In The Know: Juvenile arrests in Oklahoma decline, state AG joins legal fight to protect religious school options, Stitt’s pick for land office lacks required degree

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.

Poverty Week at OK Policy

We work on a lot of issues here at OK Policy: criminal justice, education, economic opportunity, and more. But one of the most important issues that we work on is poverty, and it’s a very challenging issue because poverty is both a cause of other issues and an outcome that results from those other issues.

Understanding poverty in our state is a crucial part of tackling so many of Oklahoma’s challenges, and this week we will be sharing data that will further our understanding of this core problem and make us better problem solvers. We hope you’ll follow along on social media and our blog as we learn more about what poverty looks like in Oklahoma and think deeply with us about how to best address this core problem in our state. Click here to read more.

New from OK Policy

Meet OK Policy: Jacobi Crowley, Southwest Oklahoma Field Organizer: I am the Southwest Oklahoma Field Organizer for Together Oklahoma. As a Field Organizer, I am able to organize, engage, and educate citizens on current issues throughout the state and local communities. Here in Southwest Oklahoma, I hope to bring more awareness to citizens on concerning issues throughout the state. [OK Policy]

In The News

Juvenile arrests in Oklahoma decline: Arrests of juveniles have declined dramatically during the past several decades, some say in part because of prevention efforts like Family Awareness and Community Teamwork (FACT), an outreach unit of the Oklahoma City Police Department, which organized the Tuesday night leadership lesson. A report released this month by Open Justice Oklahoma showed that rates of total arrests of Oklahoma youth under age 18 have declined by 67% since 1990. [The Oklahoman] Read the full report by Open Justice Oklahoma, a program of OK Policy.

Oklahoma’s attorney general joins legal fight to protect religious school options for state scholarship and voucher students: Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a Montana Supreme Court decision in an effort to protect religious school options for parents participating in state scholarship and voucher programs. [Tulsa World]

Stitt’s pick for land office lacks required degree, faced lawsuits: Gov. Kevin Stitt’s pick to head the Commissioners of the Land Office lacks the advanced degree needed to become permanent secretary and has owned a company involved in legal disputes over oil and gas leases. [Oklahoma Watch]

Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Cabinet picks criticized for lack of diversity: One-fifth of Gov. Kevin Stitt’s Cabinet members are women, and no one in the group is black. House Minority Leader Emily Virgin, D-Norman, is one state leader who believes that the governor’s Cabinet should be more representative. [Tulsa World]

Stitt uses $2 million in additional funds to restructure Governor’s Office: Using an infusion of cash thanks to a $2 million budget increase, Gov. Kevin Stitt has realigned his office. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma legislator rents apartment from energy lobbyist: House Appropriations Chairman Kevin Wallace rented an apartment from lobbyist Ken Miller during the legislative session and in other months when Wallace, R-Wellston, had to be at or near the Capitol for meetings and other events. [The Oklahoman]

Condley chosen as vice chairman for two state authorities: Directors of the Oklahoma Development Finance Authority and the Oklahoma Industrial Finance Authority have elected a new vice chairman for the two entities. Chris Condley, CEO of Muskogee Market of Firstar Bank, was elected to serve as vice chair for both authorities. [CNHI]

Party heads discuss government control: Oklahoma legislators looked at thousands of bills during the regular session, some of which passed the onerous test of going through both legislative chambers and landing on Gov. Kevin Stitt’s desk. [CNHI]

Paradise lost: Meth has saturated communities in southeast Oklahoma: Amid the rolling hills in this mountain gateway to the Ouachita National Forest, a drug epidemic has shattered families and left residents wondering when the suffering will end. [The Oklahoman] Medicaid expansion could help address Oklahoma’s surging meth crisis.

Census Bureau struggles to recruit workers due to low unemployment: Because of record low unemployment rates, the U.S. Census Bureau is struggling to find enough workers to fill the ranks for the upcoming 2020 count. It is especially challenging in Oklahoma, where the 3.2% unemployment rate is lower than the national average of 3.7%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. [The Oklahoman] Despite low statewide unemployment, too many Oklahomans are still struggling.

