The Edmond Sun

Business

April 7, 2014

Obama plans orders to boost equal pay for women

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama plans two executive actions this week to promote equal pay for women — and to promote equal pay as a critical issue for Democrats this election year.

One action, an executive order, will prohibit federal contractors from retaliating against employees who talk about how much money they make, according to an administration official familiar with the plans.

The other, a presidential memorandum, will require contractors to report data to the government showing the compensation they provide their employees by sex and race.

Advocates for pay equity say that a major challenge to enforcing equal pay laws is secrecy about what people are paid. Some employers maintain policies that punish workers who voluntarily share salary information with co-workers, according to the National Women's Law Center.

Tuesday's actions will affect only businesses that do work for the federal government. The executive order doesn't require workers to discuss pay or employers to make public their pay data, but the explicit ban on retaliation would provide what White House officials say will be an important tool to encourage transparency.

The new data collected under the presidential memorandum will allow more targeted enforcement "by focusing efforts where there are discrepancies," said an administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the policies had not yet been announced.

The actions are scheduled for Tuesday, what activists call "Equal Pay Day" — the day on the year's calendar that marks the approximate extra time the average American woman would need to earn as much as the average man did in the previous year. According to the federal government, women make an average of 77 cents for every dollar that men earn.

Democrats are trying to make equal pay for women a major issue in the 2014 elections, as they look for ways to motivate a key voting bloc to get to the polls. Working women, particularly those who are single, have become among the most heavily Democratic of voting groups, and party strategists have been looking for ways to increase their enthusiasm for voting this fall.

Along the same lines, Senate Democrats plan to bring a bill to the floor this week that would require the Department of Labor to work with employers to do away with pay disparities between women and men.

Republicans say the proposed Paycheck Fairness Act wouldn't create equal pay but simply place more regulatory burdens on employers.

"The 'Paycheck Fairness Act' doesn't provide paycheck fairness for women," said Kirsten Kukowski, national press secretary for the Republican National Committee. "In fact, it will cut flexibility in the workplace for working moms and end merit pay that rewards good work, the very things that are important to us."

Obama also plans this week to appear with Lilly Ledbetter, whose suit over pay disparities became the center of a Supreme Court case and then the inspiration for a new law.

Ledbetter lost her case when the justices ruled that the law at the time required her to bring her claim within 180 days of when she was paid, even though she had no way of knowing at the time that her employer, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., was paying her significantly less than her male colleagues. Congress then passed a measure to ease that time requirement, which became the first bill Obama signed into law as president.

 

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  • Logan County pays off jail tax early, seeks new one

    Logan County is paying off a sales tax ahead of schedule and needs a new one to be able to afford funding jail operation and maintenance, officials said.
    Citizens vote on the county sales tax which is split for redistribution by state law. The tax is collected by the Oklahoma Tax Commission and redistributed back to the county as specified by voters.
    In 2005, citizens passed a 10-year sales tax, scheduled to end next month, to fund the building, operation and maintenance of the county jail, which operates on a $1.3 million budget. Jail capacity is 188 without anyone in a holding cell or a temporary bunk. Thursday it was holding 130 inmates, said Logan County Chief Deputy Richard Stephens.

    July 26, 2014

  • Edmond School District’s change orders anticipated

    When building new schools and classrooms there may be additional costs, but when renovating older buildings those costs can more than double, according to a Edmond School District official.
    “When remodeling, you have unknown and hidden costs and you need to include in your budgeted funds for the built-in items you can not see,” said Bret Towne, Edmond’s associate superintendent of general administration.

    July 25, 2014

  • Planning Commission approves rezoning

    The Edmond Planning Commission this week voted 4-0 in favor of rezoning from a single family district.  Peter and Kimberly Roberts made the request to allow a planned unit development on the southeast corner of Jackson and Lincoln Avenue, said Bob Schiermeyer, city planner.
    “They would like to have D-2 family (neighborhood commercial) zoning for duplexes, 14,000 square feet,” Schiermeyer said. “They can put four units on the property.”

