In The Know: New laws taking effect on Nov. 1 | State supreme court blocks new anti-abortion bills | Addressing teacher pay

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. Some stories included here are behind paywall or require subscription. OK Policy encourages the support of Oklahoma’s state and local media, which are vital to an informed citizenry. Subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

NOTE: In The Know will be on hiatus tomorrow (Wednesday, Oct. 27) as OK Policy presents A Better Path Forward, its new comprehensive report about the state’s budget and tax system. The livestreamed event will be available for viewing tomorrow at or via our social media channels on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. 

New from OK Policy

Interim study examines teacher pay (Capitol Update): In the wake of an alarming teacher shortage in Oklahoma, there was an interim study last week in the Senate Appropriations committee requested by Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant. The purpose of the study was to look at “qualitative pay” for teachers. Sen. Bullard said after 15 years of teaching, he learned that there are some “very good teachers,” some “middle of the road,” and some “not so good.” He said the not-so-good teachers had the capability to do better. Sen. Bullard said his motivation for studying the qualitative pay issue was to “pay better teachers better money.” [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]

Oklahoma News

Oklahoma Supreme Court blocks 3 new anti-abortion laws: Oklahoma’s Supreme Court on Monday blocked three anti-abortion laws that were scheduled to take effect Nov. 1 that abortion rights supporters say would have devastated abortion access in the state. [AP News] In light of pending litigation challenging the constitutionality of five new restrictive abortion laws, the court on Monday granted a temporary injunction preventing two laws that restrict medication abortions and one that would limit who can perform the procedure from taking effect Nov. 1. [The Oklahoman] The abortion restrictions blocked Monday include House Bill 1904, which would require any doctor who provides an abortion to be certified in obstetrics and gynecology. The plaintiffs allege that such a requirement is not medically necessary and would drastically reduce access to abortions. The two other laws, Senate Bill 778 and Senate Bill 779, would put additional restrictions on medication abortions. [Tulsa World]

Judge says Oklahoma can proceed with 5 lethal injections: A federal judge in Oklahoma ruled Monday the state can move forward with scheduled lethal injections for five death row inmates, including Julius Jones, whose case has drawn international attention and who is scheduled to die on Nov. 28. [AP News] The decision came just three days before the first execution is scheduled to be carried out. The inmates immediately appealed. Oklahoma has not carried out an execution since January 2015, more than six years ago. A lethal injection scheduled for later that year was called off after the wrong drug was delivered. [The Oklahoman] Jones is set to appear Tuesday for a clemency hearing before the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board. [Tulsa World]

State Government News

More than 350 new Oklahoma laws take effect Nov. 1. Here’s how some can impact you: More than 350 new Oklahoma laws take effect Nov. 1. From education changes to medical marijuana reforms and naming a state highway after a controversial former president, Oklahoma’s new laws run the gamut. [The Oklahoman]

Labor commissioner touts state’s ‘safety agency,’ calls for workplace civility: In the last year, Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn said she’s heard that people are leaving the workforce and are unable to find work. Oklahoma’s unemployment rate is currently 3%. “That’s very low, so there must be some other things that are affecting why we’re having a hard time, in some industries, finding people to work,” she said. The first, Osborn said, is looking at raising the minimum wage; the second is the difficulty finding child care in some parts of Oklahoma. The third thing, she said, is the medical marijuana industry, which caused a seismic shift in the workplace. [Enid News & Eagle]

Marijuana industry reps try to sell state lawmakers on process to help reduce testing costs: Cannabis industry representatives told Oklahoma lawmakers during an interim study Monday that adopting standard practices used by food and drug makers could make medical marijuana cheaper and safer. [Public Radio Tulsa] Oklahoma’s medical marijuana grow operations should be treated like other agricultural products and not subjected to so much testing of small batches, according to cannabis business owners. But the laboratories that conduct the testing say the new industry is not ready yet. [The Journal Record]

