In The Know: Legislature to demand $30 million refund from State Department of Health; New legislation would change cutoff date for students to enroll in Pre-K; Oklahoma House votes to send $2 million to ‘choose life centers’

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) House and Senate leadership bills show similar priorities, different approach: With the passage of the first committee deadline, it’s interesting to observe the bills the two top legislative leaders have filed.  If they decide to throw the full weight of their office behind a proposal, it is likely to become law, at least in some form.  If there is strenuous opposition by the other chamber, the proposal could develop into conflict between the two bodies that often causes a few days delay in the legislative process with lots of news coverage about feuding between the House and Senate. [OK Policy]

In The News

Legislature to demand $30 million refund from State Department of Health: This week, the state Senate is expected to pass a bill demanding a $30 million refund from the Department of Health. In 2017, the state legislature granted an emergency appropriation of $30 million to the Department of Health. But it turned out, the Department of Health was squirreling the money away from the legislature. [News9]

New legislation would change cutoff date for students to enroll in Pre-K, kindergarten: A bill that would raise the age children can start pre-K and kindergarten is moving through the state senate. Right now, a child must turn four-years-old before September 1st to enroll in pre-K or five-years-old to enroll in kindergarten. Senate Bill 11, authored by Greg McCortney (R-Ada), would change that to August 1st, meaning the youngest kids would have to wait a year to enroll. [KOSU]

Oklahoma House votes to send $2 million to ‘choose life centers’: Organizations that try to persuade pregnant women to give birth would receive $2 million in state funding under legislation approved Monday by the Oklahoma House of Representatives. House Bill 2592, by Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, appropriates the money from general revenue to the state Health Department for grants to “choose life centers” as described in legislation approved two years ago. [Tulsa World]

New law considered for e-bike enthusiasts: Even as electric-powered bicycles are picking up market share among riders, Oklahoma remains one of a few states where regulations haven’t kept the pace. That could change this year with legislation introduced by Tulsa cyclist and state Rep. Carol Bush. [NewsOK]

Cell by Cell: Oklahoma has 1.5 state inspectors for its 131 jails: The responsibility of inspecting each of the 131 county jails and city lockups that are sprawled across Oklahoma falls on 1.5 employees. The Oklahoma State Department of Health Jail Inspection Division is charged with inspecting all detention facilities in the state, a duty that was once done by four employees. Now, the agency has only one full-time and one part-time employee doing the job. [The Frontier]

Destiny’s children: OKCPS board approves Pathway to Greatness plan: After more than a year’s work, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board unanimously voted to approve the district’s Pathway to Greatness proposal this evening. “This will impact in a very positive way the kids in our schools,” Superintendent Sean McDaniel said to start his presentation Monday night. “We are excited about what we are going to be able to do for 45,000 students in our schools.” [NonDoc] Board chair: ‘Historic day in OKCPS’ as school closure plan is approved. [NewsOK]

Oklahoma governor welcomes Muslims to ‘Day at the Capitol’: Oklahoma Muslims were surprised by an unexpected visitor on Monday at an annual advocacy gathering at the state Capitol. Gov. Kevin Stitt made an unscheduled visit to the 2019 “Muslim Day at the Capitol,” becoming the first Oklahoma governor to greet Muslim participants in the event’s five-year history. [NewsOK] Muslims welcomed at Oklahoma Capitol by Gov. Kevin Stitt. [Tulsa World]

Stitt favors state cash account to lure businesses: During his first two months in office, Gov. Kevin Stitt’s call sheet has included dozens of businesses the state Department of Commerce has identified as candidates for relocating to Oklahoma. The list of prospective job creators ranges from technology firms to manufacturing plants. [NewsOK ????]

