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

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]

With SQ 800, Oklahoma voters to decide on saving fossil fuel revenues in a long-term endowment: 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. [OK Policy] 2018 fact sheet on State Question 800: New reserve fund for oil and gas revenue. [OK Policy]

Prosperity Policy: Pay your interns: Tucked away in an appropriations bill that passed Congress last week is a measure that will expand opportunity for hundreds of bright young Americans of modest means by funding members of Congress to pay their interns. For many college students, internships are a critical step on the ladder of success. Internships offer valuable job training and experience and help students build networks that help open doors to their future careers. [David Blatt / Journal Record]

Medical marijuana working group agrees on some testing recommendations: Oklahoma’s Medical Marijuana Working Group reached consensus Wednesday on some potential testing requirements. That will include extending the deadline for labs to achieve accreditation and not starting the clock on them until six months after rules are adopted. [Public Radio Tulsa] The first medical marijuana plant has been sold in Oklahoma. [News9]

Campaign to amend marijuana rules started weeks before public knew: On the day Oklahoma voters went to the polls to decide whether to legalize medical marijuana through State Question 788, a behind-the-scenes campaign to prohibit the sale of smokable products already was underway. The public didn’t learn that a ban on selling some forms of marijuana was even a possibility until a coalition of health professional groups and agencies held a news conference on July 9. Dozens of emails obtained by The Oklahoman through an open records request show health groups had pushed for the two amendments for weeks, even before voters went to the polls. [NewsOK]

OKC reduces marijuana punishments as business owner sues to block Broken Arrow’s marijuana restrictions: Oklahomans voted in 2016 to reduce penalties for drug possession and this year approved a state question welcoming medical marijuana into the state. Officials in two cities recently reacted to those decisions. Oklahoma City, the state’s largest municipality, has chosen to reduce fines and eliminate jail terms for marijuana possession. [StateImpact Oklahoma] The Tulsa City Council decided to wait until next week to vote on a moratorium restricting cannabis processing and growing operations within city limits, a decision advocates are calling a victory. [Tulsa World] Although one of Oklahoma’s medical marijuana proponent groups is taking its issues with local governments to court, others are taking a tailored approach when criticizing local restrictions. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma prisons to borrow money for maintenance: The Oklahoma Board of Corrections on Thursday advanced bond plans for maintenance and construction efforts at existing prisons. The $116.5 million in bonds was authorized by the Legislature this year and could be finalized this week by the state bond adviser. The bonds would fund items ranging from new roofs and locks for cell doors, to lighting and plumbing needs at the state’s aging prison system. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma prepares to become first state to execute inmates using gas: Oklahoma is preparing to be the first state in the nation to execute inmates using gas. After all the mistakes and missteps in administering the death penalty, however, FOX 25 wanted to know what state leaders are looking at in their effort to prepare for this new generation of capital punishment. The last time members of Gov.Mary Fallin’s office wanted to rush through executions using the wrong drug, her general counsel now so famously told the attorney general to “Google it” when he was pushing to allow for the use an unauthorized drug to kill Richard Glossip. [FOX25]

Tulsa World editorial: Oklahoma’s costs of putting too many people in prison is ‘shameful’: At the end of the day, Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh says the situation is “shameful,” which just about sums it up. Oklahoma sends too many people to prison, more than it can afford to hold. No other place in the world locks up a higher percentage of its people, and it’s not making us any safer, just a whole lot poorer. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World]

Council OKs transparency measures: The Oklahoma City Council voted Tuesday in favor of transparency policies aimed at giving the public additional time to comment on taxpayer funded job-creation incentives and sales of city property. Both measures passed 7-1. Public notice of pending council action on significant deals often is limited to just a few days under current practices, said Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid, who proposed the reforms. [NewsOK]

Council asked to officially green light new downtown Tulsa special taxing district: Downtown Tulsa’s largest special taxing district may be up and running by November. The city council has been asked to approve a tax increment finance district spanning from Denver Avenue east to the Inner Dispersal Loop and from Archer Street south to Eighth Street to be formally established. The TIF is part of a broad economic development plan approved last year. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Quote of the Day

“We are a poor state and we are a state with rich resources. But we have not provided the right combination of opportunity and investment to have healthy communities, strong families and well educated kids. We want kids to have a competitive edge but it is only going to happen with resources.”

-State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister [Stillwater News Press]

Number of the Day


Percentage increase in the number of drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma from 2007-2016

[Oklahoma Commission on Opioid Abuse]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

One big problem with Medicaid work requirement: People are unaware it exists: The early results suggest that the incentives may not work the way officials had hoped. Arkansas officials, trying to minimize coverage losses, effectively exempted two-thirds of the eligible people from having to report work hours. Of the remaining third — about 20,000 people — 16,000 didn’t report qualifying activities to the state. Only 1,200 people, about 2 percent of those eligible for the requirement, told the state they had done enough of the required activities in August, according to state figures. [New York Times]

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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.

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

  1. As you combine the education funding/staffing problems in your head with the demand for funds to pay the interest on the maintenance of prisons, keep in mind that the governor forced out the DOC director who had used revolving funds which weren’t diverting funding from education to keep maintenance manageable. Her claims were that he was being irresponsible and sneaky in not going to the legislature for that money. OKC media and the OK Observer did the stenography (the latter lost my subscription for its shameful if clueless role). Now even more unnecessary diversion from schools.

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