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
Rules to protect payday loan customers are under attack…again: In the fall of 2017, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued new rules to protect payday loan customers from some of the most harmful practices in that industry. These loans, usually paid back in one payment on the borrower’s next payday, carry extremely high interest rates and borrowers can easily become trapped in an endless cycle of re-borrowing to keep afloat. But now the same federal agency that issued the rule has announced plans to scrap important provisions of it, leaving many consumers unprotected. [OK Policy]
In The News
GOP leaders seek ‘objective data,’ new budget office: While answering questions about HB 2484, Rep. Jon Echols stood on the House floor and calmly revealed an alarming detail about Oklahoma’s government. “During the budgetary process, it’s become routine for the Senate to have one set of numbers and the House to have another set of numbers,” said Echols (R-OKC). “It makes far more sense to have a fiscal team that, at the end of the day, answers to both sides of the Legislature so we are all operating off of the same numbers.” [NonDoc]
Stitt signs Unity Bill regulating Oklahoma medical marijuana industry: Gov. Kevin Stitt signed House Bill 2612 Thursday, a measure commonly referred to as the medical marijuana Unity Bill. The bill encompasses Oklahoma’s fledgling medical marijuana industry. [NewsOK] More on the ‘Unity Bill’ and medical marijuana in Oklahoma. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma bankers are frustrated that it’s taking so long for federal legislation to catch up to state laws on marijuana, Oklahoma Bankers Association President Roger Beverage said. [Journal Record 🔒]
Bill to teach ‘consent’ fails, sexual assault reported between House pages: Around 10 p.m. Wednesday, the Oklahoma House of Representatives voted down HB 1007, a proposal that would have annually required schools to provide education about consent and healthy relationships. Called Lauren’s Law, the bill failed 39-56 after extensive questions and debate over the word “culture” and whether “abstinence” should be taught as well. [NonDoc] Last year, House Bill 2734, also known as Lauren’s Law, passed through the Oklahoma House of Representatives before dying in the Senate. [Norman Transcript]
Senate OKs plan to push school districts to 5-day weeks: A plan to force more Oklahoma school districts to return to five-day school weeks has cleared the Oklahoma Senate. The Senate voted 31-17 on Thursday for the bill that now goes to the House. According to the state Department of Education, 92 of Oklahoma’s more than 500 school districts currently are operating on four-day school weeks. [AP News] What Oklahoma schools need is more funding – despite the teacher walkout, school funding is still down from 2008.
Legislation proposed to expand Tulsa Teacher Corps, allowing district to independently certify: Staff with Tulsa Public Schools said as teachers leave the field at an alarming rate, they’re looking to the state for help. If House Bill 1990 or Senate Bill 217 pass, the district could create their own certification system. [KJRH] Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist asked community members to support educators and students by serving as substitute teachers during a press conference at Kendall-Whittier Elementary on Thursday morning. [Tulsa World]
Proposed measure would direct Oklahoma schools to install panic button systems: A proposed bill that would put panic button systems in Oklahoma schools is expected to be heard by lawmakers Thursday. SB 267, authored by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R- Broken Arrow, would direct each school district, “if funding is available,” to “install and maintain a panic button
Fifteen bills StateImpact is watching in the 2019 Oklahoma Legislature: With a huge freshman class and a promise for less gridlock, Oklahoma lawmakers filed more than 2,800 bills this legislative session. With a third of the session now over, the StateImpact team has an update on some bills we’re following. [StateImpact Oklahoma]
Ginnie Graham: Oklahoma lawmakers need to stop scaring away voters: Out of one of the biggest time-suck debates in the Oklahoma House comes a superfluous bill from Rep. Sean Roberts to root out all those wily immigrants hell-bent on messing with our elections. Of course, that’s never been shown — anecdotally or statistically — to be a problem in our state, or any others for that matter. [Ginnie Graham / Tulsa World]
Hamilton: Voter fraud, democracy and a made-up problem: Even though nearly half its members are brand spanking new, the state House proved this week it remains remarkably adept at embracing a solution in search of a problem. Case in point: Hominy Rep. Sean Roberts’ House Bill 2429, which would require the Oklahoma State Election Board to periodically search for “potential non-citizens” on voting rolls. [Arnold Hamilton / Journal Record]
Sunshine Week: Rules governing Oklahoma law enforcement not considered a public record by many agencies: Despite being one of the most important documents governing how law enforcement agencies, administrators and officers carry out their duties, many Oklahoma law enforcement agencies do not consider the rules their departments and officers operate under to be a matter of public record. [The Frontier] Responses by Oklahoma sheriffs to Open Records Act requests by The Frontier. [The Frontier]
It’s Sunshine Week – a time to celebrate your right to know: Launched by the American Society of News Editors and co-sponsored by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, #SunshineWeek focuses attention on access to public information, open government and journalism’s role in promoting transparency. [Oklahoma Watch]
Mullin urges Congress to renew mental health program as funding nears end: U.S. House Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Westville, on Thursday introduced a bipartisan bill alongside House and Senate members to expand a national mental health treatment program for which funding runs out March 31. [Gaylord News] Expanding Medicaid in Oklahoma would help 97,000 Oklahoma access the mental health services they need.
Deep in US oil country, students set to march for climate: Oil is everywhere in Oklahoma, says local student Luke Kerr. But that has not deterred him from planning a protest here calling for its phasing out in the state’s capital city on Friday – mirroring similar events due to be staged around the world by students skipping school. [Reuters]
Regional Food Bank helping feed Oklahoma City students during spring break: Through March 22, the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma is providing free meals and snacks to Oklahoma City Public School students who usually rely on free or reduced meals on school days. [KFOR] From 2014 to 2016, one in seven Oklahoma families experienced food insecurity.
Lawsuit threatened if public comment not included in council hearings on Equality Indicators: The family of Terence Crutcher and other advocates for police reform on Thursday praised the City Council for voting to hold public meetings on the 2018 Equality Indicators report but said the format of the meetings is flawed. [Tulsa World] Mayor responds to criticism from Terence Crutcher’s sister with frustration about portrayal of police. [Tulsa World]
OU president says the school has turned the corner financially: Eight months into his tenure, University of Oklahoma President Jim Gallogly thinks the university’s finances are turning a corner. [Tulsa World] OU Board of Regents members Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes and C. Renzi Stone were officially elected as chair and vice-chair of the Board at this week’s Board of Regents meeting. [OU Daily]
Quote of the Day
“We had a funding-neutral bill with state agencies that can implement it and community-based organizations that are willing to support it and implement it, and it got hung up by ignorance and ideology. “I don’t understand how lawmakers up there couldn’t see that we need to make this a priority in Oklahoma with our awful statistics.”
– Stacey Wright, founder of Yes All Daughter, on the failure of a bill that would require schools to teach about consent and healthy relationships [Source: NonDoc]
Number of the Day
Number of hours a minimum wage worker in Oklahoma has to work each week to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rate
[Source: National Low Income Housing Coalition]
America is failing its black mothers: Put simply, for black women far more than for white women, giving birth can amount to a death sentence. African American women are three to four times more likely to die during or after delivery than are white women. According to the World Health Organization, their odds of surviving childbirth are comparable to those of women in countries such as Mexico and Uzbekistan, where significant proportions of the population live in poverty. [Harvard Public Health]
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