portions of the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan that ended WWII.

Plutonium production ended in the 1980s and by 1989, the site switched its focus to cleanup of nuclear wastes.  The contamination is a discouraging delay in a massive $2 billion a year cleanup effort that started in 2016.  Hanford is the nation’s most polluted nuclear weapons production site. The Energy Department, which owns Hanford, has launched an independent investigation into the spread of radiation at the plant.

Hanford officials issued a report in late March that said a total of 42 Hanford workers inhaled or ingested radioactive particles from demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant when they were exposed during contamination events in June and December of last year.  Radioactive contamination was also found outside plant offices and inside two dozen vehicles, the report said.  Seven workers’ homes were checked for radioactive contamination, with none found, the report said.  The report concluded Hanford officials placed too much reliance on air-monitoring systems that failed to pick up the spread of radioactive particles.

According to the report, managers of the private contractor performing the demolition work for the federal government were caught between maintaining safety and trying to make progress toward project deadlines.  The risk escalated as walls of the plutonium plant were knocked down and the rubble was stored in piles. The report stated that fixatives sprayed on the rubble to keep radioactive particles from blowing away may not have been effective.  This theory seems to be backed up by the the state Health Department’s findings of very small amounts of airborne radioactive contamination near Highway 240 in the past year that is believed to have come from the plant demolition 10 miles away.

The amount of radiation involved was reportedly low, lower than naturally occurring levels of radiation people are exposed to in everyday life.  The amounts of radiation that have escaped are considered too small by state experts to pose a health risk.   All the contamination was found on lands that are closed to the public.  The project was not supposed to exposed workers to any contamination but in June radioactive particles escaped and traces were found inside 31 workers.   In December, eleven more workers were found to be contaminated which prompted the government to shut down demolition.

The state Health Department said there is presently no threat to public health from the releases.  “However, we are concerned if work resumes without better controls, a risk to the public may develop,” the agency said in a recent letter to Hanford managers.

 

 

 

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Mark Zuckerberg spent two days on Capitol Hill seeking to placate angry lawmakers by saying he would be open to some sort of regulation to protect the privacy of users on his global social-media platform.  The hearings are the result of revelations last month that a company called Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal data of 50 million Facebook profiles.  This information was allegedly used to map out voter behavior in 2016 for both the Brexit campaign and the US presidential election.

Cambridge Analytica is a British company that helps businesses “change audience behavior”.  Back in 2015, a Cambridge psychology professor called Aleksandr Kogan built an app called “thisisyourdigitallife” and Kogan’s company Global Science Research had a deal to share info from the app with Cambridge Analytica.  The app was a personality quiz that asked Facebook users for information about themselves and an estimated 270,000 Facebook users signed up and took personality tests.  The app collected the information of each user’s Facebook friends, who had not provided consent.

The company used the data to build psychological profiles of 87 million Facebook users in order to tailor ads that could sway their political views.  Since the breach was revealed Facebook has stated that Kogan’s app picked up information in “a legitimate way” but that their rules were violated when the data was sold on to Cambridge Analytica.  Around the same time the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, news that Facebook has been collecting and storing call records and SMS data from Android devices for years.

Facebook has been requesting access to contacts, SMS data, and call history on Android devices to improve its friend recommendation algorithm and distinguish between business contacts and  personal friendships. Facebook appears to be gathering this data through its Messenger application, which often prompts Android users to take over as the default SMS client. Facebook has, at least recently, been offering an opt-in prompt that prods users with a big blue button to “continuously upload” contact data, including call and text history. It’s not clear when this prompt started appearing in relation to the historical data gathering,

The hearings were held to determine whether Washington will create regulations that address increasingly widespread concerns about digital privacy.  During Mr. Zuckerberg’s two days of testimony, he repeatedly said that he had learned the lesson of the recent data-breach scandals, saying he thought it was inevitable that there will need to be some regulation but warned that poor regulations could leads to unintended consequences.

Following Wednesday’s hearing, House Commerce Chairman Greg Walden described it as “a wake-up call for Silicon Valley and the tech community that if you let these things get out of hand, having grown up in a very lightly regulated environment, you could end up with a lot more regulation than you seek.”  “I don’t want to rush into regulation minutes after having the first hearing of this magnitude. But certainly if they can’t clean up their act, we’ll clean it up for them.” ​He said lawmakers would consider calling other tech CEOs.

 

 

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The wave of teacher protests in recent weeks has shown no signs of slowing down.  School districts in Oklahoma and Kentucky were forced to close due to statewide teacher sickouts.  Thousands of Oklahoma and Kentucky teachers rallied Monday at their state capitals, demanding more education funding for students.  Many say they’ll keep fighting until lawmakers meet their demands.

The state of Oklahoma has the lowest average teacher salaries in the US with many teachers saying they have not received a pay raise in 10 years.  Many say that the lack of funding and low wages keep new teachers out of their districts which have seen classroom sizes swell to 40 kids because of teacher shortages.

The Oklahoma teachers union wants $10,000 raises for teachers, $5,000 raises for support staff such as janitors and cafeteria workers and $200 million in education funding.  Ultimately, the governor signed legislation last week granting teachers’ pay raises of about $6,100, raises of $1,250 for support staff and $50 million in education funding.  The state’s two largest school districts, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, announced that schools would be closed Monday as the strike enters its second week.

In an effort to produce for state revenue so more can be allocated to education funding, the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), working in collaboration with lawmakers, is seeking to end the strike by Tuesday following Friday’s passage of a revenue and tax bill that is expected to raise $20 million from an internet sales tax and $24 million from the legalization of “ball and dice” gambling in the state.  The union praised the senate’s action on Friday and called for two additional measures of removing capital gains exemptions, saying that this would add an additional $100 million in revenue, and for Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to veto the repeal of a tax on guests at hotels and motels—another regressive measure.

Meanwhile, more than 30 Kentucky school districts had schools close after massive teacher call outs.   Educators were furious after the state Legislature approved changes to their pension the day before.  Kentucky teachers have opposed changes to their pension, which was in Senate Bill 1 that proposed reducing benefits.  But in a surprise move, elements of Senate Bill 1 were tucked into another bill, Senate Bill 151, which had been about sewage services.  The nearly 300-page Senate Bill 151 passed both the state House and Senate on Thursday.

The Kentucky Education Association, which represents teachers and other education professionals, slammed the maneuver as a “classic legislative bait and switch.”  “It stripped all the ‘local provision of wastewater services’ language out of SB151 and replaced it with many of the harmful provisions of SB1,” the association stated.

Under the new pension bill, new hires will have to use a hybrid cash balance plan, rather than a traditional pension, which will drive new teachers to leave the state.  Other elements of the bill include limiting the number of sick days teachers can put toward their retirement and no changes to the annual cost of living adjustments, which will remain 1.5%.

Gov. Matt Bevin supports reforming the system and says it’s critical to fix the pension crisis, which ranks as one of the worst in the US. He said a wider demonstration like a teacher strike would be “illegal.”  “I would not advise that,” Bevin said during a Capitol news conference. “I really wouldn’t. I think that would be a mistake.”  In Kentucky, public employees are prohibited from striking.