In The Know: Bill restricts AG settlements; restoring 5-day school weeks; workers comp update…

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

(Capitol Update) A successful session for Gov. Stitt’s priorities: It appears this will be the last week of the legislative session with leadership saying they plan to adjourn either Thursday or Friday. By any measure Governor Stitt can call this a successful session for his priorities. Early in the session he and legislative leadership agreed on a compromise plan allowing him, with Senate confirmation, to appoint five large state agency directors. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Less than one week left to apply for the 2019 Summer Policy Institute: “The information was comprehensive, and the guest speakers were amazing. My favorite part of SPI were the panel discussions that included professionals with differing perspectives on a wide range of topics.” -Lily DeFrank, Masters in Social Work, OU. The deadline to apply is Monday, May 27.

In The News

‘Paid first to the State Treasury’: #okleg moves bill on AG settlements: In the wake of controversy surrounding Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s settlement with opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma, the Legislature has advanced a bill clarifying the AG’s responsibilities when entering into settlements. HB 2751 unanimously passed the House Joint Committee on Appropriations and Budget 28-0 and the Senate JCAB 19-0 on Monday afternoon. The bill adds new language into Title 74 that stipulates a duty of the attorney general [NonDoc]

Oklahoma Senate passes bill to effectively restore five-day school weeks: The Oklahoma Senate approved a bill Monday to require at least 165 school days a year. Lawmakers in 2009 began to allow an instruction time minimum of 1,080 hours to make up for days missed to bad weather, but that’s led to whittled-down school years even in fair-weather years. Sen. Gary Stanislawski said some districts are down to 135 days of school. [Public Radio Tulsa]

‘A compromise by all parties’: Workers’ comp update advances: The Oklahoma House of Representatives advanced a compromise agreement on workers’ compensation issues Monday morning, sending a 187-page bill to the State Senate intended to address issues from the state’s 2013 system reforms. [NonDoc]

Gov. Kevin Stitt forms panel on criminal justice reform: Gov. Kevin Stitt issued an executive order Monday to form the Criminal Justice Reentry, Supervision, Treatment and Opportunity Reform Task Force. “This task force will bring together all stakeholders to discuss the criminal code, diversion programs, victims’ rights and our prison system,” Stitt said. [Tulsa World]

‘It eliminates the practice of a debtor’s prison’: Oklahoma Senate sends bail reform bill to House: The Senate on Friday passed a criminal justice reform bill designed to reduce pretrial incarceration costs and allow those accused of nonviolent crimes to return to their jobs and family. Senate Bill 252, by Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, passed by a vote of 30-12 and goes to the House for consideration. [Tulsa World]

State leaders look to remove juveniles from Oklahoma adult jails: Child welfare advocates are looking at strategies to remove all juveniles from county jails in Oklahoma over safety and security concerns, as well as changes in federal law. Oklahoma’s juvenile detention system is operating at about 85 percent capacity, so there is adequate space to keep all juveniles awaiting trial out of adult jails, officials said Friday at a meeting of the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth. [The Frontier]

Budget has $2M for anti-abortion pregnancy centers: A state budget proposal appropriates $2 million to private entities that encourage women to carry their unborn children to term. The proposed fiscal year 2020 budget would allow the state to allocate money to crisis pregnancy centers — nonprofits that dissuade women from having an abortion. [The Oklahoman]

Revving up investment: Funding and incentives dedicated to aerospace, automotive sectors: Recent actions taken at the state Capitol reflect continuing efforts to diversify Oklahoma’s economy, especially into aerospace, automotive and technology sectors. Oklahoma’s newly minted budget includes $1 million for the Department of Commerce’s Aerospace Commerce Economic Services program, to be used for job growth and economic development specifically in the aerospace and automotive industries. [Journal Record ????]