A northeast Oklahoma lawmaker wants the state to make daylight saving time permanent: In two weeks, daylight saving time ends, but an Oklahoma lawmaker wants it to be the last time the state changes its clocks by an hour. Sen. Blake Stephens (R-Tahlequah) wants to make daylight saving time permanent. That would do away with biannual clock changes and allow for more daylight hours between November and March. [Public Radio Tulsa]

Imminent Domain: Lengthy lawsuit over land: City takes next steps in million-dollar dispute for Kaw Lake pipeline: The city could be on the hook to pay millions for one of the final pieces of the Kaw Lake water pipeline puzzle. By next summer, the city of Enid could go to a jury trial in order to settle an eminent domain dispute for the first time, officials said, rather than pay a Garfield County landowner $2.755 million recently awarded as just compensation for his property. [Enid News & Eagle]

Criminal Justice News

Comanche County Detention Center could lose certification to house juveniles: The Comanche County Detention Center could lose its certification to house juvenile offenders unless a decision is made soon. In Monday morning’s facility authority meeting, the Comanche County commissioners heard from Jail Administrator William Hobbs and Director of the Regional Juvenile Detention Center Brenda Myers; Hobbs and Myers spoke regarding the certification process, which has recently undergone significant change. [The Lawton Constitution]

‘You had to protect your family’: Jury finds Kenneth Ray Smith not guilty: After only 20 minutes of deliberation, a Creek County jury found Kenneth Ray Smith not guilty of first-degree murder or first-degree manslaughter, ruling that the fatal Labor Day 2020 shooting of Tyris Boyd occurred in self-defense. [NonDoc]

Health News

COVID vaccine boosters widely available for Oklahomans: A few weeks after federal regulators signed off on Pfizer boosters, the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have gotten approval. The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced Monday that its vaccine portal will offer booster appointments for all three brands, effective immediately. [KOSU]

Economy & Business News

Aviation labor unions to address federal vaccine mandate with town hall meeting, march: Two labor unions that back the aviation-aerospace sector have scheduled public events this week to address an executive order requiring federal employees and contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19. [Tulsa World]

Urgent need emerges for truck drivers: Lauri Miller, owner of Oklahoma Truck Driving Academy in Ada, gets calls every day from businesses needing drivers – more calls than she gets from people wanting to train for the job. [The Journal Record]

Education News

Education groups field few questions about law banning critical race theory: Two of the state’s education advocacy groups said they’ve received few complaints about a controversial law that critics claim restricts discussions on race and gender in school in an attempt to ban the teaching of critical race theory. [CNHI via McAlester News-Capital]

Oklahoma Local News

Quote of the Day

SQ 780 “as a matter of statistical fact, accomplishes exactly what it was supposed to do… What we have not seen, that the voters asked for, is that investment in county-based, local mental health and addiction treatment services. We need that money going to communities.”

-Damion Shade, Justice and Economic Mobility (JEM) Project Manager for OK Policy, noting that the state has not fully implemented provisions of SQ 781, which directed the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to calculate the savings to the state from SQ 780’s justice reform measures and to deposit that amount into a fund used by county governments to provide substance abuse and mental health services [Tulsa World]

Number of the Day


Percentage of Oklahoma low-income households who are using monthly Child Tax Credit Payments to pay for basic needs (food, clothing, rent, mortgage, utilities), which is three points higher than the national average [CBPP]

Policy Note

9 in 10 Families With Low Incomes Are Using Child Tax Credits to Pay for Necessities, Education: Some 91 percent of families with low incomes (less than $35,000) are using their monthly Child Tax Credit payments for the most basic household expenses — food, clothing, shelter, and utilities — or education. Families are making these investments nationwide: in every state and the District of Columbia, large majorities of low-income families are making such use of the credit, according to our new analysis of Census Bureau data covering the first three months of payments. [CBPP]

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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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