In The Know: Oklahoma’s aspirations as a Top 10 state, getting Census to all residents, 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

Schumann joins OK Policy board: University of Oklahoma-Tulsa President John H. Schumann has joined the Oklahoma Policy Institute’s board of directors. Dr. Schumann has served as OU-Tulsa’s president since 2015 after earlier appointments with the university as an associate professor, director of its residency program, and vice chair of education for the Department of Internal Medicine. [Journal Record ????]

In The News

What it means to be a Top 10 state, according to Gov. Kevin Stitt: On the campaign trail, Kevin Stitt vowed to make Oklahoma a Top 10 state — a lofty goal by any means considering state-by-state rankings often show the Sooner State falling behind. Ahniwake Rose, executive director of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, said she’s hopeful Stitt’s upcoming State of the State speech will include more details about what it means to be Top 10 and the state metrics guiding his decision making. [The Oklahoman]

Making it count: Members of the Ardmore area Census Complete Count Committee gathered Thursday morning to discuss strategies to help insure as many people as possible participate in the upcoming 2020 Census. Jasha Lyons Echo-Hawk, community census builder with Together Oklahoma, explained that the Census Bureau’s push for more online surveys is not convenient for everyone, and they need person to person interaction with the census takers. [The Ardmoreite]

Stitt, top aides meet several times with health plan lobbyist: Gov. Kevin Stitt and top aides met several times last year with the lobbyist for WellCare Health Plans as the governor worked on his own proposal to expand insurance coverage in Oklahoma. [The Oklahoman] OK Policy supports SQ 802, which calls for straightforward Medicaid expansion, and has provided information and resources to better understand the issue.

Capitol Insider: 2020 Legislation Filed: Lawmakers will consider more than 4,000 bills and joint resolutions when they return to the Capitol for the start of the 2020 legislative session. Dick Pryor and eCapitol’s Shawn Ashley discuss what lies ahead. [KGOU]

Oklahoma legislator seeks elimination of Board of Corrections: A top Republican legislator wants to eliminate the state Board of Corrections after a former board member allegedly overstepped his authority. Sen. Roger Thompson, R-Okemah, prefiled legislation to get rid of the nine-member board first formed roughly 50 years ago. [The Oklahoman]

Minimum wage, marijuana, ‘pay to play’ and more: A Lawton lawmaker has proposed a new minimum wage for workers 18 and older in Oklahoma that would affect the compensation of waiters, waitresses, and even college students who take on summer internships. [The Journal Record ????]

Legislators file bills that would curtail virtual charter school practices: State lawmakers are looking to rein in virtual charter schools. A number of bills proposed for the 2020 legislative session, which begins Feb. 3, would limit the flexibility or funding for virtual charter schools in the state. [Oklahoma Watch]

Hair braiding regulations up for discussion in Oklahoma Legislature: Sen. Micheal Bergstrom filed legislation for the 2020 session that would slightly expand the services a hair braiding technician could offer to include mild trimming of hair and use of hair extensions while also completely deregulating the practice. [The Oklahoman]

Meeting of ‘water protectors’ could lead to coalition effort to lobby state lawmakers: A meeting expected to result in a few pints shared at a pub and a few introductions tapped into a stronger than expected undercurrent Sunday that could lead to heightened lobbying efforts on water issues across Oklahoma. [Tulsa World]

Dining on steak dinners to sack lunches: Lobbyists spent more than $600,000 buying meals for Oklahoma legislators and other public officials last year, treating them to steak dinners, sack lunches and breakfast buffets on behalf of clients seeking to influence public policy. [The Oklahoman]

Diabetes management now available to SoonerCare members: Tens of thousands of Oklahomans who deal daily with diabetes may improve their quality of life and potentially live longer by taking part in diabetes self-management training now offered as a benefit for SoonerCare members. [The Journal Record ????]

Fate of Oklahoma scholarship program could rest with U.S. Supreme Court: As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments about public funding of religious schools, Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter is urging justices to protect tax-credit scholarship programs such as one used in Oklahoma for private schools. [The Oklahoman]

More than 4,000 suspensions in OKCPS first semester alone: Oklahoma City Public Schools leaders are trying to sort out the deeper causes of a 37 percent increase in suspensions compared to the first semester last year. OKCPS has seen a steady increase in suspensions comparing first semester numbers each year since 2017. [Free Press OKC]

How recreational is Oklahoma’s medical marijuana market? Eighteen months after Oklahoma voters approved medical marijuana, the state is awash in cannabis retail shops. One in 13 adult Oklahomans has a patient card. [Oklahoma Watch] Medical Marijuana Patients: How and why they got their cards. [Oklahoma Watch]

New resource pages for Canadian, Cleveland and Oklahoma counties: NonDoc has created three new county pages where you can find information about your county officials, the budgets and departments they oversee, county land ownership and how to file an open records request for related information. [NonDoc]

At town hall, reminders of civil rights struggles past and present: At a town hall meeting Saturday in a predominantly black Oklahoma City neighborhood, there were reminders of the very public civil rights victories of the past and of the more private everyday struggles still occurring. [The Oklahoman]

Katz Drug sit-in group serves as honorary marshals for MLK holiday parade: Waving to crowds lining the streets of downtown Oklahoma City, a distinguished group of men and women sat in stylish black limousines that rolled along in Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Parade. [The Oklahoman]

Quote of the Day

“What you’re seeing in Oklahoma, and what you’ve seen for the past 10 years now, is that we’re cutting services. We’re never going to get to the Top 10 if we don’t start having a conversation about how we can invest more in our people.”

-Rep. Emily Virgin, D-Norman [The Oklahoman]

Number of the Day


Number of emergency certified teachers in Oklahoma elementary education (grades 1-8). This is the highest concentration of emergency certified teachers throughout the state.

[Source: Oklahoma State Department of Education]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

We have a solution for the opioid epidemic. It’s dramatically underused: Medications like methadone, as well as buprenorphine and naltrexone, are considered the gold standard of care for opioid addiction. Studies show that the medications reduce the mortality rate among those patients by half or more, and keep people in treatment better than non-medication approaches. Yet rehab facilities in the U.S. often treat medications with skepticism or even scorn, while embracing approaches with little if any peer-reviewed scientific evidence, like the bench. [Vox]

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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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