In The Know: New Legislative Primer; mental health agency requests budget increase; youth voting up by double digits…

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

Newly updated Legislative Primer is your guide to Oklahoma’s 2019 legislative session: Who’s been nominated for Governor Stitt’s cabinet? Who chairs key legislative committees? How much is in Oklahoma’s Rainy Day Fund? As the 2019 Oklahoma Legislative session nears, our newly updated Legislative Primer will answer these questions and more. Whether you are a veteran advocate, a complete novice to Oklahoma politics, or anyone in between, the 2019 Legislative Primer will provide you invaluable information in a concise, user-friendly format. [OK Policy]

In The News

State mental health agency requests $164M increase from state lawmakers: The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services told lawmakers it needs $163.7 million more from them next year. More than half of that increase, $91.6 million, would go toward the Smart on Crime Initiative, a set of programs to get more non-violent individuals into diversion programs like drug courts. [Public Radio Tulsa]

2018 youth voting increased by double-digit percentage points in 3 states: Election researchers have been hard at work trying to look at actual, certified election results to confirm this pattern. Now we know that midterm youth voter turnout increased by double-digit percentage points in at least three states: Florida, Nevada, and Oklahoma. [Education Week]

Making the rules: Legislators seek balance for Oklahoma cannabis market regulations: Striking a balance between the rights of employees and the interests of their employers will be the chief objective of Oklahoma lawmakers as they establish rules governing the use, sale and production of medical marijuana this year, Republican and Democratic leaders in the Oklahoma House and Senate said Thursday. [Journal Record] The massive truckload of industrial hemp or illegal marijuana seized by authorities in Pawhuska may make it to Colorado after all — but not to its original destination with the purchasers. [Tulsa World]

Your quick guide to the upcoming legislative session: The issues, leaders, salaries and more: The legislative session begins Monday, and more than 2,800 pieces of legislation have been filed. The laws that are passed will affect your life. This is a quick guide to the session, but if you want more information, click on the links included in the story. [Tulsa World]

Dozens of Oklahoma agencies employ contract lobbyists: A list compiled by the Oklahoma Ethics Commission shows more than two dozen state agencies are currently employing contract lobbyists, a practice the new governor wants to end. The commission released a copy of the list Thursday at the request of The Associated Press. [AP News]

Tulsa’s chief resilience officer Devon Douglass leaving Mayor’s Office to take job in Houston: Douglass, 30, will serve as director of community outreach for Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo. Her last day in the Mayor’s Office will be Feb. 28. “I would say that I am a builder, and I really like to build things from the ground up,” Douglass said. “Thankfully, Mayor (G.T.) Bynum gave me the chance to build the Resilience Office from the ground up.” [Tulsa World]

AG opinion: Tulsa County charity cash bail program for needy doesn’t need to follow bail bondsman licensing requirements: Nonprofit organizations that provide cash bail for pretrial jail detainees are not required to obtain bail bond licenses, according to an Oklahoma attorney general’s opinion. The opinion, released Tuesday, permits the Tulsa nonprofit organization Still She Rises to continue providing cash bail for those in need without regulation by the state. [Tulsa World]

Lawsuit filed over Oklahoma County jail death: The son of an inmate who died after a brief stay in the Oklahoma County jail has filed a lawsuit against the former sheriff, jail staff and the county commissioners. David Lee Weaver Jr. filed the lawsuit in Oklahoma County District Court, alleging his 61-year-old father, David Lee Weaver Sr., died in 2017 a few weeks after being found down in his jail cell. [NewsOK]

The mother imprisoned for child abuse she didn’t commit: Many women who are the breadwinners in their families face a choice: skip work, or face jail if anything happens to your child in someone else’s care. The latter appears to be happening increasingly in Oklahoma, where women are being incarcerated at more than twice the national rate and more often the perpetrators in child abuse cases. [The Guardian]

Grand River Dam Authority plans to build, own and operate multimillion dollar water park on Illinois River: An Oklahoma state agency plans to build, own and operate a multi-million-dollar white water park on one of Oklahoma’s designated scenic rivers in Adair County, with the assistance of an Arkansas town and financial backing from one of the wealthiest families in the world. [The Frontier]

Winter storms to heat waves, how better climate data can make us more prepared: In a cow pasture near Shawnee, Kirk Wilson parks his work truck, grabs a harness and prepares for a 30-foot climb. “We’re changing the sensor at the top of the tower that measures the wind direction,” said Wilson, a burly meteorological electronics technician with a big beard and a booming laugh. [StateImpact Oklahoma]

OKC district realignment: Race becomes focus of Douglass meeting: Race took center stage Tuesday night at Douglass Mid-High, where a school board member called on Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent Sean McDaniel to reserve seats for students of color who would not otherwise qualify to attend a high-performing application school. [NewsOK] Local teachers union prepares for school closings, consolidations. [News9]

Cheat sheet: Newcomers seek Ward 3 seat in Norman: After Norman Ward 3 incumbent Robert Castleberry decided not to run for re-election, two attorneys and a retired telecommunication professional are seeking his seat. Alison A. Petrone, Richard Bailey and Patrick Ahern are all political newcomers. Norman residents in Wards 1, 3 and 7 will vote for new City Council representatives on Feb. 12. [NonDoc]

Kendra Horn to chair space subcommittee: U.S. Rep. Kendra Horn will lead a House Science subcommittee on space and aeronautics, House Democrats announced Wednesday, giving her an early leadership role on space policy. [NewsOK]

‘We are encouraged by her action’: Sen. Elizabeth Warren apologizes to Cherokee Nation, tribal officials confirm: Reportedly planning to make her presidential bid official this month, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has apologized to the Cherokee Nation for publicizing a DNA test that shows she has distant Native American ancestors, tribal officials confirmed to the Tulsa World late Thursday.Officials didn’t explain exactly how Warren extended the apology, only that she has “reached out” to the tribe in recent days. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“We’re at the bottom in funding, but we’re in the middle in terms of our outcomes. You get us to the middle in funding, we’re No. 1 in the nation. We are the No. 1 state in the nation for how we prevent, address, and treat mental illness and addiction.”

-Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Terri White, speaking about the agency’s request for a $164 million budget increase next year [Source: Public Radio Tulsa]

Number of the Day

$16.7 million

The projected annual cost savings of full implementation of the administrative parole reform created by HB 2286 in 2018.

[Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

In rural America, there are few people left to drive the ambulances: Forty-six million people live in America’s rural counties, and, for decades, they have relied on volunteer ambulance services to respond to their medical emergencies. Today, that system faces collapse. As these communities become grayer and less populated, there are fewer people left to drive ambulances, and fewer people left to pay the taxes that keep the ambulances in service. [New Yorker]

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica joined OK Policy as a Communications Associate in January 2018. Born in Tamaulipas, Mexico, she immigrated to Oklahoma with her family at a young age and obtained a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy from Oklahoma City University as a Clara Luper Scholar. Prior to joining OK Policy, Jessica worked as an Inbound and Digital Marketing Specialist for an OKC based firm. She is an alumnus of both the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute (2013) and Summer Policy Institute (2015). In addition to her role at OK Policy, Jessica serves as a Board Member for Dream Action Oklahoma, a community organization dedicated to advocating and empowering immigrant youth in the state.

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