In The Know: How bail drains money from Oklahoma communities; reform advocates join parole board; child firearm deaths rise…

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

Money bail costs vulnerable communities and county governments millions of dollars each year. Passing SB 252 could change that: Oklahomans who are arrested for nonviolent offenses often spend several weeks in local and county jails because they’re unable to afford to post money bond, incurring steep costs with little benefit to public safety. A new study of court records by Open Justice Oklahoma finds that the harmful effects of money bail are felt across the state, though differing policies across counties create deep disparities in the likelihood and length of pretrial detentions. [OK Policy] Read the full Open Justice Oklahoma report here

New study shows bail system in Oklahoma costs local governments millions of dollars:A new study from the Oklahoma Policy Institute found the state’s bail system is costing both vulnerable communities and county governments millions of dollars each year. [KTUL] Read the full Open Justice Oklahoma report here

Fact Check: Property crime decreased in Oklahoma after SQ 780: Oklahoma Policy Institute released a statement in response to recent media reports which spread unsupported claims that property crimes increased in the wake of State Question 780 reforms that recategorized low-level drug and property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors. [OK Policy]

More and better paid support staff key to improving Oklahoma’s schools: Walk through any school in Oklahoma, and you will likely find the proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child,” hanging over a teacher’s desk or printed on a principal’s mug. Decades of research about the importance of school climate confirm this saying. [Rebecca Fine / Enid News & Eagle]

In The News

Stitt appoints reform advocates to parole board: Gov. Kevin Stitt announced three appointments to the state’s Pardon and Parole Board on Tuesday that he said will bring a “fresh perspective” to a board from which he wants more inmate applications. The governor’s office announced the appointment of Kelly E. Doyle, Adam Luck and Robert Gilliland, who each will be first-time members on the five-person board. [NewsOK] Advocates for reducing Oklahoma’s prison population are praising Gov. Kevin Stitt’s selection of three new members to the state’s Pardon and Parole Board. [AP News]

Oklahoma governor reappoints Rhoades as safety commissioner: Gov. Kevin Stitt is reappointing the commissioner of public safety following an investigation at the agency that led to a criminal charge against a Highway Patrol captain. Stitt announced Friday he was reappointing Rusty Rhoades as the Commissioner of Public Safety, the same post he held under former Gov. Mary Fallin. [AP News]

Children injured and killed by firearms in Oklahoma on the rise: The Frontier analyzed data from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Department of Health to determine how many youth age 17 and younger had been injured or killed by firearms. Dozens of children are injured or killed by firearms each year, but no single state agency keep track of them all. [The Frontier]

Gun law changes: Here’s what will be different when and if permitless carry is passed in Oklahoma: The man who pushed for years to allow concealed carry in Oklahoma said that while he thinks his bill made Oklahomans safer, he’s not a fan of permitless carry. [Tulsa World]

Cutoff date for kindergarten to be debated by full Oklahoma Senate: A Senate education committee voted Tuesday to move up Oklahoma’s kindergarten and prekindergarten cutoff date by one month, which would be one of the earliest dates in the country. Senate Bill 11 would require children to be 5 years old by Aug. 1 to attend kindergarten — and 4 years old for prekindergarten— rather than by the current cutoff date of Sept. 1. [NewsOK] We recently discussed how SB 11 could delay school readiness for students who need it the most.

New restructured school report cards will be released Thursday, pending vote from state education board: After a two-years hiatus, the Oklahoma State Department of Education is expected this week to release school report cards with a new design and a new priority. [Tulsa World] Q&A: Oklahoma’s New School Grading System. [Oklahoma Watch]

Epic Charter Schools under investigation by state, federal law enforcement agencies: Epic Charter Schools, the Oklahoma-based online education juggernaut, is now the target of scrutiny by state and federal law enforcement in addition to state lawmakers. [Tulsa World]

Bill aims to give crash course to educators with emergency teaching certificates: House Bill 1316 would require school districts to give at least two days of training for emergency certified teachers. That training would include classroom management, subject-specific instructional methods, school procedures and policies and writing lesson plans. [KOCO]

Bill proposed to keep politics out of Oklahoma classrooms: Senate Bill 574 would require every school district to create a code of ethics for teachers, and spend three hours in training each year to make sure classes don’t get political. If passed, teachers would also be unable to support candidates or legislation in front of students, and they couldn’t introduce a controversial subject or current event if it isn’t related to the course. Multiple teachers say they believe the bill is a response to last year’s walkout. [KJRH]

I was tired of how politicians treated teachers. So I became a politician: This is a story about how I lost my cool. As a teacher, I learned to put up with a lot of nonsense: disruptive students, lame excuses, and dumb bureaucratic rules. For 25 years, I handled classrooms with a smile and learned to kill with kindness. The truth is, I loved my job. [Rep. John Waldron / Education Week]

Changing the way Oklahoma defines bullying in schools: Safe School Committees meet in every Oklahoma school district to look at at bullying cases and find ways to make schools safer. One group says the definition of bullying could be causing them to miss thousands of cases, and hopes a new bill could hold the answer. [KJRH]

Speaker McCall, others favor county option for taxing aggregates: HB 1404 by Rep. J.J. Humphrey (R-Lane) would authorize counties to pass a $0.10-per-ton severance tax on the production of rock, gravel, granite, sand and limestone. Called aggregates, the materials are used primarily in construction capacities. [NonDoc]

As legislative deadline nears, poultry house regulation bill declared ‘dead’ by author: A bill that many residents of eastern Oklahoma affected by the recent proliferation of chicken farms had hoped would set stricter requirements on new poultry operations was declared dead for the session this week by its author after failing to receive a hearing in committee. [The Frontier]

Wind Day at the Capitol gave wind energy executives the chance to interact with Legislators: Wind Energy executives and workers along with other supporters were at the Oklahoma Capitol for Wind Day. 7 News found out why they believe money made from wind energy is making a big impact on the state, and more specifically public education. [KSWO]

State agency shifts focus to rising medical marijuana demand: The Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority has temporarily closed its customer service center to free up more staff to respond to the high volume of applications for medical marijuana cards. The number of applications received per week rose from 1,200 in September to around 5,000 in February, agency officials said. [AP News]

OKC Council approves incentives for Amazon: Amazon is set to begin hiring for more than 1,700 job openings related to its new fulfillment center in Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City Economic Development Project Manager Brent Bryant told the city council Tuesday the company plans to begin the hiring process for the new $140 million center in the next four to six weeks. [NewsOK]

Quote of the Day

“In the classroom, kids are always asking questions, especially over the past year and a half or so. A lot of students are asking questions about what’s going on, why are we walking out, etc. and so forth. I think we’re doing them a disservice if we don’t answer those questions.”

-Tulsa Union High School teacher Jim Douthat, speaking about a bill introduced in the Legislature that would prohibit public school teachers from speaking about any political issues or legislation with students [Source: KJRH]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma women ages 25 and over who have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 24.4% of men.

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

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The jail health-care crisis: According to a study released in 2017 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nearly half the people held in jails suffer from some kind of mental illness, and more than a quarter have a severe condition, such as bipolar disorder. The same year, the bureau reported that about two-thirds of sentenced jail inmates suffer from drug addiction or dependency; that number was based on data from 2007-09, so it does not take into account the recent catastrophic rise of opioid addiction. That epidemic and other public-health emergencies, in jails across the country, are being aggravated by failings in the criminal-justice system. [New Yorker]

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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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