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
(Capitol Update) SB 252 would address needed reforms for bail, pretrial detention: The Governor’s Criminal Justice RESTORE Task Force issued its initial report last week with some interesting narrative and recommendations. Generally, the Task Force stayed away from legislative proposals and concentrated on changes in society and the Department of Corrections. One area the task force commented on was bail and pretrial detention. The report correctly points out the inadequacy and injustice of the current bail system. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]
Schumann joins OK Policy board: OK Policy is honored to announce that University of Oklahoma-Tulsa President John H. Schumann, MD, has joined its board of directors. Dr. Schumann has served as OU-Tulsa’s president since 2015 following his earlier appointments with the university as an associate professor, director of its residency program, and Vice Chair of Education for the Department of Internal Medicine. [OK Policy]
TOK Duncan: A Community Conversation coming to Emerson Elementary: A town hall-style conversation will come to Emerson Elementary school. TOK Duncan: A Community Conversation is scheduled for 6-8:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20. [The Duncan Banner]
In The News
Bill would require racial impact statements for future criminal justice legislation: To address racial disparities in Oklahoma’s justice system, future criminal justice legislation may have to go through an additional step before being approved. State Sen. George Young, D-Oklahoma City, filed Senate Bill 1184, which requires a racial impact statement to accompany any bill that would lengthen sentences, create a new offense or change penalties for existing offenses. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy has previously noted that racial impact statements on criminal justice legislation would reduce disparities in the justice system.
Oklahoma shows slight improvement in rates of Adverse Childhood Experiences: Oklahoma’s rate of adverse childhood experiences like poverty and neglect have fallen. According to the latest America’s Health Rankings, 28.5 percent of Oklahoma children experienced two or more adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, down from 32 percent the year before. The state still has highest percentage of children experiencing childhood trauma. [Public Radio Tulsa] OK Policy has found that improving the financial health of Oklahomans will yield positive impacts for child development, including reducing childhood traumas.
Five years and counting: Online voter registration won’t be ready in 2020: Nearly five years after the Legislature authorized the Oklahoma Election Board to launch an online voter registration system, the work remains unfinished. Election officials told Oklahoma Watch this week that a full online voter registration platform will not be ready this year, including for November’s pivotal presidential election. [Oklahoma Watch]
Sens. Greg Treat and Kay Floyd: Much at state in next Census: A lot is at stake in the next U.S. Census, and that’s why we — as the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Oklahoma Senate — are working together to encourage a full census count of Oklahoma. Census data drives the distribution of billions of dollars in federal funds every year for things like transportation, education and health care programs, and much more. [Sens. Greg Treat and Kay Floyd / The Oklahoman]
Legislation looks to improve DOC work conditions: Last year, the Oklahoma Legislature approved a $4,000 a year pay increase for corrections officers, raising the hourly rate from $12 to $15.94, or about $33,155 a year. The long hours and the dangerous conditions, attributed in large part to low staffing levels, probably won’t improve any time soon. [CNHI]
Oklahoma Democrat introduces bill to abolish the death penalty: The death penalty would no longer be a sentencing option in Oklahoma under a bill filed this week by an Oklahoma City Democrat. Rep. Jason Dunnington filed the bill that would eliminate the death sentence beginning on Nov. 1. It would not apply retroactively to inmates already on death row. [AP News]
McEntire addresses surprise medical billing: After agreements couldn’t be reached in the last session, a local legislator has announced ‘surprise medical billing’ will be prohibited in Oklahoma soon. Negotiations on the surprise bills started in the last legislative session between the Legislature, the Oklahoma Insurance Department, health care providers and health insurers, but agreements weren’t reached before the session ended. [CNHI]
Bill filed to allow firearms inside state Capitol: A newly filed bill from Rep. David Hardin, R-Stilwell, would allow legislators and current or former law enforcement officials to carry firearms into the Capitol and other buildings owned or leased by the state. [The Oklahoman]
Tribal leader says comparing Oklahoma casinos to Arkansas’ is ‘apples to bananas’: In making his case for extracting more gaming proceeds from the state’s Indian tribes, Gov. Kevin Stitt has repeatedly made reference to Arkansas, where one Oklahoma tribe has opened a casino, two others are competing for the rights to another and the top tax rate for casino gambling is 20 percent. [Tulsa World] FAQ: Oklahoma’s Tribal Compacts. [KOSU]
Stitt signs 774 commutations during first year in office: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed 774 commutations, 290 pardons and 101 paroles during his first year in office, his office announced Tuesday. In November, Stitt signed off on what officials said was the largest single-day commutation in U.S. history. [The Oklahoman]
The Oklahoman editorial: Good news from OK County drug court: Drug courts have been around for many years in Oklahoma, and statistics show they’re effective. The judge who oversees Oklahoma County’s drug court wants to make his even more so. [Editorial Board / The Oklahoman] OK Policy research has shown battling substance abuse disorders requires drug court reforms, as well as investment in all forms of treatment.
Opioid distributor favors a ‘global settlement’ of lawsuits: One of the opioid drug distribution companies named Monday in a lawsuit filed by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter responded with a statement that it would support a “global settlement” of cases filed nationwide stemming from the opioid abuse and addiction epidemic. [The Journal Record] Hunter: Opioids OK for patients with legitimate needs. [The Journal Record 🔒]
Pathway to Greatness “change was radical” says OKCPS Supt McDaniel: Superintendent Sean McDaniel gave an extended update to the OKC Public Schools Board of Education on the Pathway to Greatness initiative Monday night. [Free Press OKC] For many children in OKCPS, McDaniel said they are experiencing class types and resources previously unavailable to them. [NonDoc]
Former Norman mayors ask court to nullify TIF petition: Four former mayors of the city of Norman have asked a court to nullify an initiative petition that would take a controversial economic development agreement to a vote of the people. [The Journal Record]
Wetumka city manager fired, mayor reported to FBI: With two members absent, the Wetumka City Council voted 3-0 Tuesday evening to terminate City Manager Donnie Jett and force him and Mayor James Jackson to relinquish their keys to City Hall. Attendees of the meeting learned the two men may be facing FBI investigation. [NonDoc]
Quote of the Day
“Let’s be careful that we aren’t putting forward legislation that impacts certain vulnerable communities in a negative way.”
-Sen. George Young, D-Oklahoma City, about his proposed legislation that would require a racial impact statement to accompany any bill that would lengthen sentences, create a new offense or change penalties for existing offenses [The Oklahoman]
Number of the Day
Number of emergency certified teachers in Oklahoma from July-November 2019. Up from 3,038 in the 2018-2019 school year.
[Source: Oklahoma State Department of Education]
America’s parents want paid family leave and affordable child care. Why can’t they get it? With both parents working in more and more American families, an unprecedented number of women in Congress and support from a Republican president and his daughter, the nation appeared on the cusp of changing all that. But so far, nothing. Working parents feel the frustration every day, lamenting how difficult and expensive it is to raise a family in America. [USA Today]
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