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) Standardized tests fail the test: Schools got a bit of a gut punch this month when the Oklahoma State Department of Education released the third through eighth-grade results from the Oklahoma School Testing Program. The result showed standardized test scores dropped in almost every grade and subject for 2018. Only seventh-grade math scores didn’t change. This is the second year for the more rigorous testing standards that were adopted for the 2016-17 school year. [Steve Lewis / Capitol Update]
No family should be punished for accepting help when they need it: Bad luck or hard times can hit any of us, and when it happens we should all be able to seek and accept help to meet basic needs while we work to get back on our feet. But for many Oklahoma families, that assurance of compassion and help may soon disappear. [OK Policy]
In The News
Referendum effort seeks to stop Oklahoma’s permitless carry law: In a Monday morning press advisory, Rep. Jason Lowe (D-OKC) announced that he has filed a referendum petition in an attempt to recall HB 2597, which will allow for the permitless carry of firearms in Oklahoma. [NonDoc] Oklahoma’s permitless carry law passed through the state Legislature easily this spring and was the first bill signed by Gov. Kevin Stitt. The law is to go into effect Nov. 1. [The Oklahoman] But a backer of the gun law said it’s doubtful that the effort will be successful, calling it a “political stunt.” [Tulsa World] What’s That? Veto Referendum
Judge: Liquor distribution legislation ‘unconstitutional’: A judge Monday blocked implementation of a new law that walks back some changes made to Oklahoma’s alcohol distribution system. Oklahoma County District Judge Thomas Prince ruled in favor of attorneys representing a dozen local and national alcohol businesses that claimed Senate Bill 608 violates the state’s constitution. [The Oklahoman] SB 608 was slated to go into effect on Aug. 29. It would have required manufacturers of wines and spirits to sell top 25 brands to all wholesalers. [Journal Record]
Exclusive CEO group members help fill out Stitt administration: With no background in government or politics, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has leaned on his business background to find people to serve in his administration. And like many business leaders, he’s turned to both personal and formal networks. One of those got noticed in some circles: YPO, formerly the Young Presidents Organization. [Okahoma Watch]
Stitt administration plans to hire Washington liaison: Gov. Kevin Stitt intends to open an Oklahoma field office in Washington and hire a full-time staff member to represent the state’s interests at the nation’s capital. Such action would mark the first time this century that Oklahoma had an executive-level employee dedicated specifically to state interests in D.C. [NonDoc]
Change will allow Pardon and Parole Board to waive personal appearances in some cases: The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted unanimously Monday to approve a policy allowing the board to waive personal appearances for offenders when those appearances are not required by state statute or administrative rule. [The Oklahoman]
Oklahoma latest to grapple with online school problems: When two tech-savvy Oklahoma men launched their vision for an innovative charter school in 2011 that students could attend from home, the timing was perfect. Republicans had just extended their majorities in the Legislature, taken control of every elected statewide office and installed a new state superintendent of public instruction who was eager to embrace new ideas. [AP News] Legislators did consider new regulations on virtual charter schools last session.
‘Yes On 802’ making way through Oklahoma: Saturday morning, volunteers from Stephens, Comanche and Jefferson counties met and were trained to collect signatures in support of putting Medicaid expansion on the 2020 Oklahoma ballot. The movement in Stephens is backed by Duncan Regional Hospital (DRH) according to Doug Volinski, chief financial officer. [Duncan Banner] Need more information about SQ 802? Click here to visit our resource page.
