In The Know: Oklahoma’s education report card released, criminal justice reform discussed, 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

Prosperity Policy: Who deserves a raise? Do members of the Oklahoma Legislature deserve a raise? That’s the question the Legislative Compensation Board wrestles with every two years. This constitutionally created body has the exclusive and binding authority to set lawmakers’ salaries. [David Blatt / Journal Record]

In The News

State’s scores on ‘Nation’s Report Card’ remain far short of goal: Oklahoma has a long way to go to reach one of its major educational targets. The goal is to be ranked in the top 20 states on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also called the “Nation’s Report Card.” [Oklahoma Watch] Oklahoma test scores still trail U.S., but some gaps narrow. [Public Radio Tulsa] OK Policy analysis shows that state education funding cuts have caused myriad issues for Oklahoma’s schools; progress recently has been made to restoring funding for essential services like education, however it will be a long rebuilding project to full budget recovery.

Community leaders discuss criminal justice reform efforts: A four-person panel discussed criminal justice reform during a meeting of the Rotary Club of Oklahoma City. Panelists spoke about a shift in public perception surrounding criminal justice reform and current efforts that are underway to look at the “entire pipeline.” [The Oklahoman] While state leaders are taking action to address Oklahoma’s outdated criminal code, an OK Policy analysis showed key elements that should be taken into account during that process

Popular Expungement Expos can help those with criminal records: Tulsa City Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper’s Expungement Expos were so popular last year that the volunteers who helped organize and run them couldn’t keep up with the requests for assistance. [Tulsa World] OK Policy took a closer look at the expungement process in Oklahoma in this review of SQ 780 retroactivity. 

Making a Difference: Information exchange improving access to medical records: Oklahoma still has much work to do to pull itself up from near the bottom of national health rankings, but a health information exchange network created a decade ago has helped move the state to near the front of the pack in some important ways, the nonprofit’s chief executive officer said. [Journal Record]

People with disabilities unsheltered in tornado alley: More than 630,000 people in Oklahoma have a disability, but the state doesn’t know how many of them need storm shelters. Some local governments keep track of how many households already have one, but there is no shelter reporting requirement. [StateImpact Oklahoma] Oklahoma has set a record for the most tornadoes in a year, the National Weather Service said Wednesday. [Tulsa World]

Electric vehicles in Oklahoma may require an alternative tax: Electric vehicle sales continue to increase each year, which is leading to less fuel tax revenue for Oklahoma. To preserve infrastructure funding, officials are looking at alternative taxes for EV owners. [KGOU]

Permitless carry to take effect Friday, judge rules: Oklahoma’s permitless carry will take effect Friday, an Oklahoma County District Court judge ruled Wednesday. Judge Don Andrews struck down a legal challenge requesting a temporary injunction to prevent the law from taking effect Nov. 1 [The Oklahoman] A longtime firearms instructor discussed some of the questions he gets asked most often about the new law. [Tulsa World]

See the Real ID-compliant license Oklahomans will need to board planes starting in October 2020: Oklahoma will roll out Real ID-compliant driver’s licenses and ID cards starting in August and issued samples of what the IDs will look like. [CNHI]

Syphillis cases are on the increase in Oklahoma: Oklahoma health officials say the frequency of congenital syphilis cases has risen sharply in the state during the past five years and continues to increase. [AP News]

Rotary Club of Tulsa hears panel discussion about Oklahoma’s medical cannabis industry: At least 5 percent of Oklahoma residents can legally consume medical cannabis after the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority approved its 200,000th patient license earlier this month. [Tulsa World]

Complexities of sheriff’s move out of jail dominate commissioners’ time: While the Oklahoma County commissioners’ normal business was handled quickly Wednesday, two executive sessions and a lengthy discussion about the sheriff’s proposed transition out of the Oklahoma County jail took far more time. [Free Press OKC] Assistant district attorney says Oklahoma County sheriff can walk away from jail Jan. 1. [The Oklahoman]

‘Quite a mess’: OU’s Cross Village risks ramifications: According to its October 2018 meeting minutes, the University of Oklahoma Board of Regents was circumvented in the enactment of two leases for OU’s controversial Cross Village housing development. With its bonds turned to junk, the $251.7 million project now sits largely empty, spurring talk of lawsuits, alleged securities violations and ramifications for future Oklahoma bond issuances. OU’s legal counsel believes the university executed its Cross Village contracts properly and acted within its rights. [NonDoc]

“Poor boy from Oklahoma” addresses U.S. Senate committee about judgeship: U.S. Magistrate Judge Bernard M. Jones told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that he views his nomination for a federal district judgeship as an opportunity to serve. Jones, 40, was nominated by President Donald Trump for a U.S. district judge position in the western district of Oklahoma, based in Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoman]

Trump announces intent to appoint Tulsa area woman to anti-human trafficking council: President Donald Trump nominated a co-founder of The Demand Project, a local nonprofit that fights sex trafficking, to an advisory council aimed at ending human trafficking. Kristin Weis of The Demand Project was one of nine announced for a position on the Public-Private Partnership Advisory Council to End Human Trafficking. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“National employers wanted to bring jobs here because of our low costs of living, but were scared off by our high costs for health care and the poor health of Oklahomans.”

-Dr. David Kendrick, CEO of MyHealth Access Network [Journal Record]

Number of the Day


Total number of LGBTQ+ adult Oklahomans – 3.8% of the adult population of the state

[Source: Movement Advancement Project]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

What New Orleans can teach other cities about reducing homelessness: City officials did it by fighting homelessness on a variety of fronts: They adopted a “housing first” policy: providing homes and services to New Orleans’ neediest, without requiring that they resolve mental health or substance abuse issues first. They expanded a health care clinic for the homeless and started conducting weekly check-ins to connect more people to counseling and other services. [Pew Trusts

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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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