In The Know: Big turnover in Legislature; Stitt’s campaign promises; transition to Governor Stitt begins…

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

With big turnover in Legislature, many legislators predict productive session: It’s been a year of change for Oklahoma state government. An apparent shift in the Republican Party. Rare enthusiasm among Democrats. Tax increases achieving the previously thought unattainable three-fourths majorities in both the House and the Senate. A new governor elected. And a whole bunch of new legislators. [Tulsa World]

A checklist of campaign promises: Can Stitt fulfill them? Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt ran on a platform of bringing an outsider’s perspective to Oklahoma government and said he will draw on his business background to push the state into top 10 rankings for education, job growth and other areas. But Stitt will need allies in the Legislature and at key state agencies to make good on those promises. [Oklahoma Watch]

Transition to governor for Kevin Stitt began immediately after election ended: Immediately after the election was called Tuesday night, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol began providing security for Governor-elect Kevin Stitt and his family.Stitt and his family will have a security detail for as long as he is in the governor’s office, as did the governors who served before him.It was the first noticeable indication of Stitt’s new reality. [Tulsa World]

Voters send more women, teachers to Oklahoma Capitol: The Oklahoma Legislature added several women to its roster Tuesday, but female lawmakers will still make up less than one-fifth of House and Senate members when the session begins in February. Teachers also won big Tuesday night, with the number of educators serving in the Legislature more than doubling since last year. [NewsOK] Teachers share disappointment with election results, excitement for the future. [Tulsa World]

Most teachers running for office lost on Tuesday. Here’s why educators are celebrating the 2018 midterms anyway: The teachers who launched historic walkouts in red states last spring failed to transform their state legislatures on Tuesday, and most of the teachers who ran for office, fed up with education cuts, lost at the polls. But educators are still celebrating some major gubernatorial victories and bipartisan signs that the pro-public education movement created by teachers has staying power. [TIME]

Point of View: A great opportunity to help Oklahoma students: Every election is historic. It’s trite to say so. Still, we can’t look at the 2018 results without realizing our children’s education was the big winner. Tuesday’s results started taking shape in April when tens of thousands of people — teachers, students, parents, education support professionals, administrators and public education supporters — marched around the Capitol for nine days. [Alicia Priest / NewsOK]

Rural vote helped Stitt win governor’s race: Concern among Kevin Stitt’s campaign grew in the days before the election as multiple polls showed a tight race with Democrat Drew Edmondson. Momentum seemed to be building behind Edmondson, especially in suburban communities, and even some national political observers labeled Oklahoma’s gubernatorial contest a “toss up.” [NewsOK????]

Tulsa and OKC: Looks can be deceiving: The politically unaffiliated might have been surprised by how the state’s largest cities voted this week, and for good reason. In geography terms, Republican Kevin Stitt won in a landslide. He nabbed 73 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties and lost one of the other four by a single vote. However, with 1.2 million votes submitted in the race, Stitt drew in only about 143,000 more than Democrat Drew Edmondson, putting Stitt at 54 percent. Edmondson won few counties, but he got two of the three most populated ones: Oklahoma and Cleveland. [Journal Record]

Parties over people — about 308,000 Republicans and 162,000 Democrats voted straight party Tuesday: The popularity of straight-party voting in Oklahoma is creeping up, with 40 percent of the 1.185 million state ballots cast Tuesday. This means more than one in three Oklahomans made their decisions for a political party rather than a person. Part of this might be the antiquated design of the ballot, which puts the straight-party option as the top item. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]

Horn taps network of women, young people for upset win: A Democratic attorney tapped into a network of enthusiastic women and young people in an increasingly diverse capital city to pull off one of the midterm elections’ biggest upsets, snatching a congressional seat in deep-red Oklahoma that had been in Republican hands for four decades. [AP News]

Oklahoma state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister sued by witness in the now-dismissed criminal case against her: A prosecution witness in the 2016 criminal case against state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister blames her in a lawsuit for the loss of his job. “The claim is entirely untrue and unsupported,” Hofmeister said Friday. The witness, Ryan Owens, was executive director of a state association of school administrators and principals. [NewsOK]

Legislation needed to implement rape kit task force recommendations: Legislation is needed to act on some recommendations developed by a task force examining the issue of untested rape kits in Oklahoma, Attorney General Mike Hunter said Thursday. The task force added some new faces to the mix Thursday who could help propel efforts to test thousands of previously unsubmitted kits that have been identified and improve the state’s response. [NewsOK]

