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In The Know: The legacy of Olivia Hooker; 21 released after commutation campaign; economic optimism ahead of legislative session…

by | December 6th, 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

Prosperity Policy: A legacy to honor: At the age of 6, Olivia Hooker huddled under a table with her siblings, ordered by her mother to stay silent as a white mob rampaged through her house in the Greenwood District of Tulsa. Hooker, who died last month at age 103, was the last remaining witness of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre. Her father’s clothing store was destroyed, along with the entire Greenwood business district, then among the nation’s most vibrant black commercial areas. Thousands of homes were burned and looted, and hundreds of black Tulsans were killed. [David Blatt / Journal Record]

In The News

‘I just want to get my new life started’: 21 low-level offenders released early under commutation project: The four young siblings stood in the chilly air outside the Eddie Warrior Correctional Center on Wednesday evening, waiting to embrace their mother months after she was incarcerated in the Taft prison. Destiny Pinon, 21, stood anxiously with her sisters Lexcee Delgado, 15, and Alyssa Delgado, 11, as brother Dominic Delgado, 8, ran around in the grass just beyond the prison’s fencing. When Juanita Peralta finally emerged, the Ada family’s reunion included squeals, tears and a lot of hugs. [Tulsa World]

Economic report brings optimism ahead of legislative session: Although the economy is still a top issue for the state’s highest-ranking lawmakers, their situation heading into the next legislative session is far less dire. One day after three top lawmakers discussed their priorities for the year, state Treasurer Ken Miller painted the backdrop for them. November’s gross collections totaled $1 billion, again breaking the record for the period. Other indicators have made Miller’s reports, which have been rosy of late, sound even more optimistic. [Journal Record]

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In The Know: Fallout from Medicaid work rules; lawmakers commit to education funding; deaths linked to meth have surged…

by | December 5th, 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

Okla. missing opportunities to reduce the child uninsured rate: All children should be able to see a doctor or fill a prescription when they need to. After all, access to quality health care in childhood makes it more likely that a person will succeed and thrive throughout their life. But in Oklahoma, children are less likely to have access to health care than their peers in most other states. [Carly Putnam / Enid News & Eagle]

In The News

Loss of Medicaid coverage in Arkansas raises questions in Oklahoma: Oklahoma’s eastern neighbor is facing fallout from its Medicaid work requirements, but state officials said that won’t be the case here. Thousands of Medicaid beneficiaries in Arkansas have lost coverage for not complying with that state’s work requirements. [Journal Record] This year, OK Policy released a report in partnership with the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families which found that Oklahoma’s proposed work reporting rule would largely harm mothers and children

Senate leader: Despite ‘fear mongering,’ lawmakers committed to education funding: Legislative leaders on Tuesday vowed to continue the funding strides made earlier this year in education, but they also hope to work on reforms. Senate President Pro Tem-designate Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, said there is a lot of “fear mongering” going on, at least on social media, that the Legislature will back out of investments made in education. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” Treat said. [Tulsa World]

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In The Know: Early bill filings; efforts to expand early voting; new precedent for workers compensation cases involving drugs…

by | December 4th, 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) Early bill filings reveal legislators’ priorities: With the new Legislature now sworn into office, members can begin filing the bills for the next legislative session. Early bill filings are often “statement bills” revealing the priorities of their authors. By watching these early filings, you can learn something about the legislator and, without making too much of it, the people they represent. An early bill filing means the issue is a top priority for the legislator, especially for the leadership. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

In The News

Despite growth, county officials resist efforts to expand early voting: As the popularity of early voting continues to rise, some lawmakers are reviving a plan to make it easier for Oklahomans to vote. But they will likely run into continued resistance that has given Oklahoma the shortest in-person early-voting period among the many states that allow early voting. Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, said Senate Democrats are preparing legislation that would extend the time voters have to cast ballots through the in-person absentee option. [Oklahoma Watch]

Lobbyists, agencies step up to educate new lawmakers: State Rep. Chelsey Branham thought she’d have a day to rest and recuperate after more than a year of campaigning and working two jobs in the nonprofit sector. The Oklahoma City Democrat snagged a seat vacated by a term-limited Republican on Nov. 6. She quickly felt the weight of her new position as lobbyists and others in the state’s political sphere began calling the same night she won. [NewsOK]

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Early bill filings reveal legislators’ priorities (Capitol Update)

by | December 3rd, 2018 | Posted in Capitol Updates | Comments (2)

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.

With the new Legislature now sworn into office, members can begin filing the bills for the next legislative session. Early bill filings are often “statement bills” revealing the priorities of their authors. By watching these early filings, you can learn something about the legislator and, without making too much of it, the people they represent. An early bill filing means the issue is a top priority for the legislator, especially for the leadership.

For example, Sen. President Pro Tempore Greg Treat filed Senate Bill 1 that creates the Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency as a legislative oversight agency to ensure that “government funds are expended in a fiscally responsible manner.” The office, which will have an executive director and a staff, will be overseen by a bipartisan legislative committee. The bill requires the Office to conduct “performance evaluations” of the various agencies. This likely reflects dissatisfaction with the Health Department fiscal fiasco last year and a desire to independently verify the budget numbers being given legislators by the agencies. It also responds to the argument of many that tax money “is not being spent properly.”