    July 25, 2014

  • A Q&A on ‘Obamacare’ Court Rulings

    On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on the legality of tax subsidies being provided to people who bought “Obamacare” health insurance policies in Oklahoma and 35 other states.
    Here’s a look at the rulings’ potential impact in Oklahoma.

    Q: I’m confused. What did the courts rule today?
    A: A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals circuit in Washington, D.C., decided that the government can’t provide tax subsidies for Affordable Care Act plans purchased in 36 states where the federal government is operating the health insurance exchange. Oklahoma is one of the 36 states. A few hours later, the U.S. Court of Appeals circuit in Richmond, Va., issued a conflicting ruling that upheld the legality of the health-care law’s tax subsidies.

    July 22, 2014

  • June healthy month for Oklahoma jobs

    Nearly 10,000 new jobs in Oklahoma were created in June, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
    Gov. Mary Fallin said Tuesday the state experienced one of the largest increases in employment in the nation in June. More than 9,600 additional people joined the state’s workforce in June.
    The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, its lowest ratio in six years. June’s rate was down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May and April, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

    July 22, 2014

  • UCO campus 3.jpg University of Central Oklahoma recognized as having friendly work environment

    The Chronicle of Higher Education named the University of Central Oklahoma as one of the “2014 Great Colleges to Work For.” Central is the only higher education institution in the state recognized on the list and one of only a handful of institutions in the nation given the distinction of being named to the Honor Roll for being cited most often among all the recognition categories.          
    Central joins Duke, Baylor and Notre Dame on the list of the 10 universities named to the large institution honor roll.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Council approves funds toward ADA update

    City Council members have approved a $398,800 professional services contract with Accessology, a McKinney, Texas, firm, to establish an Americans With Disabilities Act transition plan for the city.
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    Accessology was selected out of a pool of five finalists by a five-member committee to create Edmond’s plan. The firm will partner with Kimley-Horn and Associates, a design consulting firm located in North Carolina.
    Edmond’s last ADA transition plan was created in 1992.

    July 21, 2014

  • Panel approves jail services agreement

    City Council members have approved renewal of the city’s jail services agreement with Oklahoma County for prisoners incarcerated at the county jail on city charges.
    The current annual agreement expired June 30. It provides the feeding, care, housing and upkeep of said prisoners. Edmond uses the county jail when the city jail is at capacity.
    The sheriff’s office proposed a slight increase from $46.25 to a $46.50 daily rate per prisoner. City staff said the current agreement is working satisfactorily and believe the proposed rate is reasonable. The new agreement took effect July 1. The city can hold prisoners in its current jail  up to 10 days; a new jail with 10 male and five female cells will be available inside the new Public Safety Center next year when the facility opens.

    July 21, 2014

  • Panel establishes 911 phone rate

    City Council members have established the rate for the 911 emergency phone service fee for calendar year 2015
    Council members set the rate at 3 percent of the recurring charges as designated by the tariff for exchange telephone service or its equivalent within Edmond beginning Jan. 1, 2015.
    Fees collected by wireless and voice over Internet protocol companies are established under a separate statute. To continue collection of the locally authorized service fee on landline phone bills, local governments must approve a resolution on an annual basis to set the actual fee.
    Governments must also through the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments notify the appropriate incumbent local exchange carrier and competitive local exchange carrier phone companies by Sept. 1, 2015.
    ACOG recommended for calendar year 2015 to maintain service fees at their current level of 3 percent.

    July 21, 2014

  • Council approves $2.5M extra for utility

    City Council members have approved the transfer of a $2.5 million appropriation for Edmond Electric.
    The action was needed due to higher natural gas prices. Those increased prices caused wholesale electric purchase costs to exceed the department’s budget estimates for Fiscal Year 2013-14. To cover the increased costs, a transfer of funds from the “Transfers” category to the “Other Services and Charges” category was necessary.
    It will maintain state law requirements and not increase Edmond Electric’s budget.
    The action occurred during Monday’s meeting and was approved unanimously.

    July 21, 2014

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