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.
OK Policy Legislative Focus Areas
OK Policy has determined its focus areas for Oklahoma’s upcoming Legislative session based on the organization’s original research, analysis, and feedback from state residents. “Built on its non-partisan policy research and analysis, OK Policy is uniquely positioned to lift and elevate state policies that can allow all Oklahomans to thrive,” said OK Policy Board Chair Don Millican. “This is especially true for policy areas where underserved Oklahoman might lack a political voice to ensure that elected officials and policy makers hear about their needs.”
In The News
Legislative session begins Monday. Can Stitt keep up the momentum of his first year?: Gov. Kevin Stitt will try to sustain the momentum of his first year in office when the Oklahoma Legislature convenes on Monday. Stitt got most of what he wanted a year ago, but with little new money to go around, keeping everyone on board may prove more difficult. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma’s 2020 session starts today. [NonDoc]
Issues to watch when the legislative session begins Monday: When Oklahoma legislators start the session Monday, they’ll have more than 4,500 pieces of legislation for consideration. Only a fraction of those bills will see any action, and an even smaller fraction will make it to Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk. [The Oklahoman] Lawmakers talk agendas as legislative session begins. [CNHI]
A basic breakdown of the issues our legislators will begin debating Monday: With tighter budgets, legislative elections on the horizon and the ongoing dispute between Stitt and tribes over gambling compacts, it promises to be a challenging session. The session ends May 29. Here is a breakdown on some key issues for the upcoming session as well a look at what might pass and fail. [Tulsa World] Legislative session starts Monday: Assault-style rifle ban, ‘Year of the Bible’ among bills proposed for Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]
Legislative session starts in construction zone at Oklahoma Capitol: Visitors and lawmakers returning to the Capitol on Monday for the next legislative session will find a construction zone. [Tulsa World]
Capitol Insider: Stitt announces new health care plan as Legislative session begins: As Oklahoma lawmakers get ready to return to the Capitol for the start of the 2020 Legislative Session, Governor Kevin Stitt announces a new plan that would change health care delivery in the state. [KGOU]
Local lawmakers give priority to COLA issue: It’s been more than 10 years since retirees received a COLA, and there are few proposals to change that. State Sen. Ron Sharp, R-Shawnee, announced legislation to reapportion a percentage of new taxes to provide more regular COLAs for Oklahoma’s six public retirement systems and would create the Cost-of-Living Adjustment Revenue Revolving Fund. Apportionments would include one-third of taxes on alcoholic beverages, tobacco products, and half of the excise tax on medical marijuana. [Enid News & Eagle] OK Policy has identified cost of living adjustments for state retirees as a focus for the upcoming Legislative session.
Baby blues: Teachers struggle to start a family without dedicated maternity leave: Parental leave has become a national conversation in recent years, as several states have begun to embrace paid leave and 2020 presidential candidates have pledged support for the policy. While Oklahoma’s 2020 legislative session starts Monday, only one house bill has the potential to directly address parental leave. [Norman Transcript] OK Policy has identified paid family and medical leave as a need for working Oklahomans.
More executive power on wish list for Oklahoma governor: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, the CEO-turned-governor who broadly expanded executive powers in his first term last year, will ask the Legislature to extend those even further as he lays out his vision in his second State of the State address to lawmakers on Monday. [AP News]
Tulsa Superintendent Deborah Gist warns lawmakers that restoring class size limits will come with $150 million statewide price tag: Tulsa Superintendent Deborah Gist warned area lawmakers Friday that lifting a moratorium on class-size limits would come at a steep financial price and make space an issue for many schools. [Tulsa World]
Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Ed focused on degree, certificate completion programs: The Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education have a legislative agenda for 2020 focused on helping meet a goal for educational attainment. The state goal is increasing the number of degrees and certificates earned 67 percent by 2020. [Public Radio Tulsa]
Oklahoma mental health officials seeing success with prison diversion programs: Oklahoma mental health officials told state lawmakers they are seeing success with expanded “Smart on Crime” initiatives. By the end of June, jails in all 77 Oklahoma counties should be assessing every person arrested for a nonviolent crime for their mental health, potential substance abuse and their risk of reoffending. [Public Radio Tulsa] OK Policy has noted the need for increased access for prison diversion programs, saying that treatment should be easier to access than prison.
Worry from LGBTQ community after several bills aim to take away rights: There’s several new 2020 legislative bills striking fear in some in the community. Most of the bills are concerning LGBTQ rights, reproductive justice and immigration. [KTUL]
Wastewater disposal and recycling legislation backed by alliance: Produced water recycling, infrastructure support and production revenue payments are among issues The Petroleum Alliance of Oklahoma will be pursuing during the upcoming legislative session. [The Journal Record 🔒]
Outdoor enthusiasts take in primer ahead of Legislative session: If the standing-only room inside Heirloom Rustic Ales on Tuesday evening is any indication, interest in outdoors-related legislation is robust in Tulsa as the second regular session of the 57th Oklahoma legislature rolls into gear Monday. [Tulsa World]
Paperwork filed: Three Wetumka council members resign: Controversial Wetumka City Council members James Jackson and Rebecca Jackson filed an official letter of resignation at the Hughes County Courthouse stamped at 1:28 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31. Councilman Randy Hinkley submitted his own letter of resignation at 12:02 p.m. [NonDoc] ‘Hostile environment’: Wetumka mayor thwarted in attempt to abolish police department. [NonDoc]
Epic’s financial web includes related companies, organizations: When parents login to the portal from Epic’s main website, they are taken to a site operated by Five Points Technology Group, Inc., a Florida-based company managed by Elizabeth VanAcker, the wife of Epic co-founder Ben Harris, who is also the co-owner of the private company that oversees Epic charter schools and receives a portion of its state funding. [The Frontier]
Mother imprisoned under failure to protect laws reflects on first months of freedom: Tondalao Hall was sentenced to 30 years for failing to protect two of her children from their abusive father. Her former boyfriend, who admitted to breaking the leg, ribs and toe of their daughter when the child was 3 months old, never went to prison. [The Oklahoman]
Last day to register to vote in Oklahoma’s presidential primary is Friday: Oklahomans wanting to cast a ballot in the March 3 presidential primary must register to vote on or before Friday. Friday also is the deadline for Oklahomans to update or change their voter registration. [The Oklahoman]
Quote of the Day
“Over the past 10 years, everything has gone up. What we’re running into with a lot of the retirees is the insurance cost. Their premiums on their insurance is so high and they’re having to pay their whole check for insurance.”
-State Rep. Matt Meredith, D-Tahlequah, speaking about cost of living adjustments for state retirees [Enid News & Eagle]
Number of the Day
Percent of African American children in Oklahoma living in households with a high cost burden compared to 20 percent of White children.
[Source: KIDS COUNT Data Center]
5 things to know about Trump’s Medicaid block grant plan: The federal government generally moves at a glacial pace in approving new state projects, particularly for ones that set new precedent or are controversial. Given that, it’s unlikely any state would get a waiver before 2021 — when there could be a change in federal administrations.The federal government generally moves at a glacial pace in approving new state projects, particularly for ones that set new precedent or are controversial. Given that, it’s unlikely any state would get a waiver before 2021 — when there could be a change in federal administrations. [Kaiser Health News]
You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.