In The Know: Gov. Fallin talks priorities for legislative session

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Fallin talks priorities for legislative session: Gov. Mary Fallin on Monday will propose additional dollars for the financially troubled Oklahoma Department of Corrections. The agency is housing a rising number offenders and has problems retaining correctional officers and staffing prisons. Fallin spoke Thursday to reporters in advance of her State of the State address to a joint session Monday assembled in the House chamber. Her comments are expected to focus on education, incarceration and health [Tulsa World].

Feds Open New Civil Rights Probe into OKC Public Schools: A federal civil rights agency has opened its fourth investigation into Oklahoma City Public Schools, this time focused on claims that school officials discriminated against special education students. Officials with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights said the newest investigation, filed on Dec. 3, examines whether the district applied different treatment, exclusion or denial of benefits to students with disabilities [Oklahoma Watch].

Oklahoma lawmakers call for criminal justice reform as ex-inmates struggle to restart lives: When Rebbeca Adkins was released from the Oklahoma prison system in December she had goals: get a job, a home, and full custody of her children. Adkins, 32, has been to college, has training in several fields, and is determined to work as a motorcycle mechanic. But she soon realized a seemingly small hurdle blocked her path to a better life. She needs a driver’s license [NewsOK]. In numerous ways, Oklahoma continues to punish ex-felons long after they have paid their debt to society [OK Policy].

Policy expert: Together, Oklahomans can overcome:  The Oklahoma Policy Institute is a non-partisan independent policy think-tank that launched in 2008. Thursday, OPI hosted its Third Annual State Budget Summit at the Will Rogers Theater in Oklahoma City. State and city leaders joined with special interest groups, educators, journalists, activists and stakeholders to discuss the current budget crisis and impending cuts that will affect education, health, court services and virtually every state agency. OPI Executive Director David Blatt presented numbers on Oklahoma’s budget crisis as well as presenting ideas for recovery [Norman Transcript].

Gov. Mary Fallin Requests Disaster Declaration For December Storm: Governor Mary Fallin has requested a disaster declaration for 41 counties impacted by the Christmas weekend flooding, ice and sleet. The storm began on December 26, and is blamed for 104 injuries and four deaths across the state. It also resulted in more than 200,000 Oklahomans to be without power [News9].

Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s New Leader Gives First State Of The Nation Address: Less than a month after taking the oath of office, Principal Chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation James Floyd gave his first State of the Nation address on Saturday as the tribe’s new leader. Floyd was elected last November and defeated incumbent George Tiger in a two-to-one margin. During his address to the Muscogee Nation, Floyd said he has spent the last four weeks thoroughly examining the efficiency, policies, and procedures of all departments [KGOU].

Energy economy – how diverse is Oklahoma: During 2014, oil and gas activity directly generated nearly 14 percent of total household earnings in Oklahoma. Not only was that a larger share of individual wealth than the industry created in any other state during 2014, it’s also the greatest share of wealth generated by oil and gas activity in any state ever during the modern energy era, according to the president of Oklahoma City-based economic research firm RegionTrack [Tulsa World].

Oklahoma entering budget crisis with easy savings already squeezed out: When he was working in the White House, Rahm Emanuel was quoted as saying you should never let a serious crisis go to waste. He went on to explain what he meant was that the crisis provides an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before. Emanuel was paraphrasing a similar statement by Winston Churchill who said “never let a good crisis go to waste.” I suspect in this session some legislators will take the advice to heart [OK Policy].

State Officials Go to Court to Challenge FCC Cap on Inmate Phone Call Fees: The state of Oklahoma and state law enforcement officials are challenging a recent Federal Communications Commission rule that caps the amount of money prisoners and their families are charged for telephone calls. The recent FCC ruling limits the amount private phone companies can charge for inmate calls to between 11 and 22 cents per minute. The FCC rule, most of which goes into effect on March 17, also limits the ancillary fees and collect-call prices for inmate phone calls [Oklahoma Watch].

Legislation threatens state’s successful pre-K programs: Thanks to visionary political and philanthropic leaders, Oklahoma is a national leader in early childhood education programs. But that almost solitary element of excellence in Oklahoma education is threatened by pending legislation. Attendance in free pre-K programs is not mandatory and school districts aren’t required to offer it, but up to 80 percent of the state’s 4-year-olds are enrolled, indicating that parents and educators recognize its value [Tulsa World].

Business of education: Corporation donations provide extra opportunities at schools: Bodine Elementary School Principal Nikki Coshow had to leave for a few minutes Monday to pick up trees and shrubs from a nearby nursery, a philanthropic gift to beautify the school. Her school has an abundance of blessings, she said, citing several examples of donations in addition to the $1,500 in landscaping from K&K Nursery. For example, her next errand this week is to pick up $1,000 in golf clubs at the Lake Hefner Golf Club, a gift from Kathleen Black, a retired education professor at the University of Central Oklahoma, to support Bodine’s gym classes [Journal Record].

Advanced nursing program tackles Oklahoma’s primary care shortage: Working nurses will be trained to provide primary health care in underserved areas through a new program at Northwestern Oklahoma State University. The doctor of nursing practice program is the first doctoral program in the 119-year history of the university. It will allow people with a bachelor of science in nursing to become nurse practitioners [NewsOK].

Errors found on some Oklahoma driver licenses and ID cards: Oklahomans who think something’s missing from their driver’s licenses aren’t alone. State officials have noticed, too. Holographic security emblems that should appear on the front of each license or identification card instead appear on the back of some cards or, in some instances, not at all, the Department of Public Safety said Friday [Tulsa World].

Quote of the Day

“It is harder than hell. February of next year I can get my license back, but in between that I have kids, I have a job, I mean, what do they expect us to do.”

– Rebecca Adkins, who was released from prison in December but will be unable to get her drivers license reinstated until next year. Legislators have said their priorities for the legislative session include making rehabilitation efforts easier and sending fewer low-level offenders to prison in the first place (Source)

Number of the Day

428 acres

Average Oklahoma farm size in 2012

Source: USDA.

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

In State Legislatures, Millennials Are Often Left Out: State lawmakers across the U.S. are older than their constituents, an imbalance that might be tilting policymaking toward the interests of seniors and away from the country’s largest living generation: millennials. The average age of lawmakers in the 50 states is 56, putting a majority of them in the baby-boom generation, which started coming of age politically in the 1960s and ’70s, according to a new survey by Stateline and the National Conference of State Legislatures. It’s higher in some states, such as New Hampshire, where the average age is 66, and Idaho, where it’s 63. The average age of the U.S. voting population, meanwhile, is 47 [The Pew Charitable Trusts].

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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