In The Know: Divided over education budget; licensing reform passes; teaching the Tulsa Race Massacre…

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

OKPolicyCast 47: Homeless and a friend (with Tyler Parette): Our guest on this episode is Tyler Parette, the director of a unique homelessness outreach program in Tulsa with the City Lights Foundation. I wanted to talk with Tyler because he’s got a really interesting perspective on some of the hardest problems in society of homelessness, addiction, and mental illness, not from the remove of a news article or policy paper, but dealing directly with the people affected. Tyler shares with us how powerful it is not just for people they are helping, but how it can be a life-changing experience for the volunteers too. [OK Policy]

In The News

Lawmakers remain divided over education budget: While there’s no question the state will invest more in education this year than it did in 2018 – a year that marked a funding increase of more than 19% – a divide remains between the House and Senate on how the money will be spent, budget negotiators said Tuesday. [Journal Record ????]

Oklahoma educators may soon teach about 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: Currently, Tulsa Public School teachers are the only educators who have undergone training to bring the history of the 1921 Race Massacre into their classrooms, but now members of the Race Massacre Commission are working to open a workshop to teachers across Oklahoma. [KJRH]

Oklahoma just passed a major licensing reform for individuals with criminal records: Sweeping legislation that removes so-called “good character” provisions from all of Oklahoma’s occupational licensing laws cleared the state legislature this week in near unanimous fashion. Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt is expected to sign the bill. [Reason]

Special counsel to investigate allegations against state House member: Charges made by an Oklahoma City political activist against a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives will be investigated by an independent counsel, a spokesman for Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka, said Tuesday. Rep. Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City, is accused by Republican gadfly Al Gerhart of improperly touching two women, including a former member of the House. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Senate panel advances OU regent nominee: A Senate panel on Tuesday unanimously approved confirmation of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s latest appointment to the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents despite some senators’ early skepticism about the appointee. The Senate Education Committee supported the governor’s appointment of Oklahoma businessman Gary Pierson to fill a vacancy on the board. [NewsOK]

Measure ends state tax exemption for business incubators: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a new law on Tuesday ending state tax exemptions provided for operators of small business “incubators” scattered across the state. Senate Bill 485 amended the Oklahoma Small Business Incubators Act, which dates to 1988 and was crafted to stoke investment in startup businesses. [Journal Record ????]

Bill providing incentives to filmmakers signed into law: A bill that would allow for an increase in financial incentives offered to encourage filmmaking in the state was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Kevin Stitt. Passage of Senate Bill 200 opens the door for funds from the Oklahoma Quick Action Closing Fund to be used to make rebate payments to “high-impact productions” pursuant to the Oklahoma Film Enhancement Rebate Program. [Journal Record ????]

Oklahoma governor signs bill giving American Legion tax-exempt status: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill Monday that will exempt the American Legion Department of Oklahoma from sales tax, according to House Majority Leader Mike Sanders, one of the bill’s authors. [KTUL]

Governor approves bill that clarifies approval process for future wind development in Oklahoma: Oklahomans are poised to harness the wind’s power to support the military. Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday signed House Bill 2118, which clarifies approval processes developers for wind farms in Oklahoma must follow to ensure needed federal approvals to protect low-level military training areas are obtained before construction on future wind projects can begin. [NewsOK]

Stitt signs autonomous vehicle bill: Cities and counties are banned from regulating autonomous vehicles, according to legislation signed Tuesday by Gov. Kevin Stitt. Senate Bill 365 mandates that state law will supersede any city and county ordinance that “prohibits, restricts or regulates the testing or operation of motor vehicles equipped with driving automation systems.” [NewsOK]

Governor signs bill to curb nursing home use of antipsychotic drugs: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Tuesday signed a bill cracking down on antipsychotic drugs being administered to nursing home residents. Senate Bill 142, authored by Sen. Stephanie Bice, prohibits the use of antipsychotic drugs unless a patient was previously diagnosed with a psychotic disorder, with some exceptions. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma alcohol measure will prove costly, one way or the other: Pens can be mightier than swords, and some are just worth more, too. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt must decide whether to partially reverse sweeping and historic changes to the half-a-billion dollar alcohol distribution industry in Oklahoma. His decision on Senate Bill 608 could swing hundreds of millions of dollars between a few businesses. [NewsOK ????]

Index shows improvement in Oklahoma health emergency readiness: Oklahoma has improved in its readiness to respond to a health emergency, but still has work to do, according to a report issued Wednesday. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the results of the 2019 National Health Security Preparedness Index, which found the nation’s overall preparedness improved slightly over the last year, although deep regional differences remain. [NewsOK]

‘It’s authentic America:’ Oklahoma aims to be nation’s leader in Route 66 tourism: Oklahoma officials have set a goal for the state to be the national leader in Route 66 tourism. Gov. Kevin Stitt signed an act into law in April creating the Route 66 Centennial Commission. State officials are planning a December convention to draw in the highway’s stakeholders. [Tulsa World]

Video: Police shot OKC teen through a hole in a fence: Oklahoma City Police could face legal action in retaliation for the March shooting of a 14-year-old black boy. Police claim Lorenzo Clerkley did not follow an officer’s command to drop a B.B. gun in March. Clerkley’s attorney says the officer didn’t properly identify himself and used excessive deadly force. [The Frontier] The family of a teenage boy shot by Oklahoma City police is speaking out against the department and the officer who has returned to duty after being cleared by the district attorney last month. [NewsOK]

OKC council fights ‘food desert’ in northeast parts of city: The city council voted Tuesday to impose a six-month moratorium on development of discount and convenience stores in northeast Oklahoma City, where lack of supermarkets has created a “food desert.” The intent is to halt the spread of stores that stock mostly packaged products high in fat, sugar and salt. [NewsOK]

Bicyclists rally for safer streets: ‘Thank you for giving a damn’: The issue of bicyclist and pedestrian safety in Oklahoma City may have reached a critical mass. Joined by OKC’s two newest City Council members, more than 100 residents donned helmets and rode their bicycles more than two miles from Stonecloud Brewing to Tower Theatre this afternoon to organize advocacy efforts for better safety infrastructure. [NonDoc]

Challenges continue over pending demolition of OKC African American landmark: The newest front in the battle over preservation of historic structures in Oklahoma City involves a house that for a half-century was home to the Oklahoma City chapter of the Oklahoma Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs. [NewsOK]

Former University of Oklahoma President David Boren asks for meeting with regents: In an extraordinary move, former University of Oklahoma President David Boren asked in writing Tuesday to meet with regents about the sexual misconduct investigation of him. The regents next meet Thursday and Friday in Norman. [NewsOK]

Quote of the Day

“Today’s vote opens doors to opportunity and employment for thousands of Oklahomans looking for meaningful employment and a second chance.”

-Jenna Moll, deputy director for the Justice Action Network, speaking about the Oklahoma Legislature’s passage of HB 1373, which removes broad-but-vague rules that allow occupational licensing boards to deny applications for any individual with a felony in their past [Source: Reason]

Number of the Day


Number of drug-related arrests in Oklahoma in 2017, 18.2% of all arrests made in that year.

[Source: Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Cities try new ways to help former inmates find housing: Former prison inmates are almost 10 times more likely to become homeless than the general population, according to an August report by the Prison Policy Initiative, a nonprofit based in Northampton, Massachusetts. A handful of states, cities and counties are experimenting with ways to house former inmates while protecting the public. [Governing]

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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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