Study finds Oklahoma ranks seventh-worst for underprivileged children: A new report ranks Oklahoma seventh-worst in the nation for the rate of underprivileged children. The report, “2019’s States with the Most Underprivileged Children,” was published this week by the financial analysis website WalletHub. WalletHub teamed up with sociology and social work professors from four universities to compare the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. [Enid News & Eagle] 2019 KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks Oklahoma in bottom 10 states for child well-being
Study: Oklahoma ranked 5th worst state to have a baby: A study has ranked Oklahoma once again as the 5th worst state to have a baby. On Monday, personal-finance website WalletHub released its ‘2019’s Best & Worst States to Have a Baby.’ Last year, WalletHub ranked Oklahoma as the 5th worst state to have a baby. [KFOR] Paid family leave for new parents could help
WIC Program now taking requests for appointments online: The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has launched an online appointment application for the federal Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. The online application allows potential clients to notify the organization of their interest in receiving services so an agency representative can follow up with them to schedule an appointment. [Duncan Banner]
Oklahoma City Public Schools opens for first day after district transformation: Students entered Oklahoma City Public Schools for the first time since the district closed 15 buildings and reconfigured 17 over the summer. A consolidation plan was in full motion Monday as it redefined the state’s largest school district. [The Oklahoman]
Wheeler District school project application approved by OKCPS: Monday night the project to establish a charter school in the Wheeler District moved decisively closer to the goal to open the school fall 2020. Western Gateway Elementary School charter project application for authorization was approved by the Oklahoma City Public Schools Board of Education. [Free Press OKC]
Oklahoma district uses facial recognition to secure campuses: Putnam City Schools installed facial recognition software into their fleet of cameras last semester, and will continue to use them this year. The software is used to identify a “short list” of suspects who should not be in the building, not everyday students walking the halls. [Campus Life Security]
FOP says it still opposes Tulsa mayor’s plan for police oversight: The union representing Tulsa police officers remains opposed to Mayor G.T. Bynum’s police oversight proposal, a top official with the organization said last week. The City Council is expected to vote later this month on the mayor’s plan to create an Office of the Independent Monitor. [Tulsa World]
Hotels warned to keep charging tourism tax despite judge’s injunction, letter from lodging association shows: A local lodging association is encouraging hotels to continue charging customers a tourism assessment despite the fact that a Tulsa County judge issued a temporary injunction prohibiting the city of Tulsa from assessing or collecting it. [Tulsa World]
Potential sales tax and LGBTQ+ civil rights on agenda: The Norman City Council will discuss a one-eighth percent sales tax ballot initiative before its regularly scheduled meeting today. The council will vote on 11 items on the consent docket. Most are routine items, but a couple of items under consideration regard the Civil Rights ordinance amendments, accessible parking ordinance amendments and a homeland security program grant. [Norman Transcript]
Chart: Medical marijuana markets expanding at varying rates, with Oklahoma, Florida setting the pace: Oklahoma is the fastest-growing medical marijuana market in the average number of daily patient increases, and MMJ patients represent 4.1% of the state’s total population – one of the highest rates in the nation. Growth is bolstered by low barriers of entry, including the fact there’s no list of qualifying conditions for patients. [Marijuana Business Daily]
Side effects: City to inspect marijuana businesses under state law: The explosive growth in the number of marijuana businesses means more work for city code inspectors. A state law taking effect this month requires cities to certify that marijuana dispensaries and growing, processing and research facilities comply with local zoning laws and safety codes. [The Oklahoman] Side effects: Medical marijuana may be legal across Oklahoma, but on state colleges it’s been denied admission [The Oklahoman]
Quote of the Day
“Oklahoma has the second highest rate of uninsured in the nation — almost 20 percent of people don’t have insurance. That limits access to care, people don’t go to a doctor, they go to the ER. ERs are there to stabilize a patient and send them on, many patients get prescriptions that they can’t go home and fill because they can’t afford them so they end up back in the ER again.”
– Doug Volinski, Chief Financial Officer of Duncan Regional Hospital, speaking at an event to train signature collectors for SQ 802 [Duncan Banner]
Number of the Day
The number of approved emergency teacher certifications in Oklahoma for school year 2018-2019.
[Source: Oklahoma State Department of Education]
The gap between rich and poor Americans’ health is widening: Across all groups, Americans’ self-reported health has declined since 1993. And race, gender and income play a bigger role in predicting health outcomes now than they did in 1993. Overall, white men in the highest income bracket were the healthiest group. [NPR]
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