In The Know: COLA on hold; regent confirmed; considering bail reform…

In The KnowIn 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

Occupational licenses could soon be within reach for more Oklahomans: Professions that require an occupational license to practice are often more accessible than jobs that require a college degree, and many pay quite well. Plumbers, electricians and cosmetologists are some common examples. But licenses are required for a lot more jobs than we might think. [Enid News & Eagle]

In The News

State retiree cost of living adjustment on hold in the Senate: A cost of living adjustment for state retirees is on hold in the Senate. House Bill 2304, by Rep. Avery Frix, R-Muskogee, would provide a 4 percent cost-of-living adjustment for people in all six of the state’s retirement systems. [Tulsa World] The Oklahoma Fraternal Order of Police expressed its frustrations Monday after no action was taken to increase the cost-of-living adjustment, or COLA, for public safety retirees. [FOX 25]

Senate confirms Eric Stevenson to OU Board of Regents: The Oklahoma Senate on Monday confirmed Gov. Kevin Stitt’s selection of Eric Stevenson to University of Oklahoma Board of Regents. Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, carried the nomination, which passed by a vote of 45-1 with no debate. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma legislature to consider bail reform as pretrial jail time keeps people locked up: 8 in 10 inmates sitting in the Oklahoma County jail are awaiting trial. Many can’t afford bond, leading to overcrowding where safety concerns are a constant issue. With county jails bursting at the seams across our state, many advocates said something has to change about how we lock up people accused of crimes. [KFOR]

Too fast or too slow? Criminal justice reform 50 years in making: To understand the scope of the crisis Oklahoma faces because we lead the nation — and the world — in incarceration, consider this: If Oklahoma released half of our people behind bars today, we would only drop to the national average while still locking up more people than any other country in the world. [Alison Buxton / NonDoc]

Tulsa World editorial: Ronald Reagan said this was best anti-poverty, pro-family program ever, and the Oklahoma Legislature can make it better: The Oklahoma Legislature has a chance to help thousands of working poor and middle-income people by repairing damage done to the state’s earned income tax credit. The Oklahoma EITC augments a successful federal credit with a long history of bipartisan support. Ronald Reagan called it “the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress.” [Editorial Board / Tulsa World] Learn more about the campaign to restore Oklahoma’s EITC and how you can help by going to

Legislators working on education budget after missing deadline: The Oklahoma legislature had an April 1 deadline to determine education funding for the next fiscal year. That deadline came and went: no education budget. That’s fairly common — education is such a significant part of the state’s overall budget that some lawmakers argue it’s almost impossible to hit that deadline — but it also reflects a divide at the Capitol on how much of the state’s new revenue should be appropriated to common education, and where those dollars should go. [CHNI]

Bill that would give excess food at schools to children in need being considered: Oklahoma lawmakers are considering a bill that would give excess food to children in need. A similar action is being done in one Indiana school district where children in need get excess food as weekend meals. Oklahoma Senate Bill 297 would allow school districts to provide leftover food at no cost to students. [WDBJ]

Oklahoma legislature passes bill to increase number of days districts can employ long-term subs: Currently long-term substitutes can only be employed 90 days out of the school year. But things are changing, as the governor signed House Bill 1050. The bill bumps that number up to 135, or 145 for those with a bachelor’s degree. [KJRH]

Bill To ban vaping on school property heads to governor’s desk: A bill that would outlaw vaping on school property appears poised to become law. It’s not everyday you can get every lawmaker to agree on something. On Monday, they did just that. Senate Bill 33 passed in the state House of Representatives 91 to 0. [News9]

Legislation takes aim at rising drug costs: Skyrocketing healthcare costs and the ongoing efforts to combat them remain on the forefront of the battle to reform healthcare in the United States and in the state of Oklahoma. In recent years, Oklahoma has legalized medical marijuana and entertained the idea of expanding Medicare, partly in an effort to relieve the strain on consumers as well as the state’s coffers. [The Daily Adrmoreite]

