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Tickets for our 6th Annual State Budget Summit are on sale now! Early-bird pricing available through January 11th.

Registration Now Open for OK Policy’s State Budget Summit Featuring William Julius Wilson

by | December 13th, 2018 | Posted in OK Policy | Comments (0)

Last year Oklahoma made major progress in putting its financial affairs on the right track, but we still have a long road to travel to reverse years of cuts to public services. As Oklahoma’s 2019 legislative session approaches, now is the time to put forward a vision of what broad-based prosperity that benefits all Oklahomans looks like.  

OK Policy’s 6th Annual State Budget Summit will bring together Oklahomans with an interest in state policy issues to gain a clearer sense of our challenges and how they can be resolved.  The event will be held January 24th, 2019 at the Downtown/Medical Center Embassy Suites in Oklahoma City.

This event is a unique opportunity for policymakers, leaders, and staff from government, business, and non-profit organizations, advocates, educators, and others to become better informed and more effectively engaged. 

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In The Know: Educating incarcerated Oklahomans; bill would end Medicaid for low-income pregnant women; Oklahoma still trails region on per-pupil spending…

by | December 13th, 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.

New from OK Policy

Funding postsecondary education for incarcerated Oklahomans could pay off for public safety and the budget: Nearly 27,000 individuals are in Department of Corrections (DOC) custody, and approximately 90 percent will eventually be released. For justice reform to be successful in the long-term, we must prepare those currently incarcerated for meaningful re-entry back into our communities. [OK Policy]

Prosperity Policy: State Question 780 is working: Two years ago, Oklahomans endorsed a new approach to non-violent criminal offenses. State Question 780 reclassified simple drug possession and many minor property crimes as misdemeanors rather than felonies. No longer would individuals convicted of these offenses be facing long prison sentences and felony records. [David Blatt / Journal Record]

In The News

Proposed bill would eliminate Medicaid program for low-income pregnant women: bill proposed by a Republican lawmaker from Duncan would eliminate a state Medicaid program that provides health care services to low-income pregnant women. Senate Bill 40, authored by Sen. Paul Scott, R-Duncan, would eliminate the state’s Soon-to-Be-Sooners program, which is part of Oklahoma’s Medicaid program, known as SoonerCare. [The Frontier]

Teacher raises helped improve per-pupil spending gap, but Oklahoma still trails its neighbors: The latest national comparison of per-student spending rates in public schools shows that Oklahoma still trails all neighboring states, even when factoring in this year’s infusion of new dollars for teacher pay raises. According to the just-released National Center for Education Statistics annual report, Oklahoma’s annual expenditures trailed the regional average by nearly $1.3 billion for the 2015-16 academic year, the most recent data analyzed. [Tulsa World]

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Funding postsecondary education for incarcerated Oklahomans could pay off for public safety and the budget

by | December 12th, 2018 | Posted in Criminal Justice, Education | Comments (1)

Oklahoma has made encouraging progress on justice reform in recent years. Reforms passed in 2016 and 2018 will slow prison population growth and spur investments in rehabilitation. While these are important steps in the right direction, criminal justice reform should not only lower prison admissions or hasten release. Nearly 27,000 individuals are in Department of Corrections (DOC) custody, and approximately 90 percent will eventually be released. For justice reform to be successful in the long-term, we must prepare those currently incarcerated for meaningful re-entry back into our communities.

One crucial component to successful reentry is access to postsecondary education. Incarcerated individuals are under-educated. Among the general public, about one in three adults have a college degree; for formerly incarcerated, fewer than one in 20 do. On average, men entering Oklahoma prisons have a sixth-grade education; women have an-eighth grade education, according to DOC staff. Despite its budgetary difficulties, DOC has been proactive in providing high school education to incarcerated individuals at no cost to the individual. Going further to expand access to postsecondary education for Oklahoma’s incarcerated individuals would yield benefits not only to incarcerated individuals, but to the state’s safety and budget as a whole.

