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In The Know: Another surge in nonaccredited teachers; federal lawsuit over Oklahoma Ethics rules; marijuana testing requirements…

by | September 27th, 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

State edging close to 2,600 nonaccredited teachers working with emergency certification: Another month, another large batch of emergency certifications for nonaccredited teachers.The slate of items the Oklahoma State Board of Education is expected to consider at a 9 a.m. Thursday meeting includes 412 such emergency certifications.This growing reliance by school districts on these new hires who have not yet completed the state’s requirements for either traditional or alternative certification is one of the strongest indicators that the statewide teacher shortage has not yet reached bottom. [Tulsa World]

Hofmeister discusses Oklahoma’s educational shortcomings: Student trauma along with teacher shortage and retention were some of the many topics State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister addressed while speaking in Stillwater on Tuesday during the Women’s Professional Council monthly luncheon. “We … have the highest percent of students that have experienced trauma of any other state in the country,” Hofmeister said. [Stillwater News-Press]

Oklahoma Ethics Commission hit with federal lawsuit over gift rules: A nonprofit organization is complaining it can’t give a $15 book to state government officials because of “unconstitutional” state ethics rules. The Institute for Justice on Monday filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. The institute is asking U.S. District Judge Timothy DeGiusti to find state gift-giving restrictions do not apply to informational materials. [NewsOK]

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With SQ 800, Oklahoma voters to decide on saving fossil fuel revenues in a long-term endowment

by | September 26th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Taxes | Comments (1)

Oklahoma will begin to set aside a portion of future oil and gas revenues for a new reserve fund if voters approve State Question 800 in November.

SQ 800 creates a new trust fund known as the Oklahoma Vision Fund in the state Constitution.  Five percent of the collections from the gross production tax on oil and gas would be deposited in the Fund beginning July 1, 2020 (FY 2021), and this allocation would increase by two-tenths percentage points every year. The fund would also consist of investment and income returns and any other appropriations made by the Legislature.

As of July 1, 2020, 4 percent of the average annual principal amount of the Fund over the preceding five years would be deposited to the General Revenue Fund. Up to five per cent of the monies in the Fund could also be used for debt obligations issued by the State of Oklahoma or local government entities.

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In The Know: Court rejects Ethics Commission; new round of quake lawsuits; hurdles for young parents…

by | September 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 News

Oklahoma Supreme Court rejects Ethics Commission request for more money: The Oklahoma Ethics Commission on Monday lost a legal effort to get more money to carry out its oversight functions. In a two-paragraph order, the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected the watchdog agency’s complaint against legislators and the governor. The 5-4 decision was the latest development in a bitter political rift that has been ongoing for months. [NewsOK]

Oil companies face new round of quake lawsuits: Several Oklahoma oil companies are facing a new slate of lawsuits alleging their activities led to a series of earthquakes that damaged people’s homes.Tulsa attorney Don Lepp recently filed 22 cases representing 168 plaintiffs spanning three counties. The claims are similar to those that Sharon and James Binkley made in a 2017 case in Osage County after the state’s strongest recorded earthquake rumbled through northeastern Oklahoma.That quake on Sept. 3, 2016 near Pawnee damaged the plaintiffs’ homes, according to the petitions. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma missing opportunities to give young adult parents and their kids a boost: The first years of adulthood are a crucial time in anyone’s life. Many Oklahomans ages 18 to 24 are taking their first steps toward independence, whether they’re in college or just entering the workforce. Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s 62,000 young adult parents face hurdles to support their children and fulfill their own potential, according to Opening Doors for Young Parents, the latest KIDS COUNT® policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The fifty-state report reveals that, at 18 percent, Oklahoma is well above the national average (10 percent) of residents age 18 to 24 who are also parents. [OK Policy]

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Oklahoma missing opportunities to give young adult parents and their kids a boost

by | September 25th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Children and Families, Financial Security | Comments (0)

The first years of adulthood are a crucial time in anyone’s life. Many Oklahomans ages 18 to 24 are taking their first steps toward independence, whether they’re in college or just entering the workforce. These are also key years for brain development and learning critical decision-making skills. When these young people are also new parents of young children, these two most sensitive stages in development coincide. By targeting investment and support to families at this stage of their lives, we have an opportunity to strengthen multiple generations of Oklahomans.

Unfortunately, Oklahoma’s 62,000 young adult parents face hurdles to support their children and fulfill their own potential, according to Opening Doors for Young Parents, the latest KIDS COUNT® policy report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. The fifty-state report reveals that, at 18 percent, Oklahoma is well above the national average (10 percent) of residents age 18 to 24 who are also parents. These families have limited access to opportunities to advance their education and find family-sustaining jobs.

