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
Too Much of a Good Thing? Exceeding Rainy Day Fund cap would leave critical needs underfunded: Oklahomans look to our state government to fund a wide range of critical investments – including schools, roads and bridges, public safety, and safety net supports – that contribute to our shared prosperity. For nearly a decade, year after year of shortfalls and revenue failures forced repeated cuts to critical services that caused grave harm to our families, businesses, and communities. Overall state appropriations fell by almost $1.5 billion compared to a decade before, adjusted for inflation. [OK Policy]
In The News
Oklahoma House approves eviction measure in marathon session: Evictions would increase under legislation approved by the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Thursday, opponents of the measure claimed. House Bill 2394, by Rep. Logan Phillips, R-Mounds, would change a section of law that allows landlords to initiate eviction proceedings for “any drug-related criminal activity on or near the premises by the tenant or by any member of the tenant’s household or any guest or other person under the tenant’s control” by deleting the phrase “on or near the premises.” [Tulsa World]
Senate effectively kills legislation for minimum wage increase: Oklahomans likely won’t see a minimum wage hike this year after the state Senate effectively killed three key pieces of legislation intended to boosted worker pay for the first time in a decade. State Sen. George Young, D-Oklahoma City, said he was disappointed that his measure increasing wages from $7.25 to $10.50 failed to even get a committee hearing in the Republican-controlled state Senate. [CHNI] Other states have raised their minimum wage through a citizen petition
Bill making some crimes retroactive would reduce prison population but could have unintended consequences: Central to the argument for Smallwood’s release was State Question 780 — the overwhelmingly successful 2016 voter initiative that reduced felony punishments for drug possession and property crimes under a thousand dollars to misdemeanors. The worst punishment for those crimes now is a year in county jail — no prison time. [StateImpact Oklahoma] One of our 2019 policy priorities is making the sentencing reforms of SQ 780 retroactive.
Judge directs every Oklahoma County jail inmate be checked after one was lost for almost eight months: For almost eight months, everyone agrees, Oklahoma County jail inmate Charles E. Lemons was lost in the criminal justice system. Still in dispute is why. What everyone involved also agrees on, though, is that it shouldn’t happen. [NewsOK 🔒]
State lawmakers take another run at Oklahoma Supreme Court redistricting: State lawmakers are again trying to change Oklahoma’s Supreme Court districts. House and Senate bills would align five judicial districts with Oklahoma’s congressional districts and set the other four as at-large districts. Rep. Shane Stone said with Oklahoma’s population shifting to urban areas, the change is a matter of representation. [Public Radio Tulsa]
Oklahoma lawmakers are trying to weaken vaccination laws despite outbreaks: In 2018, 14 bills were introduced in the Oklahoma legislature to weaken vaccination laws. Just 92.6% of kindergartners in Oklahoma had the measles vaccine down from 97.3% in 2010. Experts say a 95% vaccination is needed to prevent epidemics. [NowThis]
Partisan lines drawn on Oklahoma agency proposal: Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday accused Democrats of protecting the status quo after the minority party criticized his agency reform proposal, which Republican leaders expressed support for this week. [NewsOK] Despite continuing strong opposition from Democrats, legislation that would overhaul how major state agencies are organized and operated advanced toward becoming law on Thursday. [Journal Record 🔒] Giving the Governor this appointment power may reduce citizen influence in agencies.
American Legion tax bill advances: A bill to exempt the American Legion Department of Oklahoma from sales tax has passed in the House of Representatives and is headed to the state Senate. House Bill 1003 passed the House by a unanimous vote of 94-0. [Journal Record 🔒]
Cannabis activist wants medical marijuana bill voted down: A medical marijuana supporter is urging lawmakers to reject a bill that sets up the statutory framework for implementation. Shawn Jenkins, co-founder of the Yes on 788 Political Action Committee, said Thursday during a Capitol news conference that House Bill 2612 does not hold true to the state question which voters approved in June to legalize medical marijuana. [Tulsa World]
New bill will fine motorists who fail to stop for school buses: The state House of Representatives unanimously passes a bill that increases your chances of getting a ticket of you pass a stopped school bus. Just this week, a teenager was hospitalized after he was hit by a car that police said blew past a stopped school bus. This legislation is designed to reduce those kinds of accidents. [News On 6]
Bill aims to provide mental health treatment for first responders: First responders dive into stressful situations every day, and when you pair that with lack of sleep and strange schedules, serious mental health problems could form. [KJRH]
OU students face greater need for services as mental health issues continue to rise: Psychology, women’s and gender studies junior Mary Tappel was 16 when she began to not feel like herself anymore. “I just felt numb and had no drive or anything that I used to have — I felt like there was no point to living,” Tappel said. [OU Daily]
Several Oklahoma agencies come together to combat scammers: The scams are ever-changing, and they can take your money in a flash. “There’s always a new scam. There’s always a new way of defeating the systems,” said Major Paco Balderrama with the Oklahoma City Police Department. [KFOR]
Measures to expand aerospace training in Oklahoma advance: Piqued interest in meeting the growing workforce needs of the state’s second-largest industry is a driver behind two measures to expand aerospace training, one within Metro Technology Centers and the other passing through the state Senate. [Journal Record]
Wayne Greene: Good news for Oklahoma teachers — their counterparts in Texas are about to get paid a whole lot more and Gov. Stitt is watching: What’s up in Texas? Teacher pay is about to be. The good news for Oklahoma teachers: Gov. Kevin Stitt is paying attention and hasn’t forgotten his promise to give Oklahoma the highest teacher pay in the region. [Wayne Greene / Tulsa World] Despite the increase in teacher pay last year, education funding is still way down in Oklahoma
Top state election official raises objections to bill making registration, voting easier: A bill being debated by the U.S. House would force Oklahoma to make extensive changes to its election system that could create security risks and unreasonable demands on county election boards, Oklahoma’s top election official said Wednesday. [NewsOK 🔒]
Oklahoma City nonprofit works to encourage, recruit women to run for political office: Sara Jane Rose founded Sally’s List, a nonprofit based in Oklahoma City that seeks to recruit, train and help elect progressive women to public office in the state. It has now endorsed and primed some of Oklahoma’s most prominent women in politics, including U.S. Congresswoman Kendra Horn and state legislators Cyndi Munson and Kay Floyd. [OU Daily]
Positive Tomorrows school officials consider how to expand programs once new school building opens: With work underway on the school’s new building, officials at an Oklahoma City elementary school for homeless children are figuring out how to expand programs to include more students. [NewsOK 🔒]
Tulsa community leaders, activists push for city hearing, accountability on discriminatory policing: Nearly a year ago, the city of Tulsa released its 2018 Tulsa Equality Indicators report detailing, among other things, statistics showing black Tulsans were more frequently arrested and more likely to have police use force against them. [Tulsa World]
Quote of the Day
“I think it’s a real mistake on their part, a failure to see the need and necessity of trying to make us as they say, ‘a Top 10 city’. One of those things is you help those folk that are most vulnerable, and I think they miss out on that every time.”
– Senator George Young lamenting the failure of legislation that would have increased the minimum wage this year [Source: Norman Transcript]
Number of the Day
The median estimated jail stay for people in Rogers County accused of nonviolent offenses who did not post bond, FY 2018
[Source: Open Justice Oklahoma]
The inequality of urban investments: Racial segregation and the inequities that stem from it is a troubling but familiar problem for cities across the country. In most places, these problems are made worse by private capital. In Baltimore, for instance, new research shows that private capital is skewed toward majority-white, low-poverty areas. Public investment, however, is more spread out. [Governing]
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