‘Live PD’ returns to Tulsa with a different focus; mayor, police tout beneficial experience: About two years after the Tulsa Police Department cut ties with A&E’s “Live PD” over concerns that the broadcast wasn’t in its “best interest,” the show abruptly returned. TPD announced late Thursday afternoon that the first show of Season 4 was set to kick off Friday night. [Tulsa World]

Results of Tulsa Police Department use-of-force study to be made public Wednesday: The public discussion of the Tulsa Police Department’s use-of-force numbers has been going strong for more than a year. It began with the release of the city’s 2018 Equality Indicators report, and gained more traction when the mayor proposed creating an Office of the Independent Monitor. [Tulsa World]

Advocate for criminal justice reform shares his family’s story: A report released earlier this year by Open Justice Oklahoma showed that Oklahomans accused of nonviolent offenses often spend several weeks in local and county jails because they’re unable to afford to post money bond. [The Oklahoman]

Gov. Kevin Stitt on board with preliminary Greenwood museum plans: Gov. Kevin Stitt gave a thumbs-up to preliminary plans for the proposed Greenwood History Center following a half-hour presentation Friday at the Greenwood Cultural Center. [Tulsa World]

‘Impending doom is coming’: Hundreds attend youth-led OKC climate strike: Hundreds of Oklahomans gathered in front of OKC City Hall on Friday to march and express concern about the growing effects of climate change. [NonDoc] Signs held high by demonstrators reflected the frustration and desperation most say they feel as their warnings and pleading are ignored lawmakers and business leaders. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma rig count plummets to 3-year low: Oklahoma’s active drilling rig count reached its lowest level since 2016 Friday, dropping to 66, down 10 rigs from the week before, according to Baker Hughes. The drop is part of an ongoing downward trend, with the state’s rig count at 136 a year prior and 140 the first week of January. [Journal Record ????]

White House report differs from local service providers on ways to reduce homelessness: The Trump administration released a report last week detailing ways to potentially lower homelessness in America. Many of the stated objectives, however, are contrary to what local service providers say should be the focus. [The Oklahoman]

NIGA weighs in on gaming debate: The National Indian Gaming Association has sided with sovereign nations within Oklahoma at odds with the state over the future of a legal compact that provides a framework for Oklahoma’s mammoth tribal gaming industry. [Journal Record ????]

Cherokee delegate talks about potentially joining Congress: Kimberly Teehee returned to the U.S. Capitol this week to work with congressional aides in crafting a plan that will permit her to take a seat as the Cherokee Nation delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives. [Gaylord News]

David Hill, Bim Stephen Bruner lead in unofficial results for Muscogee (Creek) Nation principal chief: According to unofficial results released just before midnight Saturday, Second Speaker David Hill and former National Council speaker Bim Stephen Bruner finished first and second among 10 candidates to succeed Principal Chief James Floyd in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s primary election. [Tulsa World]

Eyeing a comeback in Oklahoma, Bernie Sanders rallies supporters in Norman: Bernie Sanders rallied thousands of supporters at a local park Sunday as he pushes for a second victory in Oklahoma, a state he won during the 2016 presidential primary. [The Oklahoman] About 4,000 of his supporters gathered to listen to his talking points on universal healthcare, “the 1 percent,” the criminal justice system and climate change. [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“It’s not unique to southeast Oklahoma. Our offices around the state stay busy. It hits rural Oklahoma as bad as Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Some of them start very small. Maybe an officer makes a traffic stop. And the guy says, ‘I’ll give you my source for a lighter sentence.’ Nine months later, you’ve got 45 defendants.”

– Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Spokesman Mark Woodward, on Oklahoma’s meth epidemic [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


The federal poverty line for a family of four (2 adults, 2 children) in 2018

[Source: Census Bureau]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Racial disparities in income and poverty remain stark, and in some cases, are getting worse: By some measures, racial economic disparities are getting worse. In 2017, median white households in the metro area were earning 2.07 times what the median black household made — seventh highest among 48 large metro areas. That compared to a 1.88 ratio between white and black household income in 2010, according to the annual “Where We Stand Report” from regional planning arm East-West Gateway Council of Governments. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

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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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