In The Know: Ahniwake Rose takes OK Policy helm, Former Epic teachers sue school over firing, TPS prepares for $20 million budget cut

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

Ahniwake Rose takes OK Policy helm while organization honors outgoing director David Blatt with Legacy Fund and Events: Yesterday marked a new era in the history of Oklahoma Policy Institute (OK Policy) as Ahniwake Rose takes over the helm as Executive Director, succeeding longtime director David Blatt. To celebrate David, OK Policy is hosting events in Oklahoma City on Monday, October 28th, 2019 and in Tulsa on Tuesday, October 29th, 2019. [OK Policy]

(Capitol Update) Not so Quik!: Using OSBI statistics, Oklahoma Policy Institute points out that overall property theft reports in Oklahoma continued a downward trend after passage of SQ 780 three years ago and raised only slightly after passage of new liquor laws last year allowing alcohol in convenience stores. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

In The News

Former Epic teachers sue school over firing, alleging enrollment manipulation: Two former teachers have filed lawsuits against Epic Charter Schools, alleging they were fired for pushing back against pressure to manipulate the enrollment of their students. Two other teachers who filed notices have not yet filed lawsuits. [Oklahoma Watch] Noelle Waller and Shauna Atchley filed lawsuits against Epic on Friday in Oklahoma County District Court, claiming they were fired after they refused to withdraw students who had poor academic performance. [The OklahomanSeveral bills were introduced last session that would require more oversight of virtual charter schools, and they could still be considered next year.

TPS prepares for $20 million budget cut; community engagement events will be part of the process: Tulsa Public Schools must find a way to slash $20 million from its budget for the 2020-21 school year as a result of declining enrollment and a persisting financial shortfall. [Tulsa World] Rebecca Fine, an education policy analyst with Oklahoma Policy Institute, says the state has come a long way, but that it will take time to catch up, after years of cutting funds. [KTUL]

Commission seeking to fill judicial vacancy: The Oklahoma Judicial Nominating Commission is accepting applications for Oklahoma County district judge. There is a vacancy because of the death of Judge Lisa Davis on April 14. [The Oklahoman]

More work needed as medical marijuana law takes effect: The start of September brought some clarity to laws addressing Oklahoma’s rapidly growing and evolving medical marijuana industry, but important questions remain to be answered related to banking options for cannabis businesses and “safety sensitive” jobs that might exclude some Oklahomans from becoming medical marijuana users. [Journal Record ????]

State senator files state bill to nullify potential federal red flag laws on gun ownership: State Sen. Nathan Dahm on Tuesday filed a bill that attempts to nullify any potential federal statute that enacts red flag laws concerning gun ownership. [Tulsa World]

Signatures expected to be counted on referendum to repeal state gun law: The Oklahoma Secretary of State’s Office on Tuesday said it will soon begin counting the signatures on a referendum seeking to let voters repeal permitless carry. [Tulsa WorldWhat’s That? Veto Referendum

In Tulsa, this photojournalist makes time to talk to strangers: A few years ago, Mike Simons walked and documented Tulsa’s 16-mile long Peoria Avenue one mile at a time. Simons repeated what he’d tried with that series, called Street Level, on two other streets. Then, he made it a regular part of his job through an online photo gallery called “Talking to Strangers.” [Poynter]

Outside attorneys may cash in from lawsuit: Oklahoma taxpayers could owe outside attorneys as much as $58 million if the state’s recent multi-million dollar verdict against opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson is upheld on appeal, according to legal contracts obtained by CNHI Oklahoma. [CNHI]

Still recovering from floods, Webbers Falls delays start of school until Sept. 9: Webbers Falls school officials pushed back their start date by about a week as school officials continue work to get the school ready for students again after the May flood. [Tulsa World]

OU prof wants to talk about educational apps: A proposed South by Southwest panel led by a University of Oklahoma educator would explore difficulties in creating and paying for classroom-based apps. [The Oklahoman]

Public Forum: MAPS 4 – What’s at stake in OKC vote: Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt will be the featured guest at a public forum Sept. 17 on the city’s ambitious MAPS 4 proposal that would generate close to $1 billion in public funding – much of it aimed at addressing human-services and neighborhood issues. [Oklahoma Watch]

Chief Hoskin’s cabinet, Congressional delegate nominations confirmed by Council: Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr.’s cabinet and Congressional delegate nominations were unanimously confirmed by the Council of the Cherokee Nation during a special meeting Thursday. [CNHI] Chief Hoskin signs executive order establishing At-Large Cherokee Advisory Committee [CNHI] Chief Hoskin wants to expand language program. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Federal agency flags Hern campaign loan: The Federal Election Commission on Tuesday flagged a bank loan taken out by U.S. Rep. Kevin Hern and asked his campaign to provide more information about why it appeared to be overdue on a report filed in July. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“Assuming the role of Executive Director is an absolute honor and I am extremely excited to join the talented OK Policy team. Together we will build upon OK Policy’s foundation of fact-based policy analysis to ensure all Oklahomans have the opportunity to thrive.”

– Ahniwake Rose, Oklahoma Policy Institute’s new Executive Director [OK Policy]

Number of the Day


Oklahoma households that received Summer Cooling Assistance in 2018

[Source: OKDHS]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What it’s like trying to live on minimum wage—it’s a ‘constant struggle’: It’s been 10 years since Congress set the current federal minimum wage at $7.25. Yet across the board, wages simply are not keeping up as day-to-day costs continue to soar. Pew Research found that the average paycheck has the same purchasing power it did 40 years ago. That’s true even in smaller metro areas where the cost of living can be lower. [CNBC]

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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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