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In The Know: Changes to school funding formula; upward trend in fatal officer shootings; governor forum highlights policy differences…

by | September 25th, 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

Group unveils proposed changes to how Oklahoma funds schools: Oklahoma is moving closer to changing the way it funds schools after a yearlong look at the education funding formula by a group of lawmakers and educators. The group’s proposed tweaks include a greater emphasis on low-income students, a revised definition of English language learners, and fewer categories of students based on grade level. [Oklahoma Watch]

Fatal officer-involved shootings this year continue recent upward trend: It’s unclear what sparked the increase in fatal shootings in recent years. The demographics of the deceased have stayed relatively consistent, according to public records and Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation data reviewed by The Frontier — about 3/4ths of the people fatally shot by law enforcement are white, about 20 percent are black and the remainder are Native American or Hispanic. [The Frontier] Family members of a man who was fatally shot during an encounter with Tulsa police on Christmas Day have filed a lawsuit claiming an officer used excessive force. [AP News]

Forum highlights where Edmondson, Stitt disagree on policy: On paper and on the stage Monday, Kevin Stitt and Drew Edmondson are markedly different candidates with divergent views on how to run the state government.Stitt, the Republican nominee for governor, will face Democrat Drew Edmondson and Libertarian Chris Powell in the Nov. 6 general election. Powell was not included in the forum, but he stood with supporters outside the forum venue in downtown Oklahoma City on Monday. [NewsOK] You can watch a video of the Oklahoma gubernatorial debate here.

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Will this generation make better priorities to protect the next generation? (Capitol Update)

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.

I attended an interim study this week requested by Sen. Greg McCortney (R-Ada) and Sen. Kay Floyd (D-OKC) that presented some excellent, if discouraging information on adverse childhood experiences (ACES.) Early childhood experts talked about what ACES are, the lifetime consequences of ACES, what the record shows about ACES in Oklahoma children, and what works to avoid ACES.

ACES have been scientifically proven to disrupt childhood brain development, which in turn causes social, emotional and cognitive impairment that affects a person the rest of her life. Children suffering ACES are known to adopt health-risk behaviors that result in disease, disabilities, and social problems and eventually end in early death. A CDC study shows that people with six or more ACES died 20 years earlier on average than those without ACES. Those with zero ACES lived an average of 80 years while those with 6-plus ACES lived 60 years. The economic toll is also striking. The CDC estimates the lifetime costs associated with child maltreatment is $124 billion.

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In The Know: Tulsa’s high eviction rate; lawmaker on poultry farm task force employed by industry; gubernatorial candidate debate….

by | September 24th, 2018 | Posted in In The Know | Comments (0)

In 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

No easy answers to Tulsa’s high eviction rate: Two weeks after moving into her first apartment, Jennifer Johnson’s daughter was hit by a drunk driver and the injuries put her out of work for a while. When the rent came due, she couldn’t afford it. “Without having resources like Mom and Dad to call,” Johnson says, “she would have been under eviction.” Local landlords file more than 1,200 evictions a month, giving Tulsa the 11th highest eviction rate in the country, according to data from Eviction Lab, a nationwide research project based at Princeton University. [Tulsa World]

Lawmaker examining growth of Oklahoma chicken farms is also employed by Arkansas poultry company: state representative whose district has seen explosive growth in the number of poultry farms over the past year and was recently appointed to a newly-formed council to examine the growth also works for one of the companies that has been one of the driving forces behind the increase in poultry operations in eastern Oklahoma. [The Frontier] At a public meeting, U.S. Congressman Markwayne Mullin says poultry issue is ‘personal to me.’ [Tulsa World]

Stitt, Edmondson to square off in debate: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Drew Edmondson and Republican rival Kevin Stitt have begun their general election campaigns portraying themselves as the agents of change Oklahoma needs. The debate on Monday will be the first time they have appeared in the same room since Stitt secured the nomination by defeating Cornett in the Aug. 28 runoff. The debate will be held Monday at 6:30 p.m. at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. No more public tickets are available. Newsok.com will carry a live stream of the event. [NewsOK]

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The Weekly Wonk: OKPolicyCast with Sabine Brown; thoughts on new Census data; shift in the election

by | September 23rd, 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 this week’s episode of the OKPolicyCast, we spoke with our Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator, Sabine Brown, who heads up Together Oklahoma, a grassroots coalition of advocates for better public policy. 

In his Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt reflected on new Census data which had mostly discouraging news for Oklahoma families, and especially children. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update referenced the same data and pointed to a shift in this election toward candidates who want to work for solutions to these problems.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke with the Tulsa World about new Census data that ranks Oklahoma second in the nation for percentage of population without health insurance. The Tulsa World cited OK Policy data on eviction rates in Tulsa. NonDoc included the OKPolicyCast in its list of Oklahoma podcasts. 

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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]

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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]

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