In The Know: OK ranks 2nd for Hepatitis C; struggles with literacy; Stitt chooses education secretary…

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

Apply now to be a paid communications intern with OK Policy: OK Policy is now accepting applications for a paid, part-time communications internship in our Tulsa office. The internship runs from late-February 2019 through the end of the year. Applications are due no later than 5:00 PM on Wednesday, February 6th. [OK Policy]

Prosperity Policy: Lessons from a shutdown: Consider holding a garage sale, babysitting, dog-walking, or serving as a mystery shopper. These suggestions came from the U.S. Coast Guard in a tip sheet titled “Managing your finances in a furlough.” Some 50,000 active-duty Coast Guard members and civil employees have been working without pay or on indefinite furlough since the partial federal government shutdown began on Dec. 23. [Journal Record]

Lawton native joins Oklahoma Policy Institute: Lawton native, Jacobi Crowley joins Oklahoma Policy Institute and discusses his role in the institute. Oklahoma Policy promotes adequate, fair, and fiscally responsible funding of public services and expanded opportunity for all Oklahoman’s by providing timely and credible information, analysis, and ideas. [KSWO]

In The News

Oklahoma ranks 2nd in nation for Hepatitis C: A new study shows Oklahoma ranks second in the nation in the number of cases of Hepatitis C, and the State Health Department said it’s because more people are injecting opioids. The CDC report ranked Oklahoma behind the District of Columbia for prevalence of the infection, noting a contributing factor is the sharing or re-using of needles when using injection drugs. [NewsOn6]

Oklahoma struggles with literacy: On the surface, literacy seems to be a small issue for many in Nowata, Osage and Washington counties. But an investigation by the Examiner-Enterprise shows that literacy is a fundamentally important issue when looking at facts and the related problems that arise when people lack necessary reading and writing skills. [Examiner-Enterprise]

Stitt taps Secretary of State Michael Rogers as education secretary: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday said Secretary of State Michael Rogers will also serve as his education secretary. Rogers is a former Republican House member from Broken Arrow. Rogers will focus not only on common education, but CareerTech and higher education, Stitt said Wednesday. [Tulsa World]

Stitt hopes to rely on expertise of state schools superintendent: Gov. Kevin Stitt won’t have a cabinet secretary devoted exclusively to education, an indication that the new governor plans to rely heavily on the state’s elected superintendent when it comes to setting a course for Oklahoma’s public school system. [NewsOK]

Sen. Dossett says bill will ensure high-stakes federal reading test won’t hold back third-graders: State Sen. J.J. Dossett, D-Owasso, has filed legislation to ensure that the results of a single high-stakes reading test won’t cause students to be held back in school. Dossett, a former teacher, said when the Reading Sufficiency Act (RSA) was originally approved in 2011, the idea was to use a federally mandated reading test to determine whether children could continue to the fourth grade. [Tulsa World]

Bill could make 4-day school weeks history: Four-day school weeks could be out of session permanently if a legislative measure that seeks to overhaul school attendance rules gains traction. Under current law, districts have the option of either holding class for at least 1,080 hours a year or 180 days. [Enid News & Eagle]

Bill would raise Oklahoma’s minimum wage to $10.50: Oklahoma could be the next state in the region to raise its minimum wage, which now stands at $7.25 an hour. State Sen. George Young, D-Oklahoma City, is the author of Senate Bill 102, which would raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.50 an hour or to the federal minimum wage, whichever is greater. [Journal Record]

Legislature to take up set-back requirements for new poultry operations: Lawmakers have filed two bills that would create setback requirements for new poultry operations, though at the moment the proposals vary greatly in their respective distance and operation size requirements. [The Frontier]

Legislation would change STD criminal statutes: An Oklahoma lawmaker filed a bill that would amend the state’s criminal statutes regarding sexually transmitted diseases. Specifically, the bill would increase the number of behaviors considered criminal but reclassify all of the crimes as misdemeanors. [Journal Record]

State considering autonomous vehicle laws: Oklahoma could adopt rules regulating the autonomous vehicle industry for the first time this year. Several bills filed in advance of next month’s legislative session could affect how Oklahomans and visitors to the state use self-driving cars and trucks. [NewsOK ????]

