In The Know: Lobbying for water; power plant purchase criticized; higher speed limits…

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

Occupational licenses could soon be within reach for more Oklahomans: Nearly 30 percent of the American workforce needs a license to do their job, so we should carefully examine the rules about who can, and can’t, get an occupational license. This is especially important for the justice-involved, a group that faces multiple barriers (including licensing restrictions) to employment and economic stability. [OK Policy]

Prosperity Policy: Testing teachers: Pop quiz, readers. Patty is a pre-K special education teacher who purchases supplies for her classroom. Under House Bill 2502, authored by Speaker Charles McCall, classroom teachers would be eligible for a $1,000 tax credit for the purchase of “eligible classroom items,” which include “papers, pencils, pens… arts and crafts supplies, notebooks, rulers, protractors, and similar supplies used and useful in a classroom for providing instruction to students.” [David Blatt / Journal Record]

In The News

Water conservation groups take warnings, lobbying effort to capitol: Groups of Oklahomans who are worried about the future of the state’s water went to the capitol Wednesday to encourage a change of direction. Well, at least that’s what they hoped to do. [Muskogee Daily Phoenix] Former Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson on Wednesday told a crowd to be vigilant in efforts to protect the state’s natural resources from pollution. [Tulsa World]

Records: Town’s water district dumped millions of gallons of water from sewer lagoons into Lake Eufaula: The town of Carlton Landing is an idyllic planned community, nestled on the shores of Lake Eufaula, just south of the town of Eufaula. Ecological stewardship and sustainability are listed among the core tenants of the “new urbanism” philosophy central to the town’s founding and development by Oklahoma City developer Grant Humphreys. [The Frontier]

Industrial groups criticize purchase of Oklahoma power plants: Industrial consumer groups said Wednesday Oklahoma Gas & Electric’s plan to purchase two power plants lacks consumer protections and is unfair to ratepayers. OG&E announced Dec. 20 plans to purchase the Shady Point power plant near Poteau in LeFlore County and the Oklahoma Cogeneration plant in Oklahoma City. [Journal Record ????]

Settlement ends Oklahoma lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson: Johnson & Johnson, which has faced a string of lawsuits nationwide, reached a settlement Wednesday in Oklahoma County with a woman who alleged asbestos exposure from the company’s baby powder. Sharon Pipes, 75, will receive a confidential amount from the company following a 2 1/2-week civil trial.  [NewsOK ????]

Bill would authorize OTA to raise speed limits to 80 mph: Oklahoma lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow for 80-mile-per-hour speed limits on parts of some state turnpikes. House Bill 1071 would give the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority discretion to raise maximum legal travel speeds on certain turnpikes from 75 mph to 80 mph. [Journal Record ????]

Tax Commmissioner Thomas E. Kemp Jr. dies: Thomas E. Kemp Jr., a member of the Oklahoma Tax Commission since 2001, died Wednesday from complications from the flu. He was 59. “All of us at the Oklahoma Tax Commission are saddened by the sudden loss of our longtime Commissioner, friend and colleague, Thomas E. Kemp Jr.,” Commissoners Steve Burrage and Clark Jolley said in a statement. [NewsOK]

Gov. Kevin Stitt recognizes Oklahoma veterans, service members during joint legislative assembly address: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday wanted to acknowledge military veterans who made what he called a “selfless sacrifice” in service to the country. [Tulsa World]

Point of View: Life after prison in Oklahoma: Only upon leaving prison and while attempting to rebuild their lives do offenders experience how these non-prison “collateral consequences” limit or deny their basic rights to housing, food stamps, education, voting, employment, child custody and much more. [Ronald Fraser / NewsOK]

Funding approved to relocate veterans center from Talihina to Sallisaw: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has approved funding to relocate the veterans center in Talihina to Sallisaw, the Oklahoma Department of Veterans Affairs announced Wednesday. [Tulsa World]

Muslim group draws attention to county official’s anti-Islamic comments: An Oklahoma County official accepted a lunch invitation with a local Muslim leader this week after drawing continued criticism for making anti-Muslim comments. [NewsOK]

Local community members concerned about proposed Special Olympics cuts: Earlier this week, Education Secretary Betsy Devos proposed eliminating $18 million in federal funding to the Special Olympics. “Cutting the Special Olympic budget would be very detrimental to our community,” said Cheri Weaver, Wings Special Needs Community Executive Director. [KFOR]

Workforce: Working with Mental Health Association Oklahoma, ‘I know I’m helping people’: The Mental Health Association Oklahoma has more than 1,400 units of affordable housing across Tulsa and 119 units in Oklahoma City. Before someone who is experiencing homelessness is selected to move in to one of the apartments, the unit undergoes a process called “make ready.” [Tulsa World]

Eminent domain? City Council hears from Tulsans irate over north Tulsa development plans: The City Council on Wednesday heard from dozens of Tulsans who are vehemently opposed to two development plans proposed by the Tulsa Development Authority. [Tulsa World]

Trauma nurse, professor seek Edmond City Council Ward 1 seat: Running for public office might not be one’s idea of relaxing, but for Edmond City Council Ward 1 candidate Devyn Denton it’s not as intense as her day job. A trauma nurse, Denton faces University of Central Oklahoma professor David Chapman in Edmond’s April 2 general election. [NonDoc]

Developer, attorney clash in Edmond Ward 2 race: A custom home builder and an attorney who successfully fought a large development will face off in Edmond’s Ward 2 race April 2. Attorney Matt Thomas successfully blocked a hotel development near his home a few years ago, and through that experience he said he learned a lot about how city government works. [NonDoc]

Norman City Council approves MOU to end UNP TIF: The city of Norman may be busy settling agreements in the University North Park tax increment finance district, which would end June 30 under a memorandum of understanding approved by the City Council late Tuesday. [Journal Record]

Joe Exotic paid $3,000 cash to have woman killed, ex-convict testifies: The key prosecution witness in a murder-for-hire trial testified Wednesday that zookeeper Joe Exotic paid him $3,000 in cash in 2017 to kill the operator of a Florida animal sanctuary. [NewsOK]

Quote of the Day

“The work being done by Special Olympics in Oklahoma, across the nation and globally is life changing, and I strongly support their mission to transform lives through sports. All students can grow and all students can succeed, and Special Olympics is helping to make that happen for students in Oklahoma classrooms every day.”

-State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister, responding to a proposal by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos to eliminate $18 million in federal funding to the Special Olympics [Source: KFOR]

Number of the Day


Percentage of all school children in Oklahoma who were enrolled in public school in 2017, 6th most out of all 50 states.

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

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Food stamp changes would mainly hurt those living in extreme poverty: “SNAP is an anti-hunger program — full stop,” he said. “It’s not supposed to encourage people to work. It’s supposed to end hunger in our country, and it does a fantastic job at that. Why bring work into this?” [NBC News]

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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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