In The Know: Early bill filings; efforts to expand early voting; new precedent for workers compensation cases involving drugs…

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

(Capitol Update) Early bill filings reveal legislators’ priorities: With the new Legislature now sworn into office, members can begin filing the bills for the next legislative session. Early bill filings are often “statement bills” revealing the priorities of their authors. By watching these early filings, you can learn something about the legislator and, without making too much of it, the people they represent. An early bill filing means the issue is a top priority for the legislator, especially for the leadership. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

In The News

Despite growth, county officials resist efforts to expand early voting: As the popularity of early voting continues to rise, some lawmakers are reviving a plan to make it easier for Oklahomans to vote. But they will likely run into continued resistance that has given Oklahoma the shortest in-person early-voting period among the many states that allow early voting. Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, said Senate Democrats are preparing legislation that would extend the time voters have to cast ballots through the in-person absentee option. [Oklahoma Watch]

Lobbyists, agencies step up to educate new lawmakers: State Rep. Chelsey Branham thought she’d have a day to rest and recuperate after more than a year of campaigning and working two jobs in the nonprofit sector. The Oklahoma City Democrat snagged a seat vacated by a term-limited Republican on Nov. 6. She quickly felt the weight of her new position as lobbyists and others in the state’s political sphere began calling the same night she won. [NewsOK]

Bill would give counties zoning authority: When lawmakers come back into legislative session, they’ll likely have another local control issue on their hands. Lawmakers will have the opportunity to decide which entities get a say in zoning regulations in unincorporated areas: geographic spaces within counties that don’t belong to any cities. [Journal Record]

Stitt’s top staffer embraces ‘utility player’ role: In selecting Michael Junk as his chief of staff, Gov.-elect Kevin Stitt added a Nick Collison-type player to his team, or at least that’s how political consultant Pat McFerron describes it. Collison, the former power forward for the Oklahoma City Thunder, developed a reputation as a versatile big man who was more grit than flash, playing a variety of roles away from the spotlight. [NewsOK]

Mary Fallin discusses successes, failures and her future after eight years as governor: As Gov. Mary Fallin prepares to leave office, she reflected on her accomplishments over eight years. At the top of the list is shepherding the state through two serious economic downturns. Fallin, 63, has been in public office for 28 years. She leaves Jan. 14 for a quieter life that she hopes will include spending more time with family, doing consulting work and continuing her work on criminal justice reform and business recruitment. [Tulsa World]

Economist: Skilled worker shortage hurts Midwestern economy: The economy continued to expand in nine Midwestern and Plains states last month but was hampered by shortages of skilled workers, according to monthly survey results released Monday. The Mid-America Business Conditions Index dropped to 54.1 in November from 54.9 in October, the report said. The September reading was 57.5. [AP News]

For many atomic veterans, the fight for benefits continues: In the 65 years since Richard Simpson, of Hillsdale, was used as a live subject in atomic bomb testing, he’s never shared his story publicly. He’s breaking his silence now to help other veterans who are fighting for benefits to fight cancer and other illnesses tied to radiation exposure. [Enid News & Eagle]

Court ruling for worker could set precedent for compensation cases involving drugs: A recent Oklahoma court ruling that an injured worker can win compensation benefits even with a positive drug test has clarified related law at a time when medical marijuana may soon be widely available in the state, according to legal and business experts. “The presence of an intoxicating substance in the blood does not automatically mean that person is intoxicated,” the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals stated in its Nov. 16 opinion. [NewsOK]

New City Council sworn in Monday during ceremony at TU campus: The City Council got a new look Monday when four new members joined five incumbents at a swearing-in ceremony at the Lorton Performance Center on the University of Tulsa campus.The day was historic for another reason — six of the councilors who took the oath of office were women. That is the largest contingent of women to be elected to the council since the city changed to a mayor/council form of government in 1989. [Tulsa World]

8 file for city council in Oklahoma City: Eight candidates filed Monday for Oklahoma City Council seats in the Feb. 12 primary election. Ward 2 in inner-northwest Oklahoma City and the central city’s Ward 6 are open seats. The councilmen in Wards 5 and 8 filed for re-election. Filing continues through 5 p.m. Wednesday. [NewsOK]

In a tribal first for Oklahoma, Cherokees seek direct federal assistance following tornadoes: In what is believed to be a first for an Indian tribe in Oklahoma, Cherokee Principal Chief Bill John Baker declared a state of emergency seeking direct federal assistance following Friday’s tornadoes. [Tulsa World] Governor Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency for 12 counties due to severe storms, tornadoes and straight-line winds that happened on November, 30. [KFOR]

Considering the consequences of climate change: Dr. Kevin Kloesel began our phone conversation with questions.“Will you be in a car accident tomorrow?”“No,” I said.“Will someone be in a car accident tomorrow?”“Yes.”He then followed with: “Do you have car insurance?”“Yes,” I said.“Does the person who might hit you in an accident have insurance?”“I don’t know.”That’s how the director of the Oklahoma Climate Survey begins to break down the complicated and overwhelming issues outlined in the Fourth National Climate Assessment, a recently released report created by more than 300 experts. [Joe Hight / Journal Record]

Oklahomans react to death of former President George H.W. Bush: Current and former officeholders across Oklahoma mourned the death of former President George H.W. Bush on Saturday, with some sharing stories of their service and friendship. [NewsOK] While the nation mourns the passing of a president, Governor Mary Fallin has asked that all flags be flown at half-staff. [KFOR]

Quote of the Day

“I think it should be a priority. I think making it easier to vote is in everyone’s best interests.”

-Senate Minority Leader Kay Floyd, who said she is preparing legislation to extend the time allowed for early voting in Oklahoma. [Source: Oklahoma Watch]

Number of the Day


The percentage of their intended inmate capacity that Oklahoma’s public prisons are holding in 2018.

[Source: Oklahoma Policy Institute]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Another 3,815 Arkansans lost Medicaid in November due to rigid work requirement: The 12,000 beneficiaries who have lost coverage thus far will be eligible to re-enroll this month for coverage effective January 1, and their three-month “clock” will restart then. Considering that many didn’t know they were subject to a work requirement, however, it’s unlikely that a large number of beneficiaries will understand that they are again eligible and will re-enroll for January coverage. [Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]

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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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