In 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
Policy Matters: Raising your voice – the power of advocacy: My professional experience has given me the tools to raise my voice effectively and know how to connect with others who are seeking change. However, not everyone has been taught these skills or shown how best to use them. [Ahniwake Rose / The Journal Record]
Working families need help, panel says: On Tuesday evening, Together Oklahoma hosted a discussion on working Oklahomans and potential policies the state Legislature could enact to help improve their quality of life. [Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise]
In The News
State’s developmental disabilities services waiting list a budget priority for Stitt: In Gov. Kevin Stitt’s recently proposed state budget for Fiscal Year 2021, the wait list is noted as an item of “critical need” with $6 million dedicated to reducing its numbers. With $16 million, the agency could take up to 2,000 individuals off the list. With $6 million, it would be closer to 700 individuals off the list and three years off the list’s backlog, according to DHS. [The Oklahoman]
$13 million in limbo while Stitt, tribes battle: Oklahoma tribes will pay the state an estimated $13 million dollars in Class III gaming money, next Thursday. Since tribes believe the compacts auto-renewed at the start of the year – they are going to continue to remit their gaming funds like they have been for the past 15 years. [StateImpact Oklahoma]
New Oklahoma logo, brand unveiled: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell unveiled the state’s new brand Wednesday after a monthslong creative process that started last summer. [The Oklahoman] It includes the tagline “Imagine that” and a logo that incorporates the shapes and colors of the earth, sky, water, agriculture and forest. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma paid more than $250,000 for its new ‘Imagine That’ brand, logo. [The Frontier] The state paid about $100,000 and private groups covered the other costs. [The Oklahoman]
Tulsa World editorial: Commutations are continuing show of Gov. Stitt’s support for reducing incarceration rates: Gov. Kevin Stitt continued his commitment to giving prisoners sentenced for simple drug possession a second chance by approving last week the releases for 147 inmates. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World] OK Policy analysis showed key elements that should be taken into account as Oklahoma takes steps to address its outdated criminal code.
General Revenue Fund collections fall 7.5% below estimate: General Revenue Fund collections in January totaled $709.7 million. That is $57.2 million, or 7.5 percent, less than the monthly estimate. Collections were $4.8 million, or 0.7 percent, below collections in January 2019. [The Journal Record🔒]
2020 State of the State: Gov. Kevin Stitt kicked off the 2020 legislative session last week by delivering his second State of the State address, discussing education, health care, the disagreement with tribes on casino gambling and criminal justice reform. [Oklahoma Gazette]
Needle exchange: Bipartisan bill would allow harm reduction programs: A bill with apparent bipartisan and bicameral support in the Oklahoma Legislature would establish rules for the legal operation of harm reduction services, commonly called “needle exchange” programs for habitual intravenous drug users. [NonDoc]
Bill targets violence against health care workers: Sen. Darrell Weaver, a Republican from Moore, filed the Medical Care Provider Protection Act being considered by lawmakers at the Oklahoma Capitol. The bill passed on a unanimous vote through the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday and next will be heard by the full Senate. [The Journal Record]
Education bills move through legislative committees: The first education bills of the latest state legislative session passed through committee on Tuesday. Members of the House Education Committee made swift work of five bills, while their Senate counterparts approved nearly a dozen other bills. All bills approved in committee will move to the full chamber where they originated for consideration. [The Ardmoreite]
House committee advances conversion therapy, juvenile justice bills: Young people were the leading topic of discussion in Oklahoma House of Representatives committee and subcommittee meetings Wednesday afternoon. While one committee advanced legislation to effectively ban what is known as “conversion therapy” for minors and to change the treatment of juvenile offenders held for serious crimes, another voted to set up a state registry for traumatic brain injuries among young athletes. [Tulsa World]
Oklahoma Senate passes bill making it easier to arm teachers: The Oklahoma Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that could make it easier for Oklahoma teachers and school personnel to carry a firearm at school. The bill by Republican Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, and Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, would change requirements for teachers to be able to be armed at school. [The Oklahoman]
State lawmaker proposes specifying how marijuana sales tax earmarked for education is spent: Senate Bill 1758 by Senator Gary Stanislawski, R-Tulsa, would direct marijuana revenue for education currently going into the general fund into the State Public Common School Building Equalization Fund. [Public Radio Tulsa]
Elephants and rescued animals lead off House Wildlife Committee business: Oklahoma’s House Wildlife Committee strayed from typical state wildlife issues Wednesday to address all manner of domesticated animals — including elephants. [Tulsa World]
University condemns comparison of ‘OK, Boomer’ to racial slur by professor: A professor at the University of Oklahoma provoked outrage by saying the phrase “OK, boomer” was like a racial slur for black people. He later apologized to students. [New York Times]
OKFB encourages rural Oklahomans to participate in 2020 Census: Oklahoma Farm Bureau is urging rural residents across the state to complete the 2020 Census to ensure a complete and accurate count of rural Oklahoma. [The Express-Star] The U.S. Census Bureau continues to ramp up efforts to recruit workers for temporary field and office jobs that are being offered to ensure a complete and accurate count of every person living in the United States. [Muskogee Phoenix]
Quote of the Day
“The key to success for those being released (from prison) is having education opportunities, job training, mental health resources and other social supports. Commutations are only one part of the equation. Real reform begins with reducing the number of people going to prison in the first place.”
-Tulsa World Editorial Board [Tulsa World]
Number of the Day
The number of historic all-black towns still incorporated in Oklahoma. Between 1856 and 1920, more than 50 all-black towns were established in Oklahoma.
[Source: Oklahoma Historical Society]
Oklahoma’s historic all-black towns: Built on hope, survived by pride: Oklahoma’s first all-black towns were created in Indian Territory after the Civil War when former slaves of Native Americans settled together following the Trail of Tears. In these early towns, newspapers advertised throughout the south about land and opportunities, according to the Oklahoma Historical Society. [NonDoc]
February is Black History Month — a time to celebrate and reflect on contributions Black men and women have made to American history and the struggle for freedom and equality. To commemorate Black History Month, we will be highlighting relevant content in our Number of the Day and Policy Note sections every Thursday throughout the month. #BlackHistoryMonth
You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.