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In The Know: SQ 780 reversed upward trend of felony charges; increase in uninsured children in Oklahoma; new plan to bring down high rates of child abuse…

by | December 3rd, 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

In its first year, SQ 780 reversed 10 years of growth in felony filings: New data shows that State Question 780 reduced felony filings by over 14,000 across Oklahoma’s District Courts in its first year in a major realignment of how the state deals with low-level offenses. SQ 780, approved by voters by a wide margin in 2016, reclassified simple drug possession and many minor property crimes as misdemeanors rather than felonies. [OK Policy]

Oklahoma’s progress on child uninsured rate has stalled: All children should be able to see a doctor or fill a prescription when they need to. After all, access to quality health care in childhood makes it more likely that a person will succeed and thrive throughout their life. But in Oklahoma, children are less likely to have access to health care than their peers in most other states. [OK Policy]

No family should be punished for accepting help when they need it: Bad luck or hard times can hit any of us, and when it happens we should all be able to seek and accept help to meet basic needs while we work to get back on our feet.  But for many Oklahoma families, that assurance of compassion and help may soon disappear. [OK Policy]

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The Weekly Wonk: Results of criminal justice reform; stalled progress on child uninsured; immigration rules threaten families; and more…

by | December 2nd, 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.

Recently from OK Policy

This week, Open Justice Oklahoma released its first report which found that State Question 780 reversed 10 years of growth in felony filings. In an analysis of Census Bureau data, Policy Director Carly Putnam showed Oklahoma’s progress on child uninsured rate has stalled. Economic Opportunity Policy Analyst Courtney Cullison explained the importance of ensuring immigrant families are not punished for accepting help when they need it

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt pointed to bail reform as the next step in criminal justice reform for Oklahoma. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Updates gave a run-down of Governor-Elect Kevin Stitt’s transition team and examined Oklahoma’s attempts to provide support for kids with difficult physical or mental health and behavioral issues.

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Oklahoma’s progress on child uninsured rate has stalled

by | November 29th, 2018 | Posted in Children and Families, Healthcare | Comments (0)

All children should be able to see a doctor or fill a prescription when they need to. After all, access to quality health care in childhood makes it more likely that a person will succeed and thrive throughout their life. But in Oklahoma, children are less likely to have access to health care than their peers in most other states. New analysis of Census Bureau data shows that after years of steady declines in the child uninsured rate, progress in Oklahoma has stalled: for the last three years, the child uninsured rate has hovered at around 8 percent. In 2017, that gave us the fourth-highest share of children without health insurance in the US, working out to 82,000 children uninsured. That’s enough to nearly fill OU’s Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium (capacity: 86,112). 

This is bad news for Oklahoma – but fortunately, Oklahoma has the opportunity to remedy the problem. Bringing access to quality, affordable health care to our children will protect their health, position them to seize the opportunities offered in school and at work, and set Oklahoma on the path to being a better, stronger state.

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In its first year, SQ 780 reversed 10 years of growth in felony filings

by | November 28th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Criminal Justice | Comments (1)

New data shows that State Question 780 reduced felony filings by over 14,000 across Oklahoma’s District Courts in its first year in a major realignment of how the state deals with low-level offenses. SQ 780, approved by voters by a wide margin in 2016, reclassified simple drug possession and many minor property crimes as misdemeanors rather than felonies. Assessing the First Year of SQ 780, a new report from Open Justice Oklahoma, uses original data from aggregated District Court criminal filings in the last ten years to evaluate the impact of the justice reform ballot measure in FY 2018. Open Justice Oklahoma, a project of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, seeks to improve understanding of our justice system through analysis of public data. The data reveal several trends:

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In The Know: Stitt’s inner circle; jobs for Oklahomans with disabilities; helping trauma-exposed kids…

by | November 26th, 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 Know will be off for the rest of the week as we attend a conference. It will return next Monday.

In The News

Stitt’s orbit: The outsider’s inner circle: It was October 2017, and with the general election more than a year away, Stitt had launched his bid for governor as a political nobody, an unknown name even to a person like Donelle Harder, who had worked for U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and recently moved to Oklahoma to work for the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association. A few weeks later Harder joined a campaign that was mostly made up of Stitt’s family and friends, an orbit of political outsiders who remain by his side today and likely will play a significant role in how the governor-elect chooses to shape policy and tackle some of the state’s biggest challenges. [NewsOK 🔒]

Stitt Transition Chair Steps Down From Controversial Christian Group: Marc Nuttle Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt’s pick to lead his transition team is facing heat for his connection to a Christian nonprofit organization that has been accused of making disparaging comments about Muslims, gays and liberal. [Oklahoma Watch]

Retired Oklahoma Supreme Court justice to help with Stitt transition: Retired Oklahoma Supreme Court Chief Justice Steven Taylor, of McAlester, is taking on a new role.Oklahoma Governor-Elect Kevin Stitt has asked Taylor to join his gubernatorial transition team. Taylor has been tapped by the Republican governor-elect to oversee Stitt’s public safety policy committee. [Stillwater News-Press]

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Transition team begins charting Stitt Administration’s direction (Capitol Update)

by | November 26th, 2018 | Posted in Capitol Updates | Comments (1)

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.

A course being plotted on an old chart with a pencil and course plotterThere’s not a lot of legislative activity to report from last week. Most members were catching up on family time and fielding bill requests before the December 7 bill drafting deadline. In the next couple of weeks, members will be deciding on their own personal priorities for next session. In addition, members get proposals from constituents and various interest groups. Then they must request that bills be drafted to translate their ideas into legislation on or before the Dec. 7 deadline. There’s the feeling that, given the turmoil of the past several years, Oklahoma is turning a page with the new governor and large number of new legislators. New ideas are needed, some big and some small fixes that can make a difference.

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