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  • For the eighth time in two weeks, Congress on Thursday went through a familiar round of arguments as the House approved a bill to re-open federal agencies which lost funding before Christmas, with Democrats demanding that Senate Republicans consider those measures to end a partial government shutdown, while GOP Senators said they would not act until there was an agreement on funding for the border wall backed by President Donald Trump. “What a stupid way to run a business,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, as Democrats accused Senate Republicans of abdicating their constitutional responsibilities. “The House of Representatives is in a perpetual cycle of Groundhog Day,” said Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ), as Republicans again said until Democrats give wall funding to the President, there is no reason for any votes on bills to end the partial government shutdown. “This is all just theater, this is all just political theater,” said Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), as Republicans remained steadfast in saying they would not vote to re-open the government until the President had his wall money, while Democrats said they would not negotiate on border security funding until the government was open again. Democrats continued to partly blame Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for the impasse, imploring him to allow the House-passed government funding bills to be considered on the Senate floor. Again and again the @HouseDemocrats have put forward bills to reopen the gov only to have the Senate GOP block them because they would rather back Trump than let workers receive the pay that they’ve earned. This level of obstruction is absurd. Stop choosing politics over people. https://t.co/Rfw3j9RCWb — Rep. Ted Deutch (@RepTedDeutch) January 17, 2019 Off the floors of the House and Senate, there were no indications in the hallways of the Capitol of any developing negotiations between Democrats and the White House, as after 27 days of a partial shutdown, it was obvious that the standoff would go into the weekend, and into next week. “Almost everybody wants to secure the border, almost everybody wants to open up government,” said Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL). “What can’t it happen?” Democrats said the reason was in the Senate, where after two weeks of the 116th Congress, no funding bills had yet been brought to the floor, even as over 800,000 federal workers missed one paycheck last week, and were in danger of missing another on January 25. “The people want the wall, the people want border security,” said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), as there was no evidence that GOP lawmakers were going to break from the President, leaving the stalemate in place, with federal workers around the country – some working, some not – waiting to be paid. “I’m not for a wall,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, as Democrats showed no evidence of any split, either. “I’m concerned about workers not having any paychecks.” The President and Republicans are asking for $5.7 billion for border security—just one-tenth of 1% of the federal budget. — Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) January 17, 2019 Meanwhile, the Trump Administration called back more workers on Thursday at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to work on needed paperwork for farmers around the nation. “Not knowing when I go back to work is starting to get a bit old,” one idled federal worker told me. And for now, it looks like the shutdown is not going to be over anytime soon. . @SpeakerPelosi: “I’m not for a wall. I’m not for a wall. I’m not for a wall.” pic.twitter.com/TTqMPoOUai — CSPAN (@cspan) January 17, 2019 “A wall has to be built,” the President said in a speech at the Pentagon.
  • With the federal minimum wage of $7.25 cents an hour unchanged for ten years, Democrats on Wednesday unveiled a plan in Congress to more than double that pay rate over a six year period, arguing it’s past time for lawmakers to make it easier for working Americans to earn enough money to support their families. “President Trump isn’t going to stick up for American workers – we Democrats will,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer said to cheers at a U.S. Capitol news conference. “No person working full-time in America should be living in poverty,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), who will lead the charge for a higher minimum wage in the House as chairman of the Education and Labor Committee. “The current $7.25 an hour federal minimum wage is a starvation wage,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). 'No American working full time should be living in poverty,' House Education and Labor Chairman Bobby Scott said when introducing legislation to increase the hourly minimum wage to $15. The last time Congress raised the federal minimum wage was in 2007. pic.twitter.com/nypZl0CX7L — POLITICO (@politico) January 16, 2019 “Increasing the federal minimum wage is the right thing to do,” said Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL). “I believe this legislation would provide a boost to businesses and the broader economy.” While the Congress has not touched the minimum wage since Democrats pushed through an increase in 2007, individual states have taken a different approach, as now 29 states have a higher minimum wage than the feds. Just last year, voters in Missouri approved raising the minimum wage to $12/hour by 2023; Arkansas voters approved a minimum wage going up to $11 by 2021. “The last time we were in charge, one of the first things we did was raise the minimum wage,” said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), referring to a 2007 law approved by a Democratic Congress and signed by President George W. Bush. “It was not enough then,” Hoyer said of the $7.25 per hour federal wage. “It is clearly not enough now.” The $15 per hour wage – known by some groups as the “Fight for 15” – certainly has a good chance at getting through the House, now that Democrats in charge; but it faces an uphill fight in the U.S. Senate. Our #FightFor15 Sisters and Brothers welcoming members of Congress to this afternoon's announcement of the #RaiseTheWage Act of 2019. pic.twitter.com/rza7EjsAfP — Fight For 15 (@fightfor15) January 16, 2019 “A living wage for all workers helps business, families, and the economy,” said Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA). “The steady increase is good for workers, good for business, and good for the economy,” said Rep. Joe Courtney (D-CT). “No American working full time should live in poverty.” A section-by-section review of the bill can be found here. The actual legislative text is here.
  • Results of a new retail market study for Tulsa were released Wednesday. The research, funded with the Vision Tulsa program, is the first step in efforts to develop and implement a new commercial revitalization strategy.  “One thing that does apply to several different districts is incubating new businesses, just as the Mother Road Market is doing now with restaurants, bakers and specialty foods,” said Michael Stumpf, principal owner of Placed Dynamics.  “That same strategy could be applied to retail.”  Tulsa leaders will now receive recommendations for multiple strategies throughout the 13 study areas. Here are the key findings in the 243-page report:  Tulsa faces several challenges in the retail sector, namely decreased household spending, the effect of internet sales on local retail spending, and suburban retail development.  Tulsa has a surplus of vacant commercial property, primarily located in the outer edges of the City.  Tulsa’s older neighborhoods have the potential to draw in visitors from suburban neighborhoods and increase the volume of sales within Tulsa, if they are leveraged as destination or catalytic retail centers. Tulsa should pursue innovative parking infill strategies that encourage dense development.  Citizens of Tulsa desire more mixed use, dense, walkable shopping environments, similar to the Brookside, Cherry Street, and Kendal Whittier neighborhoods. 
  • If it seems like it's dangerous to drive in Oklahoma, it's not your imagination! The website YourMechanic.com calculates we're the 3rd Most Dangerous State to drive in, ranking us high in the categories of Most Aggressive Drivers, Worst Roads, and Average Driver Speed. Congestion, or the lack thereof in Oklahoma’s case, and decent weather year-round both work in the state’s favor. But those other factors are bad enough to put Oklahoma at number three on the Most Dangerous ranking. You can read more about the website’s findings here.
  • Mayor G.T. Bynum announced Wednesday that he is creating the Office of the Independent Monitor for policy, outreach and oversight as Tulsa continues to implement its community policing program.  “As we develop our community policing program in Tulsa, we recognize the need for modernized oversight systems that provide accountability and transparency and build public trust between our residents and officers,” said Mayor G.T. Bynum. Shortly after the announcement the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police released a statement that said, “This is the first we’ve heard of Mayor Bynum’s plan to create an Office of Independent Monitor.” The statement goes on to point out that the police department has a 78% approval rating from the public.  The FOP doesn’t understand how that translates into what Mayor Bynum called a “clear need for improvement.” Mayor Bynum says TPD has fully implemented 97 percent of the 77 community policing recommendations in the past year.