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All articles by Jessica Vazquez

In The Know: Oklahoma selling bonds to expand prisons; new lawsuit over death in prison; education leaders see few benefits in SQ 801…

by | September 21st, 2018 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

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.

In The News

‘It is shameful’: Corrections director says overcrowding means selling bonds to expand prison: The Board of Corrections took the initial steps to add capacity to the state prison system on Thursday.Meeting at the Jackie Brannon Correctional Center in McAlester, the board began the process of selling up to $116.5 million in bonds.Department of Corrections Director Joe M. Allbaugh said in a phone interview that whether new prisons would be built or existing facilities would be expanded has not been determined. It could be a combination of both, he said. [Tulsa World]

Lawsuit by Amber Hilberling’s estate accuses DOC of not taking ‘any reasonable steps’ to prevent her death in prison: The estate of Amber Hilberling filed a lawsuit this summer alleging that the Oklahoma Department of Corrections did not do enough to prevent the woman’s death in prison. The lawsuit was filed in Oklahoma County District Court by Rhonda Whitlock, a special administrator for Hilberling’s estate, on July 20. It accuses the DOC of exposing the inmate at the Mabel Bassett Correctional Center in McLoud to “individual and cumulative conditions of confinement that substantially increased the risk of harm to her.” [Tulsa World]

Education leaders see few benefits in ballot measure to give schools more financial flexibility: Oklahoma education leaders say a state question designed to give districts more spending flexibility will do little to improve public schools’ financial difficulties. State Question 801 would allow school leaders to spend money in their building fund — currently restricted for things like construction projects, maintenance and repairs, utilities, and custodians’ salaries — in new ways. [KGOU] Find background information, arguments against and in favor of, and ballot language on our SQ 801 fact sheet. [OK Policy]

continue reading In The Know: Oklahoma selling bonds to expand prisons; new lawsuit over death in prison; education leaders see few benefits in SQ 801…

In The Know: Wage gaps for women; Tulsa unveils new plan to welcome, support immigrants…

by | September 20th, 2018 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

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.

In The News

New data: Wage, executive gaps still exist for women: Tamara Harvell of Tulsa was working a full-time writing center position and a part-time lab adjunct position at a Tulsa college when she was asked to be part of a proposed reading lab at the institution. With a passion for helping students read and write well, she jumped at the chance but was told the new position would be an extension of her writing center position. “I was told I would be paid the same amount as my part-time hourly salary,” she said. “I was doing additional paperwork and extra work with students. I found out through the grapevine that a gentleman who also worked at the reading lab part-time was getting an adjunct salary while I was only getting hourly pay.” [Journal Record]

‘It’s a matter of getting them connected’: Tulsa to unveil plan to welcome, support immigrants: The city of Tulsa on Thursday will unveil a comprehensive plan to welcome and support new immigrants to the community. The New Tulsans Welcoming Plan provides an outline for how the city intends to help improve immigrants’ lives in five key areas: civic engagement, economic development, education, health and public safety. [Tulsa World]

TPS research into high school experience shows inequities, opportunities for improvement: Tulsa high school students feel unsafe at school and burdened by systemic education inequalities and are worried about the public’s perception of their schools, according to Tulsa Public Schools documents. TPS teenagers also want more rigorous and relevant real-life lessons in their classrooms. While students spoke of how good teachers had positively changed their lives, teachers aren’t always focused on building relationships with them, according to the documents. [Tulsa World]

continue reading In The Know: Wage gaps for women; Tulsa unveils new plan to welcome, support immigrants…

In The Know: OK ranked high for rate of uninsured & rate of women killed by men; #okleg freshmen class ‘almost unprecedented’…

by | September 19th, 2018 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

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.

In The News

Oklahoma high on uninsured list: Although Oklahoma’s surging uninsured rate problem is multifaceted and difficult to pin down, the solution might not be, according to medical professionals and analysts considering new U.S. Census data. The recently released information shows Oklahoma’s uninsured rate is now the second highest in the nation. About 14.2 percent of Oklahoma’s nearly 4 million residents had no medical coverage in 2017, up from 13.8 percent in 2016. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma continues to rank high in rate of women killed by men, study shows: Oklahoma ranks 11th in the nation in the rate of women killed by men, according to a study released Tuesday. Thirty-one women were killed by men in Oklahoma in single-victim, single-offender incidents in 2016, a homicide rate of 1.57 per 100,000 females. Oklahoma’s overall ranking worsened slightly from last year’s report, when the state ranked 15th in the nation. [NewsOK]

#OKleg freshman class size to be ‘almost unprecedented’: Even if no incumbents lose their November general elections, the 57th Oklahoma Legislature will feature a large freshman class of 44 new members in the House of Representatives and 12 in the State Senate. At a minimum, then, 43 percent and 25 percent of members will be new in each chamber, respectively. But numerous other legislative seats are up in the air for the Nov. 6 election. [NonDoc]

continue reading In The Know: OK ranked high for rate of uninsured & rate of women killed by men; #okleg freshmen class ‘almost unprecedented’…

In The Know: OK candidate spending reaches $33M; education is top issue for voters; OKC city manager to retire…

by | September 18th, 2018 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

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.

