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
The EITC is an effective poverty-fighting tool, and Congress should make it more effective: The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) is one of the most effective anti-poverty programs in America. In 2017, the federal EITC pulled 5.7 million people above the poverty line and reduced the severity of poverty for another 19.5 million. In Oklahoma alone, 310,000 families filed for the EITC in 2019, bringing $808 million back into our state and their communities. [OK Policy]
In The News
Tulsa parents talk public education funding, policy issues with state lawmakers ahead of legislative session: Classroom size, local school budget cuts, and a lack of support staffers and student materials was on the minds of public school parents and teachers who came for face time with Tulsa-area lawmakers Tuesday evening. [Tulsa World] OK Policy analysis shows that progress has been made recently on restoring funding for essential services like education, but it will be a long rebuilding project to full budget recovery.
Mid-Del schools HR director says teacher shortage continues, district to host recruitment event: There is still a significant teacher shortage in Oklahoma, according to the human resources director at Mid-Del Schools. For the second year in a row, Mid-Del Schools will start recruiting teachers for next year before it’s even Christmas break. [News9]
Rural hospitals recovering from neglect: Hospitals in Prague and Fairfax still face ownership outcomes to be determined by out-of-state bankruptcy proceedings, but community leaders and the owner of Shawnee-based Cohesive Healthcare Management and Consulting LLC, the company now managing the hospitals, say they’re no longer in critical condition. [Journal Record 🔒] OK Policy has noted that Oklahoma’s rural hospitals are in crisis, and Medicaid expansion via SQ 802 is a way to address the issue.
Lawmakers searching to solve indigenous cold cases: Native American families and tribal advocates crowded into the state capitol on Tuesday to voice their frustration with the lingering number of unsolved Native American homicides and missing person cases. Wearing T-shirts and carrying giant posters with loved ones’ pictures, they hoped to help solve cases that have gone cold or continue to languish on shelves. [CNHI]
Lawmaker calls for extending ban on smoking in Oklahoma: Whether they smoke or not, Oklahomans are paying plenty for cigarettes – an estimated $545 per person per year, according to Julie Bisbee, executive director of the state’s Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. [Journal Record 🔒]
The Oklahoman Editorial: Direct democracy efforts evident in Oklahoma: Oklahoma’s longstanding embrace of direct democracy is evident again in the growing list of state questions seeking to find their way to the ballot in 2020… State questions allow Oklahoma voters to directly determine policy. They could have three more chances — at least — to do so in 2020. [Editorial Board / The Oklahoman]
Kelly Doyle: Let’s continue criminal justice reform momentum with sentencing reform: Oklahoma has made significant progress on criminal justice reform in the past few years. This month, Oklahoma saw the largest single-day commutation in our nation’s history. While a monumental and historic step forward, Oklahoma’s incarceration crisis remains. Oklahoma has the second highest rate of imprisonment in the country and taxpayers still spend nearly half a billion dollars on the prison system each year. [Kelly Doyle / Tulsa World] OK Policy analysis has shown that Oklahoma’s incarceration rate should prompt an evaluation of the state’s criminal justice system.
Cherokee Nation economic impact on Oklahoma nearly $2.2 billion, study finds: Cooperation among Oklahoma’s tribes and the state helped the Cherokee Nation realize a $2.169 billion economic impact in the state for fiscal year 2018. [Tulsa World]
Stitt talks water, pipelines to U.S. Senate committee: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt told a Senate committee Tuesday that some states are blocking energy projects due to personal environmental politics of state leaders. [NonDoc] Gov. Kevin Stitt endorsed federal proposals on Tuesday that he said would prevent states from using the Clean Water Act to block energy projects because of a bias against fossil fuels. [The Oklahoman]
Drugmaker’s expert in Oklahoma opioid trial indicted: University of Miami Professor Bruce Bagley was one of the final witnesses in the state opioid trial, testifying in July for pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson as an expert on drug cartels. On Monday, Bagley, 73, was arrested in Florida after being accused in a federal indictment of laundering dirty money into the United States from a Venezuelan bribery and corruption scheme. [The Oklahoman]
MAPS 4 affordable housing proposal to address homelessness, create opportunities, though some details still vague: To address rising housing costs, organizations like the housing authority, the Homeless Alliance and Mental Health Oklahoma plan to take a $50 million investment from MAPS 4, leverage over $400 million in outside funding and reshape public housing in Oklahoma City. [Gatehouse News]
OKC City Councilman David Greenwell ‘not supporting’ MAPS 4 without ‘measurable outcomes’: Ward 5 Oklahoma City Councilman David Greenwell said during a city council meeting that, without the addition of “measurable outcomes,” he is “not supporting” the MAPS 4 package set to go before OKC voters Dec. 10. [NonDoc] In an interview later he said he intended to vote ‘no’ Dec. 10 but remained open should sufficient information on “measurable outcomes” be forthcoming before election day. [The Oklahoman]
State Historic Preservation Office taking project ideas: The Oklahoma Historical Society’s State Historic Preservation Office, under the National Historic Preservation Act, administers the federal historic preservation program in Oklahoma. The purpose is to encourage preservation of the state’s archaeological and historic resources for everyone’s benefit. [CNHI]
Quote of the Day
“I just really want legislators to hear: ‘Thank you for the raise, but it’s really not all about teacher pay. It’s about working conditions. It’s class size, lack of support staff, lack of materials.”
-Melissa Hicks, a Tulsa Public School librarian speaking to her senator at a Tulsa event that connected parents and lawmakers [Tulsa World]
Number of the Day
High school graduation rate for American Indian and Alaskan Native students in Oklahoma, compared to a state average of 81.6%
[Source: American’s Health Rankings]
Urban Indian Health Institute issues report on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls entitled “We Demand More”: Urban Indian Health Institute released MMIWG: We Demand More, a study that serves as a corrective response to the Washington State Patrol’s recent report on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. The Washington State Patrol’s report was mandated by the state legislature to determine how to increase resources for reporting and identifying missing Native American women. [Native News Online]
Note: November is Native American Heritage Month. We recognize and celebrate the history, cultures, and contributions of American Indian and Alaska Native people in the state and across the country.
You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.