Hall-Harper: Comments defending Tate Brady were ‘white privilege in action’: Vanessa Hall-Harper, Tulsa’s lone black city councilor, told The Frontier that comments made by District 3 interim councilor Karen O’Brien on Wednesday defending the legacy of Tate Brady were “white privilege in action.” O’Brien, who replaced the late David Patrick following his sudden death in September, asked on Wednesday during an Economic Development Committee meeting why the focus was on Brady’s Ku Klux Klan membership rather than the “many many other good things” he had done. [The Frontier]

Betty Shelby uninvited to law enforcement conference after criticism: Former Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby was uninvited from a homicide investigators’ conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, according to a statement from the organization.Shelby, who was acquitted in the 2016 shooting death of Terence Crutcher, was scheduled to speak at the Southeastern Homicide Investigators Conference. [Tulsa World]

EDF to reverse Rock Falls Wind Farm property tax appeal: Energy company EDF Renewables intends to reverse its controversial Rock Falls Wind Farm bond agreement that had complicated school financial situations for northern Oklahoma districts, according to company representatives. [NonDoc] The wind farm property tax dispute could have had more than $1 million worth of implications for state education funding, according to Brady Barnes, superintendent of Newkirk Public Schools. [NonDoc]

DEQ: Elevated lead, copper results at Norman school were sampling error: State officials say a notice that was given to a Norman elementary school, alerting them to an increase in lead and copper in the water, was due to an error. On Nov. 2,  school leaders at Washington Elementary School in Norman were told that one of five routine water samples showed increased levels of lead and copper. [KFOR]

East Central receives grant to help single mothers pursue degree: East Central University was one of 14 campuses across the state to receive a grant from the Women’s Foundation of Oklahoma, designed to create economic self-sufficiency for Oklahoma women and girls. The grant, up to $5,000, was awarded based on the ability to provide support for single mother students and for the program’s ability to have a broad impact on a significant number of students. [The Ada News]

Oklahoma group wants to build on success of commutation project for prisoners with drug possession charges: A rule violation, no relapse. Not ready for or refusal to change. Mental health or anger issues. Life hardships. A slip back into the grip of narcotics use. During commutation hearings last week, offenders offered numerous reasons for why they were unable to succeed in alternative drug courts. Failing stuck them with lengthy prison sentences for possessing drugs. [Tulsa World]

Tiny homes to provide place to live, lesson in life skills: They will measure only 14 feet by 20 feet, but to a teenager seeking stability, the tiny homes being built at Pivot could make an immeasurable difference. Pivot, 201 NE 50th St., has a 16-bed shelter on its campus. The shelter runs at about 92 percent capacity. It is licensed by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to serve youths age 12 to 17 years old. [Journal Record]

Oklahoma City veterans form cycling team to help treat PTSD: Brandon Taber wanted more than the traditional one-on-one, seated-in-a-room sessions when it came to tackling his battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Couch sessions helped, but he also found himself turning to his Cervelo S5 for additional support. Out on the roads, he felt alive for the first time since he was hit by a car while serving in the military. [Bicyling]

Muscogee (Creek) Nation chief signs bill to repeal tribe’s Free Press Act: A bill to repeal the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s Free Press Act has been signed into law. A spokeswoman for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation confirmed Friday that Principal Chief James Floyd signed a measure Thursday night to repeal the tribe’s Free Press Act, one of five among all tribes nationally. [Journal Record]

A Tulsa dispensary keeps selling out of marijuana, but high costs amid scarce supply mean businesses and patients pay a premium: Tucked away at the end of a business strip in east Tulsa, the stock of medical marijuana flower at Healthy Buds Dispensary sells out almost as fast as owner Michael Monroe picks it up from a grower in Oklahoma City. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Straight-party voting serves no purpose other than putting power in parties, not the candidates. It’s a passive approach to democracy.”

-Tulsa World columnist Ginnie Graham, on Oklahoma’s straight-party voting box that was checked by more than one in three Oklahoma voters last Tuesday [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma prison inmates with assessed need of substance abuse treatment who received that care in 2017.

[Oklahoma Department of Corrections FY 19 Appropriations Request]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Trump rollback of disability rules can make doctor’s visits painstaking: The ADA, a 1990 civil rights measure designed to prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities, requires that public places be accessible, meaning new buildings and certain commercial establishments must provide ramps, doorways wide enough for a wheelchair, handrails and elevators. The law applies only to fixed structures, though, and doesn’t address ‘furnishings’ unattached to buildings. At doctors’ offices, that means scales, tables, X-ray machines and other diagnostic equipment aren’t legally circumscribed. The result is that movie theaters and laundromats have to be accessible to all people, but important aspects of the medical industry do not. [Kaiser Health News]

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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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