In The Know: Criminal justice reform alive; revamping court districts; Native American Day…

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.

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In The News

Oklahoma Lawmakers Keep Several Criminal Justice Reform Bills Alive on a Deadline Day: Oklahoma lawmakers kept a number of criminal justice reform bills alive on Thursday, but they did not go to the governor’s desk. Thursday was the final day for measures to pass the opposite chamber this legislative session. Lawmakers were clear in their intentions, telling their colleagues in both the House and Senate they were sending bills to conference. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Stitt signs bill revamping state Supreme Court districts: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Thursday signed legislation to overhaul Oklahoma’s Supreme Court districts.Under the new law, Supreme Court justices will be selected based on Oklahoma’s five congressional districts and the court will have four “at-large” justices that can reside anywhere in the state. [NewsOK]

New laws signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt plus those still awaiting his signature: Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed 63 Senate Bills into law, as well as 74 House Bills from the 2019 legislative session. After first signing constitutional carry into law, Stitt has celebrated legislation on state agency controls and funding for economic development. [Tulsa World]

Key medical marijuana legislation, oversight bill on fiscal transparency survive House deadline cuts: A key piece of medical marijuana legislation and a bill creating a new oversight office controlled by the Legislature survived the cut Thursday on the final day non-appropriation Senate bills could get third reading in the House of Representatives. Those failing to get House approval by the final gavel Thursday afternoon are done for this session. [Tulsa World]

Teachers Create Renewable Energy Curriculum To Compete With OERB: Jane Cronin and Tara Barker are retired middle school science teachers. Over the years they attended the science curriculum workshops put on by the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board, a state agency funded by oil and gas producers and royalty owners, that spends millions on K-12 science curriculum focused exclusively on fossil fuels. [KGOU]

J&J makes last, best case to head off Oklahoma opioids trial: The state of Oklahoma is scheduled to go to trial at the end of May with claims that Johnson & Johnson and Teva are responsible for sparking a crisis of opioid abuse that, according to Oklahoma, will cost $10 billion to address. In a final attempt to end the litigation before trial, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries filed a motion for summary judgment on Wednesday. [Reuters]

Oklahoma governor combines Columbus, Native American days: A bill that a broad coalition of Native American groups endorsed to celebrate a day for indigenous people on Columbus Day was signed into law Thursday by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, the first governor in the U.S. to be enrolled as a member of a Native American tribe. [Associated Press]

Citizenship question could be disruptive to Oklahoma City: The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on whether to add a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census could have a million-dollar impact on development, economic and infrastructure needs in Oklahoma City, Assistant City Manager Aubrey McDermid said Thursday. Officials fear adding the question to the decennial count of the nation’s population could lead to millions of people not being counted. [Journal Record ????]

Bill would give state regulatory control over autonomous cars and trucks: Senate Bill 365, the Oklahoma Driving Automation System Uniformity Act, which has been sent to Gov. Kevin Stitt for his consideration, would establish the state’s authority to adopt rules addressing how such vehicles might safely operate on the state’s roadways. However, one of the bill’s authors, state Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, said his hope is that the measure also will help to set the stage for Oklahoma to become a national leader in testing and adopting the emerging technology. [Journal Record ????]

Neese becomes second Republican to target OKC district in House: Terry Neese, an Oklahoma City entrepreneur and small business advocate, became the second Republican this week to announce a campaign for Oklahoma’s 5th District congressional seat. State Sen. Stephanie Bice, an Oklahoma City Republican, announced her candidacy on Wednesday. Like Bice, Neese announced her campaign by criticizing Rep. Kendra Horn, the Democrat who flipped the seat last year. [NewsOK]

State education board approves Tulsa Beyond application for statutory, regulatory freedom: The Oklahoma State Board of Education on Thursday approved Tulsa Public Schools’ application seeking greater regulatory flexibility for Tulsa Beyond. Board members praised the district for being the first to apply for Empowered Schools Act status, which provides the same exemptions from statutory requirements and board rules that are afforded to charter schools. [Tulsa World]

Some schools seeing improvements in attendance, but TPS still behind its 2018-19 goal: Tulsa Public Schools’ third-quarter review, which was released this week, shows the district still has a long way to go. The average daily attendance rate through three quarters was 91.7%, while the chronic absenteeism rate was 28.5%. Both numbers are slightly worse than where they were at the same time last year. They’re also slightly behind the district’s goals for this year. [Tulsa World]

Flu patient hospitalizations are second highest in decade: As the 2018-19 flu season winds down, 2,897 have been hospitalized, which is the second highest number in the past 10 years, but well below last season’s 4,835. One new death was reported in the state Health Department’s weekly flu activity summary issued Thursday. The person was between 18 to 49 years old and lived in northeast Oklahoma, the region with the highest rate of flu deaths per 100,000 population (4.3) in the state. [NewsOK ????]

Oklahomans voice support for expanding Medicaid: When it comes to expanding Medicaid, Oklahomans are speaking. Are the Legislature and governor listening? Evidence mounts that even the most casual voters now recognize what’s at stake: Oklahoma is forfeiting a 9-1 federal match that would bolster health care for the working poor and save many rural hospitals on the financial brink. [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“We’re a little concerned about our population figures at the federal level being not representative of the people in low- to moderate-income areas of the city that usually qualify for HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) assistance. We have quite a few minority demographic concentrations … and if numbers are reduced, our portion of federal funds could be affected.”

-Oklahoma City Assistant City Manager Aubrey McDermid, warning that adding a question on citizenship to the 2020 Census could lead to a costly undercount of Oklahoma City’s population [Source: Journal Record]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma households with seniors that face food insecurity, higher than the national rate of 9.5%.

[Food Research & Action Center]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What Local Government Can Do About the Consumer-Debt Epidemic: Many local governments have come to use fines and fees as a significant revenue source, too often collecting them using such aggressive measures as suspending driver’s licenses and prohibiting public employment. The impact is that those who can least afford it are the ones who suffer the most, ending up in a cycle of debt that reduces resources available to pay for basic needs or to invest in opportunities to build security and wealth. [Governing]

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Gene Perry worked for OK Policy from 2011 to 2019. He is a native Oklahoman and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a B.A. in history and an M.A. in journalism.

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