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
Prosperity Policy: Demanding action on gun safety: When I first heard that a veto referendum campaign was being launched to overturn the permitless carry law signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt in February, and that organizers would have exactly 17 days to collect nearly 60,000 valid signatures, I must admit I was skeptical. [David Blatt / Journal Record]
In The News
Oklahoma redistricting process to begin in early 2020: Oklahoma’s redistricting process will kick-off in early 2020 and closely mirror previous redistricting efforts. House Speaker Charles McCall announced Wednesday he will appoint members to a bipartisan House Redistricting Committee with subcommittees focused on different regions of the state to oversee the redistricting process. [The Oklahoman]
More district schools offer full-time virtual programs. Do they work? At least 20 Oklahoma school districts offer fully online education, blended education or both. Some districts offer these options for K-12, while others offer them for grades 6-12 or just high school. The state does not track the number of types of programs. [Oklahoma Watch]
Oklahoma to receive $11.8 million in additional federal funds to combat opioid epidemic: Oklahoma will receive an additional $11.8 million in federal funds to help battle the opioid crisis, the Trump administration announced Wednesday. The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services will be given $7,650,315 in new federal funds, while the Oklahoma State Department of Health will receive $4,191,979, the administration announced. [The Oklahoman] Substance use disorders, like opioid addiction, are a public health crisis in our state – but expanding Medicaid could help.
Oklahoma AG says he will not use SC Johnson’s ‘family company’ tagline for Johnson & Johnson after lawsuit threatened: Attorney Gen. Mike Hunter on Wednesday issued a news release saying his office will no longer use the term “family company” to describe drug maker Johnson & Johnson, after SC Johnson threatened to sue. [Tulsa World]
Delay granted in challenge to referendum seeking to nullify permitless carry law: The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Wednesday granted a request from state lawyers to delay its response in a challenge to an effort seeking to nullify permitless carry. Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s office sought the delay from the Thursday deadline to respond. [Tulsa World] What’s That? Veto Referendum
From sovereignty to sportsbook: Gaming negotiations affect ‘shared citizenry’: More than 30 sovereign tribal nations that have gaming compacts with the state of Oklahoma are willing to discuss changes to exclusivity fees, but they are flummoxed by indications that Gov. Kevin Stitt wants to renegotiate the compacts altogether, according to the Chickasaw Nation’s chief legal counsel. [NonDoc] What’s That? Tribal Gaming Compacts
Uninsured vehicle diversion program nears 7,500 participants, no prosecutions yet: In the 10 months since the Uninsured Vehicle Enforcement Diversion program hit the road, its camera-equipped cars (and one trailer) have crossed Oklahoma scanning license plates and checking for insurance verification. [Tulsa World] Cameras may be able to catch uninsured drivers, but fining them won’t reduce the cost of insurance for low-income drivers.
Adverse childhood experiences among regional legislative priorities: Health care, childhood trauma, infrastructure and education were among the legislative issues tagged for high priority at the annual OneVoice agenda meeting in downtown Tulsa on Wednesday. [Tulsa World] What’s That? Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)
Senator studying solar energy in schools: A state senator wants to probe the feasibility of using solar energy to power schools in an effort to reduce utility costs. State Sen. Mary Boren, D-Norman, said she recently attended a presentation that highlighted the cost-savings for school districts that switch to solar energy. [CNHI]
Teacher’s union not surprised by pending cuts: The pending budget cuts for the Tulsa Public Schools come as no surprise to the head of the Tulsa Classroom Teacher’s Association. The District will need to trim $20-million from its 2020-21 school year budget. [Public Radio Tulsa] Rebecca Fine, an education policy analyst with Oklahoma Policy Institute, says the state has come a long way, but that it will take time to catch up, after years of cutting funds. [KTUL]
Judge orders Seeworth to turn over property and money: A judge Wednesday ordered Seeworth Academy to transfer all money and property to Oklahoma City Public Schools, which took control of the charter school for at-risk students and relocated and renamed it. [The Oklahoman]
DA says judge concealed donors, should step down from all her cases: In an unprecedented move, a new Oklahoma County judge is being asked to step down from every criminal case being prosecuted by District Attorney David Prater and his assistants. [The Oklahoman]
Rig count down 42%. No big deal, economists say: An ongoing trend of declining rig counts continued last week, but the number does not signify what it used to, according to local economists. Oklahoma’s rig count was 80 as of Aug. 30, down from 139 a year prior. Nationally, the count is down to 904 from 1,048 a year ago. [Journal Record]
Premier showing of ‘Right to Harm’ slated for Tahlequah: Organizers representing Save the Illinois River and Green Country Guardians will play host today for the premier showing in Tahlequah of a film that documents the impact of factory farming on the environment and public health. [CNHI]
Committee formed to ensure complete count for 2020 Census: A cross-section of civic leaders began hammering together a plan on Wednesday to ensure a complete and accurate count is taken of Muskogee residents during the 2020 Census. [Muskogee Phoenix] Oklahoma has several hard-to-count areas, and it will take work to make sure we get a complete Census count.
Inhofe, Lankford, Hern all OK with redirecting to border barrier $8 million earmarked for Tulsa Air National Guard base: Oklahoma’s two U.S. senators and 1st District Congressman Kevin Hern all said Wednesday that they are fine with the Trump administration’s taking $8 million earmarked for a small-arms firing range at the Oklahoma Air National Guard base in Tulsa and using it for new and replacement barriers on the nation’s southern border. [Tulsa World]
Quote of the Day
“I am doing my darnedest not to prosecute any Oklahomans. This is still, in my opinion, a brand new program. There are enough discrepancies apparent in this system that it [prosecution] doesn’t seem fair to me.”
– Amanda Arnall Couch, Uninsured Vehicle Enforcement Diversion Prosecutor, on the hiccups involved with using cameras to identify uninsured drivers [Tulsa World]
Number of the Day
The number Oklahomans who have died due to opioid related overdoses since 2000.
Can Racist Algorithms Be Fixed?A new study adds to the debate over racial bias in risk assessment tools widely used in courtrooms: Risk assessments are pitched as “race-neutral,” replacing human judgment—subjective, fraught with implicit bias—with objective, scientific criteria. Trouble is, the most accurate tools draw from existing criminal justice data: what happened to large numbers of actual people who were arrested in any particular location. And the experience of actual people in the criminal justice is fraught with racial disparities and implicit bias. [The Marshall Project]
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