In The Know: House moves $1,200 teacher pay raise; OKC school closure plan revealed; seeking a higher minimum wage…

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean policy prt by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

New from OK Policy

Bill Watch: Opportunities to make Oklahomans better off economically this session: This session, the Legislature will have several opportunities to improve the lives of hard-working Oklahomans and their families. Legislators have filed bills to create second chances for the justice-involved, make sure workers have paid time off to care for their own health and the health of their loved ones, and restore the full value of the Earned Income Tax Credit. All of these would be great steps toward creating an Oklahoma that appropriately values and fairly rewards the labor of its citizens. [OK Policy]

Delaying pre-K a step back for Oklahoma’s children: While the bill is responding to some teachers’ valid concerns, moving the pre-K cutoff date would mean rolling back significant progress Oklahoma has made as a leader in universal early childhood education. The decision to send your child to pre-K already is voluntary in Oklahoma, so parents currently have the option to hold their child back and wait a year before sending them to pre-K. [Rebecca Fine / Enid News & Eagle]

In The News

House moves $1,200 teacher pay raise, Senate sees classroom priority: After four questions, four minutes of discussion and no debate, the Oklahoma House of Representatives unanimously advanced a $1,200 teacher pay raise this morning, sending Speaker Charles McCall’s HB 1780 to the Senate. But what will happen to the education funding effort as it moves through the rest of the legislative process remains unclear. [NonDoc] The House also voted overwhelmingly to add $5 million to the state’s Quick Action Closing Fund, which can be distributed by the governor to offset the infrastructure costs for businesses promising to bring jobs to the state. [NewsOK] State aid to schools remains $165 million less than in FY 2009, even as enrollment has grown by over 50,000 students.

OKC school closure plan revealed, vote set March 4: It’s time for (a version of) Plan B, according to leaders of Oklahoma City Public Schools. At a meeting this afternoon, OKCPS board members were presented with the “final path” recommendation for the district’s Pathway to Greatness proposal. Under the tweaked “B” pathway presented Thursday, one middle school and one high school would close. The bulk of the schools proposed to be closed are neighborhood elementaries. [NonDoc]

The ‘trade-ups’ and trade-offs of consolidating Oklahoma’s largest school district: Oklahoma City is growing, but student enrollment in district schools is on the decline. The district was built to hold 60,000 students, but today it serves about 46,000. The distribution isn’t felt evenly, and some schools like U.S. Grant are overcrowded while other schools are operating at less than half capacity. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Seeking a higher minimum wage: Should Oklahoma follow the lead of surrounding states? State Sen. George Young wants to raise Oklahoma’s minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.50 per hour. To do that, Young, a Democrat from Oklahoma City, filed Senate Bill 102. Young said he wrote the bill because lawmakers should be talking about a living wage and not a minimum wage. [Journal Record] Because wage increases tend to trickle up, research has shown that raising the minimum wage would improve the financial situation of most income groups.

Bill to simplify calculating county elected officials’ salaries passes House committee: A bill that would simplify calculating the salaries of county elected officials was approved Wednesday by an Oklahoma House committee. The measure, House Bill 1939, was filed in response to a state auditor’s report that showed that Grady County mistakenly overpaid its elected officials by hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a decade. [NewsOK ????]

Energy-related state agencies would be included in a financial transparency bill in the legislature: The Senate General Government Committee okayed Senate Bill 177 by Sen. Ron Sharp (R-Shawnee) which will require state agencies to provide on their website certain financial information as prescribed by the State Auditor and Inspector and the Office of Management and Enterprise Services. [OK Energy Today]

Medical marijuana ‘Unity Bill’ clears Oklahoma House committee: An Oklahoma House committee advanced a bill Thursday that would provide an extensive medical marijuana regulatory framework that could cost nearly $10 million in its first year of implementation. [Tulsa World] While it covers issues from licensing to lab testing and from possession to packaging, Rep. Jon Echols said it is purposely a “skinny” bill meant to follow the will of the people. [Public Radio Tulsa]