Oklahoma House OKs alternate bill on trains blocking traffic: A substitute bill that would authorize local law officers to cite train owners or operators for blocking a road-rail intersection for longer than 10 minutes without good reason cleared Oklahoma’s House of Representatives on Monday. [The Oklahoman]

Report finds progress by DHS in reducing abuse of children in state care: Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services has made significant progress in reducing incidents of abuse of children in state care, according to a new report released Friday by out-of-state monitors. DHS reported a “sharp decline in the incidence of abuse and neglect in institutional settings,” the overseers reported, adding that the agency also was highly successful in protecting the safety of children being cared for by parents in trial reunifications. [The Oklahoman] National experts find best performance yet by Oklahoma’s child-welfare system but call for ‘urgent, aggressive action’ on specialized foster homes. [Tulsa World]

Vaccination rates vary widely by school, county: Oklahoma requires kindergarteners to be immunized against 10 diseases unless parents choose an exemption on medical, religious or personal grounds. In Oklahoma’s 2017-18 kindergarten immunization survey, an estimated 89.9% of kindergarteners with immunization records were up to date for all required vaccines. The rate of exemptions was 2.2%, matching the national median. [Oklahoma Watch]

Edmond Hockey School not authorized as charter: A hockey-themed charter school planning to open this fall in Edmond does not have authorization to operate, according to the state Education Department. Calling itself the Oklahoma Hockey Academy, the school plans to charge $6,000 for hockey instruction but use Epic Charter Schools’ free curriculum while providing a teacher and classroom on site, according to an April 30 article in the Edmond Sun. [Oklahoma Watch]

Tulsa County commissioners accused of misleading the public over immigration enforcement program: Tulsa County’s typically staid commissioners meeting turned into a raucous affair Monday when a University of Tulsa assistant professor of law rose to demand that she be heard and accused commissioners of shunting their responsibilities and acting in bad faith. [Tulsa World] Tulsa County commissioners could end 287(g) program. But would they? [Tulsa World]

OU chief focuses on inclusion: The University of Oklahoma’s interim president wants to improve inclusion efforts during his tenure, which follows several racist incidents on campus and calls for improved diversity initiatives. “Step One is to recognize and be honest,” said Joseph Harroz, Jr., who was named interim president on Friday. [The Oklahoman]

Okla. town has warning as EPA shifts more environmental enforcement to states: Susan Holmes’ home, corner store and roadside beef jerky stand are right off Oklahoma Highway 31, putting them in the path of trucks hauling ash and waste from a power plant that burns the high-sulfur coal mined near this small town. The residents of this 500-person town have nothing but bitter warnings for similarly situated communities now that President Donald Trump’s EPA has approved Oklahoma to be the first state to take over permitting and enforcement on coal-ash sites. [KTUL]

Attorneys in Ada ‘Innocent Man’ murder case ‘blown away’ by content of newly-discovered documents, ask for public’s help: Attorneys for one of the defendants featured on the recent Netflix series The Innocent Man say the trove of documents recently found at the Ada Police Department indicate that there are possibly other records related to the case that have yet to be uncovered. [The Frontier]

Storm central: A look inside weather forecasting: While the weather outside triggered tense hours of waiting, meteorologists inside the National Weather Service Forecast Office remained calm and focused Monday at their stations. Severe storms began in the early afternoon and weather service staff issued the first tornado warning at 1:37 p.m. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“They’re going to do absolutely nothing.”

-Tim Tanksley, a rancher in Bokoshe, predicting what state regulators will do now that the EPA has approved Oklahoma to be the first state to take over permitting and enforcement on coal-ash sites. Over three decades, a coal ash dump near Bokoshe has grown five stories high despite protests from residents. [KTUL]

Number of the Day


Years difference in life expectancy between Tulsans with a mental illness and Oklahomans without a mental health diagnosis.

[Urban Institute]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How Does Toxic Stress Affect Low-Income and Black Children?: John Singleton, the groundbreaking director who died last month at age 51 after suffering a stroke, grew up in South Central Los Angeles. In 1991, at first-night screenings in South Central for his debut film Boyz n the Hood, violence broke out. At least one man was killed. The then-23-year-old Singleton remarked about the stress of it: “I think I lost about five years of my life.” [CityLab]

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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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