In 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
SB 11: Delaying Pre-K would be a step back for Oklahoma’s children: This session, Ada Senator Greg McCortney filed SB 11, which would move cutoff dates for children entering pre-kindergarten (pre-K) from September 1 to July 1. If this change takes effect, students would have to turn four by July 1st rather than September 1st to be eligible for pre-K. Oklahoma would be the only state to have a cutoff before July 31st. The change would delay pre-K eligibility by a year for children who are two months shy of the new cutoff date. [OK Policy]
Today is the last day to apply for our Communications Internship: OK Policy is accepting applications for a paid, part-time communications internship in our Tulsa office. The internship runs from late-February 2019 through the end of the year. Applications are due no later than 5:00 PM on Wednesday, February 6th. Click here to learn more and to apply.
In The News
Democratic agenda includes issues key to red rural Oklahoma: House and Senate Democrats are largely an urban caucus, but they presented an agenda Tuesday that includes some issues most prevalent in rural Oklahoma. “Expanding Medicaid will ensure that we can keep our rural hospitals and our veterans centers open,” said House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, referring to one her caucus’ central policy proposals. [NewsOK] Democrats propose legislative agenda aimed at making Oklahoma “A Brand New State” [Public Radio Tulsa]
Annotating Stitt’s ‘State of the State’ speech: proposals and omissions: In a 33-minute speech Monday to kick off the 2019 legislative session, Gov. Kevin Stitt filled in some details on how his administration intends to make Oklahoma a national leader in education and business recruitment and improve government accountability. [Oklahoma Watch] Eight key points from Gov. Kevin Stitt’s State of the State speech. [Tulsa World]
Tulsa World editorial: Gov. Kevin Stitt got a lot right in his first State of the State speech … but not everything: We saw much to be encouraged about in Gov. Kevin Stitt’s first State of the State speech on Monday. He outlined a strong program of reform, transparency and appropriate funding of critical areas of state government. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World] Statement: Governor’s State of the State address and budget propose some positive steps but leave out major needs. [OK Policy]
Officials seek higher wages for all state employees: Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt’s call Monday for a pay increase for public school teachers has drawn praise from lawmakers and agency officials from both sides of the political spectrum. In his State of the State speech, Stitt specifically mentioned pay increases for public teachers, but he didn’t talk about other state employees, such as those who work in human services, transportation or juvenile justice. [Journal Record]
Poultry concerns pile up for Oklahoma Ag Board to consider: Another month of debate over expansion of the poultry industry wrapped up Tuesday evening with a final hour of public comment on proposed emergency rules governing siting criteria proposed by the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. [Tulsa World]
Oklahoma Republican Legislators push for mandatory 5-day school week: Some Oklahoma lawmakers want to ensure public school students attend school five days a week. Due to years of dwindling school budgets, some Oklahoma school districts said they survived by going to four-day school weeks. [KFOR]
House bill aims to punish health care providers who fail to report statutory rape: State Rep. Jon Echols on Tuesday introduced a bill that would punish any health care provider that does not report statutory rape. Under House Bill 2591, the health care provider would be considered ineligible for Medicaid reimbursement if it fails to report statutory rape. [KOCO]
First day of legislation in OKC proposes new rules on HIV education: Oklahoma lawmakers met Tuesday for their first full day of regular business of 2019. Tuesday’s session allowed the House and Senate Common Education Committees to meet for the first time to focus in on the state’s education spending and laws. [FOX23]
Bill to ban vaping at Oklahoma schools passes in Senate panel: The Senate Education Committee passed a bill Tuesday that would prohibit vaping in schools. Senate Bill 33, by Sen. J.J. Dossett, D-Owasso, now goes to the Senate floor for consideration after being advanced by the panel on a 14-0 vote. [Tulsa World]
Diaper bill: Changing tables could be required in public buildings: Until he became a father, state Rep. Mickey Dollens had no idea of the perils and pitfalls of trying to change a baby on the go. But last month, the Oklahoma City Democrat decided to bring his 8-month-old son to work with him at the Capitol. When the boy suffered a “blowout,” Dollens headed to the nearest men’s’ room to try to change his diaper. [CHNI]
OU students to advocate for college funding in state budget on Higher Education Day: OU students are preparing to gather at the state capitol next week to discuss the importance of higher education with state legislators. The annual Higher Education Day will take place on Feb. 12, and the Student Government Association has opened applications for students to join them in discussing the importance of investing in higher education. [OU Daily] Our 2019 Policy Priorities include restoring higher education funding to ensure a well-educated workforce.
Commissioner says Calvey jail visit meant to manufacture drama: Days after a fellow county commissioner and several other officials were turned away during an attempted jail inspection, Oklahoma County Commissioner Carrie Blumert said Tuesday morning on Twitter that she didn’t get elected to “manufacture drama.” [NewsOK 🔒]
Integris joins generic drug group: A second Oklahoma City hospital system has joined a nonprofit company that is promising cheaper and more consistent access to generic drugs. Integris announced in January that it had joined Civica Rx, a drug-manufacturing company created last year by multiple hospital systems and three health-focused foundations. [NewsOK]
Economic outlook for OKC uncertain and full of risk: The city is moving into a period of tremendous economic uncertainty as City Hall takes its first steps toward a new fiscal year budget, economist Russell Evans told City Council members Tuesday. Playing to Oklahoma City’s conservative fiscal policies, city staff has already been told to hold the status quo with individual department budget proposals – no cuts, no additions, Finance Director Doug Dowler said. [Journal Record]
Muscogee (Creek) Nation plots headquarters expansion, other construction: Construction is being considered for several Muscogee (Creek) Nation properties in Okmulgee as part of the tribe’s new master plan. The four sites in the master plan are the tribe’s headquarters, off Highway 75 (N. Wood Drive), the Omniplex, the former Okmulgee Country Club, and the tribe’s existing industrial park. [Journal Record]
Quote of the Day
“It becomes part of your reality to just change your baby’s diaper on a table. We believe in 2019 that more restrooms, especially the men’s rooms, should be equipped with this important amenity.”
-State Rep. Mickey Dollens, who has co-authored a bill to require all state, county, and municipal buildings to include at least one changing table that’s accessible to both men and women after discovering that Capitol men’s rooms did not include them. [Source: Muskogee Phoenix]
Number of the Day
The number of inmates Oklahoma would have to release to reach the national average incarceration rate
[Source: Oklahoma Department of Corrections]
Rural hospitals in greater jeopardy in non-Medicaid expansion states: In crime novelist Agatha Christie’s biggest hit, “And Then There Were None,” guests at an island mansion die suspicious deaths one after another. So you can forgive Jeff Lyle, a big fan of Christie’s, for comparing the 36-bed community hospital he runs in Marlin, Texas, to one of those unfortunate guests. In December, two nearby hospitals, one almost40 miles away, the other 60 miles away, closed their doors for good. [Pew Trusts]
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