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In The Know: State officials rebuff deadline; counties wrap up election totals; state office independents team up

by | September 4th, 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.

[This Friday, September 7th is the last day to purchase your ticket for the 10th Anniversary Gala. Seating is limited and we have fewer than 70 tickets left, so buy your tickets today!]

In The News

State education officials rebuff Fallin’s deadline to report: With its attorney raising challenges, the state Board of Education did not comply by a Sept. 1 deadline with Gov. Mary Fallin’s order to identify for possible consolidation school districts that spend less than 60 percent of their funds on instruction. In a six-page memo dated Aug. 30, attorney Brad Clark said that Fallin’s Nov. 21, 2017, order doesn’t clearly define “instructional expenditure” and the governor’s staff has so far been unwilling to clarify or modify the order. [Oklahoma Watch]

All 77 counties wrap up election totals: Election officials in Oklahoma’s 77 counties have completed counting the votes in the Tuesday primary runoff election. Officials on Friday considered nearly 400 provisional votes that were cast, finding about half are from eligible voters. The still unofficial results show Kevin Stitt received 54.5 percent of the vote to defeat Mick Cornett for the Republican nomination for governor. Stitt faces Democrat Drew Edmondson in the November general election. [Public Radio Tulsa]

State office independents running as a team on open government: The five independent candidates for statewide office will run a coordinated campaign based on open government, they announced Thursday. Led by lieutenant governor candidate Ivan Holmes, the “hard working, middle-class” quintet have agreed to support open records, open meetings, open audits and a fully funded, independent Ethics Commission. [NewsOK]

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OKVotes: Your guide to the 2018 State Questions

by | September 3rd, 2018 | Posted in Blog | Comments (0)

Today Oklahoma Policy Institute published a series of fact sheets on each of the state questions on Oklahoma ballots this year. In addition to state and national races, voters will decide five state questions on November 6th:

  • State Question 793 – a citizen-initiated referendum to allow optometrists and opticians to operate in retail establishments;
  • State Question 794 – expanding the constitutional rights of crime victims, known as ‘Marcy’s Law’;
  • State Question 798 – providing for the election of Governor and Lieutenant Governor on a joint ticket starting in 2026;
  • State Question 800 – creating a new budget reserve fund, the Oklahoma Vision Fund, to receive a portion of gross production tax revenues;
  • State Question 801 – allowing local building fund revenues to be used for school operations.

Several other ballot initiative efforts, including ones to allow recreational marijuana and place medical marijuana in the state Constitution, failed to gain enough signatures and will not be on the ballot. A veto referendum effort to overturn HB 1010xx, the bill raising several taxes to fund pay raises for teachers and other workers, was struck down by the courts.

Each fact sheet includes a brief summary of the state question, background information, what supporters and opponents are saying, the full ballot language, and links to other resources, such as media coverage and the websites of campaigns for and against the state question. On our website (okpolicy.org/okvotes) we have also compiled general election resources, including information on voter registration deadlines, links to lists of candidates, and much more. We’ll continue to update and add to these resources as we get closer to Election Day.

Let us know if you have any questions about this resource or suggestions for what we can add to help inform you about the important decisions you’ll be making on November 6!

The Weekly Wonk: Future of medical marijuana; been down so long; budget committee chairs appointed

by | September 2nd, 2018 | Posted in Blog, 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, Criminal Justice Policy Analyst Damion Shade examined the future of medical marijuana in Oklahoma and noted that legislators will have many issues to settle next year. 

In his weekly Journal Record column, Executive Director David Blatt cautioned that although the legislature took steps forwards, we’ve yet to restore our public resources to levels needed to ensure that all Oklahomans can thrive. Steve Lewis’s Capitol Update gave us a breakdown of the Senators appointed as budget committee chairs by Senate President Pro Tempore-designate Greg Treat.

OK Policy in the News

Blatt spoke with The Intercept about a new trend emerging among Republican primary voters. He also spoke with KTUL about trends in Oklahoma’s governor race. 

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In The Know: Report states DHS failing children in foster care, state disputes findings; future of medical marijuana in OK…

by | August 31st, 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.

[NOTE: In The Know will be not be published on Monday, September 3, for Labor Day. We will be back Tuesday morning with a round-up of the 3-day weekend.]

In The News

Report: Oklahoma slow to remove some children from abusive foster homes: Oklahoma has been slow to remove children from abusive foster homes in some instances and children in state custody continue to experience abuse and neglect at “an alarmingly high rate,” according to a new report from the monitors of a class action, civil rights settlement to improve Oklahoma’s child welfare system. [The Frontier] The Oklahoma Department of Human Services on Thursday took issue with the latest report by monitors that downgraded the agency’s progress in improving the state’s foster care program for children. [AP News]

The future of medical marijuana in Oklahoma: More than half a million Oklahomans voted in favor of State Question 788 legalizing medical marijuana, making Oklahoma the 30th state in the nation to legalize the drug in some form. SQ 788 directed the Department of Health to issue rules governing the implementation of the law, and after a flurry of controversy and a do-over forced by Attorney General Mike Hunter, Governor Fallin signed new emergency rules on July 31. [OK Policy] The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority’s application for a license became available last weekend, and some people have already received their medical cards. [KOCO] Oklahoma’s newest legal industry already is attracting interest from companies throughout the country. [NewsOK]

