In The Know: Oklahoma to resume executions, Juvenile Affairs director resigning, 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

Pushing back on taxes: On Tuesday evening, Together Oklahoma hosted a discussion on working Oklahomans and potential policies the state legislature could enact to help improve their quality of life. [The Daily Ardmoreite

In The News

Oklahoma to resume executions this year: Oklahoma will resume executions after a multi-year pause in that form of punishment. More than five years have passed since the state last executed a death-row inmate, an event that was mishandled and caused a national media firestorm. [NonDoc] Oklahoma will use the same drugs as in previous lethal injection executions when it resumes the death penalty, possibly — though unlikely — as soon as later this year, state officials said on Wednesday. [The Frontier] One woman and 46 men are awaiting execution for murder, according to the Oklahoma Corrections Department. [The Oklahoman] 26 inmates eligible for execution dates. [The Oklahoman]

Steve Buck resigning from Office of Juvenile Affairs: Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs director Steve Buck has resigned from the agency and as Gov. Kevin Stitt’s secretary of human services and early childhood initiatives. Stitt appointed Buck to that position in February 2019. Buck’s resignations will take effect March 6, according to a press release. [NonDoc]

More Oklahoma inmates released under recent law: In the parking lot at Mabel Bassett Correctional Center on Thursday, a baby girl cried in the arms of inmate No. 779008. Elizabeth Bijelic, 28, said she gave birth to her 2-month-old daughter while in prison on a three-year sentence for drug possession. The mother and child reunion took place in the shadow of razor wire. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahomans waiting for SQ 802 to find spot on ballot: Medicaid expansion is likely to be a very big topic this legislative session. Oklahomans will vote on expanding Medicaid, but this question now is when. The issue is currently not scheduled for an election. [News9]

Tribes ask court to dismiss Stitt’s claims that Class III gaming is now operating illegally: Gaming tribes involved in a legal dispute with Gov. Kevin Stitt on Wednesday asked a federal court to dismiss his counter claims. The tribes on Dec. 31 filed suit against Stitt, asking the court to declare that its gaming compacts automatically renewed. Stitt has said the compacts expired on Jan. 1 and that continued operation of Class III gaming is illegal. [Tulsa World] Quapaw Nation seeks to join compacts dispute case. [Miami News-Record]

Hamilton: New brand no substitute for a commitment to invest: Has Oklahoma put the proverbial cart before the horse – yet again? It’s a pertinent question this week after Gov. Kevin Stitt, Lt. Gov. Matt Pinnell and other leaders rolled out a new state brand as part of the drive to propel Oklahoma into Top 10 status. [Arnold Hamilton / The Journal Record????]

Tahlequah Daily Press Editorial: Serious attention to missing, murdered Natives long overdue: In Oklahoma, the news as it pertains to indigenous people has been contentious lately. The tribes say their gaming compacts with the state automatically renewed, and they’re correct – but Gov. Kevin Stitt has his hand out for a bigger piece of the action. [Editorial / Tahlequah Daily Press]

Activists push to get ‘Ida’s Bill’ heard in judiciary committee: A Native American activist is afraid politics are trumping people at the state Capitol, and a bill to reduce the number of missing and murdered indigenous people won’t be heard. The lawmaker who is in charge of hearing the bill says that’s just not true. [News9]

House passes bill that could increase property taxes for public safety districts: Legislation that effectively allows municipalities to use property taxes to pay for public safety services made it through the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Thursday after years of opposition by tax hawks. House Bill 1992, by Rep. Jadine Nollan, R-Sand Springs, gets around current limits on municipal government use of ad valorem revenue by allowing the creation of special taxing districts authorized to assess up to 5 mills in property taxes for police, fire and emergency services. [Tulsa World] Oklahoma mayors push public safety bill. [The Journal Record????]

Oklahoma moves forward with ban on conversion therapy: Oklahoma’s state House of Representatives has advanced a bill that would ban so-called “conversion therapy,” a widely rejected practice that seeks to change the sexuality of LGBTQ individuals, for minors. [The Hill]

Oklahoma sheriff declares county ‘Second Amendment sanctuary’: The sheriff of Logan County on Wednesday professed his support for gun rights by declaring the county a “Second Amendment Sanctuary.” In a signed resolution, Republican Sheriff Damon Devereaux vowed no public funds will be used to enact policies that restrict the Second Amendment rights of Logan County residents. [The Oklahoman]

Chickasha officer injured in the line of duty fights for better pension: In September 2017, Officer Matt Schoolfield was shot in the line of duty. He and a team of others found themselves in a standoff with Alex Klingler in Chickasha. Schoolfield took two bullets in the arm and one in the ear. [News9]

While Oklahoma considers arming some teachers, concerns linger on liability and training: For two years, Chuck Smith has been training Oklahoma’s teachers, free of charge, on how to handle a firearm. He says the current CLEET training requirements for teachers to carry are not enough. [KTUL]

Tulsa school board tables action on proposed personnel cuts: The Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education unexpectedly tabled Superintendent Deborah Gist’s personnel-reduction proposal until next week at the conclusion of a four-hour special meeting Thursday night. [Tulsa World]

OKC Public School Board encounters “brutal facts” about upward suspensions trend: Monday, the OKC Public Schools Board of Education encountered what Superintendent Sean McDaniel termed “brutal facts” about suspensions in the largest, most diverse school district in Oklahoma. [Free Press OKC]

Oklahoma City seeks first innovation officer: Oklahoma City is searching for its first ever chief innovation officer. The person tapped for this role would then be tasked with fostering innovation across local government agencies. [Government Technology]

NAACP explains why ‘OK, Boomer is child’s play compared to’ N-word after OU professor apologizes: Members of the Oklahoma NAACP succinctly explained the difference between the N-word and “OK, boomer” in an open letter calling for a one-on-one meeting with the University of Oklahoma professor who compared the two pejoratives. [Tulsa World]

FCC authorizes close to $7 million for rural broadband in Oklahoma: The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday authorized more than $6.7 million in funding over 10 years to expand rural broadband in Oklahoma. These investments will connect over 2,400 unserved rural homes and businesses in Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“When (Earned Income Tax Credits) are not refundable, that means people are not getting that money back to spend on what they need … That’s a big loss for those families and it’s also a big loss to your local economy.”

-Courtney Cullison, Economic Opportunity Analyst for the Oklahoma Policy Institute, speaking about negative impacts from Oklahoma’s decision to make EITC credits non-refundable. [The Daily Ardmoreite

Number of the Day


Percent of the national workforce that is covered by the Family and Medical Leave Act, which allows up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave for new parents and other workers with an illness or caregiving responsibilities. The federal FMLA does not provide protections for paid leave for family and medical emergencies. 

[Source: Department of Labor]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Why parental leave for fathers is so important for working families: Although paid leave is often framed as an issue that matters to working women, paid parental leave is also critically important for fathers. Policies that ensure fathers have the support they need to prioritize their family responsibilities, while also meeting work demands, can significantly increase the personal and economic wellbeing of their families. [Department of Labor]

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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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