In The News

Oklahoma candidate spending reaches $33 million as cash flows through multiple sources: Oklahoma candidates have already spent $33 million running for state offices this election cycle, with nearly half of that being pumped into the governor’s race. Another $2 million has flowed through outside groups, with most of that money targeted at the Republican races for governor and attorney general. [NewsOK] 2018 Oklahoma State Questions and Elections [OK Policy]

Pollsters: Education is the top issue for voters in November: Oklahoma’s November ballots will include races for nearly 100 lawmakers, including re-election bids for some of the state’s most high-profile members. In addition to the statewide races for governor and other top executive positions, a majority of state lawmaker seats are up for grabs. [Journal Record 🔒] A former Oklahoma teacher of the year has five ideas for how you can honor the work of public school teachers [Stephanie Canada-Phillips / Tulsa World]

Oklahoma City’s longtime city manager, Jim Couch, to retire in January: Jim Couch announced Monday that he would retire in January after 18 years as city manager of Oklahoma City. Couch, 62, said after 31 years with the city he feels like he has “another chapter” to write in his career, though he has no particular plans. A South Dakota native, he said he plans to stay in Oklahoma City. [NewsOK]

continue reading In The Know: OK candidate spending reaches $33M; education is top issue for voters; OKC city manager to retire…

In The Know: Dark money spending record; renewed push for lobbying ban; Walmart officials defend SQ 793…

by | September 17th, 2018 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

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.

In The News

Dark-money’ spending hits record in Oklahoma, with surge to come: Political spending by secretive groups that are allowed to hide their donors have already spent what is likely a record amount this year to influence Oklahoma political races. An Oklahoma Watch review of campaign finance records found so-called “dark money” groups had spent nearly $2.7 million on Oklahoma’s legislative, statewide and congressional races by the end of August. [Oklahoma Watch] Oklahoma’s biggest dark-money players [Oklahoma Watch]

Ethics Commission continues to push for two-year ban on lobbying by former lawmakers: The Oklahoma Ethics Commission on Friday voted unanimously to resubmit a rule to lawmakers that would ban them from lobbying for two years once they leave office. The ban also would cover chief administrative officers for state agencies and other elected state officials. Last year, lawmakers rejected the rule. [Tulsa World]

Walmart officials respond to criticism of State Question 793, which allows eye exams in big box stores: Walmart officials on Thursday disputed claims that passage of a state question could result in inferior eye care in their stores. At issue is State Question 793. If approved by voters, it would let big-box stores such as Walmart offer eye care. It would also amend the constitution. [Tulsa World] State Question 793 fact sheet [OK Policy]

continue reading In The Know: Dark money spending record; renewed push for lobbying ban; Walmart officials defend SQ 793…

The Weekly Wonk: Falling behind on poverty & uninsured rate—again; raising the minimum wage; we’re all in it together…

by | September 16th, 2018 | Posted in Weekly Wonk | Comments (0)

What’s up this week at Oklahoma Policy Institute? The Weekly Wonk shares our most recent publications and other resources to help you stay informed about Oklahoma. Numbers of the Day and Policy Notes are from our daily news briefing, In The Know. Click here to subscribe to In The Know.

This Week from OK Policy

This week, Economic Opportunity and Financial Security Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison published an analysis of new Census data which shows that Oklahoma fell further behind the U.S. on poverty and uninsured rate for the second consecutive year. Fall Intern Deon Osborne pointed to the citizen petition as Oklahoma’s best chance at raising the minimum wage

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wrote about Chobani’s enlightened view of corporate responsibility which recognizes that we’re all in it together. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update described the cost of maintaining the world’s highest incarceration rate

OK Policy in the News

Policy Director Carly Putnam spoke with The Journal Record about the need to find affordable solutions to health insurance in Oklahoma. Our fact sheet on State Question 798 was cited by CHNI

continue reading The Weekly Wonk: Falling behind on poverty & uninsured rate—again; raising the minimum wage; we’re all in it together…

In The Know: OK further behind on poverty and uninsured; candidates endorse municipal property tax…

by | September 14th, 2018 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

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.

