In The Know: Redistricting ballot initiative, corrections funding, 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.

In The News

State House, Senate closed today due to weather conditions.: Officials have announced that the State House of Representatives and the State Senate will be closed Wednesday due to wintry weather conditions. [Tulsa World

Oklahoma Supreme Court nixes redistricting proposal: If it wants to change the way Oklahoma apportions its legislative and congressional districts after the 2020 U.S. Census, the group People Not Politicians will have to refile its initiative petition. [NonDoc] The court found that the gist, or description at the top of the signature page, failed “to alert potential signatories about the true nature of the proposed constitutional amendment.” [Tulsa World]

DOC withdraws demand for $1 billion for prison improvements: The Department of Corrections has withdrawn its long-standing demand for $1 billion to improve prisons. Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt said when he took office last year, he was told the immediate injection of $1 billion was critical. [CNHI]

Five things to know about the Oklahoma Legislature: Oklahoma lawmakers descended on Oklahoma City this week for the first day of the new legislative session. The 2020 session kicked off Monday. Lawmakers must adjourn for the year by 5 p.m. May 29, but they could wrap things up earlier. [The Ada News]

Stitt’s message welcomed by business and industry: Advocates for business and industry in Oklahoma responded favorably to goals outlined by Gov. Kevin Stitt on Monday to cut regulations and red tape and continue policies designed to diversify the state’s economy. [The Journal Record 🔒]

Attorney general says credit card surcharges ban likely unconstitutional: As of this year, Oklahoma businesses are allowed to include a credit card surcharge at the point of sale, as long as they make the required disclosures to their customers. In a legal opinion, Attorney General Mike Hunter said a decades-old state law that banned surcharges was likely an unconstitutional restriction on commercial speech. [The Oklahoman]

Oklahoma governor: Casinos are an ‘unjust enrichment to tribes’: The governor of Oklahoma continues his threats directed at tribal gaming. Pay the state more money or let for-profit, commercial casinos have a shot at the market. [Indian Country Today]

Workers’ comp doesn’t cover everyone; new measures filed: Employers in the state of Oklahoma are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for employees, but exceptions do apply for various scenarios. So business entities have to look at each individual situation and determine whether an employee qualifies for workers’ comp. [Tahlequah Daily Press]

House committee advances legislation to eliminate statute of limitations for child sex abuse: A bill that would repeal the statute of limitations on sex crimes involving minors advanced from an Oklahoma House of Representatives committee over concerns about defendants’ right to a fair trial. [Tulsa World]

Oklahoma lawmakers urged to take action on solar power, battery storage: Investment in solar power and battery storage are key issues that need to be addressed to maintain Oklahoma’s role as a leader in the energy industry, according to a set of 16 recommendations presented Tuesday to Oklahoma lawmakers by public policy nonprofit The Oklahoma Academy. [The Journal Record 🔒] Oklahoma Academy evaluates Oklahoma’s role as an energy leader and makes recommendations to state leaders. [The Oklahoman]

Jacqueline Blocker: I am a domestic violence survivor, and I support SQ 805: I am a survivor of domestic abuse. I’m also a believer in stopping senseless sentencing enhancements that don’t help our community. I won’t be manipulated into silence or a convenient point of view for those in power. [Jacqueline Blocker / CNHI]

MAPS 4, weed farm, parking make for lively City Council meeting: The Oklahoma City Council took many twists and turns through a tense exchange over MAPS 4, down-zoning for marijuana growing, parking, economic development, and new businesses arriving. [Free Press OKC] Council approves MAPS 4 board with concerns.[The Journal Record 🔒]

TPS delays vote for disputed Indian Education Program reorganization, promises to collect more community feedback: Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist will delay bringing her controversial Indian Education Program reorganization proposal to the board of education due to extensive community feedback. [Tulsa World]

Quote of the Day

“Justice is best served when we can begin making something that was broken, whole. Justice is best served stopping a crime before it starts. Justice is best served when people feel they can seek help without fear of being punished themselves. And while in some cases justice is best served behind bars, sentences should be chosen based on data and best practices to ensure we’re not causing deeper harm.”

-Jacqueline Blocker, Community Engagement Director at Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform [CNHI]

Number of the Day

2 in 3

The number of Oklahomans who are not accessing needed mental health and substance use disorder treatment.

[Source: Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse]

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

How cutting food stamps can add costs elsewhere: The Department of Agriculture recently finished work on a new rule that may take food stamps away from nearly 700,000 Americans by tightening work requirements. Several times in the past year, the government has proposed cutting food stamp eligibility. The new rule is intended to save almost $8 billion over five years. It’s not clear how much money would actually be saved, research suggests, given the costs that might come from a decline in the health and well-being of many of the country’s 14.3 million “food-insecure” households. Food insecurity is linked to worse health outcomes, including poor mental health, high blood pressure and diabetes, with children particularly vulnerable. [New York Times]

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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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