‘Constitutional carry’ bill passes Oklahoma Senate panel. Gov. Stitt says he ‘looks forward to signing it’: A Senate panel on Wednesday passed a bill that would allow people to carry a firearm without a permit or training. House Bill 2597, called “Constitutional Carry,” passed the Senate Appropriations Committee by a vote of 18-4. [Tulsa World] Faith leaders, others voice opposition to constitutional carry bill for Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

Baptist leaders oppose bill to criminalize abortion; proponent ‘flabbergasted’: Baptist leaders on Thursday came out against a bill to criminalize abortion. Senate Bill 13, by Sen. Joseph Silk, R-Broken Arrow, would classify abortion as murder. The bill has been assigned to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, where the chairman, Sen. Jason Smalley, R-Stroud, has said it will not get a hearing. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma GOP leaders to push ‘triggered’ abortion ban. [AP News]

Stitt makes public safety, veterans affairs cabinet picks: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has filled two positions in his executive cabinet, including Chip Keating as secretary of public safety and Brian Brurud as secretary of veterans affairs and the military. [Public Radio Tulsa] You can see other Stitt cabinet appointees in OK Policy’s 2019 Legislative Primer.

Tulsa World editorial: Don’t roll back rules that protect consumers from payday lending abuses: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should not reverse a common-sense rule that protects payday lending borrowers. This month, the bureau proposed rolling back a 2017 rule that prohibits loans to borrowers who cannot demonstrate an ability to pay them back. [Editorial Board / Tulsa WorldImproving regulations and prevent expansion of predatory lending is one of our 2019 policy priorities.

Point of View: Oklahomans ill served by excessive occupational licensing requirements: One of the social questions facing the people of Oklahoma is how to address the revolving door of Oklahoma prisons making Oklahoma communities less safe. The answer to this question lies as Pope St. John Paul II believed — in the inherent dignity of work. [Tim Head, David Safavian, & Jason Pye / NewsOK] Limiting restrictions on occupational licenses for those with prior felony offenses is one of our 2019 policy priorities.

Will state’s ‘opportunity zones’, intended for the poor, benefit mostly the rich? A new federal tax incentive to encourage long-term investments in low-income areas includes most of downtown Oklahoma City and Tulsa and other pockets of prosperity in the state, but excludes many areas that are impoverished. The contrasts raise questions about how the areas, called “opportunity zones,” were selected and whether the tax breaks will attract investments that mostly benefit extremely poor areas or ones where investments were already going. [Oklahoma Watch]

New definition of federally regulated waters encourages OK farmers: Oklahoma farmers are pleased that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken a step to roll back government oversight of the country’s waters by proposing a change to an Obama-era rule one farmer called a “terrible overreach.” [Gaylord News]

Tulsa launches strategic planning process to end homelessness: Every major city in the United States seems to be struggling with homelessness right now, with some addressing the problem more effectively than others, but none is actually solving it, the mayor of Tulsa said Thursday morning. [Tulsa World]

Black History Month: 13 historic all-black towns remain in Oklahoma: The all-black towns of Oklahoma represent a unique chapter in American history, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society website. Nowhere else, neither in the Deep South nor in the Far West, did so many African-American men and women come together to create, occupy and govern their own communities. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Overwhelmingly on public education advocates’ chat boards, Facebook pages, I’m seeing time and again that they prefer classroom funding over the teacher pay, and I’m hearing that in my one-on-one meetings. So that’s not to say people still don’t want to see more money going to their paycheck. But I think if they have their druthers, it goes to the classroom, from the feedback I’m hearing.”

-Senate President Pro Temp Greg Treat [Source: NonDoc]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma’s population age 1 year and over who moved here from a different state.

[Source: U.S. Census 2017 American Community Survey]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Don’t put work-requirements on Medicaid: “So far, only one state—Arkansas—has imposed extensive work requirements on Medicaid. Fourteen other states have applied to follow its example. They should look at what has happened in Arkansas and think again.” [Economist]

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.