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
Women still earn less than men, and it’s putting them at risk of living in poverty: Poverty in Oklahoma is consistently above the national average, but what you may not have noticed is the fact that women are more likely to experience poverty than men. Seventeen percent of women in Oklahoma live below the poverty line, compared to just 14.5 percent of men. But in a time when families depend more than ever on women’s wages, this is a troubling trend and it’s important to look into the causes so that policy can be effectively formulated to address this disparity. [OK Policy]
Prosperity Policy: Last chances: For nearly a decade, Oklahoma lawmakers have squandered the opportunity to expand health coverage for low-income, working-age Oklahomans under the Affordable Care Act. They’ve refused to help over a hundred thousand of their constituents gain reliable, affordable access to care. They’ve let Oklahoma’s uninsured rate rise to second highest in the nation. [David Blatt / Journal Record]
In The News
Mazzei confirmation hearing turns into budget showdown: The Senate confirmation hearing for Gov. Kevin Stitt’s pick for budget secretary turned into a showdown Wednesday over the budget and other issues. At one point, Senate Appropriations Chairman Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, gaveled down budget secretary nominee Mike Mazzei, telling him, “You will respect the chair.” [Tulsa World] The Oklahoma Senate on Wednesday approved several of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s other nominations. [Tulsa World]
With ‘unanswered’ questions, Oklahoma County jail trust vote in limbo: It’s unclear when a vote on the proposed Oklahoma County Jail trust will occur after commissioners received a report from the committee tasked with creating it. Oklahoma County commissioners met today and heard a report from Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Board chairman Cody Compton. The proposed trust would provide financial and operational oversight of the Oklahoma County Jail. [NonDoc]
Could Oklahoma incarceration rates be affecting students in school? According to the Oklahoma State Department of Education, there are 108,000 children with parents who are or have been incarcerated, something officials said is affecting students in classrooms every day. Hofmeister said Oklahoma leads the nation with the largest concentration of children who have an ACE score (Adverse Childhood Experiences) of four or higher. [FOX25]
Expanded Oklahoma affordable housing tax credit to kick in Nov. 1: Housing groups are applauding lawmakers and the governor for getting changes to Oklahoma’s affordable housing tax credit passed into law. As of Nov. 1, a population cap of 150,000 will be lifted, making the credit available for projects in Tulsa, Cleveland and Oklahoma counties. [Public Radio Tulsa]
Senate confirms Pierson to OU Board of Regents: The state Senate on Wednesday approved the confirmation of a local businessman to the University of Oklahoma’s Board of Regents. The Senate confirmed Gov. Kevin Stitt’s appointment of Gary Pierson to the board on a 44-to-3 vote a day after Pierson was unanimously approved by the Senate Education Committee. [NewsOK]
Lawmakers hang tough in dispute with governor and state chamber over drug benefit managers: The Oklahoma House of Representatives continued to stand its ground Wednesday on an esoteric-sounding issue that may not churn the average voter’s blood but has the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce’s full attention and could mean millions of dollars one way or the other in prescription costs. [Tulsa World]
Bill could make hiring independent contractors easier for businesses: A bill that has advanced through both the Oklahoma House and Senate could help to put independent contractors to work in the state, its author says. House Bill 1095 would create the Empower Independent Contractors Act of 2019, said state Rep. Mike Osburn, R-Edmond. [Journal Record 🔒] Making it easier for businesses to describe their employees as independent contractors tends to drive down wages and weaken workplace protections.
State senator expects HB 2667 to reach governor’s desk: Having gone through votes in the Oklahoma Senate and House of Representatives, a bill that could facilitate an uptick in casino gambling is now awaiting further action by the House. House Bill 2667, authored by State Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, would permit the exclusion of gambling losses under Oklahoma’s $17,000 cap on itemized deductions. [Cherokee Phoenix]
Oklahoma Corporation Commission approves universal service fund assessment increase on phone bills: Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners on Wednesday voted unanimously to increase by more than 500% a fee charged on phone service in Oklahoma. The change affects how much the agency collects from phone companies’ revenues paid by customers for in-state phone services to supply dollars to the Oklahoma Universal Service Fund (OUSF). [NewsOK]
Advocates meet with state lawmakers on child advocacy day: Wednesday was Child Advocacy Day at the state Capitol, a day when parents, foster parents, teachers and anyone concerned about children met with lawmakers. The legislature considered more than 2,800 bills and resolutions this year, and most of them will have some impact on Oklahoma’s children. [News9]
A survey indicates 91 percent of TPS employees are ‘highly committed.’ But district perception still needs improvement among ranks: The latest Tulsa Public Schools staff engagement survey indicates employee satisfaction is improving, but district officials acknowledge there’s still a long way to go. The survey, which was administered in January and comprises 43 questions divided into categories, states 91% of employees are engaged and committed to TPS, compared to 86% last school year. The district’s goal is 88%. [Tulsa World]
Streets again take top billing at city’s third town hall meeting on Improve Our Tulsa II: Sooner or later — and it’s usually sooner — public meetings on city capital improvements packages end up focusing on streets. Tuesday night’s meeting on the proposed $597 million Improve Our Tulsa renewal was no different. About 100 people made the trip to the Jewish Federation of Tulsa, 2021 E. 71st St., to listen to city leaders outline the proposal. [Tulsa World]
City councilors select panelists, location for June Equality Indicators public meeting: The Tulsa City Council on Wednesday named the panelists for the first of four planned special meetings to examine the 2018 Equality Indicators Report. The first special meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. June 26 at the Tulsa Performing Arts Center. The topic of discussion will be racial and gender disparities in police arrests of juveniles. [Tulsa World]
Embezzlement counts dropped against former OKC councilman, tax charge remains: A former Oklahoma City councilman is no longer charged with embezzlement, but he still faces a felony tax charge. John Albert Pettis Jr., 36, saw three counts of felony embezzlement dropped after Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater dismissed them Wednesday for evidentiary reasons. [NewsOK]
University of Oklahoma regents will not meet with Boren this week: University of Oklahoma regents will not meet with former President David Boren this week but they could consider doing so in the future. Boren, 78, asked in writing Tuesday to meet with the regents about the sexual misconduct investigation of him. [NewsOK]
Quote of the Day
“If we’re going to meet kids where they are, we first have to be very honest and frank about the conditions that our children are right now trying to learn, and what is happening at home impacts classrooms.”
– State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, speaking about how Oklahoma having more than 100,000 children with parents who are or have been incarcerated is affecting classrooms [Source: OKC Fox]
Number of the Day
Number of children covered by Soonercare in 2018.
[Source: Oklahoma Health Care Authority]
Where the good jobs are: How to expand opportunities to workers without a four-year degree? Part of the answer involves training, for sure. Cities might also try to promote the expansion of the kinds of industries that offer most opportunity jobs. But the enormous variation in educational requirements for similar jobs across the United States also suggests that many employers seem to be asking for more education than the job requires. [New York Times]
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