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
Tennessee waltzes down the wrong path with Medicaid block grant proposal: Current efforts to stretch the use of waivers in states like Tennessee bear watching in Oklahoma as state leaders seek alternatives to simple Medicaid expansion as proposed in State Question 802. [OK Policy] OK Policy supports SQ 802 and has provided information and resources to better understand the issue.
Down & Out: Oklahoma’s economy is leaving too many behind: You’ve probably heard recently that Oklahoma’s economy is strong again, and that’s partially true. These are signs of progress, but they don’t tell the complete story of Oklahoma’s economy. Too many Oklahomans are still struggling despite statewide progress. [The Tulsa Voice]
Prosperity Policy: Final words: This is my final column for The Journal Record. For more than seven years I’ve had the privilege, and sometimes the burden, of distilling my thoughts on state policy issues into 400 words each week. I’ve cranked out some 375 columns, or approximately 150,000 words – roughly the length of Jane Austen’s Emma! Starting next week, this space turns over to my successor at the Oklahoma Policy Institute, Ahniwake Rose. [David Blatt / Journal Record]
In The News
Oklahoma to issue REAL IDs in spring 2020, mandatory to fly in October: After multiple extensions from the federal government, Oklahoma will roll out REAL ID-compliant driver’s licenses starting April 30. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma has spent about $11 million and could spend an additional $10 million in the next year to roll out state IDs that comply with federal law, the state’s Public Safety commissioner said Wednesday. [The Oklahoman]
Tulsa World editorial: Historic commutations move Oklahoma in right direction for criminal justice: Oklahoma officials made a powerful and unprecedented move to set the state on course for true criminal justice reform. Last week, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board approved sentence commutations for 527 prisoners, a historic national single-day number for such early release. [Editorial Board / Tulsa World] OK Policy analysis has shown that HB 1269 made progress towards SQ 780 retroactivity, but there are still unresolved issues.
(Audio) OK State Rep. Jason Dunnington talks criminal justice reform: ‘It doesn’t reform anyone to just sit in prison’: In a bipartisan fashion, State Rep. Jason Dunnington (D-Oklahoma City) and State Rep. Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City) authored HB 1269, which focused on limiting prison time for low-level drug and property crime felons. During this interview, Dunnington discusses his work on criminal justice reform and HR 1269. [KFGO] OK Policy analysis shows that investments in prison job training will lower the cost of Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis.
Oklahoma earns D- for premature births on March of Dimes annual report card: One in nine babies in Oklahoma was born too early, or before 37 weeks gestation, in 2018, prompting March of Dimes to give the state a D- on its annual report card. The report, released Monday, found a preterm birth rate of 11.4 percent in the state, an increase compared to 11.1 percent in 2017. Overall, the U.S. rate increased for the fourth year in a row, earning it a “C” grade. The report also highlighted racial disparities in the state. In Oklahoma, the preterm birth rate among black women is 38 percent higher than the rate among other women, the report found. [The Frontier] OK Policy: Policies that support low-income families improve the well-being of children.
Legislator backs up on Trump highway: ‘There’s only one thing to call’ Historic Route 66: Bowing to resistance from all sides, state Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, said Wednesday that he won’t pursue renaming a 4-mile stretch of Historic Route 66 in Ottawa County for the 45th president. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a Donald Trump Highway somewhere in Oklahoma. It just means it won’t be associated with the Mother Road. [Tulsa World]
Oklahoma lawmaker to name new domestic violence bill after Allyssa Fielding: A new domestic violence bill to be introduced in the Oklahoma legislation will be named after Allyssa Fielding. She and her unborn child died in Tulsa last April. That same week, a domestic violence bill stalled in the state Senate. It would have classified domestic violence as a violent crime, and required offenders to serve at least 85% of their sentence. Now Rep. Marcus McEntire (R-Duncan) is pledging to try again to get the bill passed. [Fox23]
DUI charge against area lawmaker changed from felony to misdemeanor: The drunken driving case against Tulsa-area state Rep. Dean Davis (R-Broken Arrow) is now a misdemeanor due to a legal precedent that bars his past DUI arrest from being used to support a felony charge against him. [Tulsa World]
Oklahoma charter school opens with hopes to better serve Native American students: Oklahoma is home to one of the largest Native American student populations in the country. A new charter school, Sovereign Community School in Oklahoma City, hopes to better serve these kids by promoting Indigenous identities in the classroom. [NPR]
Legal Aid, city team up to offer expungement clinic: Muskogee area residents who have past criminal convictions or have civil judgments will have an opportunity this month to learn how those likely barriers to housing and employment might be removed from public records. [CNHI]
Floating ideas: State seeks to boost lake tourism with partnerships: A raft of state officials including Gov. Kevin Stitt met Wednesday with potential investors in Oklahoma lakes. Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell said Skiatook Lake was a natural place to host a “summit” on public and private partnership investment opportunities because the lake has become a showcase for such investments in recent years. [Journal Record 🔒]
DA heads to appeals court over issue with Oklahoma County judge: Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said Wednesday he will continue his effort to have District Judge Kendra Coleman disqualified from all his criminal cases on bias grounds. [The Oklahoman]
Tulsa attorney nominated for federal judge post: President Donald Trump announced his intention Wednesday to nominate Tulsa attorney John F. Heil III to fill a federal judicial vacancy in the Northern, Eastern and Western districts of Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]
Not politicians: A coalition of citizens wants to end partisan redistricting. Members argue that the practice, known as gerrymandering, essentially lets politicians pick their voters instead of the other way around. [Oklahoma Gazette] ‘People not Politicians’ holds first town hall in Stillwater. [Stillwater News Press]
McLain students, community members collect soil in remembrance of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre victims: On Wednesday, the Tulsa Community Remembrance Coalition — led by Tiffany Crutcher, local activist Kristi Williams and African Ancestral Society President Chief Egunwale Fagbenro Amusan — wanted to ensure two Tulsa Race Massacre victims who did not receive a customary burial would be memorialized with dignity. [Tulsa World]
Quote of the Day
“You can’t just let people out and say ‘Good luck.’ There are so many variables when it comes to why someone is incarcerated and just being given the opportunity to get out doesn’t mean you’ve solved a lot of those problems so we have to be vigilant about going after those issues.”
-State Rep. Jason Dunnington speaking about criminal justice reform [KFGO]
Number of the Day
Number of states, including Oklahoma, where tax revenue is lower than in 2007-09, adjusted for inflation.
[Source: Pew Charitable Trusts]
Low-income communities of color are at more risk for water problems, report finds: Across the U.S., low-income communities of color most frequently face water contamination issues and live with those problems longer, according to a new report published by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Coming Clean and the Environmental Justice Health Alliance. The report underscores that low-income communities burdened with drinking water violations are also most likely to suffer from crumbling water infrastructure and limited funding — a consequence of housing segregation and decades-old disinvestment. [NJ.com]
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