In The Know: Legislation would let eye doctors practice in big box stores, Oklahoma House passes medical marijuana ‘Unity Bill’, Revamped grade cards are better but don’t fully accomplish goal

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

Oklahoma’s SoonerCare work requirement is in federal hands. Now what? You’ve heard a lot from us about Oklahoma’s proposal to cut Medicaid coverage for people who don’t meet a work reporting requirement. Now, the state’s efforts have entered a new phase. Here’s what’s happened so far and what to expect going forward. [OK Policy]

Today is the last day to apply for the Mental Health Policy Fellowship: The fellowship’s mission is to equip professionals be passionate, knowledgeable leaders who can advocate for mental health and addiction policy reforms while also working to reduce the stigma surrounding these illnesses. The deadline to apply is Friday, March 1, 2019. Click here to learn more and apply.

In The News

Rejected by voters as a state question, legislation would let eye doctors practice in big box stores: Although voters rejected the idea at the polls last fall, a bill moving through the Legislature would let big box stores open eye care clinics inside. The Senate Business, Commerce and Tourism Committee on Thursday passed Senate Bill 902 by Senate Majority Floor Leader Kim David, R-Porter. The vote was 6-2. [Tulsa WorldSee our fact sheet on State Question 793

Oklahoma House passes medical marijuana ‘Unity Bill’ after lengthy discussions on firearm ownership, tenant-landlord rights: Despite ongoing concerns over federal drug laws, the Oklahoma House on Thursday easily passed a bill providing a lengthy regulatory framework for medical marijuana. House Bill 2612 by House Majority Floor Leader Jon Echols, known as the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana and Patient Protection Act, cleared the House on a 93-5 vote. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma House sends medical marijuana unity bill to Senate. [Public Radio Tulsa]

COLA for pensions: Budget chairmen split on funding options: Rep. Avery Frix (R-Muskogee) wants to increase monthly payments to retired teachers, firefighters, peace officers, judges and other state employees. Called a “cost of living adjustment,” a COLA for pensions would be authorized under Frix’s HB 2304, which advanced through committee Wednesday. [NonDoc]

Corporation Commission adopts rule change that will require wind facility operators and developers to pay annual fees: Oklahoma’s Corporation Commission on Thursday adopted updated rules that include a new provision to require wind developers to pay the agency annual fees. The provision requires owners of wind energy facilities to pay the agency $2,000 annually per facility to help compensate it for its oversight responsibilities. [NewsOK ????]

‘No perfect system’: Revamped grade cards are better but don’t fully accomplish goal, school leaders say: The Oklahoma State Department of Education on Thursday released school report cards after a years-long effort to overhaul the controversial A-F grading system. [Tulsa World] 19 Oklahoma City schools receive ‘F’ on new report cards. [NewsOK]

New ImpactTulsa report highlights educational inequities, progress: Fewer than 5 percent of low-income black eighth-graders in the Tulsa area were proficient in math last year, according to a report released Thursday. The ImpactTulsa 2018 Community Impact Report examines systemic barriers affecting minority and low-income students.

Putnam City one of few Oklahoma school districts offering child care to teachers: Conner Andrulonis likes to joke that he wouldn’t leave his teaching job in the Putnam City school district even if he “got mad at everybody.” That’s because Andrulonis, 34, a math teacher at Putnam City West High School, likes the way the district takes care of his daughters Isabel, 3, and Lillian, 7 months, while he’s at work. [NewsOK]

Langston Hughes Academy supporters plead with state Board of Education to save their school: Supporters of a north Tulsa charter school that is facing closure pleaded for the survival of Langston Hughes Academy on Thursday morning. Students, parents and employees urged the Oklahoma State Board of Education during its monthly meeting to reverse its decision to close the school. [Tulsa World]

‘One of the most pro-gun legislators’ worries about permitless carry. Learn what changes are coming Nov. 1: The man who pushed for years to allow concealed carry in Oklahoma said that while he thinks his bill made Oklahomans safer, he’s not a fan of permitless carry. [Tulsa World]

Trump plan to halt HIV hits rough road in rural Oklahoma: One of the goals President Donald Trump announced in his State of the Union address was to stop the spread of HIV in the U.S. within 10 years. In addition to sending extra money to 48 mainly urban counties, Washington, D.C., and San Juan, Puerto Rico, Trump’s plan targets seven states where rural transmission of HIV is especially high. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

As federal background check legislation passes, gun laws in Oklahoma loosen: U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn said on Thursday that she had “concerns” about the gun bill signed into law this week by Gov. Kevin Stitt that would allow for firearms to be carried without a permit or training. [The Frontier]

Lawsuit: Officer who killed fleeing Bixby teen last summer had been fired previously for being ‘unfit for duty’: The Bixby police officer who shot and killed a fleeing teenager in a vehicle last summer had been fired from his previous law enforcement job because “he was unfit for duty” and “repeatedly violated departmental policy,” an amended lawsuit filed Thursday claims. [The Frontier]

Community policing gains ground in Tulsa: It’s unseasonably warm in early January, and there are a lot of people taking advantage of the sunny day in downtown Tulsa. That makes it a busy day for Jason Edwards, a patrol officer for the Tulsa Police Department. He’s part of the Impact Team, a TPD initiative that focuses specifically on downtown issues, including homelessness. [Tulsa PeopleSee our 2017 report on strategies to build trust between police and the communities they serve.

New Bethany council member “just wanted to work for equality”: From her seat at the far end of the Bethany City Council bench, Amanda Sandoval could see that nearly half of the audience in the city hall chamber included her family, friends and members of the local Hispanic community. The importance of her Feb. 12 election to the council had finally set in. [NewsOK ????]

Black History Month: Honoring those who helped shape our history: Each day during Black History Month, Tulsa World writer Tim Stanley highlights important people, places and events from black history in Tulsa and Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“We do things to try to retain teachers. We wanted a way to entice them because we do a great job of getting good teachers and training them. Some do leave for other districts, so we wanted our teachers to have a reason to stay that would benefit them in other ways.”

-Kelly Suchy, who oversees the child care center for teachers in the Putnam City school district. [Soure: The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


How much Oklahoma’s Q2 2018 tax revenue remains below the state’s peak revenue quarter in Q4 2008.

[Source: Pew Charitable Trusts]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

State of working America wages 2018: Rising wage inequality and sluggish hourly wage growth for the vast majority of workers have been defining features of the American labor market for nearly four decades, despite steady productivity growth. The U.S. economy of the last several years has been no exception. The data show not only rising inequality in general, but also the persistence, and in some cases worsening, of wage gaps by gender and race. [Economic Policy Institute]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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