In The Know: Gov. Stitt inaugurated; push to end agency boards; new judge advocates sentencing reform…

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) Push to end agencies’ boards could inject more politics and ideology into state agency operations: It looks like we may be in for a wholesale change in the way state government works in the upcoming session. During the campaign Governor Stitt made an issue of the so called “weak governor” system in effect in Oklahoma since statehood and proposed putting the power to “hire and fire” agency directors in the hands of a “strong” governor. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]

State Budget Summit to feature ‘genius grant’ recipient, state leader panels on budget and child issues: As the 2019 Oklahoma legislative session nears, a new governor and many newly elected lawmakers are preparing to take on the challenge of funding Oklahoma’s core services. On January 24th in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Policy Institute’s 6th Annual State Budget Summit will bring together hundreds of Oklahomans looking to gain a clearer sense of the budget issues at stake. [OK Policy] There are still tickets available for the 2019 State Budget Summit. Register today to reserve your seat!

In The News

Gov. Kevin Stitt inaugurated, lawmakers talk ‘optimism’: Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt became Oklahoma’s 28th governor today, delivering a speech that continued his campaign narrative while fleshing out a goal for state agencies’ accountability. [NonDoc] As Gov. Kevin Stitt began his first day as Oklahoma’s 28th governor, he spoke time and again of seemingly insurmountable feats. [Journal Record] A fresh start for the state is speakers’ theme at Gov. Kevin Stitt’s inaugural ball in Oklahoma City. [Tulsa World]

Analysis: New governor pledges to tackle old problems: Just after noon Monday, Kevin Stitt became an insider. After more than 18 months on the campaign trail touting his business experience as the remedy for what ailed Oklahoma, Stitt put his hand on the Bible and officially took possession of the state’s problems. [NewsOK] Stitt takes office, promises new state pride. [NewOK]

Stitt’s inaugural speech, annotated, lays out priorities and vision: Kevin Stitt spent most of the past year telling voters how he could turn Oklahoma into a “Top 10 state” when it comes to education, business and other categories. Now, after being sworn in Monday as Oklahoma’s 28th governor, the new chief executive will be tasked with carrying out his ambitious campaign pledge. [Oklahoma Watch]  Gov. Stitt’s inaugural address focuses on accountability, education. [Tulsa World]

Hunter begins 1st full term as state Attorney General: In a career that began with a private practice focusing on energy and real state, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter is starting his first full term in office. He was sworn in Monday as the state’s chief legal officer during the inaugural ceremony on the south steps of the State Capitol. [OK Energy Today]

New judge advocates sentencing reform needs: Muskogee County District Court Judge Bret A. Smith highlighted the need for sentencing reforms Monday after taking the oath of office. The newest district judge of Oklahoma’s 15th Judicial District told the standing-room-only crowd who gathered for the swearing-in ceremony he has great concerns about the state’s high incarceration rates. [Muskogee Daily Phoenix]

Unidentified: There were at least 56 officer-involved shootings in Oklahoma last year according to a review by The Frontier, and officers remain unidentified in 17 of those cases. The number would actually be higher if not for court records which eventually disclosed the names of officers in six other cases. [The Frontier]

Ardmore opioid meeting hopes to bring local agencies together to combat crisis: Area organizations who combat the damage dealt by opioid abuse will meet for the first time next month in hopes of finding answers and allies. Law enforcement, mental health professionals, prevention and rehabilitation specialists will meet at the Mercy Hospital Conference Center for a meeting organized by OSU Research. [Daily Ardmoreite]

Three outside candidates interviewed to be OKC city manager: Three outside candidates were among the eight interviewed by the Oklahoma City Council as it searched for a successor to Jim Couch as city manager. The city released reports on costs to bring the three outside candidates in for interviews. Expenses including airfare and hotels totaled about $1,500. [NewsOK]

OKC School Board approves medical marijuana use: Oklahoma City district students with a medical condition that requires marijuana will be permitted to use the drug at school, the school board voted unanimously Monday night. According to the new policy, which takes effect immediately, the district will provide a private location for a caregiver to administer medical marijuana to students at school. [NewsOK]

Tulsa school board discusses equity goals at retreat: Tulsa Public Schools leaders analyzed the root causes of student performance disparities during a school board retreat Monday evening. Superintendent Deborah Gist and board members met for several hours with two Washington, D.C.-based consultants who specialize in workplace equity, taking part in group projects and lively discussions about minimizing opportunity gaps for students. [Tulsa World]

Challenges with Montessori method, enrollment increase prompt hiring of second principal at Emerson: A boost in enrollment and complications from sustaining dissimilar learning models led Tulsa Public Schools to hire a second principal at Oklahoma’s first public Montessori school. [Tulsa World]

Tulsa officials begin allocating next cycle of HUD Community Development Block Grants: The difficult process of parceling out the next round of federal community development grants has started in Tulsa. While $3.1 million to $3.4 million is expected from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, some must be set aside for city endeavors. [Public Radio Tulsa]

‘It’s time we enforce our water quality standards’: Groups rallying against proposal on pollution limits: Conservation groups are rallying the public to comment in opposition to an Oklahoma Water Resources Board proposal they say could further delay water quality improvements for Oklahoma’s scenic rivers. [Tulsa World]

Three Seminole County newspapers to be bought by local development council: The Seminole Economic Development Council has reached an agreement in principle to purchase the assets of three Seminole County newspapers following the Dec. 30 death of Stu Phillips, the Seminole Producer’s third-generation publisher. [NewsOK ????]

Furloughed FAA employees picket outside Oklahoma City airport: A small contingent of furloughed Federal Aviation Administration employees stood outside Will Rogers World Airport on Monday afternoon to warn travelers of the effects the record-long government shutdown. [NewsOK ????]

Quote of the Day

“On the very day that a new governor is taking the oath of office, wanting to move Oklahoma forward into a new economic era, Washington, D.C., is throwing him a dead dog, telling him, ‘We’re not going to pay thousands and thousands of your constituents.’”

-Dave Spero, a furloughed Federal Aviation Administration technician who was among those picketing outside the Oklahoma City airport to warn travelers of the effects of the government shutdown [Source: NewsOK]

Number of the Day


Average salary for teaching aides in Oklahoma public schools.

[Source: Oklahoma State Department of Education]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How one company is making millions off Trump’s war on the poor: The difference is that, unlike voter suppression, public benefit suppression can create a significant market opportunity for companies like Maximus. That’s because restricting access to public benefits can be complicated and expensive, even when the restrictions are relatively straightforward, like the monthly fee now required for Medicaid in seven states. [Mother Jones]

You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.


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.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.