As physicians again push for unpopular medical marijuana restrictions, one lawmaker ‘a little frustrated’: A coalition of medical professionals pushed again for the reinstatement of medical marijuana rules limiting product potency and banning sales of smokable cannabis, drawing pushback from a legislative working group handling the issue. [Tulsa World] A co-chairman of the medical marijuana legislative working group said Wednesday that he is working with cannabis advocates and other lawmakers on language to expand regulation of State Question 788. [Tulsa World]

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The future of medical marijuana in Oklahoma

by | August 30th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, Criminal Justice | Comments (4)

More than half a million Oklahomans voted in favor of State Question 788 legalizing medical marijuana, making Oklahoma the 30th state in the nation to legalize the drug in some form. SQ 788 directed the Department of Health to issue rules governing the implementation of the law, and after a flurry of controversy and a do-over forced by Attorney General Mike Hunter, Governor Fallin signed new emergency rules on July 31.

The regulation process, however, is still incomplete. While the emergency rules implement the language of SQ 788, there are several areas, including laboratory testing of marijuana products, changes to law enforcement practices, and patient licensing procedures that remain unsettled because SQ 788 did not explicitly authorize the Health Department to create rules. To fill in those gaps, Governor Fallin directed a bipartisan group of legislators known as the Medical Marijuana Working Group to gather information on gaps in the law and form proposals to consider during the 2019 legislative session.

Based on the early comments of the Medical Marijuana Working Group, legislators favor a more “hands-off” approach to medical marijuana rules. The working group is trying to balance the concerns of law enforcement and public health officials with what advocates have called one of the least restrictive and most “patient-centered” medical marijuana ballot measures in the nation, and the next legislature will consider proposals to change and fill in regulations in 2019.

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In The Know: Legislators sent packing; school leaders win primaries; voters reward pro-education candidates…

by | August 30th, 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.

[There are less than 100 tickets left to our 10th Anniversary Gala on September 13. Join us in celebrating our first decade of advancing policy change as we honor former Speaker of the House Kris Steele and former state Superintendent Sandy Garrett with our Good Sense / Good Cents award. The New Yorker magazine’s humorist and feature writer Ian Frazier will be the night’s keynote speaker. Individual tickets and sponsorships are available now.]

In The News

Voters send more legislators packing. Was it the tax vote? It was another tough day to be an Oklahoma legislator running for reelection. Six of the 10 Republican incumbents who faced runoff challenges Tuesday were defeated and will not return when the Legislature convenes again early next year. They will join six other lawmakers – again all Republicans – who lost during June’s primary. [Oklahoma Watch]

More Oklahoma school leaders win primaries, prepare for November election: In a tough night for incumbent Republican legislators in Oklahoma, more school leaders won their primary runoffs to earn spots on the November general election ballot. Among them was Sherrie Conley, a school administrator in Oklahoma City, who got 50.9 percent of the vote in a close race against incumbent Bobby Cleveland in the Republican runoff in House District 20. [Education Week] Oklahoma teachers just purged the statehouse of their enemies [Daily Intelligencer]

In Oklahoma and Arizona, primary voters rewarded candidates who stood with teachers: Oklahoma voters continued a red-state trend Tuesday night by throwing out half a dozen incumbent Republican lawmakers who voted against a tax hike to fund teacher pay increases. In Arizona, educators made a number of electoral gains in Democratic Party primaries. [The Intercept]

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In The Know: 6 of 7 ‘Platform Caucus’ lose runoff; election features closes calls, landslides; Kevin Stitt bests Mick Cornett…

by | August 29th, 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.

[Monday is the last day to submit a public comment on Oklahoma’s Medicaid waiver that threatens health care for thousands of low-income families in Oklahoma. To learn more about this dangerous proposal, visit our advocacy page. To craft and submit a public comment today, use this survey form.]

In The News

GOP runoffs: 6 of 7 ‘Platform Caucus’ members lose: Of the 10 Republican members of the Oklahoma House of Representatives who were in runoffs Tuesday, the three who voted in favor of funding teacher raises prevailed. But six of the seven lawmakers forced into a runoff and who voted against this year’s historic revenue package were defeated. Only Rep. Sean Roberts (R-Pawhuska) won, and only by 88 votes. [NonDoc] Republicans who oppose teacher protests are losing their primaries, even in red states. [The Intercept]

Statewide elections feature close calls, landslides: Oklahoma’s Republican runoff races for attorney general as well as state auditor and inspector appeared neck and neck during most of Tuesday night. Meanwhile, the Republican runoff elections for lieutenant governor, superintendent of public instruction and the Democrat runoff for corporation commissioner featured margins of victory well into the double digits. [NonDoc] Oklahoma elections recap: The winners and losers from last night. [NewsOK] Republican runoff election: Results by county. [Oklahoma Watch]

Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt bests Mick Cornett in Republican gubernatorial runoff: Tulsa mortgage company owner Kevin Stitt took the next step on Tuesday in his rise from political unknown to potential Oklahoma Governor, easily outpacing former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett in the Republican runoff. [The Frontier] That means the mortgage mogul — who touts himself as an outsider and has played up his similarities to and support of President Donald Trump — will turn his attention to Democrat Drew Edmondson, a former prosecutor and state attorney general. [NonDoc] No bull, it’s Stitt: Republicans choose outsider for gubernatorial candidate [Journal Record 🔒]

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In The Know: Remedies to teacher shortage; no specific threats to election system; runoff tests teacher’s political movement…

by | August 28th, 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.