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In The Know: Nursing shortage; backlash to poultry rules; marijuana edibles rules go to governor…

by | December 12th, 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.

New from OK Policy

OKPolicyCast 42: The 2018 OK Policy Holiday Gift Guide: There are a lot of reasons why winter is our favorite time of year (Fewer tornadoes! Legislative session starts soon!). However, one big reason is that it’s when we’re most likely to give and be given books — always dear to a policy nerd’s heart. It’s also the time when we get to share them with you! [OK Policy]

Tickets for our 6th Annual State Budget Summit are now on sale! Last year Oklahoma made major progress in putting its financial affairs on the right track, but we still have a long road to travel to reverse years of cuts to public services. As Oklahoma’s 2019 legislative session approaches, now is the time to put forward a vision of what broad-based prosperity that benefits all Oklahomans looks like. The 2019 State Budget Summit will be on Thursday, January 24th, 2019 in Oklahoma City. The keynote speaker will be William Julius Wilson, the Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. Click here to purchase your tickets.

In The News

Reports: State facing nurse shortage: Oklahoma is facing a shortage of health professionals as the need for more health care workers increases, according to two reports. An aging population, expanded health coverage, aging nursing workforce and other economic conditions have led to these workforce shortages, according to the reports. [Journal Record 🔒]

Facing backlash on proposed rules, Board of Agriculture opts to ‘punt’ rules on new poultry farms to Legislature: The Oklahoma State Board of Agriculture scrapped a set of proposed rules on Tuesday that would have required new or expanding poultry operations to maintain certain distances away from houses, streams, schools and other locations after it received an overwhelmingly negative response to the proposal. [The Frontier]

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OKPolicyCast 42: The 2018 OK Policy Holiday Gift Guide

by | December 11th, 2018 | Posted in OK Policy, Podcast | Comments (2)

The OKPolicyCast is hosted by Gene Perry and produced by Gene Perry and Jessica Vazquez. You can subscribe to our podcast on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or RSS. The podcast theme music is by Zébre. If you have any questions for the OKPolicyCast, topics you’d like us to cover, or people you want us to interview, you can reach us at policycast@okpolicy.org.

There are a lot of reasons why winter is our favorite time of year (Fewer tornadoes! Legislative session starts soon!). However, one big reason is that it’s when we’re most likely to give and be given books — always dear to a policy nerd’s heart. It’s also the time when we get to share them with you!

In the latest episode of the OK PolicyCast, we discuss some of the books we’ve read and loved over the last year that we hope you’ll consider picking up, whether it’s to give them away or keep them for yourself (Or to buy with every intention of giving and then never getting around to it, and eventually keeping for yourself. Unless that’s just us?).

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In The Know: Jails collecting DNA; tax credit buyback bill; school grade cards delayed…

by | December 11th, 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.

New from OK Policy

(Capitol Update) The first deadline for next year’s Legislature has already passed: Although the legislative session does not begin until February 4th, the first deadline of the session, the deadline to request drafting of a bill, passed last Friday. There are usually several thousand bill requests made by the 101 House members and 48 Senators. A couple thousand of these will make their way into the hopper as an introduced bill. If past is prologue, many of these will be “shell” bills designed as placeholders, giving legislators time to develop their ideas. Shell bills defeat the purpose of deadlines, but they have become commonplace in the past few years. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

In The News

In unannounced move, Oklahoma jails begin collecting DNA from arrestees: With no announcement, Oklahoma jails are beginning to collect DNA from individuals arrested on felony charges – the first step in implementing a controversial state law passed two years ago. So far, hundreds of jail inmates have had the insides of their cheeks swabbed, and the samples have been forwarded to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, which soon will analyze and upload the genetic profiles to a national FBI database. [Oklahoma Watch] We previously wrote about how this kind of indiscriminate DNA testing could put innocent Oklahomans in prison.