New bill aims to increase doctors in rural areas: The state Senate will take up a bill that aims to increase the number of doctors in rural areas. House Bill 2511 would provide doctors a $25,000 annual tax break for 5 years if they practice in a community with fewer than 25,000 residents and is also at least 25 miles from a community with more than 25,000 people. [News On 6]

State to launch unprecedented ‘real time’ spending database: The state could be weeks away from launching a groundbreaking new way to track state spending, according to Sec. of Digital Transformation and Administration David Ostrowe. In an interview last week, Ostrowe said the state is looking for vendors to help give complete transparency of the more than $20 billion spent each year by Oklahoma, in real time. [News9]

Kelly Bostian: It’s politics season and hunters, anglers, wildlife lovers need to focus in on Oklahoma legislature: Deer season, waterfowl season, the seasons when fat big bass and crappie move to the banks, elk bugling season, migration seasons; hunters, anglers and wildlife watchers all have their favorite times of year. But, especially this year, the weeks ahead mark the season for watching the actions in the first session of Oklahoma’s 57th Legislature. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma Black Caucus calls for continued efforts to rename Lake Hudson: Oklahoma Senate Bill 937 was withdrawn from consideration on Monday, which has prompted the Legislative Black Caucus to speak out. The bill was seeking to rename Lake Hudson for its namesake’s reported ties to the Ku Klux Klan. [KJRH]

Oklahoma relies on philanthropy for basic services: When he taught at Tulsa Community College, Michael Mason led a class in which his students dissected the impact of GKFF. What they found was that in all areas, the foundation’s influence in Tulsa rivaled or exceeded the state government’s. [US News]

Study claims that Oklahoma is one of the worst states for women: A recent study claims that Oklahoma might not be so hospitable for some members of the population. Recently, WalletHub compared the 50 states and District of Columbia across 24 key indicators to determine women’s economic and social well being, along with health and safety. [KFOR]

The Invisibles: Parenting with a disability: Guthrie resident Kim Watson overcomes the physical and emotional challenges of parenting with a disability. “I am a parent just like you, I just have a different set of challenges,” said Watson.[Oklahoma Watch]

Opioid makers seek delay in start of state trial: Pharmaceutical company attorneys are requesting a 100-day delay in the start of a trial in which opioid manufacturing companies are accused of causing thousands of Oklahoma overdose deaths and addictions through the fraudulent marketing of their powerful pain killing drugs. [NewsOK ????]

Trump taps former state lawmaker for U.S. attorney post: President Donald Trump on Friday nominated Timothy J. Downing, a former state legislator and assistant attorney general, to be the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma. Downing, 39, currently serves as counsel for the Oklahoma Secretary of State. [NewsOK]

First lady Melania Trump visits Tulsa’s Dove School of Discovery: Monday was a snow day for most Tulsa-area students, but it was much more memorable for the children who braved the ice and frigid temperatures to attend classes at Dove School of Discovery. [Tulsa World]

A year later, city of Tulsa’s decision to operate its own lockup facility has worked out well, deputy mayor says: The city of Tulsa opened its own lockup facility March 1, 2018, with the promise to save taxpayers money and get inmates — and police officers — out on the streets quicker. A year later, that’s exactly what’s happened, city officials said. [Tulsa World]

Around 100 new residents coming through program offering $10,000 to move to Tulsa: A program to lure remote workers to Tulsa with $10,000 grants has picked its first recipient, and it’s a few more than expected. More than 100 people have been picked for the Tulsa Remote Program, a project of the George Kaiser Family Foundation. [Public Radio Tulsa]

How Curious: Why are there no Oklahoma City QuikTrips? KGOU listener Nick Jungman heard a rumor that an old agreement between business owners is keeping the Oklahoma-based QuikTrip out of the state’s capital city. He asked How Curious: Is this story true? [KGOU]

Quote of the Day

“Our responsiveness is certainly diminished.”

– James Joslin, assistant deputy director of protective health services at Oklahoma State Department of Health Jail Inspection Division, on the challenges to inspecting the state’s 131 jails each year, as well as complaints or critical incidents in jails, with only one full-time and one part-time employee [Source: The Frontier]

Number of the Day


Estimated number of days in jail spent by nonviolent defendants awaiting their court case in Oklahoma in FY 2018. People accused of nonviolent misdemeanors can spend 2 to 6 weeks in jail before their case is resolved if they cannot afford their bond.

[Source: Open Justice Oklahoma]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Where fighting poverty is a priority: School-based social service centers, affectionately known as “friskies,” for Family Resource and Youth Services Centers of KY (FRYSCKy), are one of many examples of unified services in the Louisville area — a stark contrast to the fragmented structure of southwestern Pennsylvania — enabled by a city-county government, a unified school district, and a concerted push by local leadership to address social issues head-on. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

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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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