[There are less than two weeks left to purchase your ticket for our 10th Anniversary Gala. We hope you will join us on Thursday, September 13th to honor former Speaker of the House Kris Steele and former state Superintendent Sandy Garrett with our Good Sense / Good Cents award. We will also welcome The New Yorker magazine’s humorist and feature writer Ian Frazier as our keynote speaker. Individual tickets and sponsorships are available now.]

In The News

As teacher shortage nears crisis, other states may offer remedies: The latest counts of emergency certified teachers in Oklahoma capture a stubborn reality: Classrooms across the state are being staffed by a teacher who isn’t fully trained or prepared. In just three months, state officials have already given emergency certification to 2,153 teachers who haven’t obtained certificates in the subject they will teach –surpassing the record from all of last school year. [Oklahoma Watch] Teacher shortage prompts record 2153 emergency certifications in Oklahoma. [CNHI]

No specific threats to election system going into Tuesday’s primary runoff: State Election Board Secretary Paul Ziriax assured voters on Monday that there were no specific threats to the state’s election system heading into Tuesday’s primary runoff. Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday and close at 7 p.m. [Tulsa World] Tulsa World editorial: Five reasons to go vote Tuesday [Editorial Board / Tulsa World] For a list of voting resources and election deadlines, visit our 2018 Oklahoma State Questions and Elections page. [OK Policy]

Runoff in District Near Pauls Valley Tests Strength of Teachers’ Political Movement: Tuesday is Oklahoma’s primary runoff election and in House District 20, an educator is campaigning to oust Republican incumbent Bobby Cleveland, who’s held the seat for six years. It’s a theme that’s playing out in races across the state, and the outcome of the runoff south of Norman could test whether Oklahoma educators are part of an election moment — or a true political movement. [KOSU]

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Senate leader names budget committee chairs (Capitol Update)

by | August 27th, 2018 | Posted in Blog, 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.

It’s one of those things that goes largely unnoticed but is as important as anything the legislative leadership does. Last week Senate President Pro Tempore-designate Greg Treat named his Appropriations subcommittee chairs who will serve under Appropriations Committee Chair Roger Thompson. All Senators are members of the Appropriations Committee, but the nuts-and-bolts budget work is done in six subcommittees. The chairs of the subcommittees speak for their members in the larger appropriations meetings and generally become the voice of the Senate to the agencies under their jurisdiction.

Sen. Treat reduced the number of subcommittees from eight to six. He changed the Finance Subcommittee back to a full standing committee rather than a subcommittee of appropriations. Finance had always been standing committee until the past few years. Sen. Stephanie Bice, who in her first term tackled reforming Oklahoma’s archaic liquor laws, will chair Senate Finance. Tax reform will likely be a hot topic for this important and powerful standing committee.

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In The Know: School choice group opposes teacher candidates; “ill-conceived” Medicaid rule; historic primary runoff…

by | August 27th, 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.

[There is one week left to submit a public comment to the Oklahoma Health Care Authority on the new Medicaid proposal. To learn about the proposal that threatens health care for thousands of Oklahoma parents, visit our advocacy page. To craft and submit a public comment today, use this survey form.]

In The News

National school choice group opposing teacher candidates, teacher pay raise supporters: A national pro-school choice organization once chaired by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is spending money against Oklahoma teachers running for the state Legislature. The Oklahoma chapter of the American Federation for Children has spent nearly $45,000 over the last week on direct mail pieces in four races ahead of the Aug. 28 runoff election, according to recent campaign finance reports. [NewsOK]

OKC physician: Medicaid work requirement rule is ill-conceived: Like many states, Oklahoma’s health care system is in crisis. As a primary care physician, I witness daily the struggles patients face as they try to balance putting food on their tables and gas in their cars with filling prescriptions and obtaining routine preventative care. [Scott Melson, M.D. / NewsOK] There is no evidence that taking away coverage from a person who is unable to work enough will either increase work or improve health. [OK Policy]

This year, a primary runoff of historic proportions: If there is one thing clear about Tuesday’s primary runoff election, it’s that voters and observers are in for a record level of suspense. Tuesday will feature the largest number of runoffs in at least two decades, and possibly the most in state history. [Oklahoma Watch] Here’s a list of what’s on the ballot tomorrow. [NewsOK] For a list of voting resources and election deadlines, visit our 2018 Oklahoma State Questions and Elections page. [OK Policy]

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