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.
In The News
Census data shows economic disparities between Oklahoma’s metro, rural areas: New data estimates from the Census Bureau continue to paint a picture that Oklahomans living in or near metro areas tend to be better off financially than those in rural parts of the state. While the state as a whole saw increases in population numbers and median household incomes, many smaller regions are still far below the state and national average, the estimates show. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy: an accurate Census count in the state is vital for Oklahoma to secure its share of federal funding, have fair voting representation, and more.
Board of Juvenile Affairs adopts updated state plan for juvenile detention: The Board of Juvenile Affairs on Wednesday approved a new state plan for juvenile detention services. The plan outlines the number of contracted juvenile detention beds in the state and where they’re located. The updated plan, which will take effect July 1, will reduce the number of contracted beds from 296 during the current fiscal year to 266 during the 2021 fiscal year. [The Oklahoman] An OK Policy analysis recently noted that Oklahoma must continue to reduce juvenile incarceration to minimize disruption to youths’ lives.
Gov. Stitt proposes extending Oklahoma tribal gaming compacts through August: Gov. Kevin Stitt told tribal leaders Wednesday that he would like to extend their gaming compacts until Aug. 31. He asked that the signed extension agreement be returned to his office by Dec. 30. [Tulsa World] Tribal leaders have not yet said whether they would agree to an extension. However, Matthew Morgan, chairman of the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, said he doesn’t see the need to sign an extension since the tribes believe it automatically renews. [The Oklahoman]
Community gathers to discuss homelessness as part of strategic planning initiative: Mental health, transitional housing and improved case management dominated conversations Monday night as community members met to discuss homelessness in Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoman]
Board approves negotiated pay increase for TPS support staff: After back-to-back years of teacher pay raises, Tulsa Public Schools support staff are getting a bump in pay. The TPS Board approved this week an agreement for a 30-cent raise between the district and the local union representing those 2,600 workers. [Public Radio Tulsa] OK Policy: Support staff pay raise and restoring cuts is key to improving Oklahoma’s schools.
Rural Oklahoma parents, teachers gear up for four-day school week fight: In the last decade, the abbreviated school weeks have exploded across the western U.S. Most are concentrated in Colorado, Montana, Oregon and Oklahoma. Because they’re a recent phenomenon, any benefits or drawbacks are mostly unstudied. [StateImpact Oklahoma]
Bill proposes business tax credits for employee blood donations: Businesses could soon start receiving tax credits if they host blood drives and can convince employees to donate. A proposed law, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, would give Oklahoma employers a $20 tax credit for each verified blood donation made during a business-hosted blood drive. [CNHI]
Activist: Recreational marijuana could ‘wreck’ medical: An activist who played a key role in getting medical marijuana use legalized in Oklahoma has serious concerns about an effort launched to get the drug legalized for recreational use. [The Journal Record 🔒]
Half of U.S. adults to be obese by 2030 with one in four severely obese: A new analysis is predicting that by 2030, 48.9 percent of adults in the United States will be obese and 24.2 percent will be severely obese. The state with the highest rate of obesity, the researchers projected, will be Oklahoma, at 58.4 percent, with Arkansas, Alabama and Mississippi all tied for second place at 58.2 percent. [Reuters]
Bynum, Crime Prevention Network to hold town halls on police chief hiring: Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and the nonprofit Crime Prevention Network will hold a series of town halls next month to get public feedback in the search for a new chief of police. [Public Radio Tulsa] Tulsa elected officials called on Bynum to consider community input in the search for a new police chief [Tulsa World]
National advocacy group asks city councilors not to use eminent domain for Pearl District detention pond: A representative of a national law firm and advocacy group urged Tulsa city councilors Wednesday night to be the heroes of the Pearl District and put an end to the city’s effort to use eminent domain to construct a detention pond. [Tulsa World]
Oklahoma County voters to decide on Sunday liquor sales: Oklahoma County residents can vote March 3 on whether to allow liquor stores in the county to operate on Sundays. [The Oklahoman]
Muskogee County voters to weigh in on Sunday liquor store sales: Muskogee County voters will have an opportunity on March 3 to decide whether liquor stores should be allowed to open for business on Sundays. [Muskogee Phoenix]
City of Ada makes switch to Indigenous Peoples Day: Ada is joining a growing list of cities, states and universities that have replaced Columbus Day with a new holiday recognizing Native Americans’ history and culture. [The Ada News]
Oklahoma County district judge found in contempt: For the first time in its history, the Oklahoma Ethics Commission has found a candidate for office in contempt. Without naming her, commissioners voted 3-0 on Friday to find Oklahoma County District Judge Kendra Coleman in contempt for not turning over subpoenaed records. [The Oklahoman]
Former longtime superintendent faces criminal, civil cases alleging child sexual abuse: The civil and criminal cases against Gary Young are believed to be the first tests of Oklahoma’s Hidden Predators Act, which extended the time cases could be brought on behalf of alleged child sexual abuse victims. [The Frontier]
Quote of the Day
“There have got to be better evaluations and assistance. You can go to jail, and they ask if you have a mental health issue, and all you have to say is no, and they let you walk away.”
-A participant in an Oklahoma City public forum about addressing homelessness [The Oklahoman]
Number of the Day
The number of states, including Oklahoma, that have the most racially diverse rural school districts in the country. The other two are Delaware and North Carolina.
[Source: Why Rural Matters 2018-2019]
Corporate tax avoidance in the first year of the 2017 tax law: ITEP’s examination of Fortune 500 companies’ financial filings identifies 379 companies that were profitable in 2018 and that provided enough information to calculate effective federal income tax rates, which is the share of 2018 pretax profits they paid in federal income taxes in that year. [ITEP]
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