Tax credit buyback bill promises to lower state debt: Oklahoma will be entering the next legislative session on good economic footing for the first time in a decade, and top lawmakers have already started filing bills that wouldn’t have been possible before. State Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, will serve as the Senate appropriations chairman during that session. He filed legislation that would allow the state to buy back tax credits to lower future debt. [Journal Record 🔒]

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The first deadline for next year’s Legislature has already passed (Capitol Update)

by | December 10th, 2018 | Posted in Capitol Updates | Comments (0)

Steve Lewis served as Speaker of the Oklahoma House of Representatives from 1989-1991. He currently practices law in Tulsa and represents clients at the Capitol.

Although the legislative session does not begin until February 4th, the first deadline of the session, the deadline to request drafting of a bill, passed last Friday. There are usually several thousand bill requests made by the 101 House members and 48 Senators. A couple thousand of these will make their way into the hopper as an introduced bill. If past is prologue, many of these will be “shell” bills designed as placeholders, giving legislators time to develop their ideas. Shell bills defeat the purpose of deadlines, but they have become commonplace in the past few years.

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In The Know: Teacher pay struggles; health insurance enrollment lags; making SQ 780 retroactive…

by | December 10th, 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

Tulsa World analysis: Some school districts still struggling to keep up in competitive hiring market after statewide teacher pay raises: Chelsea Archie never considered the pay when she signed her first contract to become a teacher at Broken Arrow Public Schools five years ago. But after she and her husband started a family and began to feel the strain on their two teaching incomes, she did a little homework and was shocked by what she found. [Tulsa World] Another teacher pay raise, adjustments to the school funding formula and streamlining student data are all policy proposals Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt has made as part of a pledge to make Oklahoma a top 10 state in education. [NewsOK 🔒

Oklahoma health insurance enrollment behind last year: About 4,500 fewer Oklahomans have signed up to buy health insurance through the exchange than did at this time last year, raising concerns that more will go without insurance in 2019. Open enrollment runs through Dec. 15. [NewsOK] Health insurance costs took a big jump last year, and it’s hitting Oklahoma families in the pocketbook. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Some Oklahoma lawmakers want to make State Question 780 retroactive: When granting commutations to 21 nonviolent offenders Wednesday, Gov. Mary Fallin said there are still about 1,000 people in Oklahoma prisons for low-level drug offenses who wouldn’t be there today if State Question 780 had been in place. [NewsOK 🔒] Earlier this year, we discussed why making SQ 780 retroactive is smart policy – and a moral necessity.

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The Weekly Wonk: Olivia Hooker’s legacy; early bill filings; economic optimism; and more…

by | December 9th, 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

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt wrote about the need to honor Olivia Hooker’s legacy and continue to repair the enduring traumas and divisions caused by the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update looked at early bill fillings and what they could mean for the new legislature. 

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke with The Journal Record about a new economic report that is bringing optimism ahead of the legislative session. The Enid News & Eagle ran Policy Director Carly Putnam’s piece on Oklahoma’s opportunities to reduce the rate of uninsured children. 

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In The Know: State Rep switches parties; Senate GOP committee assignments announced; Stitt hires general counsel…

by | December 7th, 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

State rep switches parties, leaves House with only 24 Democrats: Oklahoma House Democrats lost another member on Thursday when Rep. Johnny Tadlock of Idabel switched to the Republican Party. The defection leaves House Democrats with just 24 members, their fewest ever. Elected without opposition this year as a Democrat, Tadlock said he believed he could better serve his constituents as a member of the Republican majority. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Senate GOP Committee Assignments for 57th Legislature: Senate President Pro Tempore-designate Greg Treat on announced the full committee assignments of Senate Republicans for the 57th Legislature. Treat also announced meeting times and locations of Senate committees for the 2019 session. The standing committees remain the same from the past session; however, the membership of the Appropriations Committee is changing. [KFOR]

Number of experienced committee chairmen down from last year: About a third of the state’s lawmakers will be brand-new when they go to session in February, but they won’t be the only ones facing a learning curve. Many of the state’s top committee chairmen either termed out or lost their bids for re-election this year, including the heads of the health committees in each chamber. [Journal Record]

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