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.
In The News
Redistricting ballot initiative launched in Oklahoma: A new group called People Not Politicians is spearheading a ballot initiative to create an independent commission for redistricting legislative and congressional seats in Oklahoma. [NonDoc] Oklahoma’s Republican-controlled Legislature is currently responsible for drawing the state’s political districts, which then go to the governor for final approval. The initiative petition aims to take partisanship out of the equation when it comes to drawing Oklahoma’s legislative and congressional districts. [The Oklahoman] Learn more about initiative petitions via What’s That? at OKPolicy.org.
Governor and legislative leaders tell judge Johnson & Johnson’s opioid abatement payments should not be limited to one year: Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt and legislative leaders told a judge in the state’s opioid lawsuit Monday that they believe Oklahoma law requires him to come back year after year and order Johnson & Johnson to pay more money until the opioid crisis has been fully resolved. [The Oklahoman]
State, tribes hold historic meeting on gaming compacts: ‘You have to walk before you can run’: Oklahoma’s attorney general began casino gambling negotiations with more than two dozen tribal nations on Monday, but the sides remain locked in a stalemate over whether the existing gaming compacts automatically renew at the end of the year. [AP News] About 200 tribal leaders and their representatives met with Attorney General Mike Hunter, who is representing the state. About 31 of the 35 tribes involved in gaming were present. [Tulsa World]
Moratorium on discount stores extended: The moratorium on small-box discount stores in northeast Oklahoma City has been extended to last through the holidays, but for now has not been expanded to include other sources of unhealthy foods that might compete with a grocery store. However, the language of the final ordinance being prepared may eventually be written to apply to certain convenience stores. [Journal Record 🔒]
Pushed Out: How public-private partnerships work to deter Black wealth acquisition (Part 2 of 3): The article explores how discriminatory housing and development policies paved the way for gentrification in the Greenwood and Near North neighborhoods. [Tulsa Star]
Steele a powerful ally for Oklahoma Medicaid expansion backers: As a member of the state Legislature, former Republican Rep. Kris Steele made expanding health care coverage for Oklahomans one of his priorities while also casting a wary eye at proposed federal solutions. Steele takes a different view of the latter today. [Editorial Board / The Oklahoman] For more information and resources about Medicaid expansion, visit OK Policy’s information and resources about the issue.
Stitt visits Enid, talks progress toward top 10 status: Gov. Kevin Stitt highlighted the successes of his first legislative session and his goals as he prepares to enter a second during a visit to Enid Mondy. Oklahoma is creeping toward top 10 status in several areas, he said, fulfillment of the campaign promise is progressing. [CNHI]
Package store owners still not happy with state’s liquor law changes a year later: Oklahoma’s one-year anniversary of its modern liquor laws brought mixed reactions from business owners. Liquor store owners still don’t appreciate the changes, which allow grocery and convenience stores to sell high-point beer and wine. [CNHI]
Entry fees being considered for Oklahoma state parks as officials propose $40M a year capital plan: Tourism and recreation officials are considering entry fees to raise money for fixing up Oklahoma’s 33 state parks. Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department Executive Director Jerry Winchester said by shorting maintenance a little bit year after year, state officials guaranteed the parks system would end up where it is now: In need of an additional $40 million a year for the next several years. [Public Radio Tulsa]
Supreme Court issues final word on MAPS 4 challenge: The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Monday denied former Oklahoma City Councilman Ed Shadid’s request that it reconsider his arguments challenging MAPS 4. Shadid had sought to have the ordinance on the Dec. 10 ballot declared unconstitutional, arguing it violates a rule against legislation pertaining to more than a single subject. On Oct. 15, the court unanimously said the ordinance met constitutional, statutory and city charter requirements. [The Oklahoman] MAPS 4 project would highlight Oklahoma’s civil rights leaders, bring economic growth to northeast Oklahoma City. [The Oklahoman]
Did Regents violate Open Meetings Act?: The OU Board of Regents may have violated state open meeting laws when it appointed new leadership at a lunchtime meeting last week, FOI Oklahoma says. FOI Oklahoma, a statewide organization supporting government and records transparency, released a statement Sunday calling the regents’ lunchtime meeting agenda “so vague that it did not appear to be calculated to inform the public that discussion or election of a chairman would be considered at the meeting.” [Norman Transcript]
University of Tulsa administration, faculty grapple over budget priorities: A University of Tulsa professor said analysis shows TU spends a smaller share of its overall budget on instruction and more on academic support and auxiliary enterprises than most peer institutions. TU’s chief financial officer said the analysis is based on old data and skewed by factors such as Gilcrease Museum, which weighs in at more than 25% of TU’s academic support budget. [Tulsa World]
‘Everybody liked him’: Former Sen. Roger Ballenger dies at 69: Former Oklahoma State Sen. Roger Ballenger has died at age 69 after a battle with melanoma. Ballenger began his public service career as a member of the Okmulgee City Council in the 1980s. [NonDoc]
Oklahoma County judge accused in felony charge of intentionally evading paying taxes: Oklahoma County District Judge Kendra Coleman is now facing a felony charge over her tax troubles. She is accused in the charge — failure to file a state income tax return — of intentionally evading payment of her 2017 state taxes. [The Oklahoman]
Treasurer McDaniel elected to Board of National Treasurers’ Foundation: Oklahoma State Treasurer Randy McDaniel has been elected to the governing board of the foundation that supports the National Association of State Treasurers. The non-profit foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization and assists state treasurers throughout the nation in protecting and enhancing the financial health of their states. [CNHI]
Quote of the Day
“This is a complicated solution to a simple problem. The simple problem is gerrymandering, and the complicated solution is creating multiple firewalls to prevent the influence of partisan politics from corrupting the redistricting process.”
-Andy Moore, executive director of People Not Politicians speaking about the group’s redistricting ballot initiative. [NonDoc]
Number of the Day
Percent change in average tuition at public, four-year colleges in Oklahoma.
[Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities]
How unpredictable work hours turn families upside down: Workers at all income levels are increasingly expected to be on call. At the high end, it can lead to overwork. At the low end, it means getting work schedules at the last minute, varying day to day, and not being guaranteed the number of hours that employees may need to support themselves. [New York Times]
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