In The Know: Lack of funding creates disparities in school safety, DOC holds transition fairs, Lawsuit challenges permitless carry law

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) Stop complaining about SQ 780 and make it work: There’s a narrative being developed by sheriffs and district attorneys about the consequences of passage by the people of SQ 780 and 781. SQ 780 reclassified simple possession of prohibited drugs from felony to misdemeanor and raised the felony threshold for some property crimes. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

In The News

Lack of funding creates ‘disparity’ in school safety: With more mass shootings happening every year, protecting kids has become a priority for school administrators in Oklahoma. However, safety looks very different depending on each school district’s budget. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

Corrections Department to hold transition fairs for inmates who could soon be released under HB 1269: The Department of Corrections plans to start holding transition fairs this week to help provide resources for inmates who could soon be released from prison due to a criminal justice reform measure that takes effect next month. [The Oklahoman] The unemployment rate for justice-involved Oklahomans is five times higher – job training programs in prisons could help.

New lawsuit challenges Oklahoma’s permitless carry law, due to go in effect Nov. 1: State Rep. Jason Lowe, D-Oklahoma City, announced that he, along with four other plaintiffs, filed a lawsuit saying House Bill 2597 is unconstitutional because it violates the state’s single-subject rule. [The Oklahoman] The action comes after critics failed to get enough signatures to let voters decide to nullify or keep the law. [Tulsa World]

State Senate hires former Lamb staffer at $105,000 to oversee redistricting: Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat on Monday announced the hiring of Keith Beall as the Senate redistricting director. Beall will earn $105,000. Beall served as chief of staff to former Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, a former Senate Republican from Enid. [Tulsa World] The foundation of redistricting is a good count of all Oklahomans, but we have some work to do in order to make sure that we get an accurate count in the 2020 Census.

Flu shots urged as hospital officials warn of ‘bad year’: Some health officials already are forecasting a bad flu season. Health officials, meanwhile, are urging Oklahomans to get their flu shots as soon as possible. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports already are showing a spike in the number of new flu cases, Integris Health officials said. [CNHI]

New goal: Reduce the teen birth rate by another 25% in Oklahoma County: Health advocates working to decrease the teen birth rate in Oklahoma County have a new goal — lower the rate by an additional 25% by 2025. In 2015, advocates planned to reduce the rate by one-third by 2020. Those targeted efforts proved extremely successful, lowering the teen birth rate instead by 42% in 2019. [The Oklahoman]

Sarah Stitt: Growing up in a home with mental illness: Undiagnosed or untreated mental illness in her family plagued Oklahoma First Lady Sarah Stitt’s childhood. But now she is telling her story to inspire hope and to bring about change. [Oklahoma Watch] An additional 97,000 Oklahoma would have much-needed access to mental health and substance abuse treatment if Oklahoma expanded Medicaid.

Oklahoma has 147,500 unfilled jobs and many people not working. There’s a plan to solve that: The state has 147,500 unfilled jobs, and Oklahoma’s labor participation rate (61%) is among the 10 worst in the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. [Tulsa WorldToo many Oklahomans are still struggling to find work despite indicators that the state is recovering from the Great Recession

Lawmakers consider a plan to ease the impact of natural disasters: Tulsa County presented a plan to greatly reduce the impact of future floods and other natural disasters. The idea was outlined to an interim legislative committee studying the 2019 floods. [Public Radio Tulsa]

State lawmaker to revisit placing caps on civil lawsuits: The chairman of the Oklahoma House Judiciary Committee is considering options for “compromise legislation” after the state Supreme Court earlier this year ruled that a cap on certain damages in civil lawsuits was unconstitutional. [Journal Record ????]

At-home rape kit makers respond to Oklahoma cease-and-desist: Two companies marketing self-administered rape kits have responded to cease-and-desist letters sent by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter. [AP News]

‘We share it with a whole community’: 5-year anniversary of same-sex marriage in Oklahoma an occasion to remember, look forward, proponents say: Sunday, Oct. 6, officially marked  five years since same-sex couples in Oklahoma were first legally permitted to marry. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma County Jail Trust to receive funds from county to prepare for assuming responsibility for the jail: Two agreements were approved allowing the trust to spend up to $10,000 on an independent financial reporting service to look over jail costs and up to $25,000 to engage with a law firm to provide employment law legal services. [The Oklahoman]

Pawhuskans to vote on recall of four City Council members: Voters in Pawhuska will decide Tuesday whether four City Council members will be removed from office in the wake of the firing and rehiring of the city’s police chief. [Tulsa World]

Osage Nation and Muscogee (Creek) Nation diverge on press freedom: Two of Oklahoma’s largest tribes, Osage Nation and Muscogee (Creek) Nation, are moving in opposite directions when it comes to freedom of the press. [KGOU]

Cherokee Nation plans to improve health system as it begins opening new outpatient center: Cherokee Nation’s health system has been labeled the “gold standard” by the Indian Health Service, and officials are trying to make it even better. [Public Radio Tulsa]

NSU joins Degrees When Due completion initiative: Northeastern State University has been selected to join Degrees When Due, a national initiative of the Institute for Higher Education Policy, with the goal of assisting students with some college credit to complete their degrees. [CNHI]

Tulsa searches for graves from 1921 race massacre that left hundreds of black people dead: Forensic anthropologists are using ground-penetrating radar at Oaklawn Cemetery to look for evidence of long-rumored mass graves. [Washington Post] One day in, and dissatisfaction is surfacing about the search for unknown burial sites from Tulsa’s 1921 Race Massacre. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“We’re doing it in a public forum, and we’re allowing people to participate. We’re working with the (district attorneys), and I think the will of the people is clear: Get out the low-level, non-violent offenders. We don’t need to be incarcerating them. And that is what we’re working toward.”

– Steven Bickley, executive director of the Pardon and Parole Board, on how the Board is moving forward with the first group of incarcerated Oklahomans eligible for an expedited commutation process [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Revenue generated by medical marijuana application fees in the first year of legalization

[Source: Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Next Arena for Criminal Justice Reform: A roof over their heads: Bipartisan efforts to overhaul the criminal justice system, backed by President Trump, have so far focused on getting people out of prisons and thinning the largest population of incarcerated people in the world. But once released, some formerly incarcerated people struggle simply to find a place to live. Public housing authorities and private landlords refuse to rent to them, labeling them public safety risks, sending them to the streets, to homelessness — and often back to prison, for offenses like sleeping in public spaces and panhandling. [New York Times]

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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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