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
OK Policy Statement on the Criminal Justice RESTORE Task Force report and need for legislative action: The Criminal Justice RESTORE Task Force report released Friday identified some positive ideas to address needs within Oklahoma’s justice system, but it lacks bold – and specific – legislative changes to fully match the scale of Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis. [OK Policy]
Letter to the Editor: Reform measure not as intended: A recent article on the recommendations made by the Criminal Justice Reclassification Coordination Council incorrectly stated that the proposed felony class system could reduce the prison population – in fact, it would increase the prison population, something Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly do not support. It is crucial to base reforms to Oklahoma’s justice system on evidence. [Ryan Gentzler / Stillwater News Press]
Together Oklahoma sets community town hall meeting: Together Oklahoma will hold a community conversation on race, equality, and public policy from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Emerson Elementary School, 1200 W. Hickory, Duncan. [The Lawton Constitution]
In The News
Oklahoma criminal justice reform task force requests extension: A governor-created task force charged with making criminal justice reform recommendations has asked for a one-year extension to continue its work. More work is needed, the task force wrote in a report issued Friday to Gov. Kevin Stitt and legislative leaders. [The Oklahoman] Ahniwake Rose, Oklahoma Policy Institute executive director, said that while the report identifies some positive ideas, it lacks bold and specific legislative changes to fully match the scale of Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis. [Tulsa World] OK Policy on Friday called on lawmakers to take decisive action to address criminal justice reform and previously noted the need to reform Oklahoma’s punishment-first criminal justice system.
Medicaid expansion qualifies for ballot; Stitt to set election date: Oklahoma voters will get to decide sometime this year whether the state should expand Medicaid. An initiative petition asking voters to expand Medicaid has cleared all hurdles to qualify for the ballot. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy supports SQ 802 and has provided information and resources to better understand the issue.
Stitt wants state schools superintendent to be appointed, not elected: Gov. Kevin Stitt wants Oklahoma’s state schools chief to be appointed, a move that would give the governor more control over public education. Under the current system, Oklahoma voters elect a superintendent of public instruction — the state’s top public education official, who leads the state Department of Education and serves on the state Board of Education. [The Oklahoman]
Pharmaceutical company agrees to pay state $8.75 million: Attorney General Mike Hunter said Friday the state has reached an out-of-court settlement with Endo Pharmaceuticals totaling $8.75 million for the company’s alleged role in the state’s opioid crisis. [The Journal Record 🔒]
Pot petitions face pushback from medical marijuana advocates: Two initiative petitions to legalize recreational marijuana in Oklahoma have divided the state’s burgeoning medical marijuana community. Some of the state’s most vocal medical marijuana supporters see the petitions as a threat to their newly legal way of life. [The Oklahoman]
Statewide rape kit tracking system takes effect: Sexual assault survivors will now be able to monitor the location and status of their rape kit through a statewide electronic tracking system. The goal of the tracking system is to empower survivors with information, help law enforcement with investigations and foster transparency and public trust. [The Oklahoman]
Capitol Insider: Exploring options for gaming fees: Money is coming into the state of Oklahoma from tribal gaming in December, but what to do with exclusivity fee payments from January is up in the air. eCapitol news director Shawn Ashley tells Dick Pryor the governor’s office is researching the issue. [KGOU]
Special needs foster kids shuffled around system find treatment, stability in fresh program at Laura Dester in Tulsa: The center in January is marking its first year as a treatment center — no longer a shelter — for foster children with complex special needs. [Tulsa World]
Business training program promotes healthy workplaces: While Oklahoma still lags behind many other states in the overall health of citizens, the state is emerging as a leader in cultivating healthy workplaces. [The Journal Record 🔒]
Greenwood Chamber launching fundraiser for preservation of remnants of Black Wall Street: The Greenwood Chamber of Commerce is seeking $1 million in donations, primarily for structural preservation needs throughout the historic Greenwood District. [Tulsa World]
‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ to begin filming in Pawhuska in March: “Killers of the Flower Moon,” the movie about the murders of Osage Nation citizens for their oil money in the 1920s, is set to begin filming in March where it happened — in the Osage Nation and Osage County. [Tulsa World]
RSU to broadcast Cherokee language course for beginners: Roger State University’s public TV station will begin broadcasting a Cherokee language educational program Monday, the first televised language course of its kind. [Tulsa World]
Quote of the Day
“While we applaud the RESTORE task force for recommending changes to the state’s unfair and outdated cash bail system and failed reentry policies and practices, we believe that this crisis is too urgent for further delay.”
-Kris Steele, executive director of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform [The Oklahoman]
Number of the Day
Percent of Oklahoma PK-12 students who are economically disadvantaged.
[Source: Oklahoma State Department of Education]
Return To Sender: A single undeliverable letter can mean losing Medicaid: There is a deep disconnect in the way the U.S. conceives of its obligation to children. Most Americans accept—even demand—the public subsidy of education from the moment kids turn 5 and enter kindergarten to the day they graduate from a state university or community college. But from birth to the fifth birthday, children are on their own—or, more precisely, their parents are. This arrangement is plainly weird: Parents must bear the highest burdens of child-rearing when they are younger, typically poorer, and less established in their career. [The Atlantic]
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