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
Restoring Oklahoma’s Earned Income Tax Credit necessary: When the Legislature ended Oklahoma’s Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) refundability in 2016, they reduced an essential tax benefit for over 200,000 Oklahoma families. [Paul Shinn / CNHI]
In The News
For 2nd straight year, Oklahoma sees increase in number of uninsured: For just the third time this decade, more Oklahomans went without health coverage in the most recent year compared with the year before. The amount was not enough to increase Oklahoma’s uninsured rate from last year’s 14.2% or change the state’s ranking as second highest in uninsured rates – next only to Texas, which posted a 17.7% uninsured rate in 2018. [Oklahoma Watch] An estimated 548,000 Oklahomans lacked health insurance in 2018, up from an estimated 545,000 in 2017, the Census Bureau reported. [The Oklahoman] The uninsured rate for Oklahoma’s children also crept up last year.
Legislature considers whether to put the teeth back into HB 1017: When it was signed into law in 1990 in Tulsa, House Bill 1017 was hailed as a giant step forward for public education in Oklahoma. However, few of its reforms were ever met. Today, state senators learned that much of the law is still in place, including its class size mandates. [Public Radio Tulsa] HB 1017 was an effective bill and student test scores improved in the decade following its passage – but that progress was lost when the class size limits were suspended.
Speaker McCall appoints Rep. Baker to serve on national education policy organization: Oklahoma House of Representatives Speaker Charles McCall has appointed House Education Committee Chair Rhonda Baker to serve on the Education Commission of the States, a national organization that develops education policy ideas and provides state-by-state research for policymakers. [CNHI]
State general revenue hits target in August despite gross production tax slide: Revenue to Oklahoma’s general fund hit its target for August despite a continued decline in gross production tax collections, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services said Tuesday. [Tulsa World] Recent revenue measures have helped Oklahoma’s long-term budget outlook but the work isn’t done
National group scrutinizes Stitt’s religious leanings: Gov. Kevin Stitt is coming under fire for planned public appearance at a Tulsa church where he’s supposed to talk to a men’s group about serving God. [CNHI] Stitt in his official capacity as governor is speaking at 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at Guts Church in Tulsa, according to the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The event uses his title to seek attendees. [Tulsa World]
Department of Public Safety announces Brent Sugg new OHP chief: Maj. Brent Sugg will be the 28th chief of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, according to an announcement Tuesday by Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Scully. [Tulsa World]
Hunter: ‘I’m not done’ with opioid fight: “I hasten to say that I’m not done,” Hunter said. “There are some other defendants that we’re looking at. This isn’t necessarily the end of what will be available for the state.” [CNHI]
In Cherokee country, opioid crisis seen as existential threat: Here in the foothills of the lush Ozark Mountains, where the Cherokee Nation re-formed its government after U.S. soldiers marched members of the tribe out of the South in the 1830s, people say the removal of children from their Native homes is the most troubling part of the opioid crisis. [CNHI] Substance use disorders are a public health crisis in Oklahoma, and expanding health care coverage will help
Tulsa World Editorial: Chamber recognizes the ability of ACEs research to improve social, workforce outcomes: The Tulsa Regional Chamber plans to include Adverse Childhood Experiences in the OneVoice legislative agenda for the greater Tulsa area. [Tulsa World] Fair economic policies (like making our EITC refundable) can reduce the negative impact of childhood trauma
This Oklahoma woman got 12 years for selling $32 worth of marijuana but was later paroled. Now she’s back in jail for failure to pay court fees: A woman who at one point had a 12-year prison sentence for selling $31 worth of cannabis is back in jail after police in Oklahoma City arrested her on a bench warrant seeking more than $1,100 in unpaid costs in the nearly decade-old case. [Tulsa World] Jailing people who can’t afford to pay court fines and fees is a common occurrence in Oklahoma, and it’s a big problem.
Blowing smoke: Deceptive claims plague medical marijuana industry: Some harmful side effects of medical marijuana legalization are becoming more apparent in Oklahoma, the managing director of the state’s Center for Poison & Drug Information said Tuesday. [The Journal Record]
Superfund Task Force issues final report – Tar Creek site sees progress: Tar Creek, a northeastern Oklahoma waterway polluted by waste from years of mining lead and zinc, has benefited from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Task Force guidance on accelerating cleanup efforts, according to the task force’s final report. [Miami News-Record]
A roller-coaster ride of bureaucracy at the regular City Council meeting: Oklahoma City’s City Council heard a lot of functional business and had some real arguments at this week’s regular meeting. The police came, some citizens spoke, and one reporter got a real headache. [Free Press OKC]
Refiled lawsuit requests court order on Northeast Academy renaming: Board member Charles Henry and the Northeast High School Alumni Association refiled the lawsuit Tuesday in Oklahoma County District Court. [The Oklahoman]
TPS still negotiating state-mandated teacher pay raises with union: The state’s second-largest district continues to negotiate with its teachers union on how to incorporate the $1,200 salary increase into this year’s employment contracts. [Tulsa World]
City Council to receive public comments Wednesday on Equality Indicators topic examining race and gender arrests: City councilors will receive comments and suggestions from the public Wednesday in preparation for the fourth special meeting on the city’s Equality Indicators reports. [Tulsa World]
Norman City Council adopts sales tax ballot language: Norman voters will decide in November if they want to allocate a one-eighth percent sales tax to public transit. [CNHI]
Embattled Oklahoma County judge has tax troubles, too: The Oklahoma County district judge who failed to disclose all her campaign donors also has failed to pay all her taxes. Kendra Coleman has been assessed more than $100,000 by the IRS and Oklahoma Tax Commission for overdue income taxes, penalties and interest, records show. [The Oklahoman]
Quote of the Day
At the end of the day, there are Oklahoma kids who are without their mother. There is a woman who is serving even more of an already unjust sentence, and we’re only setting her up to have to pay more fines and fees for a longer time.”
– Nicole McAfee, director of advocacy for the ACLU of Oklahoma, on the re-arrest of Patricia Spottedcrow earlier this week despite no new charges of illegal activity [Tulsa World]
Number of the Day
Miles traveled by participants in OKDHS transportation assistance programs for seniors and individuals with disabilities.
In Seattle, a move across town could be a path out of poverty: A new experiment in the Seattle area is showing some promise. It involves providing financial and other incentives to encourage more poor families to relocate to what are called “high opportunity” areas. [NPR]
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