Bill regarding ‘audit privilege’ for companies heads to Oklahoma House committee: A bill criticized by some conservation groups as favoring industry over environmental protection efforts is expected to be heard this week in an Oklahoma House committee. Senate Bill 1003, also known as the “Oklahoma Environmental, Health and Safety Audit Privilege Act,” is sponsored by Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro, and Rep. Mark McBride, R-Moore. [KFOR]

‘Francine’s Law’ approved by the Senate during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week: The Senate has approved a bill aimed at helping law enforcement and families find answers in missing and unidentified persons cases. House Bill 2640, ‘Francine’s Law’, authored by Julie Daniels, R-Bartlesville, Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Micheal Bergstrom, R-Adair, and House principal author, Rep. Rhonda Baker, R-Yukon, was approved unanimously on Monday. [FOX 25]

New policy requires you to keep your license plates: Starting this July, if you sell your car, the license tag stays with you rather than the vehicle. The Oklahoma Tax Commission is implementing the policy based off Senate Bill 1339 passed last year and signed by then-Governor Mary Fallin. [KOSU]

EPS plans to open low-cost day care for employees: Enid Public Schools is working to open its own day care center by next school year, in an effort to provide teachers and district employees with low-cost childcare. [Enid News & Eagle]

Durant awarded $1.5M grant for wastewater improvements: The Choctaw Nation said it will be matching a federal Commerce Department grant awarded to the city of Durant for wastewater improvements. The city received $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to support expanding the city’s wastewater treatment facility. [Journal Record]

Conservationists sue OKC and others over water plan: A lawsuit filed by a group of conservationists and property owners on the Kiamichi River claims that two tribes, Oklahoma City, and the state and federal governments bypassed an environmental impact assessment of an agreement to divert water from the river. [Journal Record]

OSU Center for Health Sciences gets grant to offer mental health training to first responders: The OSU Center for Health Sciences has been awarded a federal grant to offer mental health awareness training to first responders. The $375,000 grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will cover three years of the “Finding Hope” project. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Racist graffiti suspect formally charged: The woman accused of vandalizing multiple Norman and Oklahoma City locations with racist and anti-Semitic graffiti was formally charged in county court Monday. [Norman Transcript] Allison Christine Johnson, 45, said that her intention was to “scare Jewish people, and people of different races, other than white,” a police detective reported. [NewsOK]

James Cooper backed by community as he prepares to be sworn in as OKC’s first openly gay city councilman: Walking through the heart of downtown Oklahoma City, councilman-elect James Cooper had City Hall in front of him and his community behind him. Cooper, 37, is set to become the first openly gay city councilperson when he’s sworn into office as the representative of Ward 2 on Tuesday morning. [NewsOK]

Quote of the Day

“To understand the scope of the crisis Oklahoma faces because we lead the nation — and the world — in incarceration, consider this: If Oklahoma released half of our people behind bars today, we would only drop to the national average while still locking up more people than any other country in the world.”

-Alison Buxton, policy director for Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform [Source: NonDoc]

Number of the Day

$1.57 billion

Total requested Department of Corrections appropriation for FY 2020, a more than $1 billion increase.

[Source: Department of Corrections]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How poor Americans get exploited by their landlords: Ultimately, they find consistent evidence that the poor, and especially the minority poor, experience the highest rates of housing exploitation. In their most basic formulations, they find that renters in high-poverty neighborhoods experience levels of exploitation that are more than double those of renters in neighborhoods with lower levels of poverty. [CityLab]

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Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. A Mexican immigrant, she was a Clara Luper Scholar at Oklahoma City University where she obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked at a digital marketing agency in Oklahoma City. She is an alumna of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and OK Policy's Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a board member for Dream Action Oklahoma in OKC and communications director for Dream Alliance Oklahoma in Tulsa.

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