In The Know: Millions in overtime to staff prisons; vague laws for on-call state workers; revamped school report cards…

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.

Note: In The Know will be on break Thursday and Friday for the holiday. The Weekly Wonk will also be on break this Sunday.

In The News

Oklahoma spends millions in overtime pay to staff prisons: Over pizza and soda in a strip mall restaurant, Oklahoma prison guards spoke with The Frontier about being so exhausted from working 60 to 70-hours a week that they sometimes fall asleep sleep while driving home. One man said he hit a mailbox after dozing off behind the wheel after work. Others said they can’t use their vacation or sick leave because there aren’t enough staff to cover for them. [The Frontier] In the latest OKPolicyCast episode, we spoke with Sterling Zearley of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association about problems facing correctional officers and other state workers

Oklahoma lawmakers asked to come up with clear rules for on-call state workers: The Oklahoma Public Employees Association is asking lawmakers to fix “extremely vague” laws governing on-call workers. Pittsburg County Adult Protective Services worker Courtney Fox said with seven workers there covering six counties, being on call is stressful. … OPEA’s Sean Wallace said state workers are dealing with on-call duty on top of poor pay and benefits. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Revamped school report cards have new look, different focus: After a two-year hiatus, school report cards are coming back. The school accountability tool underwent a significant revamp and will now include student test scores, a new way of measuring academic growth component and measures of chronic absenteeism and college readiness. [Oklahoma Watch]

No family should be punished for accepting help when they need it: Bad luck or hard times can hit any of us, and when it happens we should all be able to seek and accept help to meet basic needs while we work to get back on our feet.  But for many Oklahoma families, that assurance of compassion and help may soon disappear. Recently proposed changes to federal immigration rules would make it harder for families to put food on the table, get medical care when they need it, pay for prescription drugs, and find a safe place to live. [OK Policy]

Office of Juvenile Affairs makes improvements, but more work needed: Last week the Office of Juvenile Affairs Board of Directors (OJA) approved a new, higher rate for some group home beds. They will provide intensive services to potentially aggressive or violent youths in OJA custody who need specialized mental health treatment. Several months ago, OJA asked mental health organizations for their best ideas for treating these kids if given the opportunity. [OK Policy]

Wayne Greene: Four reasons you should worry about hepatitis C in Oklahoma’s prisons … even if you aren’t in prison: Thousands of Oklahoma prison inmates have tested positive for hepatitis C antibodies, only the most severe cases are being treated, and every Oklahoman ought to be concerned. The state Board of Corrections approved a $1.57 billion budget request recently. That’s a big number, but in Oklahoma mass incarceration is big business. [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World]

Eye care reformers to ask Legislature to overrule SQ 793: The fight over eye care reform will heat up again next year as supporters say they’ll ask state lawmakers to intervene. Joshua Harlow, a spokesman for the Yes on 793 campaign, said eye care consumers continue to demand a fix even though voters narrowly rejected a state question earlier this month. [CHNI] We previsouly published a fact sheet on State Question 793.

Logan Phillips spent $0, beat top OK House Democrat: After participating in April’s teacher rallies at the Oklahoma State Capitol, Republican Logan Phillips had a plan: Pursue an open House District 24 seat in 2020 when Democratic Minority Leader Steve Kouplen would be term-limited. [NonDoc] We recently discussed how Oklahoma’s 2018 elections were different in many ways.

Roberts sworn in to serve fifth term for House District 36: State Rep. Sean Roberts was sworn in yesterday to serve his fifth term in the Oklahoma House of Representatives for House District 36. “I am honored to have received the continued support of the people of House District 36, and I look forward to serving them in the Legislature again,” said Roberts, R-Hominy. [Skiatook Journal]

Stan Sallee excited to serve after being sworn in as Tulsa County commissioner: Former Collinsville Mayor Stan Sallee was sworn in Monday morning as the District 1 commissioner for Tulsa County. Sallee, 58, is Collinsville’s director of economic development. With many family and friends attending the regular commission meeting, he said he felt a bit overwhelmed. [Tulsa World]

Moving On: State Sen. AJ Griffin: State Sen. A.J. Griffin is headed back to the private sector, but she’ll be keeping in touch. The Guthrie Republican opted out of running for another term in the Oklahoma Senate. Paycom, a payroll data and technology firm in Oklahoma City, hired her as its inaugural director of government and community affairs. [Journal Record]

Sunday night education chats unite Oklahoma educators, elected officials on Twitter: Most Sunday nights, Kimberly Blodgett settles onto the couch with her laptop, where she launches into an online discussion with educators across the state from the comfort of her living room. [NewsOK ????]

$75000 grant awarded to help fund STEM programs for rural Oklahoma students: STEM programs for rural students in two Oklahoma communities received a big boost, thanks to a new grant. On Monday, Boeing announced that it is awarding the Oklahoma School of Science and Mathematics a $75,000 grant for Advanced Calculus and Physics for rural students in the Enid and Altus areas. [KFOR]

OU introduces Crimson Commitment, offers free tuition: Among the issues President James Gallogly has repeatedly stressed during his first semester at the University of Oklahoma, not raising tuition is near the top of the list. Now, there’s an OU program offering $0 in tuition. [Norman Transcript]

University of Central Oklahoma awarded $6.1M “GEAR UP” grant: The University of Central Oklahoma has been been awarded a seven-year, $6.1 million grant under the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) from the U.S. Department of Education. [KFOR]

Calls to Oklahoma poison center for marijuana increased last year: Calls to Oklahoma’s poison control hotline for help related to marijuana increased by 75 percent in 2017 and could continue to rise as medical marijuana legalization moves forward. The Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information reported it received 94 calls for exposure to marijuana products in 2017, up from 54 in 2016. [NewsOK ????]

Quote of the Day

Six 12 hour shifts with a day off equals 72 hours or more being worked in a 144 hour period. That is still extremely unsafe for these officers.

-Jackie Switzer, executive director of Oklahoma Corrections Professionals, on the impact of mandatory 12-hours shifts for Oklahoma prison guards due to understaffing. [Source: The Frontier]

Number of the Day


The number of patient licenses approved by the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority as of November 11, 2018

[Source: Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why losing out on Amazon HQ2 isn’t so bad for cities: When marquee companies move into a new city, they often displace existing firms, like when a big box store puts some mom-and-pop stores out of business. Creating and expanding homegrown businesses has a better track record for adding job growth to a region. Sometimes, tax incentives to attract big corporations can even harm the local economy, especially in cities whose finances aren’t as rosy as New York’s or D.C.’s. Giving up that tax revenue can put a strain on local services, particularly schools. [Governing]

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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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