In The News

New Census data shows that Oklahoma fell further behind the U.S. on poverty and uninsured rate for second consecutive year: Oklahoma lags behind the nation in our efforts to help families get ahead. New data from the Census Bureau shows that poverty in Oklahoma is still above the national average. In 2017, nearly 1 in 6 Oklahomans (15.8 percent) were living with income below the poverty line ($24,600 for a family of four) before taxes. [OK Policy

Oklahoma climbed to third-heaviest state in 2017: Oklahoma jumped to the third-heaviest state in 2017, from the already unenviable position of eighth, according to the Trust for America’s Health’s new report on obesity. The obesity rate increased to 36.5 percent, making Oklahoma one of seven states where more than 35 percent of adults have obesity. Only West Virginia and Mississippi had higher obesity rates. [NewsOK]

Legislators seek alternatives to school suspensions: Some of Oklahoma’s top mental health and juvenile justice officials are helping lawmakers as they call for the state to reconsider its use of out-of-school suspension, especially among young students. There has been a push in the Legislature to require schools to consider alternatives to suspension or to mandate an appeals process for children who get suspended. [Journal Record]

continue reading In The Know: OK further behind on poverty and uninsured; candidates endorse municipal property tax…

In The Know: Public defender system needs money; growth of chicken farms examined; raising the minimum wage…

by | September 13th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, In The Know | Comments (0)

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.

In The News

Public defender system needs more money, observers say: Oklahoma’s state-appointed attorneys are seeing massive caseloads as their budgets decrease, and some observers said criminal justice reformers should place more focus on that portion of the judicial process. The Oklahoma Indigent Defense System’s caseload has more than doubled since 2007, according to the agency’s most recent annual report. Its state appropriations break down to less than $300 per case, which can include murder trials. [Journal Record]

State, Cherokee Nation announce plans to study growth of chicken farms in northeastern Oklahoma: The state of Oklahoma and the Cherokee Nation announced Wednesday that the state and tribe plan to form a coordinating council to evaluate the expansion of poultry farms in northeastern Oklahoma. The Coordinating Council on Poultry Growth will examine the expansion of poultry production and its impact on rural communities and citizens in the region, according to a media release issued by Gov. Mary Fallin’s office. [The Frontier]

Citizen Petition: Oklahoma’s best chance to raise the minimum wage: Workers shouldn’t have to struggle to survive on the minimum wage. Since the founding of Oklahoma, our state constitution has allowed for citizens to bring issues to a vote of the people through a signature-gathering process. The success of citizen petitions in recent years suggests that bringing a state minimum wage raise directly to the ballot has a better chance of passing in Oklahoma than through the state Legislature. [OK Policy]

continue reading In The Know: Public defender system needs money; growth of chicken farms examined; raising the minimum wage…

In The Know: OK collections top estimate; VA chief criticizes audit; Gathering Place gun policy in question…

by | September 12th, 2018 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (1)

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.

In The News

Finance officials report Oklahoma collections top estimate: Collections to Oklahoma’s main state operating fund exceeded the official estimate by nearly 7 percent in August, buoyed mostly by better-than-expected individual income tax collections. The Office of Management and Enterprise Services released figures on Tuesday that show collections to the General Revenue Fund totaled $455 million last month. That’s an increase of 6.6 percent from the monthly estimate and nearly 10 percent over collections during the same month last year. [AP News]

Veterans affairs chief criticizes critical audit: The head of the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday disputed several statements in an audit highly critical the agency he leads. Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs Executive Director Doug Elliott said during Tuesday’s commission meeting that many of the statements in the audit were not factual. The audit was requested in June 2017 by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter after his office received complaints from lawmakers and former staff. [Tulsa World]

‘In One Minute’ Video: The Lieutenant Governor’s Race: Find out who’s running for lieutenant governor of Oklahoma on Nov. 6 and the role the office plays in state government. This video series is presented by Oklahoma Watch and is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Oklahoma. [Oklahoma Watch] Find important dates, voter tools, and candidate information on our State Question and Elections page. [OK Policy]

continue reading In The Know: OK collections top estimate; VA chief criticizes audit; Gathering Place gun policy in question…

In The Know: Costs of world’s highest incarceration; more women in #okleg; hard work beats campaign contributions…

by | September 11th, 2018 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (2)

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.

In The News

(Capitol Update) The cost of maintaining the world’s highest incarceration: When it comes to mass incarceration, Oklahoma is No. 1 (in the world!) But what are the numbers behind this, by now, well known fact? And what effect does it have on Oklahoma’s state budget? Despite the efforts of Governor Fallin, many legislators, and participation by numerous stakeholders, the best the state has been able to do is slow the rate of increase in incarceration.  [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

More women in running for legislature. What are their chances in November? Before the first vote was even cast in Oklahoma’s elections this year, women had already made history. What is likely a record number of female candidates, 140, filed paperwork in April to run for one of the state’s 125 legislative seats to be decided in November. In a state where men outnumber women in the Legislature six to one, ranking Oklahoma 49th in percentage of legislators who are female (14%), many women’s advocates saw this as an opportunity to narrow the gender gap. [Oklahoma Watch]

Hard work beats campaign contributions in some runoff races: Oklahoma’s Republican runoff races were a good reminder: Candidates with large war chests don’t always win the race. Several candidates, including incumbents, outraised their competitors. Some of those people saw contributions that were tenfold their opponents’ and still didn’t nab the nomination. [Journal Record 🔒]

continue reading In The Know: Costs of world’s highest incarceration; more women in #okleg; hard work beats campaign contributions…

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