In The Know: Oklahoma prepares for possible largest commutation in U.S. history, Fresh Start Act goes into effect, and more

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

New report shows number of uninsured children rising in Oklahoma: A new national report shows the number of uninsured Oklahoma children held steady last year, however the rate remains significantly higher than the national average. The report from the Georgetown Center for Children and Families found that 8.2 percent of Oklahoma children in 2018 did not have health insurance, up from 8.1 percent the previous year. [OK Policy]

‘One extremely lucky guy’: David Blatt’s farewell remarks: “I can honestly say that being part of this organization for 12 years, and leading it for the past ten, has been the great honor of my life.” [David Blatt / OK Policy]

In The News

Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board to vote on hundreds of cases in what could be largest commutation in U.S. history: The Pardon and Parole Board will vote Friday whether to recommend commutation for hundreds of people through an accelerated, single-stage docket that was brought about through legislation earlier this year. House Bill 1269, passed along bipartisan lines, takes effect Friday and makes retroactive criminal justice reforms that reclassified simple drug possession and some property crimes as misdemeanors instead of felonies. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy: HB 1269 is a positive step for justice reform in Oklahoma, but unresolved issues remain

Fresh Start Act in effect Nov. 1: A bill previously signed by Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt will go into effect on Friday, Nov. 1, allowing those with nonviolent felony records a chance to seek occupational licenses for certain professions. House Bill 1373, which was authored under State Rep. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole, opens the doorway to more professions for those who have been convicted of felonies deemed nonviolent or not sexual in nature and allows help re-entering the workforce. [CNHI] OK Policy examined the measure, which helps provide economic and employment stability for justice-involved individuals.

Audio: Redistricting initiative petition, Oklahoma County jail, permitless carry & more: This Week in Oklahoma Politics talks about a push to change the way Oklahomans draw political districts by putting it in the hands of an independent committee rather than politicians, the Oklahoma County Sheriff plans to hand over control of the jail to a newly formed trust whether it’s ready or not, and the attorney general meets with tribal leaders to discuss gaming compacts. [KOSU]

Audio: The James Inc. Podcast Episode 2: Education policy with Rebecca Fine: Rebecca Fine, Education Policy Analyst and KIDS Count Coordinator for the Oklahoma Policy Institute discusses how Oklahoma’s education policy affects not only teen pregnancy but all aspects of life. [The James Inc. Podcast]

Law enforcement prepares for Marsy’s Law: Local law enforcement officials are preparing to implement Marsy’s Law, which goes into effect Friday. Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris said his department is already notifying crime victims of their rights and will continue to do so. [CNHI] An OK Policy analysis showed there could be unintended consequences from the implementation of Marsy’s Law

Children in liquor stores, ballot selfies and more: New laws take effect Friday: Starting Friday, Oklahomans will be able to take their children into liquor stores, take ballot selfies on Election Day, and pick up life-saving prescriptions when they can’t get in touch with a doctor. Oklahoma has 325 new laws slated to take effect. Here are the highlights. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma Supreme Court also declines to delay constitutional carry law: A law allowing the carrying of weapons without a permit or training will go into effect Friday after the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Thursday declined to step in. [Tulsa World] Law enforcement mostly unconcerned about gun law changes; activists say ‘it’s a big deal,’ vow to keep fighting. [Tulsa World]

Group hoping to alter voter redistricting makes Stillwater first stop of tour: Stillwater is the first stop in a statewide publicity tour from the group that is trying to get a state ballot initiative which would prevent lawmakers from deciding voting districts. [CHNI]

Enid Public School administrators ‘obstructed justice,’ OEA alleges: Enid Public Schools administrators are accused of having “obstructed justice” in a notice of claim from an Oklahoma teacher’s union representing now-former campus police chief Mike Dods. [Enid News & Eagle]

Volunteer firefighter numbers continue to grow with changes to laws: House Majority Leader Mike Sanders (R-Kingfisher) said close to 500 new volunteer firefighters have joined rural fire departments four years after he successfully ran legislation that eliminated the age limit for new volunteers. [CNHI]

Operations and maintenance spending on Oklahoma wind turbines to surge: The 2019 Wind Power Plant Benchmarking in North America reports operations and maintenance spending is expected to reach more than $7.5 billion annually by 2030 as investment in new projects slows and wind farms age. According to the report, Oklahoma will be among states with the strongest growth in O&M spending and employment. [Journal Record]

Quote of the Day

“This will give people that have made mistakes in their past a second chance at professional licensing. This doesn’t hide a person’s criminal record or require a business to hire them, but it does remove the barrier of restrictive licensing in many cases.”

-Rep. Zack Taylor, R-Seminole, author of House Bill 1373. [CNHI

Number of the Day

12.9 %

The percentage total reported crime declined in Oklahoma between 2009 and 2018

[Source: Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Pinning down food insecurity in the U.S.: “We have many good tools for responding to need – such as SNAP and other federal nutrition programs, and charitable feeding strategies at the local level,” Elaine Waxman, senior fellow at the institute, said in an email to U.S. News. “But we ultimately can’t make progress on the root causes of hunger if communities aren’t focusing on how other issues, like the role of barriers to accessing transportation to work or grocery shopping, or high housing costs … erode food budgets.” [U.S. News & World Report]

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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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