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
(Capitol Update) Lawmakers need truthful, complete information to make agency appropriation decisions: According to reports from some agency directors and the governor’s office, agencies have been told to hold requests for budget increases to below 2 percent. After years of cuts and hollowing out of some agencies, it is obvious to appropriators that a 2 percent increase will not permit some agencies to perform their functions satisfactorily. [Steve Lewis / OK Policy]
In The News
Pardon and Parole Board sees 118 percent increase in docketed cases: The Pardon and Parole Board had an increase of 118 percent in docketed cases this year. The board had 6,940 docketed cases this year, up from 3,183 in 2018, according to information Executive Director Steven Bickley presented Monday. Pardon cases were up 76 percent. Parole cases were up 39 percent. Commutation cases were up 426 percent. [The Oklahoman]
After decade, schools could face penalties for breaking class-size limits: Kindergarten and first-grade classes across Oklahoma likely will be required to meet the state’s class-size limit for the first time in a decade when the 2021-22 school year begins. A law enacted this year takes a step toward enforcing the class-size limit. Senate Bill 193 requires the 20-student cap for kindergarten and first-grade classes once the Legislature puts an additional $100 million in unrestricted money into the state funding formula. [Oklahoma Watch] OK Policy analysis showed that class sizes impact student outcomes and is an educational factor that lawmakers can directly control through legislative action.
Governor favors more federal Medicaid dollars through block grant: Gov. Kevin Stitt said research tells him that Oklahomans want more federal dollars in the state’s health care system. The governor would also like more federal dollars, but wants to avoid a constitutional state question. State Question 802 would make it constitutional to fund basic Medicaid expansion in Oklahoma, Stitt said at a recent Edmond Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon. [CNHI] OK Policy recently examined Tennessee’s Medicaid block grant proposal, noting that it threatens access to health care and rests on shaky legal ground.
Kansas legislators say expansion of Medicaid is top priority: When asked by Labette County commissioners on Monday what the top issue will be in the next session of the Kansas Legislature, Sen. Dan Goddard and Rep. Richard Proehl had the same answer — the expansion of Medicaid. [CNHI]
Stitt: Commercial casinos interested if deal with tribes not renewed: The governor said commercial casino operators are very interested in Oklahoma if the state and Native American tribes can’t strike a new deal on gaming compacts. Gov. Kevin Stitt said he’s personally talked with commercial operators who have told him they’d sign a deal tomorrow to open up a casino, and they’ve offered to pay the state 18% in taxes. [CNHI]
Opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson files state Supreme Court appeal: Attorneys for opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson filed an appeal with the Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday, contending a Cleveland County district judge erred when he found the company responsible for the state’s opioid epidemic and ordered it to pay $465 million to abate the crisis. [The Oklahoman]
Will a new food stamp rule kick children off the program?: A new rule for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps, could cause about 688,000 people to lose SNAP benefits. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates the rule change, which will go into effect in April, will save $5.5 billion during its first five years. [Big If True] OK Policy noted the most recent SNAP changes won’t impact the state, but upcoming changes will be harm Oklahomans.
About 75 percent of Tulsa Public Schools’ $20 million budget cut would come from district office, Superintendent Deborah Gist tells community: Tulsa Public Schools’ potential plan to eliminate about $20 million from the 2020-21 budget involves school closures, reductions in district office services and a slight increase in elementary class sizes. [Tulsa World]
McElhaney takes seat as newest OKCPS Board of Education member: Meg McElhaney was sworn in as the newest member of the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education Monday night. She has been appointed to the seat by the board to represent board District 7, the southeast corner of the expansive school district. [Free Press OKC]
Expanding music education in the community of Stillwater: These days, music education for children most commonly comes from school, where music classes are taught. However, access to music education is diminishing in places like Oklahoma where, according to the Oklahoma Policy Institute and Quadrant Arts Education Research, more than 800 music education classes were shut down between 2014 and 2018, leaving communities struggling to develop the skills that music education provides. [OColly]
New law clarifies marketing tactics for Oklahoma Realtors: Oklahoma law changed Nov. 1 to allow real estate professionals to offer prizes, giveaways, and even food items as part of a marketing and promotional campaign. Previously, the law was written so that even giving away a bottle of water at an open house might find a Realtor in violation of Oklahoma’s buyer inducement laws. [Journal Record 🔒]
Gasoline prices are dropping: Gasoline prices have not only fallen slightly in the past week for Oklahoma drivers but also for those across the rest of the U.S. Oklahoma’s average gasoline price, according to AAA Oklahoma is $2.24 a gallon, down 3 cents from a week ago but still higher than the $2.07 drivers paid a year ago. [OK Energy Today]
Data is power: Health care steps into the future: Today, metadata and individual health information records are revolutionizing how Americans answer important questions about health care. The data revolution is here, and it is changing the way we consume and deliver health care services in Oklahoma and nationwide. [NonDoc]
Stitt makes third appointment to OU Board of Regents: Gov. Kevin Stitt appointed attorney Michael Cawley to the OU Board of Regents this afternoon. Cawley previously served as a member of the State Regents for Higher Education’s 2017-2018 task force examining the future of higher ed in the state. [NonDoc] Cawley, an Ardmore resident, currently serves as a director with Noble Energy Inc., an oil and gas exploration and production company. [Norman Transcript]
Stitt to speak at OSU graduation Saturday: Gov. Kevin Stitt will return to his alma mater Saturday to speak at both Oklahoma State University undergraduate commencement ceremonies for fall graduates. A 1996 graduate of OSU, Stitt will speak to roughly 1,800 graduates at two ceremonies. [The Oklahoman]
Election day arrives: Voters to have their say on MAPS 4: Oklahoma City voters will decide Tuesday whether to extend the 1-cent MAPS sales tax to finance a decade of investments heavily weighted toward neighborhoods. [The Oklahoman] MAPS 4 and your vote Tuesday — Who do you trust? [Free Press OKC]
Oklahoma Democrats to continue allowing independents to vote in primaries: Independent voters may continue to vote in Democratic primary elections for the next two years but not in Republican or Libertarian ones, the Oklahoma State Election Board said Monday. [Tulsa World]
National Julius Jones Petition Day – supporting his clemency – set for Dec. 11: On Wednesday, December 11, Change.org is partnering with the Julius Jones Coalition for ‘National Julius Jones Petition Day.’ This social media advocacy effort will encourage citizens nationwide to sign the online petition supporting Oklahoma death row prisoner Julius Jones’ clemency application. [City Sentinel]
Quote of the Day
“(Not having class-size data) hampered our ability to know where things stood and know the appropriate trigger to put limits back in place.”
-Carolyn Thompson, legislative liaison and deputy chief of staff at the state Department of Education, speaking about penalties for exceeding school class sizes, which hasn’t been measured in the state since 2012. [Oklahoma Watch]
Number of the Day
Percent of children in Oklahoma under age 18 who live in a food-insecure household compared to 17.4% nationally.
The inflation gap: A new analysis indicates that rising prices have been quietly taxing low-income families more heavily than rich ones: A new analysis from a prominent group of economic researchers suggests not only that rising prices have been quietly taxing low-income families more heavily than rich ones, but also that, after accounting for that trend, the American poverty rate is significantly higher than the official measures suggest. Call it “inflation inequality,” a subtle, pernicious way that the fortunes of the rich and the poor have diverged. [The Atlantic]
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