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
The Governor’s justice task force gives lawmakers a chance to address the scale of Oklahoma’s prison crisis: Building on the state’s recent momentum towards criminal justice reform, Gov. Kevin Stitt this spring created the criminal justice RESTORE Task Force to make recommendations that could be considered during the upcoming Legislative session. This task force has the potential to fundamentally alter Oklahoma’s justice system for the better and is expected to release its recommendations in January. The RESTORE task force could bring greater justice to the state’s prison system by strengthening investments in alternatives to incarceration and treatment, reducing fines and fees, lowering the impact of cash bail on the poorest Oklahomans, and creating a dedicated re-entry system. [OK Policy]
In The News
City of Tulsa announces strategies to increase affordable housing, reduce evictions and homelessness: The strategy, created in cooperation with dozens of local nonprofits, developers and other stakeholders, was built to address four key objectives: to strengthen neighborhoods, preserve and develop affordable housing opportunities, reduce evictions, and lower the number of homeless. [Tulsa World]
Symposium highlights food security issues in NE OKC: Oklahoma City residents, policymakers, and experts who have studied food security in low-income communities gathered in the Metro Tech auditorium Wednesday to discuss potential ways to solve the food access crisis in northeast OKC. [NonDoc]
Tahlequah Daily Press: Let voters decide Medicaid, redistricting: In theory, Oklahomans vote for politicians whom they can count on to represent their interests at the statehouse. In practice, though, many lawmakers have been inclined to represent their own best interests, and those of their key donors. [Editorial Board / Tahlequah Daily Press] OK Policy supports SQ 802 and has provided information and resources to better understand the issue.
Ginnie Graham: What laws need to pass next year to help Oklahoma’s children in trauma: In my daughter’s middle school of nearly 900 students, there is one counselor, who is constantly in motion setting schedules, meeting with teachers, answering parent questions and dealing with stuff that pops up. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World] OK Policy analysis has shown that increased school funding would allow schools to expand staffing, including hiring additional counselors.
Stitt bets big in taking on tribes on gaming compact: Through dozens of interviews with state and tribal officials, The Frontier has learned both sides expect the stalemate to continue into next year and both sides are preparing for a variety of legal options, including a likely hearing in federal court. [The Frontier]
State Election Board debuts new OK Voter Portal: The State Election Board has launched a brand new tool that will provide the state’s online voter services in one convenient location. The OK Voter Portal debuted this month on the State Election Board website at elections.ok.gov. [CNHI]
The debate over redistricting in Oklahoma: An initiative that could lead to big changes in the way districts represented by lawmakers are drawn off in Oklahoma grew out of an informal, grassroots effort launched in 2016 to simply get people more involved in state government. [The Journal Record 🔒]
AG joins call for illicit fentanyl to remain Schedule I drug: Attorney General Mike Hunter on Wednesday sent a letter to Congress, asking lawmakers to take quick action on legislation to permanently classify illicitly manufactured fentanyl and related substances as Schedule I drugs. [CNHI]
Bill calls for changes to medical marijuana law: Legislation that would alter language regarding employment protections for medical marijuana license holders and prohibit dispensaries from operating within 1,000 feet of a place of worship is scheduled to be heard on the first day of the 2020 legislative session. [The Journal Record 🔒]
Oklahoma’s vaping rules may tighten as scrutiny persists: At an interim study on second-hand smoke exposure in October, Oklahoma House Speaker Pro Tempore Harold Wright outlined legislation he filed that would make it illegal to smoke or vape at in-home daycare centers when children aren’t present, and get rid of smoking and vaping in bars altogether. [StateImpact Oklahoma]
John Hope Franklin’s ‘unadulterated truth’ goal of African American history invoked at commission’s Tulsa presentation: It was no surprise that the name of the late John Hope Franklin was invoked during the 400 Years of African American History Commission’s presentation at Tulsa’s Central Library on Thursday night. [Tulsa World]
A new boomtown: Tulsa makes Inc. magazine’s ‘Surge Cities’ list for wage growth: Tulsa ranks No. 1 in America for wage growth on Inc. magazine’s annual Surge Cities list, a guide to the best 50 cities in the United States for starting a business. Featured on the list for the first time, Tulsa was 47th overall. Wage growth was among the criteria measuring the top cities in the country on Inc.’s second annual list. [Tulsa World]
Canadian County leads country in GDP growth among similar-sized counties: Canadian County was one of the nation’s leaders in rate of gross domestic product growth in 2018. Canadian County’s GDP was nearly $4.2 billion, up from nearly $3.5 billion in 2017, according to estimates released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. [The Oklahoman]
Tulsa city councilors share their thoughts on what they would like to see from new police chief: The mayor gets to pick Tulsa’s next police chief, but city councilors — like any other resident — have their own expectations for the next top cop and how that person should be selected. [Tulsa World]
Audit cites complaints of unprofessional conduct by former finance official at Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics: The head of finance at the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics retired abruptly last summer after complaints of unprofessional behavior and poorly documented raises were called to the attention of the school’s governing board. [The Oklahoman]
Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma receives funding from EPA: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently awarded more than $75,000 to the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma to support water quality programs. The funding will help the tribe maintain, protect and improve the water quality of waterbodies on tribal land, including rivers, lakes, and groundwater. [CNHI]
Cherokee chief wraps up ambitious first 100 days: Since he took office a little over 100 days ago, Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. has rolled out several initiatives, advanced projects of the former administration, and clashed with Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt over the state’s tribal gaming compact. [CNHI]
First Americans Museum in OKC rebrands as construction resumes: What was previously called the “American Indian Cultural Center and Museum” is now being completed as the renamed and rebranded First Americans Museum (FAM). [Free Press OKC] The $175 million, 175,000-square-foot museum is designed to Smithsonian Institution standards. Features will include a Smithsonian and Tribal Nations galleries; artifacts from the Smithsonian collections will be displayed. [The Oklahoman]
Quote of the Day
“We know that where everybody has decent, safe, affordable places to live, economies can thrive. When housing is threatened, it is hard to think of almost anything else.”
-Becky Gligo, City of Tulsa’s housing policy director [Tulsa World]
Number of the Day
The cost of climate change to Oklahoma by 2099 as a percent of state income. Rural counties in Southeast and Southwest Oklahoma can expect costs of more than 10% of their income.
[Source: Brookings Institution]
Meet the Low-Wage Workforce: As globalization and automation reshape the labor market, workers today must navigate a changing economic landscape. Some people and places are poised to do well; others, less so. One thing that is clear is these economic forces favor workers who have higher levels of education and earn higher wages. Low-wage workers risk becoming collateral damage, struggling to find their footing in the labor market and an educational system riddled with inequities. [Brookings Institution]
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