Bill would eliminate Daylight Saving Time: A bill that’s currently in the state House will impact your clock. House Bill 1117 would put an end to Daylight Saving Time in Oklahoma. This means we wouldn’t spring forward every year in March. But, based on the earth’s natural rotation – we would still get a little more daytime in the spring-summer months. [KJRH]

Ex-wife wants child support from powerful state lawmaker: An influential state legislator is being accused in a contempt-of-court citation of not paying his court-ordered child support and his share of his daughters’ health expenses. State. Rep. Kevin Wallace, R-Wellston, is more than $33,000 in arrears, his ex-wife alleges. [NewsOK ????]

Oklahoma Department of Corrections asking for employee raises: The state Department of Corrections is backing off on its request for two new prisons, for now. But the agency is asking the legislature for more money. The Department of Corrections originally wanted more than $800 million for two new prisons. Now, the DOC is nixing that plan and instead asking for an additional $72 million to give corrections employees pay raises. [News9]

Chamber releases higher education study: A study commissioned by the State Chamber Research Foundation shows that Oklahoma’s higher education system supported $8.21 billion of total economic output during the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2016. The study, “The Economic Role of Oklahoma’s Public Colleges and Universities,” examined the economic output and effect public colleges and universities have in the state. [Journal Record]

Consolidation plan raises questions about future use of school properties: A plan proposed by the Oklahoma City Public Schools District on Tuesday to consolidate schools could leave more than a dozen properties available for other uses. Although it’s too early to determine whether those sites will be converted into other district goals or redeveloped in the private sector, officials said it’s important they not remain vacant for long. [Journal Record]

EDITORIAL: Students’ video underscores importance of rooting out racism in our communities: A video posted to social media last week featured an OU student in blackface and using a racial slur, filmed by another OU student. The response to that video prompted the two students to withdraw from the University of Oklahoma, a press conference from OU President Jim Gallogly on Monday and a student Rally Against Racism on Tuesday. [Editorial Board / Norman Transcript]

Supreme Court declines to review alleged racial bias in Oklahoma’s death penalty: The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to consider the appeals of two convicted Oklahoma County killers who say a study showing racial bias in Oklahoma’s use of the death penalty warranted reconsideration of their death sentences. [NewsOK]

Suit dismissed: Judge says Muslim woman didn’t show that her constitutional rights were violated when forced to remove hijab at Tulsa County Courthouse: A judge has dismissed a Muslim woman’s civil rights lawsuit after finding that her complaint failed to meet the legal burden to show that Tulsa County sheriff’s deputies violated her constitutional rights when they refused to let her enter the courthouse because she wouldn’t remove her hijab in public when she set off a metal detector. [Tulsa World]

Tribal-operated grocery stores provide jobs, low prices, fresh food: It’s 3 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon, and the FireLake Discount Foods in Shawnee is packed. Lines of shoppers wait at the checkout stands while others weave through the 88,000-square-foot grocery store. [Journal Record ????] Business recruitment in northeastern Oklahoma has been aided significantly by the efforts of the Cherokee Nation and Muscogee (Creek) Nation. [Journal Record ????]

Sharing tribal culture and history through state’s visitor centers: Although visitor centers might seem at first glance like interesting tourist stops, some tribal officials in Oklahoma said they allow sovereign nations to tell their own stories. The Shawnee Tribe opened its cultural center in Miami in November. It’s been many years in the making, said the site’s director, Marnie Leist. One of the tribe’s most difficult obstacles came in the form of location. [Journal Record ????]

Federal shutdown delaying $690k to Oklahoma arts orgs: This morning, 39 arts entities across Oklahoma received notification that more than $690,000 in mid-year “organizational support” reimbursements “will be delayed for an undetermined amount of time” owing to the ongoing federal government shutdown. [NonDoc]

Quote of the Day

“In Oklahoma, 12 percent of adults over the age of 18 functioned at the below basic literacy level and 31 percent of adults were at the basic literacy level. That is showing we are doing better than the national numbers in getting people to the next level, but we area still struggling with a higher-than-average amount of Oklahomans who only have basic literacy skills.”

-Leslee Gulders, administrator of state literacy programs for Oklahoma [Source: Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise]

Number of the Day


Number of bills and joint resolutions filed for this year’s session of the Oklahoma Legislature.

[Source: Oklahoma House and Senate]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Nearly 10,000 companies contract with shutdown-affected agencies, putting $200 million a week at risk: The partial federal shutdown, now in a record fourth week, means missed paychecks for more than 800,000 government workers. But it also threatens an untold legion of workers in private companies that do business with affected agencies. [Washington Post]

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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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