In The Know: 200 new laws take effect, including texting while driving ban

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.

Today In The News

Oklahoma’s law against texting while driving takes effect: U TEXT. U DRIVE. U PAY. That’s the message now posted on electronic reader boards along Oklahoma’s interstate system. It alternates with another message: Photo – $100 FINE. NOVEMBER 1ST. Under the new law, it is illegal to read or manually compose or send a text message while driving a moving vehicle. The ban also includes instant messages, email, photos or video. Hands-free applications are permitted [NewsOK]. The law was one of more than 200 new state laws taking effect Nov. 1 [KFOR].

Oklahoma’s Turnpikes: Who Is Profiting?: What started out as one toll road connecting Oklahoma City and Tulsa has turned into a multi-billion dollar web of turnpikes across the state. Sixty-three years later, Oklahoma drivers are still paying that bill. Some lawmakers and citizens fear the Turnpike Authority has too much power [News9].

Corporation Commission prepares to hear bribed vote case: Final preparations are being made for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to hear arguments Tuesday in the more than 25 year old Southwestern Bell rate case approved in a bribed commission vote that some consumers are again challenging, maintaining the bribed vote in 1989 constitutes no approval. Those consumers contend money should be repaid to ATT customers, a move that totals more than $16 billion [OK Energy Today].

State’s response to earthquakes gets mixed reviews in Senate hearing: This meeting was less tense than one held in the same room a year ago. Lawmakers approve of actions by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which is now more aggressively shutting down and limiting fluid injection in shaky areas. Officials praised energy companies for sharing data and voluntarily complying with oil regulators. Democratic Representative Cory Williams of Stillwater, however, said the state shouldn’t count on the industry’s cooperation [KOSU].  The new director of the state Geological Survey says there has been a modest decline in earthquakes over the last three months [Associated Press].

Changes to Oklahoma teacher salary structure could stem shortage, study says: A new study suggests Oklahoma public schools could alter their use of current and future teacher salary dollars to better attract and retain teachers. University of Tulsa economist Matthew Hendricks, who has devoted his career to education labor market issues, said his analysis found that accelerating pay increases for newer teachers could help slow the hemorrhaging of early- and mid-career teachers [Tulsa World].

Ada superintendent says sales tax proposal is ‘glimmer of hope’: Over the past eight years, Ada City Schools Superintendent Pat Harrison has watched school districts lose teachers and try to make ends meet with fewer state dollars. But a recent proposal to implement a statewide sales tax and earmark the proceeds for education could help reverse that trend, Harrison said Thursday [The Ada News]. On Oklahoma Watch Radio, reporter Brad Gibson examines the pros and cons of an education sales tax [Oklahoma Watch].

Oklahoma business summit to focus on early childhood development: Oklahoma business leaders will show how investing in early childhood development leads to community growth as part of a multi-day and location business summit. Oklahoma Champions for Early Opportunities is holding “Oklahoma’s Workforce Pipeline: One Community at a Time” summits in Enid, Ardmore and Oklahoma City on Thursday and Friday [Tulsa World].

Why is it so hard for state leaders to hear the views of teachers?: There was recently an op-ed piece in The Oklahoman by Katherine Bishop, Vice-President of the Oklahoma Education Association. Ms. Bishop had attended the Workforce Skills Gap forum sponsored by The Oklahoman. The panel of speakers consisted of officers of the Oklahoma Educated Workforce Initiative and representatives from the State Chamber of Commerce, higher education, CareerTech and the State Department of Education. There was no classroom teacher, public school parent, or student on the panel [OK Policy].

Many Oklahoma City school district teachers criticize discipline policies in survey: Suspensions may be down in the Oklahoma City school district, but hundreds of teachers say bad behavior continues to disrupt learning and little is being done about it. Nearly 90 percent of 836 teachers responding to a union survey say they are responsible for administering the majority of student discipline, despite assurances from district officials that school administrators are spending more time doing interventions [NewsOK].

Group creates online survey on potential uses of Tulsa sales tax extension: Local realtor, former Planning Commission member and all-around government gadfly Bill Leighty has come up with a tool he thinks will help city officials figure out what should be included in the Vision 2025 renewal: a survey. The Smart Growth Tulsa survey, Leighty said, would allows participants “to make the hard choices just like the council” [The Frontier]. You can take the survey here.

New specialty plate celebrates Oklahoma’s first flag and official motto: There will soon be a new Oklahoma specialty license plate decorating the backs of cars and trucks, celebrating the Sooner State’s first flag and its official motto: “Labor Omnia Vincit.” It was State Rep. Joe Dorman (D-Rush Springs) who originally sponsored legislation to create the 46-star flag plate. Dorman told Red Dirt Report he was looking forward to ordering one for his vehicle [Red Dirt Report].

Quote of the Day

“On average, Oklahoma’s most at-risk students are taught by teachers who are the least attached to their schools. When a teacher is retained, students are likely better off because they would have been taught by a less experienced replacement. Addressing this disparity and its implied inequity ought to be a top priority for policy makers.”

-University of Tulsa economist Matthew Hendricks, whose research found that teacher turnover rates are highest in Oklahoma’s low-income schools and urban schools (Source).

Number of the Day


Hourly living wage needed to support 1 adult in Oklahoma, which is 31 percent more than the current minimum wage of $7.25.

Source: MIT

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Where police don’t mirror communities and why it matters: For years, the Irving, Texas, Police Department has worked to become more diverse. Recruiters have traveled to predominately black and Latino colleges across the state, attended cultural events and forged relationships with high schools to pitch students on law enforcement careers. But as the city’s demographics have shifted, the police department remains overwhelmingly white. While 70 percent of city residents are minorities, they accounted for only 17 percent of police officers as of 2013. Irving, however, is far from alone [Governing].

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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